For this week’s Guest Post Friday, Musings welcomes Johanna Hoffmann for a second time. Johanna is a marketing and management consultant to construction professionals, architects and interior designers. Her company, Oomph Group Inc. delivers workshops and webinars in the areas of marketing and sales, human resources, general business and financial management. Oomph programs are accredited for continuing education by leading professional and regulatory organizations. Her newsletter and blog are jam-packed with great business tips and resources and you can follow Johanna on Twitter at @oomphgroup.
With warmer weather and a brighter economic outlook, now is the time to explore opportunities for growth. A marketing ‘audit’ will help take stock of your markets and gather the information you need to create a plan that will help you make up lost ground and move your company forward.
A marketing ‘audit’ starts with a review of the current economic climate, of the opportunities and threats that are present, and of your company’s strengths and weaknesses with respect to the situation.
Begin by looking for significant new developments in the following areas:
● General economic and industry trends: What are the biggest changes that have taken place in the past couple of years? As a construction professional you are active in the sector that triggered the economic collapse.
● Beyond a general drop in activity, have other major changes taken place in your market? New technology or processes; regulatory or legal developments; funding or credit models?
● Target market trends: Have your clients been affected, and if so, how?
● Are your target markets still shrinking, are they stagnant or are they growing again?
● Have your clients changed? Have certain clients gone out of business? Are you getting calls from new types of clients you haven’t had before?
● Has demand changed? Are regular clients coming back but asking for new, fewer, less or expensive services? Are existing or new clients asking for different services?
● Competitive trends: Has the competition changed?
● Are certain competitors gone?
● Or, have new companies entered the market? Are they bigger and more skilled than yours? Smaller and less sophisticated?
● Is the market so competitive now that clients can negotiate lower fees?
What is the result of the changes?
● Sales and revenue: Have your sales & revenues dropped? If so, by how much compared to 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009? Do you know exactly how much revenue you need to replace?
● Are clients still cutting back and reducing the scope of work on projects? What type of projects and at what stage? All clients, just a few, or a just a certain group?
● If you’ve had a specific type of client fall-off, have you begun to explore new, replacement target markets?
● Are you seeing a rebound? Are sales growing? If so, by how much?
● Are any clients booming?
● Is there a difference in the work you are doing now? Are you using new technologies or difference processes? Are clients asking for different services or terms?
Are the changes temporary or permanent?
● Is the situation temporary or are the changes semi-permanent or permanent? If the changes are temporary, when do you expect normal business levels and patterns to resume?
How are you managing the changes?
Look at your company to assess whether you have the financial, professional and human resources to respond to changing economic conditions and evolving markets.
● Are your current services and project delivery models adequate to changed market conditions?
● Do you need different skills or special expertise to be able to service markets that have changed, or to tap new, emerging markets? If so, what are they?
● Do you have skills that are particularly relevant now?
Look at your goals and objectives
● Are you on track with your mid and long-term plans?
● Do you have to reassess your goals and objectives because of the changes that have taken place?
● Where would you like to be one, three, five and ten years from now?
● Are the changes enabling you to do work in areas or with clients you’ve always wanted to?
Þ The information gathered so far will give you a very good idea of where you stand. Now you need to take a look at your existing strategy and marketing materials and see whether they’re adequate or whether you need to make changes to adapt to the new conditions.
Is your brand positioning adequate or do you need to incorporate significant changes to:
● The services your company offers?
● The solutions and benefits your services provide?
● Is your value proposition relevant?
● At the moment, everyone is reassessing their needs and many clients are looking for new approaches and fresh solutions. Are you offering new ideas or just the “same old, same old”?
● Is your marketing strategy adequate or do you need to incorporate significant changes to:
● The markets and types of clients you are targeting?
● The line-up of services you are offering?
● Your pricing structure?
● The types of tactics you use to promote the firm and sell your services?
Þ These are tough questions, but it’s important to take the time to think them through. Your answers will help you identify areas where significant changes have taken place and make it easier to revise your marketing plan and activities accordingly.
Lastly, you need to take stock of your marketing materials and tactics
● Have you established a marketing budget for 2010?
● What is the state of your marketing materials:
● What shape is your website in? Do you have one and, if so, is it up-to-date? Do you need to update or revamp the site?
● Brochures and other sales collaterals
● Lawn, hoarding & job signs;
● Postcards, newsletters, promo letters, e-mail campaign templates, a blog
● Print, radio, TV & web banner ads;
● Do you have a defined list of tactics and have you set a schedule for promoting your company, or is it mostly hit-or-miss?
● Direct mail: unaddressed/zip code-based mail drops, addressed admail, e-mail marketing
● Advertising: print, radio, TV, Internet banners & pay-per-click
● Telemarketing and direct sales
● Networking and referral programs
● Social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Please comment below with your thoughts on how you can use these tips to grow your construction practice as a lawyer or contractor. Also, please subscribe to keep up with this and other Guest Post Friday Musings.