Nothing replaces face-to-face, hand shakin', and eyeball-to-eyeball selling. Nothing! Yet so many contractors have fallen for the old tricks of advertisers and marketing schemes that promise to do everything for you - except have the customer sign the contract. Enough is enough.
Do you need to do marketing? Yes! Do you need to advertise? Absolutely! But do not let these efforts, as needed as they are, replace "get out of the office and go make as many courtesy calls" as you can humanly make. Let me give you some ideas to make your "shoe leather marketing" more effective during these very difficult times.
- Never leave your office (or home) without business cards, brochures, and samples. But don't settle for just dropping off the marketing "wares." In between your daily efforts and scheduled appointments, target zip code areas or work type and commit to stop and introduce yourself.
- Ask for the owner, property manager, or the head of the facility or grounds. Always smile and when you meet people, stick out your hand first to shake theirs. Give a firm grip and make sure your eyes are looking directly into their eyes as this sends a sure signal of confidence and enthusiasm.
- Schedule a "project theme" each week. With one contractor I recently worked with the first week each month is "property managers" week; the second week is "health care property" week; the third week is "industrial property" week; and the fourth week is "government property" week.
- Identify and work your "honey holes." Look at your past few years of business and identify the three to five "honey holes" of work and determine to go extra hard on seeking one or two of those similar job types during that particular week.
Now, don't misunderstand. The "themes" idea does not exclude any other project type that you run across during the week, nor does it mean you should disregard any calls or web leads you might receive. It just reminds you that in addition to everything else you are doing, fill any crack of time with an extra focus on those "theme" projects scheduled to be called on during the respective week.
- Prepare for "shoe leather marketing." To be effective prepare a week or two ahead so that you have the best list of names and addresses to work. Keep those names and addresses in your vehicle so that they are just a reach away when you have a few minutes to fill. Review the list each morning, consider where your day might lead you, and look for prospects that will be in striking distance of your schedule. For example, you've got an appointment with a condo manager and you realize that just three blocks over is a federal property that you've done work for in the past. Add this extra stop and visit to your day.
- "Press the flesh." This is obviously a sales person's phrase but it does strongly suggest that we are to get out of the office, out of our vehicles, and go directly to people to meet them. There is still something very likeable about the sales person who is making face-to-face courtesy calls instead of just sending brochures or post cards out hoping for a return phone call. Don't get me wrong, we need marketing, too, but there is still nothing that quite gains the approval of a prospect as sizing up the owner or estimator personally.
In a time where many contractors are hurting for more leads "shoe leather marketing" gives you a first-hand look at the prospects and actually might help you qualify the prospect quicker. True, it does take longer to hit as many people as one marketing drop of postcards could hit, but those cards don't always qualify our best option of customer.
Nothing beats "shoe leather marketing." Many pieces of sales information can add to the effectiveness, but nothing can replace it. So don't be shy about getting out and pounding the pavement. You know your area better than anyone so don't overlook the innocence that you might once have had about calling on anyone and everyone.
While you do not want to spin your wheels on proven wasted calls, don't be so quick to write off those prospects that might be open to having some work performed. Continue to work on developing creative payment plans, warranty programs, etc. But do not overlook the sure thing that will lead to more sales..."shoe leather marketing!"