Construction Marketing Ideas

Construction Marketing IdeasThis past week I received a copy of Mark Buckshon’s new book Construction Marketing Ideas and I must say that I am impressed. It provides a comprehensive overview of not simply the basics of marketing, but truly how to leverage marketing to bring work in the door. Since I am a sucker for stories I have especially enjoyed the stories from others in the industry that have faced so many of the same problems that we all face and have found unique ways to solve those problems.

I definitely agree with Mark on the role of associations in building an effective marketing program:

Association marketing:  Your untapped gold mine

After attending a Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMSP) annual Build Business convention in Denver, Colorado, our family visited a small working gold mine. The miner, after years of low gold prices, had discovered a way to survive by selling site visits to tourists.  With gold prices soaring, the actual mining operation is now thriving.  Nevertheless, the tourist revenue continues to create an exceptionally profitable business. However, the miner doesn’t need to dress the place up as a tourist site; it is a working mine, after all.

Discovering untapped resources

From a marketing perspective, associations have similarities to the gold mine.  They can seem expensive, and while you can sometimes find nuggets on the surface, the best value is deep within your  participation.  However, unlike the mine, which (even if it can continue for decades) is a depleting resource, effective association participation results in increasing advantages until you hit the mother load of consistent, repeating opportunities.

It took me a long time to appreciate why associations are so valuable for marketing, and my research suggests that many people give up before they achieve success.  A senior SMPS member said the association struggles with people who join, then quit after a year or two.  “This turnover is disturbing, because the real value in membership comes with time and the networking and leads developed over the years,” he said.

A wealth of leads

When leveraged actively and consistently associations can provide a wealth of new project leads. More importantly for me has been that my involvement in great associations (such as the Society for Marketing Professional Services) have yielded true friendships. It is an amazing thing to enjoy going to work every day to achieve success with true friends.

Construction Marketing Ideas

If you haven’t already done so let me encourage you to pick up a copy of Construction Marketing Ideas by Mark Buckshon.

Something about all of us

business-relationshipsToday the Design and Construction Network will break 1,800 members, our expansion into Philadelphia for the next networking event is already exceeding expectations, and to date over 500 people that have attended our networking events in Washington DC. It leaves me wondering how it is that the network has experienced such incredible growth.

Something about all of us

I am not alone when I say that, when it comes down to it, I just want to be myself. I want to laugh with friends, experience the ups and downs of life, and leave the world a better place than I left it. I have found more value in relationships than in money, and more monetary profit in building friendships than in making a sale.

Actually, not only do I think I am not alone in these thoughts, I believe that I am in the majority. Yet somehow in business many of us seem to have gotten off track; we have traded relationships for things of lesser value.  We often know that the best results are found in the long-term, but find it difficult when we see the immediate results of others that are focused on short-term success.

Back to the network, back to you.

The Design and Construction Network isn’t a success because of me, it is a success because of great people like Mark Buckshon, Matt Handal, Melissa Allen, Deborah Hayward, Kevin Smith, (the list truly goes on and on) that believe in building long-term relationships, not just creating value for themselves (note that I did not exclude it being of value for them also, I personally believe and hope that each of these people receive a ten fold return from the network). They are great people that simply want to be themselves, to help others, and to laugh with friends. Success is being born simply by bringing these types of people together and building positive momentum towards a shared goal of building relationships.

Your turn

This week it is your turn, to be yourself. To get back to the passions that brought you to where you are at today, to laugh with friends this week, to experience the ups and downs of life, and leave the world a better place than you left it. I hope this week that you experience the long-term gain of helping your friends and building some new relationships.

Marketing Handbook

MarketingHandbookFollowing up from last week’s post Moments several of you have asked about the book I mentioned. The book is called the Marketing Handbook and it is a multi-author book on marketing professional services published by BNI Building News. I wrote the section of the book on Client Relationship Management and lead tracking. If you are working in the design and construction industry let me encourage you to pick-up a copy.

Over the past several weeks I have enjoyed reading several great articles in the blogosphere, so this week I wanted to share some of my favorites with you:

Not Everybody has to Like You
Valerie Conyngham from The Cecil Group writes a great post about what it takes to win work in a down economy. My favorite part of the article is a discussion on the problems that can occur when a firms’ mantra changes from “from niche, niche, niche to diversify, diversify, diversify.” 

How important is it to be first on Google?
Mark Buckshon of Construction News and Report shares a great chart that denotes the percentage of clicks that you will receive based on your location in Google search results. I’ll tell you here that the first position gets clicked on 56.36% of the time. Do you know what your chances are of being clicked on if you are in the third position?

Networking for Success
Mel Lester of the Business Edge discusses key principals of networking that everyone should know. I especially agree with his belief that networking shouldn’t be all about selling, rather about building relationships.

The Dull Edge of Experience
How do our clients define experience? Bruce of PSMJ Resources considers how you would feel about selecting a physician if they had “performed the operation you needed 27 years ago.” He then uses this as an analogy for how to win work based on your individual or firm experience. 

