5 Ways to Market Yourself Effectively
How to keep from wasting money on chasing new business
A good working definition of marketing is any effort that gets prospective customers to know, like and trust your company. Marketing can also be the huge black hole into which many contractors dump lot of money. I have heard numerous stories of contractors spending thousands of dollars on ineffective marketing efforts.
You can have the greatest contracting business in the world, doing outstanding work at record speed, and charging less than their competition, but if no one knows you exist, what good is it?
I learned early on in my contracting business in New York City that just because I did quality work at a fair price didn't assure me a strong share of the projects. I observed sub-standard work at higher prices than my own completed by companies that were better known, better at marketing.
Here are five areas to keep in mind if you want your marketing to be successful.
John Stahl is a former contractor and building-product developer. Currently he owns The Growth Coach, a business coaching firm that concentrates on working with contractors.
1. Figure Out Your USP
Effectively marketing your business begins with knowing your Unique Selling Proposition, known as your USP. Look back at your projects over the past several years. What do you do better, faster, smarter than anyone else?
A great USP tells potential customers what your does and why it does it better than anyone else. Here are two famous examples:
"You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it's free." Domino's Pizza
"When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight." Fedex
A good way to figure out what your company's USP should be is to take your best customers out to lunch and ask them: "Why did you hire us?" Take the time to craft a clear succinct message to educate your prospective customer.
2. Measure Your Marketing Efforts
Any marketing effort you engage in should be measurable. You won't know if your company's marketing dollars are producing the desired result without a plan in place to document the results. The plan should answer some simple questions: "How many leads were generated from the trade show, yellow pages, company website?" "How many of the leads were converted into paying customers?"
Over time, a picture begins to take place of the most effective methods for your target markets. Get into the habit of always asking your customers, "How did you hear about us?"
3. Zero in on Your Target Market
Effective marketing is targeted marketing. Few companies have the resources to broadcast their message in a shot-gun fashion to the whole universe. Effective marketing is focused like an arrow straight to the center of the target market. If you specialize in custom kitchens, why go after roofing customers.
4. Know Your Customer
If you know what your customers like and dislike, it will be easier to please them. Where do they live, shop, worship, play and work? Who do they know that you may know? Why do they need your service? What are their concerns, fears, expectations, and dreams? Knowing the needs of your customers will put your company forward in the minds of prospective customers.
5. Build Trust by Leveraging Referrals
People buy from people they know, like, and trust. All marketing efforts should center on sounding a clear message that you and your company are worthy of your customer's trust.
A proven way to build trust is to leverage the power of networking. Networking with people formally or informally will help build a web of influence for the all important referral. The beauty of a referral is that it can't be bought with advertising dollars and always comes with built-in credibility. Existing customers are always a great source for quality referrals.
Early on I learned an important lesson from a business mentor. He said: "John, don't practice lazy marketing." That sentence still holds true today. Being lazy with your promotional dollars can quickly lead to the black hole of marketing.