There are some simple ground rules for building an effective construction marketing strategy, and they don’t need to involve complex or expensive processes and plans. In fact, I would advocate that you can achieve 80 per cent of your marketing objectives for almost no cash cost — though there will be a need for you to spend a fair bit of time learning how to do things, and set your priorities. And I don’t want to understate the importance of the remaining 20 per cent — although much more costly, the investments you elect to make at this point can propel you above the crowd and the mass of other contractors seeking opportunities.
So how do you go about things?
First, you need to have a clean slate and NOT worry about shiny new objects, respond quickly to inbound offers (or worse, inbound spam offers). Take a breath. Look at your business as it is. Are your clients happy, and returning for more. Or are you chasing “low bid wins the job” projects and finding that you aren’t winning many bids, and the bids you are winning are unprofitable.
Then you need to make a plan. I think there are two key elements to this plan. The first is figuring out where you are getting things right, and seeing how you can do more of it. If you have amazingly satisfied clients returning for more without your needing to do much work — and if you are receiving unsolicited referrals — you are well on the right track.
If you aren’t; if you are experiencing client churn, complaints, and rejection, you need to figure out the problems and solve them before you spend any resources on external marketing. Otherwise you’ll be throwing money down the drain.
If you have a brand new business and thus a truly clean slate, the question becomes: “Why did you start the business?” Do you have clients/relationships from before you opened the enterprise (of course you should abide by any non-compete obligations with your former employer, if that is the case)? Are there opportunities for community/association engagement you can start with right away?
Once you’ve sorted out your internal situation, the next stage is to plan your external marketing. I believe often a combination of a solid website (with related social media) coupled with association/community engagement will provide the best results for the least amount of money (but will require time and effort). After you have these structures in place, you can explore various forms of advertising/paid promotion, based on your ability to quickly evaluate and measure your progress.
Obviously, this bird’s-eye view of the marketing process does not provide a magic bullet. Miracles sometimes happen, but usually really good marketing is based on solid business foundations. You may find support/help and leadership from specialized consultants. If you are an architect, engineer or contractor interested in the ICI world, I certainly can recommend getting connected with your local Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) chapter.
Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with an outline of your challenges, or connect with me through this blog’s contact page, and I can either guide you to other resources, or perhaps help out myself. (If it is a quick bit of advice, it will be free — if you want me to dig in and really develop a marketing model for you, there’ll be a fee — but at least you’ll be heading on the right track.