Since we normally post on Thursday mornings, we didn’t want to disappoint our readers so we actually wrote our post yesterday. Today is a day to step back, be with family & friends, and to reflect on life’s riches.
Marketing is probably one of the most misunderstood and under appreciated roles at a company, especially in the A/E/C (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) industry. Why? Because most people at the office, especially the principals do not understand what they do or their importance until it doesn’t exist. So here are some of the biggest mistakes we see companies make working with their own marketing team.
Business Development (BD) & Marketing are the Same – One of the biggest misconceptions out there. In general, business development is out of the office creating & building relationships while marketing is in the office positioning the company, developing proposals, training team members (marketing & presentation wise), and support the business development team. Especially for larger companies, one person can not do both simply because if one is in the office writing a proposal, they’re not out cultivating the next opportunity.
Business Development & Marketing HATE each other - I luckily do not see this much with my clients & friends, but I’ve heard numerous horror stories where one team is sabotaging the other and the company is the one that gets hurt. Both teams are vital to bring business into the company and without a unified front, the company will never grow, prosper, and will have numerous inefficiencies.
Not Giving Marketing Any Respect - The BD & marketing team are the only departments that bring money into the firm. You may see marketing as an overhead expense because they are not billable, but without their work, no one is billable because no one has work to do. Every company executive needs to understand that. I’m amazed at how many marketers are told the company is expanding to a new market without being consulted. This could be a huge mistake without market research and a marketer needs to be at the table helping make those decisions. We do not have enough CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) in Corporate America, definitely not in A/E/C. [Although this is changing.]
Not Giving Marketing the Tools They Need - I’m amazed how many marketers are tasked with the impossible. Things like updating the website, redesigning a tradeshow or putting on an client appreciation party without giving them a budget, designer, additional staff, etc. Many times marketing becomes the catch all for companies and it takes away from a marketer’s primary role of actually marketing the company.
Cutting the Marketing Budget First - When times get tough, we need to tighten our belts – true, but as a friend told me, “Stop marketing to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” The recession makes all of us do more, but you can’t take it all out on marketing and business development. A recession is a great time to grow and be the first ones out of the recession because your marketing & business development teams have been cultivating relationships and your company is top-of-mind when your prospects get money again. I’ve seen marketers denied conferences because they can be fun while executives still go to 5+ conferences and trade shows a year. I can tell you for a fact that every marketing conference I’ve been to has been packed with education and that is the mindset of the conference organizers.
Not Holding Marketing Accountable - If you give your marketing team the respect they deserve, the tools and budget they need to do their jobs, then you need to hold them accountable. Many marketers are not marketers, they are executive assistants tasked with marketing or other people that fell into marketing. Some rise to the occasion and seize that opportunity by learning more about marketing through groups like SMPS, but some just claim the title and go about their daily lives. It scares me when I met “marketers” that do not understand the power and importance of their role and their lack of marketing knowledge can kill the entire company.
About a month ago we did a video post and got a lot of great feedback. One of the big questions was about the poster behind me. Some people could make it out and recognized it, others hadn’t seen it before. It’s actually part of a campaign we did this past Labor Day called “Construction Builds America”. We sent it to all of our clients and many of our prospects. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from it.
Its a really cool poster and our team did a great job illustrating it. But, it also caught people off guard. A lot of companies celebrate Christmas; we actually celebrate Labor Day since we work in the construction industry. So this came out the week of Labor Day and we sent it in an 18″ tube, which also aded to people being caught off guard. If you got a large tube across your desk that was mailed to you, you’d probably open it. We’ve called about 50 or so people, and they’ve all opened it. I don’t know many direct mail pieces that get 100% open rate. We’re very pleased with the results and we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on Twitter and in person with people saying they loved it, that it was really cool and different.
I wanted to reach out to you since we’re approaching the holidays. A lot of companies have started moving their client gifts to Thanksgiving, which is appropriate, but it too is becoming a crowded space. So think about what you can do to separate yourself from your competitors by simply sending gifts on a different holiday. For example, since we’re in the construction industry, we celebrate Labor Day and our parent company, Design the Planet, celebrates Earth Day. They’ve done many creative things over the years to celebrate that holiday. Something to think about.
We found this great infographic about America’s Failing Infrastructure that we wanted to share because we thought you’d want your clients and prospects to see it. It is a great way to visually show state agencies and municipalities the overall size of America’s Infrastructure along with its history and weaknesses. Enjoy and please share.
After my post last week about Social Media in Construction, I thought I should finish a thought I made in passing a few years ago when Facebook changed their Fan Pages to Like Pages. Facebook wanted to lessen the need for a relationship with a brand by changing all of the Fan Pages to Like Pages. This way, your profile shows pages you like instead of saying what you’re a fan of. To me, this is like honking for the guy in the chicken suit on the side of the road – its fun, but requires no engagement. The chicken draws attention and that awareness may make me pull in today or some day down the road, but it doesn’t make me care about that brand.
I loved the term “Fan” because people love their favorite brands. That’s why people stand in line overnight for an iPhone, mob celebrities, and tattoo logos on their body. When creating a social media (or even a marketing strategy), I suggest one of your goals is to convert buyers into raving fans. It is better to have 50 raving fans and 50 people that don’t like your brand than to have 100 people with luke warm feelings for you or that don’t really care.
Seth Godin, the marketing guru, calls these ultimate brand champions as Sneezers because they go around talking about that brand and infect others. Its a great visual of making things viral, but sneezers can be a rough word to use with the CEO, so I prefer to use raving fans.
When marketing your company, via social media or other channels, look for ways to build your fan base and create raving fans. Then empower them to “sneeze” on others. They are your best brand advocates because they are passionate about your brand and they’ve bought from you so they can tell others about the reasons why they bought, used, & recommend your company.
Yesterday, I was in Las Vegas to present at the ABC Institute (Associated Builders & Contractors). After my presentation, I sat in an intriguing sessions entitled “Social Media from a Contractor’s Perspective” by Erik Timmons, a principal at Yorke & Curtis. His company is a small/mid-sized contractor based in Portland. So far, you might be as intrigued as I was because here was a principal of good sized commercial construction company that was doing social media and doing successfully enough that he wanted to share his experience.
Erik reviewed why the need for a social media presence in construction and started with their goals, which included sharing the company’s core values. He also discussed the investment, which he called a micro investment because most of the software is free and it takes your time to set up the social media accounts and then to use them. The best part he discussed ROI. Although their goals did not include a dollar amount, he told a great story about finding a key contact through LinkedIn & Twitter that led to over $10 million of work over the course of a few years.
Most construction companies either ignore social media completely or set up accounts to later ignore them. There is money to be had online and the next generation of buyers is looking to social media for contractors. Erik’s work at Yorke & Curtis shows us that and they are ahead of the social media curve.
I’m in Las Vegas to present at ABC Institute and yesterday I had a little fun. After all my construction site visits, I finally got to operate a bull dozer! Vegas is home to Dig This! where they let you drive an excavator or a bulldozer. Check out these pics!