When I ask an electrical contractor, “How do you market your company?” the usual answer is, “We have a website and use Facebook.” While a website and social media, in general, can be great platforms, it takes a lot more to promote your company than just having an online presence.
What many electrical contractors do not realize is that just about every aspect of your day-to-day business plays some role in marketing. From such simple things as how you answer your phone, to how clean your trucks are, to how professional your electricians look when they arrive on the job site or, even more importantly, a customer’s home or business. All these examples are a part of the first impression you and your company make on a customer or prospective customer.
Just as we do not start a construction project without first having a plan, the way we market our company takes thought and planning.
The marketing mindset
The first thing we need to do is determine the desired outcome. You don’t pack for the beach the same way as for the ski slopes. Knowing where we are going helps us determine what we need to take with us. The same with marketing. First determine the goals. Whether we are looking at our website or making a sales call to a customer, we should always have a goal in mind.
For the website, our goal might be for the visitor to call us or fill out a contact us form. For the phone call to the customer, it might be to tell them about a new energy-efficient lighting solution that will save in maintenance and energy costs. In either case, we need to be sure that we are explicitly asking the customer for what we want, a phone call, or the opportunity to sell them a lighting upgrade.
To get to a sale, we need to find and attract customers by answering two critical questions: “Who are our customers?” and “Where can we find them?”
The question of who isn’t as simple as it may sound. We’re not talking general terms such as people needing electrical work done. We need to be more specific. If your company emphasizes service, you have a different audience than a contractor whose primary focus is healthcare facilities. For the service customer, you are probably looking at homeowners, property managers and maybe maintenance managers of larger facilities. If you are trying to attract customers in the healthcare market, you may target general contractors or facilities managers of healthcare systems. In both cases, the potential client needs electrical work, but you will find your ideal customer in very different places. This brings us to the second question.
Where will you find this ideal customer? Start with familiar places. For the service contractor, homeowners may be found using social media, such as Facebook, with high levels of referrals and recommendations. Someone like a property or maintenance manager might be better contacted setting up an appointment to share what solutions your company provides to their needs.
Notice I didn’t say selling services but rather selling solutions to a need or problem. For the EC whose focus is healthcare, look at associations to which hospital administrators belong. Or set up a meeting with your local general contractors to educate them on the value you could bring to their team on future hospital projects. This might include your BIM capabilities, prefab or design-build experience with similar type projects. Again, you want to show the value you bring, so on the next project, you are not chosen by price alone.
One crucial thing to remember in sales and marketing is that it takes a lot more effort to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one. By delivering on your promises, being professional and focused on customer service, the next time your customer needs an electrician, they will call you first.
Once you shift your mindset from selling electrical construction to seeking buyers with a specific problem you can solve, you will see that with a lot less effort, you can have far more success.
By remembering three things, you can overcome fears associated with selling. Be specific about who your customers are and where you will likely find them. Most important, rather than trying to find someone to sell your services to, seek customers looking to buy the solutions you provide.