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5 Powerful Construction Marketing Ideas That Cost Less Than $500

 

Are you sitting in your office waiting for the next customer to call? Your competition isn’t taking this approach, nor should you.

Many construction contractors have the same philosophy towards marketing and advertising, “My customers find me in the Yellow Pages and call.” Others think that subscribing to a lead service is all they need to do, yet they are always searching for that next project.

I get it, we are contractors, we build things. We don’t do that fancy advertising stuff. We think that’s for the big brands with big budgets. That is the wrong attitude. Marketing can be cost effective and fun, you just have to be creative.

In today’s online and social media-focused world, there are many ways to promote your business and build relationships with potential customers. From content marketing to local directory listings, you can find resources all over the web — and you should. These marketing strategies are fundamental, and only take a little bit of time and provide a great return on investment.

In addition to the basics like your website and online profiles, I want to share with you some ideas that you can implement in your contracting business. Some won’t cost you a dime.

Before I list them out, I want to point out one key thing. The goal of all construction marketing efforts is to build a relationship with your potential customers so that when they are looking for construction services, you are the preferred contractor. So keep that in mind as you start to implement these ideas.

1. Tokens of Appreciation

Showing your existing customers that you appreciate them will make them more likely to refer you to others. The size and scope of your show of appreciation will depend on the type of project, but at a minimum, you should send a handwritten Thank You note. Make it personal and avoid stuffing your business card into the note; this is not a time to promote.

You can take this a step further by including a little memento. When I was doing large commercial building construction, I would have a professional photographer come out and take photos of the completed building. I would get one of the photos framed and give that to my customer.

If you work in the residential market, you can give your clients a small decoration that matches their finished project. Think about how many times they will mention your name when a guest asks, “Where did you get that beautiful bowl?”

2. Referral Programs

Referral programs are a great way to say thank you to your existing customers for telling others about you. You don’t have to create a fancy reward points system or anything like that. Just send someone a gift card for a nice meal if they send a new client your way.

To make your referral program super effective, give your clients a way to provide value to others. Make them feel like they are an insider and can help their friends and family by getting them a good deal. One company I know developed a program where they gave existing clients referral cards that entitled the recipient to get a discount on their project. Of course, after each referral they were sure to thank their client for the referral as well.

3. Community Events

Participation in local community events is a great way to get your business in front of potential customers. Of course, these events often want people to sponsor them, which can be rather costly. Take a different approach and offer some in-kind support or an added solution. You have skills and expertise that any event coordinator would benefit from, so offer up your services in exchange for name placement.

Go to any community event and you will see some creative businesses taking advantage of these opportunities. I was recently at an event in the park and took notice. There was a pet supply store that had set up a dog watering hole, and a landscaping firm that provided trash cans and did post event clean-up. Both of these firms got great exposure for little cost.

4. Demonstrations and How-Tos

As contractors, we know a lot of tips and tricks of the trade. Sharing that information can build your trust with people. Think of things that your friends and family ask you all the time. How do I …? What is the best way to …? Use these questions for getting ideas on what you can educate people on.

Now that you have some ideas, how do you share them? There are many outlets where you can volunteer to do mini-exhibits or talks on the topics. You can often find home & garden shows that are looking for people willing to provide some How-Tos. Talk to your Chamber of Commerce, they often want speakers for their events. Talk to local stores and offer to partner with them.

You don’t need to prepare a fancy presentation or have a big display to do this and you don’t need to be an expert. You have knowledge that others could use, and that’s all that matters. Get out and share that knowledge and you will build relationships with potential customers before they even know they need your services.

5. Free Consultations

This is really an extension of the previous idea but with more focus on a one-on-one experience. As a contractor you know things that are important for people to consider when remodeling their store, restaurant, or home. So, offer to help someone early in the process and guide them in making the right decisions. Prepare some materials and spend 30 minutes or so with someone to help them with key issues.

I am sure that most of you already do this to some extent, right? When you go to a potential client’s place of business to discuss a project, you give them plenty of advice. What I want you to do differently is offer that consultation before they start calling around to find contractors.

Giving a free consultation like this is very valuable to someone looking to hire a contractor, but it can also be very valuable to others. Contractors are normally the third call that a potential customer would make. The first is to the bank and the second to an architect or designer. Reach out to those organizations and offer your consultation services as a value-add for them. Your local banker can offer “free construction consultations” during the loan process.

These are just a few examples of creative ways to market your construction business on a small budget. Just remember, the goal is to create relationships with your potential customers. Get creative and see what other ideas you can come up with.