Darren Slaughter provides an insight directed at residential contractors that has application for anyone in the AEC marketing community. You can view his video blog here.
Construction marketing today is more about a story than being the best at price, service or craftsmanship. If you use these 3 attributes in your sales presentations, you need to come up with 3 other things. Price, service and craftsmanship should all be the best, not the main focal point to your business. Distinguish yourself from your competition based on something else besides price, service and craftsmanship.
Slaughter’s observations relate to the problems we have with business and marketing cliches. They either go in one ear and out the other when potential clients hear the words — or worse, they invite skepticism or questions you don’t want to face. For example: “We have the lowest price” may well invite the question — Can you go even lower?
The solution to this problem is to think both of uniqueness and recommendations. Uniqueness will relate to the services/value you offer that will be of special relevance to your potential clients (so you’ll need to know what they really value/want before expressing your thoughts) and recommendations relate to the good word provided by existing and previous clients.
A telling point on these observations. We are preparing a bathroom renovation. My wife, like other household projects, takes the lead though on this job I’ll be paying the bills. One of the candidate contractors showed up for a viewing/inspection last night. In many ways, he didn’t make an overwhelmingly good impression — his language, stories, and appearance didn’t inspire too much confidence.
But he didn’t fail. He was here on recommendation from a neighbour, and in the conversation he didn’t hesitate to confirm he could provide other recommendations. He also focused on practical scheduling issues, making clear no deposit would be required but we need to be comfortable to do the work when the time is right.
There probably were remarks about “craftsmanship” but these didn’t matter because my wife had seen his work at the neighbour. What mattered to me was he said: “She’s called us in for other jobs, and referred others as well.” We can check this out. He wasn’t slick; he wasn’t a professional sales representative, and there were some things I didn’t like, but I wouldn’t overrule my wife if she said: “Let’s use him.”
(And to show the complexity of decision-making on these sorts of things, we have a challenge in our household because my business has many connections with renovators and industry suppliers. I would go crazy trying to pick out a favourite without risking offending others. So I cop out by leaving the decision to my wife.)