Advertising, referrals and in-personal networking: Are they effective for construction marketing?

Are advertising, referral requests and networking marketing traps? I think not.

Occasionally, I read advice that causes me to cringe. Hinge, which offers a package of services to help AEC businesses build their professional reputations, stirred the pot in a recent posting suggesting that three marketing “best practices” are really not so wise — in fact they could be seen as traps. But I cannot quite agree.

First, the writer suggests it doesn’t help to ask for referrals. And I suppose this is true, if you think of asking in-the-face, and not in a really friendly and natural way. But there are tactful approaches and natural methods that will provide worthwhile results, and certainly not cost much for trying.

Then there is a suggestion that face-to-face networking is an expensive waste of time. Well, again, it depends. As an introvert, I see little joy and even less value in attending events where everyone is pushing around trying to make “contact” — and trading business cards, in some faint hope that this will result in meaningful business.

However,?participating in relevant associations and community activities, and thinking about ways you can provide value and assistance to everyone you meet, will pay off, and it isn’t that hard to do.

Finally, the writer takes a shot at spending money on advertising. This one of course hurts the most, because after, all our, business earns 95 per cent of its revenue from advertising.

I agree that advertising can be a huge waste of money, if you don’t put it in context of other marketing initiatives, and it certainly won’t solve your problem if you can’t attract and retain clients through word-of-mouth and effective community involvement. But everything needs to be put in context. In our business, we look at the broader picture — and encourage advertisers to connect with editorial, social and community resources. The goal is to deliver real value, overall. Advertising, done right, gives you control over the process and once you’ve established viable benchmarks, can be managed budgeted for effective results.

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