Top Bloggers in the A/E/C Industry

On several occasions I have been asked for a list of the top marketing blogs in the A/E/C industry. Below is a list of the blogs and bloggers that I believe lead the industry.  I hope that many of these bloggers likewise consider Cofebuz an industry leader, yet as this blog is also read extensively outside of the A/E/C industry, I will leave that call to someone else.  In addition to being industry leaders in Web 2.0, these bloggers are on my “must read” list each week. I encourage you to check them out also:

Construction Marketing Ideas by Mark Buckshon

E-Quipblog by Mel Lester

Harding & Company by Ford Harding

PSMJ Resources by Ed Hannan (and others at PSMJ Resources)

Let me also add Help Everybody Everyday by Matt Handall. This is a new blog for the A/E/C industry, but on that I believe deserves placement in this list due to Matt’s success with Construction Netcast and his long history of excellent writing for Marketer and A/E Rainmaker.

A Final Note:

I don’t want to downplay some of the other great blogs in our industry.  Note that the list above was for marketing blogs. I also recommend checking out the SullivanKreiss blog, and I always enjoy the unique and fun SEI Design Group Blog.

The Digital Crutch

crutchesOn Wednesday this past week Ford Harding (the author of one of my favorite books “Rain Making” and the Harding & Company blog) spoke at the DC chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. As we sat prior to Ford’s talk, I was amazed at the group that had gathered at the head table. In addition to Ford, multiple Web 2.0 experts from the industry, including Mark Buckshon (Construction Marketing Ideas) and Matt Handal (Construction Netcast and Help Everybody Everyday) were engaged in conversation.

I couldn’t help but note how interesting it was that Mark and Matt had taken the time to attend the event in Washington, D.C. Mark had flown in from Ontario Canada and Matt had taken the train from Philadelphia that morning. Each of them showed the importance they place on in-person communication in order to make their businesses succeed, even in light of their prominence in the Web 2.0 world.

The Digital Crutch

Many people I know use technology as a crutch, rather than a tool to build relationships. It is an easy and important form of communication, but what we can’t do is use digital communication to replace human interaction. Even the leading Web 2.0 experts in our industry know that in order to keep their relationships strong, nothing can replace in-person communication.

Are you limping?

Are you limping by with e-mails and a linkedIn account that isn’t focusing on the development of relationships? Perhaps it is time for you to step away from the computer and focus on in-person communication this week. 


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Why Cofebuz and some incredible links

treeandfieldIn an effort to explain what Cofebuz is all about I have recently added the following description to the sidebar here at Cofebuz.com: Relationships are the foundation of success in business and in life. Cofebuz is dedicated to creating and maintaining the relationships that build companies and individuals. 

It is my hope that through Cofebuz you will gain insight into building networks and relationships that create success in business and in life. Oftentimes this takes the form of writing on marketing or networking, but it can also take the form of discussing challenges and ways to overcome those challenges. In addition it is my personal goal to build relationships with each of you; I do this by working to provide you with help and insight during the time you spend reading Cofebuz. 

On that note, this past week there has been a plethora of great information that I am certain you will find helpful. Here are the links and information: 

  1. The Stimulus Bill, Sector by Sector – This is a great summary of the economic stimulus package that congress is working on that was sent to me by Matt Handal of Trauner Consulting Services.
  2. LinkedIn for A/E Professionals? – This article by Mel Lester of The Business Edge provides a great overview for those that are just getting into, or are interested in getting into, online networking. While it is written for the design and construction industry, many others will benefit from his clearly defined outline of the benefits and downfalls of online networking.
  3. Proposals… and proposals – What do you do when your marketing staff needs technical help, but the technical staff tends to ignore proposal deadlines? Some experts weigh in on Mark Buckshon’s Construction Marketing Ideas website.

When an award is “pre-wired”

On Thursday this last week Matt Handal of Trauner Consulting Services, Inc. sent several marketers that I have a great deal of respect for a draft of the article “Learning to Accept the Three Card Monte.” The article discusses the practice of “pre-wiring” solicitations by procurement professionals.

It caused quite a stir, including two great posts at the Construction Marketing Ideas blog (including the thoughts of Ellen Moore at Aker Systems in Houston and Frank Lippert of David Evans and Associates, Inc.). This led me to two questions that I believe must be answered in light of the article:

Is it ethical to benefit from a “pre-wired” solicitation?

To start, lets differentiate two types of pre-wiring. The first is “Incumbent Pre-Wiring” and the second is “Illegal Pre-Wiring.”

What most people perceive as ‘pre-wired’ is often simply an existing incumbent relationship that has exceeded the client’s expectations to a point where they do not want to take on the additional risk of trying a new company. Incumbent Pre-Wiring is a good thing as it allows clients to maintain relationships with firms that best meet there needs. It ensures that clients receive the best service throughout the project and it is the mechanism that allows clients to refuse to hire a firm that does not meet expectations. One thing to note about incumbent pre-wiring is that it still allows for other firms to compete for the work in the framework of fair procurement.

