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The Smartest Tool in the Shed
By Duane Craig
March 26, 2018
With the constant barrage of new sales and marketing strategies, it's easy to lose sight of tried and true methods. Here are five that can still help you win more business.
1. Win With Your Past
Call past clients just to say hi or to update them on your services. During the conversation, you'll learn whether they, or someone they know, need something done. Such phone calls are easier than cold calling as you've already got an established relationship with your past clients. Get their current email address and ask if you can add them to your monthly email newsletter.
However, be cautious of these tactics when a disaster strikes because this can add insult to injury. Sure, many of your past customers may need your help. It might be tempting to just jump on the phone to line up work, but these events require sensitivity. Most people need time to overcome their grief and the feeling of helplessness. What is more, you may often not know that someone has also lost their loved ones.
So, initially, focus on others by helping with immediate needs like food, shelter, water, even rescue work. It might be days or even weeks before people are ready to move forward with rebuilding. When you are involved in the recovery efforts, you will know when the time is right to start talking to people about what you can do to help.
2. Bet on Word of Mouth
If you work on residential projects, find ways to meet other homeowners in the area. Of course, ask your current client for referrals, but, to expand on your new contacts, consider stopping at nearby homes to tell them about your work in the neighborhood. Approach them by offering information about the project and things you are doing to make the work less disruptive. Tell them about specific steps you're taking to keep demolition debris confined, or how you will minimize noise or mitigate the effects of increased heavy truck traffic.
Since you are already working in the area, you might decide you can offer nearby residents some discounts. This same tactic applies to commercial work. If you are remodeling an apartment building, others nearby might also need repairs or remodels. If you are redoing a retail storefront, nearby tenants with upcoming lease renewals might want estimates for remodels they could present to the building owner. As urban centers expand, they spin off construction zones with multiple developers. If you are running a project for one of those developers, there likely are opportunities with other developers.
3. Double Down on Direct Mail
Using technology to advertise is so easy that it is heavily overused. So overused, many people now filter their email and use ad blockers. In short, if you aren't invited to show your marketing materials, they won't probably see them. Construction is a big ticket item, so informational mailings seem to fit naturally. Moreover, as direct mail is more durable than email, it helps people remember you and actually gets better response rates than email.
Keep your mailings highly targeted. Use postcards to announce your activities in a neighborhood or to showcase photos of a locally completed project. Send informational pieces to homeowners, architects, commercial building owners, and developers. Be sure to target recipients that are most likely to need your services.
4. Break Through at Lunch
Construction is ideal for a marketing technique called 'lunch and learn.' You invite people to an under-construction or completed job to demonstrate how you incorporate a technique or material in the projects you build. You control who comes so you can showcase your work to the people who'd be most interested in your services. Lunch doesn't have to be anything fancy, but it must be safe, easy to eat, and pleasing a wide variety of palates. Have the affair catered, or go simpler with menus of cold cuts and cheese or mini sub sandwiches. Just make sure you include the menu in your invitations, so people with restricted diets or allergies know ahead of time.
5. Depend on Financing and Payment Knowledge
From smart phone apps for receiving payments to industrial development bonds, there are a wealth of ways you can help clients fund and pay for their projects. When you become the expert on financing and payment options, you shorten project approval timelines and help clients get more of what they want in their projects. When you know about the tax incentives available for energy efficiency, you can guide them to decisions that help pay for those improvements. Construction services are not cheap. The more you can help people manage the investment, the greater your chances of landing more jobs.
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