Marketing is an aspect with which almost every business needs to concern itself. One of the keys to successful marketing is setting your company apart from competitors. Concrete contractors around the industry have found some unique and non-traditional marketing strategies to increase their visibility with consumers in their markets.
Show us what you've got
When it came to a unique marketing strategy Colorado Hardscapes, Denver, decided to go big - 4,000 sq. ft. big. Five years ago the company decided to create a design center, says Jay Fangman, business development director. Since then, the center has gone through three renovations to incorporate new product lines and expanded samples. There is also a 2,000 sq. ft. outdoor sample area.
The idea to create a concrete design center came after Fangman was driving and saw other businesses with design centers. "We just wanted to have some place where we could invite clients to come, see the possibilities and then educate them about the possibilities of the project," he says.
Fangman estimates that 10 to 12 potential clients, primarily from the design community, come through the center every day. "It's set up where we have different product offerings in certain areas," Fangman says. Eight different product areas in the showroom display samples, pictures, bins of aggregate and specifications for the products.
The overall theme of the center is to "educate, stimulate and engage," according to Fangman. The design center has a research and development area where clients can have hands-on learning. Also, a computer in the design center allows clients to download their plans and see what the finished project would look like with Colorado Hardscapes' products.
Clients have told Fangman they are impressed with the size of the center as well as the benefits seeing and walking on the products provides. "We hear comments all the time about not having any idea that concrete has gone so far in the last few years," Fangman says. He likes to tell potential clients that half of what is in the showroom didn't exist five years ago.
The major benefit of Colorado Hardscapes' design center is that it establishes the company as a resource in the design community, adds Fangman. He has no doubt the center has been a successful marketing tool.
"Everything we do is a form of marketing," Fangman says. "Marketing has a lot to do with education. And that's what we look at. Are we educating; are we informing; are we adding value to whatever we try to put in front of our clients? And if we're doing that than it very much is a marketing function for us."
A 'web' of opportunity
Having a company website may not be unique in a world where the Internet is fast becoming a necessity. However, contractors can tailor their websites to fit their own desires and audiences.
Graley Concrete Construction Inc., Osceloa, Wis., created its first website seven years ago, according to Jeff Haley, president. In 2001, Haley decided he wanted to gear his company's focus toward decorative concrete and increase the volume of his work. So Haley created the company's website (www.graleyconcrete.com) to suit those needs.
His strategy was to keep the site basic. "Competitors dazzle everybody with these songs and all these off-the-wall things, and you can't even get into the basics of what they're trying to do," he says. The company's website has been updated since 2001, but Haley has kept it simple. The basics, he says, are key elements to a good concrete contractor website.
Haley says the home page should give information about the contractor. "You're experience does it - putting on what you've done and what you do," he says. "Just start at the top with what you do best and what you want to sell, and then work down from there." He also suggests being personable through the site's text.
One element of the site Haley finds particularly useful is the "Color Chart and Patterns" page. People can lose or misplace print handouts, he says. Having it available for customers on the website prevents Haley from returning to the job multiple times to hand out samples.