Construction marketing in summer’s dog days

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passivehaus eventbrite
Gunter Lang
Gunter Lang

Late August — it’s hot in New Jersey, where I’m visiting with relatives on a late-summer vacation. Hardly a time for serious construction marketing, but undoubtedly the vacation environment provides some opportunity for reflection, thinking, and decision-making going forward.

Probably the greatest surprise this summer has been the success of a non-profit local project scheduled for the fall. When Sonia Zouari proposed we pay a significant speakers’ fee to Austrian Gunter Lang to speak about  the Passive House (Passivehaus) concept, I thought the idea would be a long-shot, especially since the presentation would need to be on a Friday afternoon, hardly a conventional time for a business-focused event.

Neither I nor Sonia could reach anyone on the CSC Ottawa chapter executive to decide on this project — we were in the middle of summer dog days, after all — so I suggested that we see if Lang would accept a cancellation fee assuming we couldn’t sell enough tickets to cover his fee. Once he accepted the modest cancellation option, the risks declined enough for me to give a go-ahead.

Then, well, things happened. About a dozen sponsors have signed on at $250 or $500 each, and we’ll likely sell out the approximately 160 available tickets.

Clearly, Sonia has done her part in seeking out sponsorships and designing the campaign. However, the intriguing thing to me about this initiative is its seeming (to me) out-of-left-field success.

It is dangerous to extrapolate but I think we can apply some lessons here to other situations:

  • Maybe the event’s day and time isn’t so important, or maybe 4:30 p.m. on Friday really makes sense for a business meeting/event.
  • Zero energy and environmental concepts have traction in the AEC community.  We should think more about how we can adapt, implement and incorporate these strategies in our marketing programs.
  • Community service and voluntary activities almost always will provide more credibility and value than conventional “selling” marketing. Get involved and contribute; find associations and community groups where you can share/support and advocate, and you may gain significant marketing advantages.

Dog days?  Maybe — but there are bright experiences ahead in the not-to-distant future because of some initiative, creativity, and rational risk-taking during the summer.

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