Participative construction marketing: The power of experience

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ride the rideau numbers

The Ride The Rideau raised almost $183 million for cancer research

Well, yesterday, riding my 20-year-old bike, I arrived in the final (late) straggling group of riders, with wobbling knees, sore legs and a really painful bum.  The $2,000 I raised for cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital really proved to be a drop in the bucket in the $1.8 million raised.  However, the experience taught me an important marketing lesson (other than I really should practice before trying this sort of thing again).

Experience counts.

Let me repeat this again and bold it for a little dramatic emphasis.

Experience counts and may be your most important clue to construction marketing expense.

If you can engage your current and potential clients in a multi-sensory experience which leaves them feeling good about themselves, you’ll achieve more marketing power than any passive advertising or hard-rock selling.

The reason:  When your client or prospect’s mind and body is totally engaged in the process, this includes both emotions and memory-generating impact.  The marketing message sinks in, deeply.

In practice, you can achieve this type of experience in two ways.  First, through the relationships with your existing clients or people who initially connect with you.  If you can find a way to make the experience enjoyable, meaningful, WOW, fun, intense (where appropriate) and inspiring, you will succeed.

You can also engage with your community and employees in creative experience-generating activities, such as in-action community service projects or social/fun events.

ride the rideau team

Robert Merkley’s "The Brick Peddlars" team raised $171,408, more than any other team in the initiative

Of course, you need to watch out for the cliches and the dangers of forcing yourself (and your team) into artificial behaviour.  Recently, for example, I listened to a presentation where the speaker read many of the ideas here from his script without passion, sincerity or respect for his audience.  I wish I could report on the reactions of the small group of cynical listeners at our table but that would break the “no negative news about identifiable individuals” rule for this blog.  In this case, the speaker created an “experience” entirely oppositite of his intended presentation — and in fact achieved a negative branding result!  (Ouch.)

Obviously, if you work in the residential construction space, contributing and supporting “builds” for Habitat for Humanity may provide some of this sort of experience — but check with your local Habitat chapter and perhaps you can find something more substantial and actualy valuable to the Habitat group to contribute (in fact, “Builds” are so popular that in Ottawa, Habitat now expects corporations to give something more — ideally cash — to earn the right to participate in the team-building project.)

Probably the most creative and effective experience building activity is to bring a new initiative to your community.  In the case of Ride the Rideau, Robert Merkely and Claude DesRosiers observed a similar concept in Toronto and decided that the idea could be successful in Ottawa.  Here, they could work with an established organization with its own marketing and fund-raising infrastructure (The Ottawa Hospital) to achieve the goals and mange the project.

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