I moved to Utah nearly two years ago, and I am amazed at how hard the small entrepreneurs I have met here work to generate leads and maintain their customer bases. Most of these folks are one-man shows with very limited marketing budgets but not afraid of hard work to drive their businesses. It must be the hardy pioneer spirit, but it also sounds like the way decorative concrete contractors should be thinking.
Recently I attended a business seminar dealing with the “Seven Core Self Promotion Strategies.” Here are seven strategies to ponder if you want the phone to ring and keep ringing. This type of marketing requires some effort but will pay off handsomely if you are willing to do the work.
- Networking Strategy. How well are you linked with others in your local market — suppliers, subcontractors, builders, architects, i.e., all those who may drive business your way — and are you referring them as well? How often do you make contact with them to share information and ideas?
- Direct Outreach Strategy. This is you making calls on architects, builders and designers. This is just good old fashion cold calling. I call it creating opportunity on your own terms. It was once said we probably drive by or fail to ask for more work than we could possibly ever install. Sometimes we just don’t ask or take the time to stop and inquire about the opportunities that are right in plain sight. Another old saying: Shy Salesmen have skinny kids. Same goes for contractors.
- Referral Strategy. When you get a job or a lead do you recognize that person who got you the lead? Referrals from your network of contacts bring an ongoing source of good business. This includes not only the circle of suppliers and trades you are in contact with but the customers you have done work for. If you are not getting a steady stream of referrals it might be a good time to reexamine your organization from top to bottom and ask why you are not getting them.
- Keep in Touch Strategy. People love to be remembered and recognized. There is a service called Send Out Cards that is an incredible way to send a very high quality card expressing your gratitude or remembering special occasions. Big results for little money. Check this out on the Internet today.
- Speaking/Demonstration Strategy. The vast majority your competition will not schedule a speaking presentation or product demonstration for architects or other potential customers. Get with a group like Toastmasters and sharpen your public speaking skills — this will open many doors to you that you never knew existed.
- Writing Strategy. Look into writing press releases for your local media and trade publications about jobs you have completed or projects you are involved in that may be high profile. ASCC has the press release templates and guidelines already put together or you.
- Web Strategy. The Internet seems to be one of the most powerful marketing engines today. This is a crowded and very competitive venue. Get an excellent web designer and someone that can drive your website to the top of the page. And look into social media marketing like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Today’s marketing dollars are hard to come by, but we cannot afford to minimize our marketing efforts. Do we have a well thought out action plan that produces a consistently full pipeline of new clients and referrals? Once the lead generation machine stops, we begin to wonder where the next job is going to come from and this begins a downhill domino effect. The Seven Strategies listed above can produce very productive results for many years to come. And all it takes on your part is some hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Frank Lewis is vice president at Sundeck Products, Inc. and the director of the American Society of Concrete Contractor’s (ASCC) Decorative Concrete Council (DCC). The DCC is the only professional organization dedicated to focusing on the issues, trends and work of the decorative concrete industry, and to meeting the needs of the contractors who pursue this specialty market. You can email Frank at email@example.com. Learn more about the Decorative Concrete Council at the ASCC website.