I am currently teaching a marketing course at a local college. It's been so fun watching my students learn and ask questions about business. They are genuinely interested in how marketing works and want lots of real life examples. Many of my experiences come from the years I owned a construction company. I have been able to share what worked and what didn't. And I have learned once again that marketing is not cut and dry. It is ever-changing, it's not easy to measure and it can be extremely expensive.
Yet marketing is an essential part of any business. When my husband and I began our construction company ten years ago we had no marketing budget. We actually had no budget for anything. We had a few weeks of work, had mortgaged our house and were more than a little nervous about how we would make ends meet. We knew we had to market our fledgling company but there was no budget. I got creative and began a quest for low-cost, no-cost marketing techniques that would give us the visibility we needed to get off the ground.
The ideas below are all things I have tried successfully. Our company grew very quickly as the result of our marketing efforts combined with excellent business practices.
Write articles in your local paper. Local newspapers are always looking for great content. Write articles about the construction industry for the general public. Topics could include: working within a construction budget, construction financing, how to choose a contractor or tips for home maintenance. The object of these articles is to establish yourself as the construction expert in your local area - not to promote your business.
Attend local networking events regularly. I know you are busy and do not have extra time but networking is key for growing a business. Make a point to get out at a minimum of a few times a month to network. If you want more tips on how to make networking more effective visit http://www.michelleneujahr.com/newsletter/currrent-newsletter/june-2006.
Participate in community service. We regularly participated in community service. We adopted a highway, volunteered at the chamber and sponsored sports teams. By doing community service people see you as committed to the community and they believe you are in business to stay.
Delight your customers - every time. We can no longer just sell a project, do the work and move on. Customers are increasingly selective and they want to be "delighted" not just served. Set up company policies that take customer service to a new level. By delighting customers you will generate a buzz with word of mouth advertising.
Enlist other to help. Partner with other companies in your field to do joint marketing, hold local events or link to each others websites. There are many creative people in the business - ask for help.
Use your current contacts. Continue marketing to your clients on an ongoing basis. We tried to have some type of contact with our clients at least four times a year either through email, personal contact or a mailing of some sort.
Write an e-mail newsletter. This is a low cost way to stay in front of your database. Just make sure the newsletter is not all about you and your company. Add interesting news about the construction industry, give them tips for home improvement and make it fun.
Offer free seminars. You can offer free seminars at local trade shows. This is another way to provide valuable information to the public while establishing you as an expert.
Make a commitment to try one new marketing strategy this month. And I'd love to hear how it works. You can send you marketing stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michelle Neujahr, Neujahr Development Company