Construction marketing is one of the main factors that contribute to having a winning construction project. But where do you start?
Contractors are really hard workers, which makes them inadvertently bad at marketing their companies. They are often so focused on their projects that they aren’t aware of what’s going on around them.
Before they know it, the project is finished and there isn’t another project to move their resources to.
Marketing and advertising can be expensive! Unfortunately, in some, cases a person is employed to market the company but there’s a disconnect between them and management. They sometimes find the wrong clients and projects, while at other times they generate valuable leads which are then ignored by management.
Marketing and advertising the company doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require direction and teamwork.
12 tips for finding clients and projects.
1. You’re only as good as your last project – so make sure it’s good.
A good reputation is essential. In fact, the best way of finding new projects is to continue working with your current clients. Don’t lose clients – it’s hard work finding others.
Most of the projects we constructed were for clients we had previously worked with. Repeat business is essential. But in addition, a good reputation spreads. People want to work with reputable contractors. Happy clients will share your details with prospective clients.
But equally, a bad reputation makes it difficult to find new clients. Disgruntled clients will tell others about your company’s poor performance. Social media can quickly spread bad stories and kill a business.
Ensure that your employees understand how important a good reputation is to the future of the company.
2. Clear and professional signage on your projects.
Poor signage, tatty fencing, litter, poor offices, and stinky toilets don’t portray a good image – it’s not going to encourage potential customers to be contacting your company.
3. Clear signage on your equipment and trucks.
New and clean equipment tells potential clients that the company has resources and is a professional business. Smokey, old and dirty machines give a poor image. Potential clients would worry that these machines could break down on their project, causing delays.
Trucks and equipment are mobile advertising boards. People see them on the streets outside your projects and they see them on the roads. Do your vehicles and machines have clear signage?
4. Stay in touch with your past clients. Build relationships.
No matter how good your relationship was on a previous project never assume that your clients will remember you. Unfortunately, if anything clients remember contractors who delivered a poor project rather than good contractors.
It pays to drop a short greeting once a year, maybe an update on your company’s latest projects, or congratulations to a client who has been recently promoted or where their company achieved a significant milestone. Even consider having a coffee with past clients to hear about their latest news and possible upcoming projects.
5. Develop good market intelligence.
Know what projects are coming. Read newspapers. Talk to designers, project managers, subcontractors, suppliers, and even your competitors.
Knowing what projects are in the pipeline allows you to start talking to the client, enables you to get in on the ground floor, even help them with their budget and give them advice on construction methods that might advantage your company.
6. Visit potential clients.
Set aside a morning once a month to visit potential clients. Research the company to ensure you set up meetings with the right person – the person who will deal with new construction projects.
Take a couple of company brochures and business cards so they can be distributed to others in the company. Find out about upcoming projects, how you can be invited to price the projects, who you should be talking to and what you should be doing to ensure you can work for them.
7. Ensure your website is updated and is professional.
Include photographs of current and past projects, but ensure these are clear, professional and that they show quality work, neat and safe work sites, and portray a professional image of the company.
8. Celebrate a success or milestone and invite the media.
We all like free advertising. When a project is completed or reaches a milestone, it’s often good for the construction team to have a small celebration. Invite the client and their team. Invite the designers. Invite people from the designer’s and client’s office – maybe there are others in these teams that are working on other projects.
Invite the local media – send them a short blurb on the project with a picture that they could include in a news story. Ensure that the event is properly organized and that the project site is clean and orderly – you don’t want visitors tripping over construction rubbish or unfinished work. Of course, you can’t hold these events every week, in fact, they probably only work well once a year, or when different teams are involved.
9. Ensure project managers have business cards and a company brochure to give to prospective clients.
Potential clients might arrive on the project. Project managers should have brochures and business cards that they can present to visitors Project managers should take the opportunity of selling the company to these visitors.
10. Everyone in the company has a role to play. They’re ambassadors and they may also have led to new clients.
It’s not only up to senior management to find new clients and projects. Every worker has friends, relatives, and contacts that could possibly be a potential client.
Anyone could hear of a new project. Make sure that all employees understand the importance of finding the next project. Have them report any leads and contacts to senior management. As important, is that they understand that they represent the company. If they harm the company’s reputation or badmouth the company, it will impact the company’s ability to win future projects.
11. Adapt your marketing to customers.
Advertising is expensive. Advertising that works for one construction company might not work for your company. Know who your potential clients are and try and understand how best to target them. Sponsoring a local cause or event may be useful. Distributing flyers works for some customers.
Advertising in local papers may yield results. Whatever you do, ensure that your company’s message is clear and professional. Always ask new clients how they found your company, then see how you can improve and develop that source so it can yield other clients.
12. Work with other contractors.
This could include sharing details of other contractors, so for example, if you’re an electrical company you could share details of reliable and professional plumbers and carpenters with your clients. These contractors could share the details of your company with their clients.
Good working relationships with other contractors, suppliers, and subcontractors is essential, and advertising each other’s services can benefit everyone. So, consider forming alliances – of course always ensure that they are reputable companies because you don’t want your company’s reputation sullied by their poor work. But, even teaming up with other similar-sized companies to yours could enable you to form joint ventures to take on bigger projects. Working with other contractors often helps you build a reputation, meet new clients, deal with other professionals and learn new methods.
You can’t expect clients to find your company. You have to work to ensure potential clients will find your company. Advertising is expensive and doesn’t always work. But, understanding your clients and following up on leads and past clients is usually a cost-effective method of finding the next construction project.
Advertising the company and finding projects is a team effort, to ensure that everyone in the company understands what must be done.
What are you doing to market your company? What marketing works for your company?