By Mark Buckshon
What happens when we ask this question: “How would you change your construction marketing if you think about it from a productivity perspective?”
Clearly, if you are considering the effects of productivity on your business, you are focusing on the overall results of your efforts, both in time and money. Effective productivity thinking also focuses on synergies and whether you can achieve more than one positive objective with the same initiative, while of course reducing waste, duplication and inefficient activities.
So what happens when you connect construction marketing to productivity? Below, we’ll discuss several simple and low-cost concepts and tactics that will really enhance your marketing effectiveness.
- Connect, communicate, listen and follow-up with current clients on current projects.
Your current clients should be your highest marketing priority because great experiences result in repeat and referral business. My polling over the past 10 years indicates that most architectural, engineering and construction businesses get most of their business from repeat and referral clients. So anything you can do to increase your success rate here will have a proportionately powerful marketing impact.
Just consider this. Say your repeat and referral business increases by 10%. You would, assuming all else remains the same, increase your overall business by at least 7.1% – with almost no additional marketing costs.
Learning what went right, as well what went wrong, is equally important when communicating and listening to your clients. Your client feedback process will help you to catch problems before they get out of hand, and allow you to seek out and suggest future business opportunities. It also doesn’t need to be intrusive and can be baked into your initial proposals and agreements.
- Consider relevant client-focused association/community service support and leadership.
The productivity gains here are harder to measure in the short-term, but if you think long-range, the benefits will become very apparent. The challenge: You have to be in giving, rather than taking, mode in accepting association and community service responsibilities. If you start out at these activities with a return-on-investment mindset you will likely be disappointed, and the groups you are purportedly supporting will see through your selfish ruse. Therefore, think about how you can first provide value for relevant associations and groups. The ROI will come later.
Still, I believe association and community leadership is vital for construction marketing because you gain other advantages when you elect to get involved with worthy groups and causes. You’ll learn about trends, issues and priorities, build your reputation and brand, gather useful competitive intelligence and even often discover emotional satisfaction. The rewards magnify as you take on leadership roles; where your local association chapter will often pay your travel costs to regional and national conventions and your connections lead to relationships that make business development simple and natural.
- Look at your website and social media participation from a fresh perspective.
It’s easy to throw massive sums of money into website development, with limited results. But it isn’t much more difficult to develop a strong website and social media presence for relatively modest investments, as long as you are ready to study the process carefully and understand how things work from your clients’ perspective. You can also learn enough to ask the right questions, and in turn, discover relatively inexpensive technical experts to implement your program.
Great websites with strong response mechanisms can cost as low as a few hundred and at most a few thousand dollars. While you will need to rethink your web strategy every three or four years as technology advances, the amortized costs will still be lower than most conventional paid marketing initiatives.
- Leverage your expertise.
No matter your specialty, your company has its own voice and expertise that others want to hear from. To leverage your knowledge, you could write a white paper on a topic and turn it into a series of blog posts, trade magazine articles and notes for speeches to association and technical conferences. In other words, one piece of work can be repurposed to serve multiple channels, enhancing your marketing effectiveness without spending much in the way of money.
- Think strategically, but be ready to respond to tactical opportunities.
A simple but flexible annual marketing plan, with defined objectives, budget and measuring mechanisms will pay off. By making it easier for you to say “yes” or “no” to various pitches and offers and allow you to define your go or no-go guidelines when you set out to respond to RFPs and bidding opportunities, a strategy is a construction marketing essential for maximizing productivity. You don’t need to make this into a novel – in fact, ideally your annual plan shouldn’t require more than a page. However, it will force you to ask the right questions and seek the answers you need before throwing money down the drain.
Tie your construction marketing strategy to productivity
Your construction marketing plan and productivity strategy don’t have to be disconnected. At the end of the day, businesses are ultimately trying to lower margins and gain new business. By making productivity one of your marketing objectives, you’ll see more of an impact from the money you are spending and increase your profits in time.
Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group, which publishes Ontario Construction News. He blogs at www.constructionmarketingideas.com.