Illegal Pre-Wiring is another story. It is the practice of illegally manipulating procurement rules or results to ensure that one firm wins. Let’s be clear here: it is not ethical to benefit from Illegal Pre-Wiring.

How should you respond when you see a “Pre-Wired” solicitation?

If you are dealing with an Illegal Pre-Wired solicitation there is only one answer, you should have nothing to do with it. If you want to debate this issue just look at the governing bodies of every professional discipline (AIA, PE, LA, LS, CPSM, etc…), all have very strong ethical guidelines and, if not followed, can result in the loss of licensure or certification.

If you are dealing with an Incumbent Pre-Wired solicitation as an outsider you need to evaluate your goals with regard to pursuing work with the client. Remember, relationships are everything in business and you should evaluate the pursuit from that standpoint. I do not believe that you should put together extensive or specialized marketing materials simply as a brochure. Rather, focus on developing a path that you can follow that will result in a strong relationship and the opportunity for obtaining work.

If you are dealing with an Incumbent Pre-Wired solicitation as the incumbent, congratulations! You have succeeded in developing a strong relationship with your client that is based on trust and (most often) strong performance. Do everything possible to make certain that your client follows ethical standards of fair procurement, and enjoy.

E-Mail vs. Phone vs. In-Person Meeting?

To what extent can you substitute emails for telephone calls and face-to-face meetings when maintaining and developing relationships with clients and other key market contacts?

Four highly respected writers, authors, and marketing specialists are taking on the “E-Mail vs. Phone vs. In-Person Meeting” question through a simultaneous post on there blogs today. I am excited to see the answers and encourage you to check them out as well.

1) Brian Carroll – specialist and noted author on generating leads for the complex sale.
2) Tom Kane – specialist on marketing and selling legal services.
3) Ford Harding – an expert on “Rainmaking” in professional practice, who has written some influential books on the challenges of selling professional services.
4) Mark Buckshon – prestigious blogger and specialist on marketing and selling design and construction services

It’s Not ‘Just Business’

The phrase “It’s Just Business” has become an accepted way to dehumanize important decisions.  The reality is that, in our relatively small industry where relationships are everything, it is impossible to negate the importance of relationships when faced with difficult business decisions.  We cannot suddenly stop making important business decisions, but neither should we selectively disregard the importance of relationships when making those decisions.  To succeed in the long run we need to make people, not business, the primary focus of our decision-making process.

Making Sound Business Decisions
This past year our company celebrated its 30th anniversary with an open house to which we invited as many of our previous employees as we could track down.  We were surprised by what we found: most of our previous employees were still working locally; many were leaders of change affecting our business everyday; and dozens were now our clients. 

Looking at how these former employees have continued to impact our company has reinforced the importance of these long-term relationships.  Sound business decisions should consider not only immediate needs of the company, but also the company’s future, which is based largely on a culture of trusted relationships.  Business decisions made with the “It’s Just Business” philosophy embrace the faulty premise that the company is more important than people.  By making decisions that are best for people we strengthen our companies and build teams that believe in our decisions and leadership even after individual team members depart.

An Industry Built on Relationships
In his blog, Mark Buckshon, President of Construction News and Report Publishing, states that, “You will achieve the highest results if you think longer-term and in the context of giving.” His statement is especially true in our industry, which is a leader in recognizing the importance of relationships as the key to our successes and failures.  It is important to note this as we make business decisions, knowing that others in our company and industry will evaluate our motivations and, based on their observations, will develop trust in our leadership accordingly.

It’s Just People
Many companies have succeeded at making people the center of their decisions.  Some examples include: the company that tries to find new jobs for employees facing layoffs; the manager that mentors an underachiever instead of firing the employee; and the owner who respects seniority when promoting a young project manager over an experienced individual by changing a title or adapting team structure.  Undoubtedly, this people-centered approach to business decisions can be more difficult in the short-term, but most successes are built on long-term, not on short-term gains.

It’s Just Smart Business
Perhaps it is time to give up our “It’s Just Business” slogan and instead focus on the value of every relationship – current and past employees as well as clients.  Next time you are making an important decision think about the potential long-term benefits of maintaining strong relationships. 

This article, written by Tim Klabunde, was originally published in the August 2008 edition of Marketer, the leading marketing publication of the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry.

Marketing Generosity

“Perhaps the most important lesson in business I’ve learned in the past few years is that, when it comes to marketing, it is not what you take, but what you give, that counts the most.”
Mark Buckshon
Construction News and Report

If you have been reading this blog for the past year, or if you have attended my seminars on Networking or building a Rainmaking Culture, you have probably noticed that the key to being successful in business and marketing is giving, not getting. In his recent posting Marketing Generosity, Mark Buckshon writes about some of the practical ways you can build success by leveraging this age-old marketing technique.

Why it Works
If you ever wondered why focusing on others instead of yourself is such a powerful approach, there is a simple answer: Selfless giving is the foundation for relationships. It builds trust and allows others to know that everything you do isn’t centered on the almighty dollar. Mark’s posting is not only worth reading, it is worth taking the time to think about what you are doing to market generously.