Everyone in the construction and building materials industry recognizes we're no longer operating during boom times.
Consider this: Production of single-family homes dropped by 14 percent in 2006, and is expected to drop another 15 percent during 2007.
While some experts expect the industry to begin recovering by year's end, 2007 is still no year for pie-in-the-sky marketing techniques. It's a year when the companies are approaching their marketing budgets with brutal honesty: Every dollar must be justified; every tactic must support specific goals. Fortunately, there are many cost-effective steps any company can take to boost the effectiveness of its marketing program.
Be Smarter And More Focused
When Ben Franklin said, "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest," he could have been talking about the building industry. When marketing dollars are scarce, it is imperative to engage in some sort of formalized dialogue — surveys, focus groups or interviews — with your customers and prospects.
An investment in market research often winds up paying for itself because the marketing program that results is more focused and more cost-effective. It enables a company to deploy its marketing dollars wisely and to develop the messages and tactics that work best.
Even a modest effort to glean market intelligence can go a long way. Unfortunately, this is a step many companies neglect. In fact, a 2006 survey of building-materials dealers found that a third of them had never completed a formal survey or focus group.
The good news: Any company can market smarter — and cheaper — by committing to a formalized research program. If you have a small budget, pick 10 or 20 of your biggest customers for a carefully planned interview. Detail their experiences, and unearth their key challenges. Be sure to ask questions that will help you select marketing messages, methods and outlets.
Another way to maximize the effectiveness of every marketing dollar: Narrow your focus and define your target audience as precisely as possible. If your marketing program includes an investment in reaching audiences that don't have decision-making ability or power, reconsider your decision. Focus your efforts only on reaching those people who can generate real activity and real sales.
Make A Plan And Reevaluate Everything
During the planning process, reevaluate each and every tactic you want to include: ads, direct mail, Web, events, sales materials and so on. Quantify the value of each approach, eliminate dubious tactics, and focus your efforts and budget on what works.