A core marketing rule is differentiation — you must stand out from the crowd, hopefully with attributes that potential clients value.
Of course not all differentiation is good. You could, I suppose, earn “fame” as operating the most unsafe construction business in your community, with a fatal accident or two to your name. Hardly helpful for marketing. Conversely, bragging about how safe your sites are probably will win you some grudging respect, but others will say: “Heck, it your obligation to be safe.”
Successful differentiation requires you to be leading, but not bleeding edge — unless really stretching the limits reflects your passion.
Consider, for example, environmentally responsible construction. Some years ago, a few contractors bought in (early) to the US Green Building Council (USGBC) or the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC)‘s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) initiative.
If you happened to be the first significant contractor in your community with a successful LEED certified project under your belt, you would have some positioning and marketing advantage. But does the same hold if you were second, third or fourth. (You might get around this limitation by being the first builder of a LEED Platinum project, of course.)
But you didn’t necessarily need to be the first LEED project builder in the nation. In other words, if you manage to lead the initiative in your own community/market area, you win points for being first, where it really counts.
This suggests a strategy to figure out a differentiating point where you can excel and win marketing leadership. Through your association membership and attending relevant conventions, or through travel and visiting other communities with similar demographics, look for the stand-out contractor, architect, or engineering practice that has caught the community and local media’s attention.
Then, on learning what you can about the non-competing business, see if you can apply the lessons learned to your own enterprise or organization.
You’ll be seen as a leader and you’ll achieve your differentiation objectives, but the risk will be entirely reasonable.
P.S. On researching for an image for this story, I discovered the book Marketing Green Building Services: Strategies for Success, by Jerry Yudelson. I haven’t read the book so cannot say how helpful it will be, but it looks worthy of further research.