Anyone who has dared blog on a daily schedule for more than six years will ultimately discover a classic challenge: The old stories have been told previously (sometimes many times). There are recurring themes in the marketing story and while there are new things and significant trends, the old stuff remains consistent and sometimes vexing.
Here are a few reverberating themes:
Over-reliance on leads services (especially in the residential construction world) and public RFP or tender responses (in the ICI world).
This is the stuff of extremely passive/reactive/non-marketing. You want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you — for your answers to be right under your nose ready to go. All you need is to talk to that lead or submit that public RFP response, and you get the job.
Of course, it (almost) never works out that way. The leads services sell the same leads to several (all) of your competitors, so it is a race to get there first and convince with a hard-rock sales pitch (yuck) or you are out of luck. And the public jobs, well, if you read the fine print, the terms have often been wired to favour the people who were there long before the story became public.
It’s all about repeat and referral business. Everything.
This one is a mixed bag because it is largely true (but 29 per cent false, important). If you look at the multi-year poll on this blog, you’ll find the number hasn’t changed much — architects, engineers and contractors reading this blog report that repeat and referral business generates 71 per cent of their total business now.
That’s good — so of course you should then have a formalized process/program to induce repeat and referral business. (Do you, or do you simply “rely” on it happening, because it does? Big loss there.)
But you also need something more to capture the new stuff and replenish your old business, and unless you are starting up from an established base, you’ll need some way to find new business — and that public tender/leads service stuff will prove costly and really a hard slog.
Marketing is mostly a scam. Everything I’ve tried doesn’t work, and has cost me lots of money.
You may be confusing marketing with advertising. And you may have fallen victim for the garbage that spews as spam or outbound telemarketing from a variety of organizations (including some of the leads services). Someone tells you to build a great website, or advertise on Google, or the Yellow Pages, and manage things for you, and a few months later, you find you’ve poured the money into nothing.
Best cure for this problem: Make your purchasing decisions much like you would for anything you buy outside of your business. Get some first-hand recommendations from individuals you trust (and this could be, for many services, business peers who might be your competitors locally but are serving different markets).
Second cure: Learn as much as you can about the marketing process without spending money, at least until you know what you are doing. There are reputable consultants and specialists in various fields and I’ve named some names in previous posts.
There’s one final recurring theme, unfortunately.
Most people will utterly ignore the advice here, and repeat the same mistakes that others have countless times over the years.
I wish I had a better answer to this problem, but humans are habits of nature and we assume things work a certain way, and for whatever reason, won’t budge from our expectations. I’ve seen this countless times when I offer free or supplementary marketing guidance to our publications’ advertising clients. The clients who accept the offer usually get it and the advice I can give has incremental value, at best. The others carry on with their old ways.
So how do you get out of the “old way” of doing things? I’ll share some habit breaking/bending thoughts in the next post. In the meantime, if you see yourself in any of the recurring themes above, take note. There are solutions — and they can be free or extremely inexpensive (in money, though perhaps less so in time and habit-breaking stress.)