In Barrie, and thinking beyond

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Today, I’m in Barrie, Ontario, to co-ordinate the editorial content for the Barrie Construction Report. The 24-page annual magazine provides a great resource for local marketers, and also allows the Barrie construction community to communicate with its extended service area, which includes the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the rest of the province.

I made a spur-of-the-moment video posting here. This wasn’t scripted, and runs a rather long eight minutes, but you may find some gems in the latter part of the video, especially where I describe the “gap” between low cost and informal marketing, and systematized, structured marketing requiring significant budgets.

The low-cost stuff is simple and relatively easy to implement. You focus on delivering exemplary service, obtaining testimonials, and systematically encourage referrals and repeat business. You supplement these resources with a solid, well-designed and content rich website, with social media, and lots of constructive community engagement with relevant associations and groups where your current and potential clients hang out. This sort of marketing is inexpensive (virtually free) cash-wise, and probably can capture upwards of 70 to 80 per cent of the relatively easy-to-reach high-quality clients you could expect to acquire reasonably rapidly. If you are just starting out, you will need to connect with friends, family, previous clients from other organizations where you worked (subject to ethical and legal constraints) and social/community involvement.

The higher-cost marketing, paid advertising and systematized events and activities to accelerate repeat and referral business, requires more budget resources and risk-taking at first, because you will experience some trial and error, and failure. Once you break-through and achieve some success, you can build out, testing and tweaking to improve yield/results,  extending with other experiments in different media, and so on. Because you know you will be profitable from your benchmark marketing/advertising, this isn’t risky at all. Best of all, you now can control your lead flow — dialing things up when things slow down, an dialing the volume down when you get busy.

However, you’ll most likely discover a significant “gap” when you tread into paid marketing. Salespeople will pitch various alternatives, some of which could be downright damaging to your business (such as the leads services which hijack your website and domain). Most painfully, you’ll most likely discover initially that the paid marketing doesn’t work and so seems to be a dead waste, or (perhaps equally frustrating) you achieve some success in one aspect — say initial inquiries — but you cannot effectively convert the new leads. Is that because the leads are poor, or your conversion systems aren’t right/

I wish I had an answer about how to best bridge this gap; but I can say the first stage — setting up low cost systems to induce, track and encourage repeat and referral business, and a solid website with a good content management strategy — won’t cost you much if anything.

Time for breakfast . . . and a day’s work in Barrie.

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