Busting The Marketing Myth
By Corey Adams
Let’s stop with the regurgitated garbage already. You know, the same sales pitch that every lead generation company and self-proclaimed marketing guru offers. “Want more leads? My proven system blah, blah blah.” It is exhausting.
As someone that has been in the construction industry for over 20 years, and marketing my own companies and helping others, I get a kick out of those gurus. They still think we want our phone to ring more.
I was just like you when I started taking over marketing our company. I read a few articles, looked at a few books, and could not make heads or tails out of it. Over the years of trial and error, I learned why. Because everyone putting out marketing help is just trying to get you to hire them to do your marketing. There is a plethora of not fully true information out there and even some outright lies.
Marketing is the largest myth in marketing. Wait, what? The idea of marketing is misunderstood to a point of frustration. I post quite a few comments in construction social media groups and get the same familiar response from a significant number of professionals. “I have never marketed in my life, been busy for 30 years.” OK, so you’re telling me you don’t have business cards? You don’t have your name on your invoices? You have never introduced yourself as someone who does construction work? That is what I thought.
Therein lies the biggest myth. Marketing is not purely about finding work. Marketing is about creating a brand around your company that attracts people even when the paid advertisements are turned off. It is about showcasing the reputation you have worked so hard to build in a way that catches the eyes of higher-paying clients. It is about building your brand into a destination for potential clients to get information, and know they are getting it from the best.
All your marketing efforts should be directed at building your brand. The leads come naturally when the brand is positioned correctly. Your shirts, business cards, social media pages, website, etc. should all have the brand in mind.
The who, why, what, how, and when. Planning is the first step to building a brand.
Who – Who are your target customers? Do they live in a specific area, have a certain income level, shop at a certain store, what age are they, etc. A clearly defined audience is key before you through money at any form of marketing.
Why – Why do they need the project done? Most projects are completed to satisfy human nature and desires. Envious of the neighbors, jealous of what so and so just got, or just a plain status symbol purchase. Very few projects are created out of NECESSITY. We are a society that loves excess and more than the next person. Your marketing needs to be addressing the cause of their purchases.
What – Advertising multiple services in the same ad is not recommended. We want to give the impression that we are the go-to source for a specific type of project. You can provide multiple services, but never put out a piece of marketing that lists them all. We started separate LLCs within our organization just to keep our branding in line with what we were trying to produce.
How – Here is a little secret, your customers do not care what you do. They do care about how you can solve their problems or human desires. This is customer-centric marketing. Stop talking about everything you can do, start teaching them everything you can provide for them.
When – Timing is everything. It is hard to sell air conditioners in Wisconsin in January. Spending money advertising at the wrong time usually ends up with tire kickers calling for offseason pricing.
Creating a plan is the first step to any successful marketing campaign. Marketing for marketing’s sake is a dead end. It may get your phone to ring, but if the jobs are not what you want, or not from high-profit clients, what did it gain other than creating “work?”
We are not far removed from a simpler time. Some of you remember, put an ad in the yellow pages and wait. Maybe if you get going well, sprinkle in some newspaper or radio ads. Bam, that was the extent of marketing. Times have changed.
The world has gone digital. The avenues one can market their company and build a brand have exploded. From social media, websites, blogs, YouTube, the possibilities are endless. So, what is best? I will tell you the same thing that I tell everyone who asks, it depends.
For small one crew companies, some good content on social media and Google my business is enough. By good content, I mean engaging posts that gain organic traction through likes, shares, and comments. This content should lean on the human desires that drive us to hire contractors. The best part is that other than a little time, social media, and Google my business profiles are free to create and free to use.
As a company grows or wants to niche down to a tight service offering, then websites become a must. Just like everything, websites have changed a bit as well. As a small business, a solid landing page with a couple of service pages is plenty. There is some optimization and SEO, search engine optimization, that needs to be done, but the days of needing a 40-page website are dying. SEO companies are fighting for your business because it has gotten so simple that anyone with some computer knowledge can do it. Another myth, SEO does not cost $500 per month. Not even close. Your website can be built in your own time, and you can find hosting for under $50 per month if self-directed.
I am also a believer in Social Media ads. These are paid ads that can be hyper-targeted to exactly what you are looking for. They have an excellent bang for your buck and can be turned on and off with a click of a button. Again, well-designed content is key.
As an example, when we were running at $1 million in gross sales per year, we had an advertising budget of about $5,000.00. This was a website, google ads, Facebook ads, and some signs.
I do not discredit yard signs, business cards, referral programs, direct mailers, or any type of marketing. Every marketing option has a specific purpose. Without a plan or a discussion, it is hard to determine where the budget is best spent.
I will close with this. Marketing does not have to be elaborate. At a minimum, it is a place to showcase the work you take so much pride in and give potential clients a way to find you. At a maximum, it is a highly engaging campaign to build your brand into a destination for all potential clients, especially the ones that you really want.
Throwing blind money to get some “leads” is not marketing. It may produce instant results, but long term it is not a solution. Marketing is a tool, an investment, and the only way to dominate your desired market.
About the Author
Corey Adams Is Vice President of Kelly Lang Contractors, Inc. He also speaks on entrepreneurship to trade schools, and is a Certified CE instructor.