So far, 63 readers have responded to the survey question:
“Which general marketing methods in this list have resulted in profitable business for your organization. Check as many as you wish. The only guideline is they have been profitable for you in the last year.”
My goal in asking this question was not to debunk the importance of word-of-mouth (referral) and repeat business, which continue to generate more than 70 per cent of most architectural, engineering and construction businesses. However, I wanted to know more about the “others” — to help business owners and managers to decide where you should allocate your resources and, if you haven’t already tried the method, to test out new strategies.
The results are interesting, though of course not scientific. Virtually every marketing method works for some businesses, but none works for the majority. The most votes — at one-third of the total — goes to “trade/community association participation and relationships” and the lowest scores were received for pay-per-click advertising (9.5 per cent) and canvassing/telemarketing, which only received four votes (6.3%).
Most of the other categories hover in the 15 to 20 per cent range, meaning they work for perhaps one in six to one in five businesses.
I’ll dissect the results more closely in the next few days. Although sample size is too small to judge anything definitively, we may be able to get some clues about how results correlate with business types and markets. Ultimately, this survey would be most useful if conducted within your own industry sector/focus (and associated with your company size and some geographical/demographic similarity). Perhaps your industry association could conduct a variation. Of course, if you get too close to home, you’ll be banging right up against your competitors who might not want to disclose their operations too closely, and in any case, you probably won’t succeed by directly copying a competitor because that business will already “own” the niche/methodology and have built the trial-and-error experience to use the model most effectively.
Nevertheless, the results here aren’t entirely surprising to me. Our business earns most of its revenue through print and online advertising sales (not pay-per-click), which ranks close to the 20 per cent average. However, we spend most of our marketing resources on trade association participation and support, because the relationships both build credibility (=trust=brand) and allow us to understand potential client needs/values more closely. Everything can work, it seems.