In the perfect marketing world, we would take some simple, easy-to-follow steps, and “perfect” leads would materialize. That is, clients pre-conditioned to paying for your products/services you offer, at your full price, exactly when you want them to show up, would respond. Not too many to overwhelm your resources, no “tire kickers” and of course your lead cost would be close to zero. In this dream world, your marketing would exactly match your business — so that, say, if you are a designer of multi-million dollar buildings, your new or repeat clients would arrive on the scene with their next project just at the time your staff has the capacity to handle it, not too early and certainly not too late. Or, you suddenly receive a surge in demand for a service where you don’t really need to increase your input costs — the project is “replicable” with a push of a computer button and you earn windfall profits.
Sure, this may be a fantasy world, but I’ve seen plenty of situations where people selling marketing services dress up their offerings to appeal to these fantasies. They know they can catch your soft spot and get you to sign over your money with the hope that their solution may indeed be the magic marketing bullet.
And, of course, occasionally, you hit the jackpot. Back in 1997, after a some fortuitous events, I traveled to Hunt Texas to a program “Breaking the ‘No’ Barrier” by the late Walt Hailey. He taught the the concept of working your sales and marketing into the supply chain, and when we used his techniques to start publishing supplier-supported newspaper features, results were overwhelmingly good. We sold thousands of dollars of advertising, without much effort and without worrying about circulation or distribution. It didn’t seem to matter. People paid, and paid some more.
Then, in 2005, I met a building products manufacturer who had discovered the power of Internet advertising. He reported his cost-per-lead had dropped an order of magnitude, from about $70 to $7. Wow.
Alas, anything this good doesn’t last forever. Market forces have a natural equalizing process. If any technique or resource is really effective, competition will ultimately drive down its effectiveness and increase its costs. Pay-per-click advertising is no longer a bargain. As well, while the relationship marketing I learned from Walt Hailey continues to be truly successful and effective, it isn’t the magic solution and several competing publishers who used the same business model have floundered and failed.
Then, are there ways you can capture the formula and succeed? I propose that you must constantly experiment and keep your eyes open. Right now, if I marketed in the business-to-consumer space, I would really look closely at FaceBook and local search on the Internet. You might find (I don’t guarantee this) your cost per lead at least for a brief time drops to the “wow” low level.
In the business-to-business space, I certainly would continue to put emphasis on (personal) relationship development skills and the patient and effective participation in client-related organizations. Here I will provide a “plug” for the Construction Specifications Institute and, in Canada, Construction Specifications Canada.
Spec writers of course write the contract documentation for new projects so they are really useful people to know if you have a buiding product, service or technology. They also will be among the first to know of a project moving through the process to becoming a real building. So if you are a general or sub-trade you can use this intelligence to plan your relationship development and marketing strategy to win the work when it actually becomes available.
Local volunteer chapters often need support and participation, so I volunteered to help out on CSC Ottawa’s Board of Directors, and more recently, take on the task of co-ordinating the chapter’s major annual networking event,The Connections Cafe. If you are in the Ottawa-area you should certainly consider attending this event on Oct. 5 at Algonquin College. Wherever you are, consider joining your local chapter. For insights into why you should participate in relevant client-focused associations, you can also review my article in the Spring, 2010 issue of The Design and Construction Report (links to the relevant issue are at the bottom of the reference page.)