Effective construction marketing = Less sales and price stress

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070703-N-0979M-013 LIGAO, Philippines (July 3, 2007) - Seabees assigned to the Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 shovel concrete mixture into a pile during a community relations project at the Honest Anislag Duraga Transition Center in support of Pacific Partnership 2007. Pacific Partnership brings together the U.S. military and participating non-governmental organizations in a humanitarian mission to demonstrate the generosity and humanity of people working together to establish a secure and stable tomorrow. The four-month deployment builds on the success of Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and her 2006 deployment to the region. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leonard Mandap (RELEASED)

Here is the most important question you should ask whenever you think about architectural, engineering and construction marketing: How much easier will it be for you to develop new business at prices/volume that are profitable?

If you can work out the correlation between marketing investment and these results, you’ll know (sooner or later) that your marketing is effective, or wasteful.

More leads, more willingness to pay your “top price”, more profitability . . .

Of course, while the concept may be simple, the execution certainly isn’t, especially for design and construction services where there is  a long lead-time, relatively small numbers of big-ticket orders, and (in many cases) many different decision-makers and influencers deciding the course of action (including the public perspective and sometimes public rules) that there should be open and fair competition, and the low bidder should win the job.

And, in the higher-ticket residential and ICI markets, you can’t buy your way in with expensive advertising (unless you really have deep pockets and lots of courage, or you’ll lose your shirt.

Let’s look at an example of how the story here can be complicated. A well-regarded general contractor in eastern Ontario recently cried “foul” at Kingston city council for selecting another contractor through an RFP process (where price didn’t need to be the final decision-making aspect), when the contractor’s representatives assert they could certainly have done the job at lower cost than the successful incumbent.

But relationships, history, and obviously some good-will between the competing incumbent contractor and the city’s politicians and staff carried the day — perhaps to the expense of local taxpayers.

These observations lead me to an attitude that may seem totally contradictory to someone who earns 99 per cent of his income by selling advertising to contractors.

You can get the most profitable results by building, maintaining and enhancing relationships with your current clients and their networks (often through supporting relevant community and trade associations and causes) than you will through any organized, structured, and fee-paid marketing strategies.

If anyone tries to sell you any marketing services, think about the question at the start of this post. How much will that marketing investment pay off in lower sales resistance and higher volume at prices that are profitable to you?

If you can’t discover a good answer to this question — allowing perhaps for a 10 per cent “try it, it may work” budget — leave the marketing services purchase to someone else, and spend more time ensuring your clients and community really are happy with your services.

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