We all have our own biases. Someone publishing a marketing blog might reasonably expect that marketing is the most important business aspect. But of course that is not the case. Great marketing can facilitate your business; it can help you attract new clients and retain your current customers; but it is at best a supporting resource for what really counts — your core competence and service.
You should know that business foundation quite clearly. My argument is that if you work on the fundamentals there, you can leverage (but not create) your success with effective marketing. And your success will be measured by two metrics: How much genuine value/satisfaction you create for your clients, and the consistency and solidity of your profitability. If you have both aspects under control, you’ll be around for a long time; if things are out of balance you can expect things won’t last for long — and your marketing effectiveness won’t make any difference.
Once you frame these two questions, the next issue is understanding and measuring them. Profitability should in theory be the easiest — you simply look at your numbers and (allowing for considerations of account quality and cash flow) determine if you can consistently earn enough money to pay your employees, contractors, suppliers and of course yourself fairly for your work.
The customer satisfaction metric is tougher in part because it is a relative measure, and one subject to interpretation. As an example, saying “we provide great client service” is a frequent (and utterly ineffective) marketing mantra. What counts is what your customers actually think — and the “great customer service” words must come from their mouths, not yours.
Of course, a key metric that in part measures customer service quality is your repeat and referral business volume, especially if it arrives without artificial prodding (or because you grossly under price your services). You can also conduct or participate in third-party surveys and enlist consultants to conduct in-project and follow-up satisfaction interviews and debriefings. These metrics can be extended to your employees and key contractors — if they are enthusiastic and happy about your business, your clients probably will have similar feelings.
My view is that you need to get the profitability and client service metrics right before you think about significant marketing expenditures. Sure, of course, build a really good website and develop inquiry responsiveness policies — and where possible, engage in community and client-focused association public service. These initiatives don’t cost much in terms of money but build your brand and reputation, knowledge and skill, and certainly help you to achieve greatness.
But if you are looking for a magic bullet “construction marketing idea” here the best one I could think of giving is to forget the marketing and focus on your business profitability and your client relationships. These are what count most, when it comes down to the bottom line.