The marketing model for a start-up residential service contractor will be truly different from a well-established contractor focusing on large-scale institutional projects. But simply saying “one size doesn’t fit all” doesn’t help you very much if you are trying to define your marketing strategies.
In the next few posts, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest template marketing strategies for some different architectural, engineering and construction businesses or professional practices. These are quick starting points. A serious marketing strategy requires much more specific information about your business and experience.
You’ll notice that my approaches always emphasize connections rather than cash; and do not push the service which provides the bulk of my business’s revenue — advertising.
Start-up electrical contractor (ICI)
You’re just starting your new business, after working in the non-union sector as a licensed electrician for several years. Your former employer is okay with you taking on some maintenance and small projects but you don’t have a lot of experience in business operations or marketing.
First stage: Take a crash course in business operations, marketing and business development.
I don’t want you to spend a cent on marketing and business development without understanding the basics. You may find relevant resources through industry associations and trade groups. Here, your direction will depend on whether you wish to work within the unionized or non-union sector. Often the associations will have clearly defined courses and programs; or the association staff will be able to direct you to some effective resources.
Especially important: Learning how to estimate and price your services correctly. You don’t come out ahead by bidding so low that you win the job but lose money (and ultimately your business.)
Second stage: Develop the basics to find and retain new business effectively.
Commercial leads services can be truly helpful in helping you to find bidding opportunities. There are many choices. These include large, multinational services such as Dodge (construction.com) or regionally focused opportunities such as Databid.com (in Ontario and Chicago/Illinois.).
You’ll want to build a solid foundational website outlining your services and experience, and making it easy for potential clients to discover you. You can at the outset plan a do-it-yourself strategy, or hire a contractor/service to take care of the work (probably the best choice if web design isn’t your priority). You may find guidance and referrals through your trade association (see above). Inexpensive services can be recruited through online portals such as Upwork.com.
Finally, of course, you should look at your personal relationships and connections and reach out to them for your initial opportunities.
Third stage: Build to last.
Set up a simple newsletter/communications/follow-up system to remain in contact with former clients and others who have expressed interest but aren’t ready at the moment to do business with you. Consider connecting and involving your business closely with relevant client-focused associations and charitable and community service projects which align with your market, community and personal values. Encourage and sponsor relevant editorial features (online, print and broadcast) within media that reach your potential clients.
Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30 minute phone or Skype/Google Hangout conversation about your own circumstances. I can guide you to other resources or, if you wish, contract with you to develop a true cost-effective marketing strategy.