The creative spirit: Getting ahead in construction marketing by thinking ahead

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From Cupertino Electric’s Facebook page: "The marketing team visited Cupertino Electric’s PG&E Year 2 Solar project in Huron, CA yesterday, where our team is busy installing almost 60,000 solar panels that will output 20MW of clean energy."

I suppose we all, at times, wish we could wave a magic wand and discover the secret sauce to attracting as many of the ?right? clients as we need, without any time delay, major expense, or hard work.  This is the sort of stuff that Internet scammers try with various spammy emails.  Just sign up for their ?free? (usually with some hidden, but real costs) program, and you?ll be on your way to instant wealth.

Of course, things are never that simple, but sometimes answers are right under our noses, and often cost much less than we might think otherwise.  One of the most important answers, as reported in yesterday?s posting about the death of solution selling in construction marketing, is to find our way into the hearts and minds of clients well before they know they have a need for our services ? or, perhaps, more accurately, when they are trying to figure out their needs.

The challenge here is the needle in a haystack problem.  Things are much easier if someone clearly says:  ?I?m ready to buy,? and that is the place of public bids, RFPs, and even ?pre-qualified lists.?  You review the RFP or the specs, and prepare your quote or proposal.  If yours is the best, lowest, or both, you have a chance at winning. (Not a sure thing, however, because usually another organization or incumbent has staked out a inner track and runs off with the prize.)

The solution appears to be in a place where you are both one step ahead of your clients and have some proprietary advantages.

Here is an example:  The Cupertino Electric Ltd.?s special test facility to evaluate different solar array products.

?We are testig different components in side-by-side analysis (which) can be compared to computer models,? Saurabh Samdani, the project engineer who developed the idea, told Engineering News Report.  ?The individual components will perform a certain way in a lab, and they?ll perform a certain way in their indvdual cut sheet.  But when you assemble them in real life, the results are always different.  That?s why we?re doing it.?

This practical test lab allows the contractor to suggest the best solar array solution for a variety of jobs ? what works best in one situation, may not in another. The data is confidential ? only Cupertino Electric clients can see it.

Brilliant, I think.  First, this contractor will deliver far more than the ?specs? in working on solar projects ? it is in a position to make recommendations to write or change them (based on objective data).  Secondly, the contractor has control of the information so competitors can?t use it ? but clients certainly can.  Finally, they received news section publicity about this initiative in ENR, obviously bolstering their credibility and helping in business development.

I?m looking for other similar examples of contractor innovation and success for an upcoming SMPS Marketer article.  If you know anyone doing anything interesting, let me know by email to

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