In a previous article, I introduced you to the six systems that control the fate of your construction business. To refresh your memory, they were:
6. Financial Control
In this article, I am going to expand on the seven components that should come together to form your marketing system. Do you remember that the sole purpose of your marketing system is to generate a flood of qualified sales leads?
Whether you cash in on those leads is a sales issue. Do not expect your marketing system to close sales and ring the cash register. Do not expect your estimator to do that either, that’s not his job nor is he well suited for selling.
To generate the volume of quality leads your business needs to achieve your sales goals, you need marketing systems for:
1. Generating leads from new customers
2. Generating leads from existing customers
3. Prodding referrals from existing customers.
4. Collecting testimonials.
5. Building relationship with your customers
6. Publicizing your business
7. Developing new advertising pieces.
Let’s dive into the seven marketing systems, discuss their purpose, and highlight a few tricks that will make them productive for you.
1. Generating Leads From New Customers.
Here is the mountain all businesses must climb – generating opportunities with new customers. Getting them is really not the problem. Getting them without breaking the bank is the problem.
You can’t afford unlimited advertising. You can’t afford to hire a large staff of sales personnel to cold call everyone. You need an efficient and effective system for generating new leads.
Here a couple of tips for that.
Get your website up and ready for prime time. It is your most cost effective method for capturing quality leads. You may not be computer oriented, but your customers most assuredly are.
Second tip, copy the successful advertising practices of a best-in-class peer. You will need to contact contractors outside of your city to pull this one off.
Track down the best in the business. Get the owner’s name. Call them. You’ll be amazed how generous non-competitive peers will be if you approach them humbly and with genuine respect of their incredible success.
Every time you put a new lead generating system in place, monitor its effectiveness. Tweak it and monitor the improvement or lack there of. Keep tweaking until you learn the most efficient method for generating the quantity of new customer leads you need to fulfill your sales goals.
2. Generating Leads From Existing Customers.
You need a system for stimulating repeat business. Sam Walton used to say that the first time someone bought, he had a sale. The second time someone bought, he had a customer.
Your easiest sell is to your existing customer.
You need to prompt those repeat sales. If your service is cycles (landscaping, pavement maintenance, painting, roofing, air conditioning) send out reminders when they should be approaching on the date they would need new service.
As a job finishes, ask your client what future projects they are considering. Put the information into your scheduling calendar and start calling them or mailing them prior to that time.
If you have multiple services, send advertisements and coupons that invite them to try the services they haven’t used yet. If you offer a maintenance service, send educational materials that explain what maintenance should be done…and offer to do it for them.
If you already have a large customer base, expand your services to tap into all the goodwill you’ve already created. Your existing customer base is the most valuable resource your business has. Learn how to mine new sales from it.
3. Prodding Referrals From Existing Customers.
Word of mouth advertising is the most effective means of generating leads from new customers. What carries more weight with you when deciding whether to buy something or hire someone to perform a service for you?
» Exhaustive research?
» The recommendation of someone you trust who has previously bought the product or used the service?
It’s human nature to take the word of a trusted advisor over all other information. The one thing we all hate is spending money on something that disappoints us. So we take the word of someone who already purchased and wasn’t disappointed to avoid regretting our purchase.
Now flip that around. Your customers can be your most effective sales people if you encourage them to.
To stimulate referrals, you need to:
(a) Ask for the referrals.
(b) Make it easy for them – create the referral letter.
(c) Reward them for the referral.
Referrals always work best when your customer contacts their friend on your behalf. Getting the friend’s name and mentioning that you were referred works nowhere near as well, but it does work better than having no referral.
4. Collecting Testimonials.
Testimonials should be the fuel of your advertising efforts. Testimonials overcome buyer resistance. They have greater influence on buying behavior than almost everything else short of a direct referral.
A process for collecting testimonials should be built into your customer close-out. Typically, if you ask for one it will be granted. Most satisfied customers are happy to provide testimonials, assuming you give them some guidelines.
Store your testimonials in accordance with the benefits they speak to. That way, you will have them ready at hand to prove you will meet your prospect’s needs when making a sales call or submitting a proposal.
5. Building Relationship With Your Customers.
People buy from, and keep buying from, people they like.
You need a system for maintaining your relationship with your customers. Typically, that means tracking and celebrating their birthday, their spouse’s birthday, their children’s birthdays, etc.
Send handwritten greeting cards on their special occasions. Send handwritten Thank You cards upon completion of the work. Track their hobbies and send them interesting information as you come across it. Make them think they are never far from your mind and you will have a customer for life.
6. Publicizing Your Business.
Since advertising is so expensive, you need to be set up to take advantage of every opportunity for free publicity.
Local newspapers are often looking for content. Any time something of substance happens in your business you should send it to them as a press release. That would include landing large or high profile contracts and receiving industry awards.
Get to know the business columnists in your area and become a source for quotes. Give interviews to magazine editors and feature writers.
Give presentations to Rotary, Lions, and other clubs. They are always looking for presenters. The subject doesn’t matter. They will remember someone representing your firm spreading goodwill among business leaders.
Strike up joint ventures with other businesses that serve your clientele.
All of these efforts need to be organized, scheduled, and assigned to someone. They need to be part of system.
7. Developing New Advertising Pieces.
The development of a new advertising piece should be the result of a well executed design process.
Start off by identifying the market segment you wish to target. Choose the problem(s) you are going to solve. Come up with a killer offer. Round up the appropriate testimonial or three. Then find a graphic artist and copy writer to pull it all together for you.
Do not outsource your advertising decisions to an advertising agency or consultant. They do not know your customers as well as you do. You or a trusted employee should make all final artistic decisions.
To make sure the advertisement is going to pay off, set a budget for the advertising and the expected income. Share the budget with your designer. Set a deadline for when the advertisement will be ready for delivery or distribution.
Before releasing the money to print the new piece in quantity, it should be tested for effectiveness in a test run of a small set of prospects. Track your results and modify the headline and offer until you arrive at a combo that produces a significant increase in buyer response. Then roll out the full advertising and start raking in the new sales.