No matter what the state of the economy, marketing should always be a part of your sweeping business. With so many different marketing strategies and avenues to choose from, a little creativity and a budget is all that is needed. It's important to note that not all marketing strategies work for every company. Contractors need to consider the size of their businesses, their target customers, and the amount of their budget they can allocate to marketing.
The first step in creating a marketing campaign is to distinguish between advertising and marketing. Yes, they are different. With advertising, you are selling something, says Dale McCaskill of Southco Commercial Property Maintenance, Darlington, SC. Advertising is often a non-personal promotion of products to both existing and potential customers, adds Chuck Hiatt, sales manager for DSS Sweeping Service, Inc., Dayton, OH. Advertising is looking specifically at what you can do to make a sale.
Marketing, on the other hand, has nothing to do with sales or bidding, says Michael Nawa, vice president of operations for Custom Maintenance Services in Newville, PA. Marketing is the process of getting your company name out and making sure your company is recognizable to your target customers. Marketing is also your opportunity to educate customers about your services and the sweeping industry. It's creating a brand for your company, Hiatt says.
"Marketing is more of a multi-faceted type of program which may include advertising, but it also includes education, communicating with your customers, and making sure you continue to keep your current customer base," McCaskill says.
Marketing can be extremely important when customers do not know the depth of services your company offers. Most sweeping contractors offer more than just a sweeper truck that cleans a parking lot. "Sweeping is the service that gets them in, but they often don't know what else we can offer them," says Tom Kuhns of Capitol Sweeping Services, South Windsor, CT.
As mentioned, not every marketing avenue will work for every company. How do you decide what marketing avenues are best for your company? Start with looking at your customers, Nawa suggests. "Find out why they buy and what influences them, both positive and negative," he says. Here are several marketing strategies that contractors have found successful in their markets.
Print and In-person Strategies
Many contractors agree that equipment is the biggest marketing tool a contractor has at his or her disposal. "It's a traveling billboard," Kuhns says. Having your company name, logo, contact information, etc. printed on your equipment ensures that everyone who sees your equipment sees the company information as well.
But don't stop at just the equipment because your employees can do just as much marketing. Kuhns suggests giving business cards to all of your drivers to hand out if anyone stops to talk with them while on the job.
DSS Sweeping Service has found success with its direct mail campaign, Hiatt says. "Most real estate property managers, chain retailers, and general building contractors have very little time to meet with sales people. A well-planned, multi-phase direct mail campaign can serve to establish an impression that pays off when the prospect is personally contacted at a later date by a salesperson," he says.
Nawa has also found success with mailing brochures. This allows the company to reach its target niche market - shopping centers - and send out marketing materials on a routine basis. To keep its marketing materials fresh, Nawa says they are updated four times a year. "People become numb to what you're sending them. The message has to change so people don't see the same thing over and over," he says. It is also important to update marketing materials if services are changed or added, Nawa adds.