The 3 “P” Marketing Solution
A Targeted Approach to Jump-Start New Customer Acquisitions
Brad Dawson Nov 01, 2010
The recession has forced contractors to justify every business expense. Labor costs are examined in light of expected projects. Supplier agreements are renegotiated. Administrative line items are deleted. Of particular note are the administrative costs associated with networking. After all, why spend money on efforts that cannot generate an immediate revenue return?
If you are like most contractors, you belong to several networking organizations. Every year you pay your dues and, if lucky, attend one or two events during the membership cycle. When the renewal notice comes around the next year, you pay your dues again with the thought of really getting involved. But, once again, schedule conflicts interrupt your best intentions.
What if you could obtain real value from your networking activities? Would you react differently if you were growing your potential customer target list and simultaneously increasing your new customer acquisition counts? In a period where new customer acquisition revenues account for as much as 60 percent of your total business income, there is a need to become more intelligent in identifying new potential targets and better leveraging your marketing and networking dollars.
Simply, the 3 ”P” Solution looks at ways to leverage your networking and association memberships with increased levels of Publication, Presentation and Participation — key attributes to increasing business visibility and building your potential customer database.
Let’s start with the basics. Every contractor knows that the heartbeat of the business is the customer contact database — the list of potential entities that will pay for your products and services. Your marketing goal is to constantly find ways to increase the size of your customer database and leverage your visibility to this ever-growing list of potential revenue sources. For some contractors, this visibility exercise includes electronic newsletters, funding events and being front and center at various networking sites. The 3 “P” Solution ensures the effective leveraging of this business asset.
Here Is How the 3 “P” Solution Works:
Identify Specific Networking Organizations and Associations that Cater to Your Customer Base
Are you even in the right place to find new customers? Many business owners belong to organizations that can best be described as “social clubs.” People come together for a lunch or breakfast and spend the time talking about issues — with no resolutions and, at the end of the session, are no richer for the experience. These places, except for the camaraderie, do little, if anything, for building your customer database.
You want to be in what can best be referred to as “target rich environments.” Think about the animal kingdom. Where do the predators always come from? The watering hole, right? Think about your networking and association experiences as watering holes where potential customer targets congregate. If, instead, you only come to events that cater to your competition or, worse, do not attract potential customer targets, what value can you ascribe to your hunting exercise?
Publish or Perish
In the academic community, there is a phrase “publish or perish.” Specifically, this phrase indicates a need for any professor to constantly seek visibility and possible funding for their institution through the generation of new ideas in their respective field. Lacking visibility, the professor and institution can neither garner effective recognition in a crowded industry nor increase their level of prestige. Students and funding eventually drop off.
For contractors, a similar logic can be found. Publishing papers on specific ideas, inventions and case studies serves to increase your visibility within your industry — with a special focus on your potential customer population. Customers are more willing to work with contractors who are viewed in the industry as possessing a special, higher-level knowledge — an attribute that can come across in the written word.
The good news is that nearly every networking organization and association has some form of publication — a ready vehicle to communicate your thoughts. Contacting the editor with an article idea can be the best way to open your communication network to a far larger population of potential customers. Another perk to this particular “P” is that published articles, because they are generated by a third party source, give you credibility as opposed to just publishing a blog posting on your own. In one quick step, you go from unknown contractor to industry expert — a necessary transformation for customer acquisition success.
Presenting to a Captured Audience
All of us have been to conferences where a group of our colleagues sit spell-bound for 90 minutes listening to a presenter talk about various theories and practices. At the end of the presentation you walk away with differing levels of interest in the topic but a general understanding that the presenter is an expert in their field. It’s a normal occurrence and a tactic you want to use to build your level of recognition within your customer industry.
If you speak in front of an audience, it is presumed that you are an expert even though there may be other
people who actually know similar levels of information about your particular topic. The difference is the potential customer saw you speak.
Again, there is good news to share. Remember that article that you generated for the industry publication? That article can now serve as a platform for your presentation seminar. Obviously, the content will need to be expanded upon and examples for every statement developed, but in the end you have the skeleton of an effective presentation — the second “P.”
Remember that your primary objective is to increase the size of your customer contact database. When you speak in front of a large group, you want to obtain their information so you can add them to your internal distribution list. Although there are any number of ways to do this, one of the more effective is to offer a free premium in exchange for their information. For example, “if you would like a copy of the article that supports this presentation, please leave your business card and I will send it to you.” The better the premium, the higher the business card count.
Participate at the Highest Levels
Just belonging to an association or networking organization is akin to being a prisoner in a jail — you are only known by your member number. To obtain value, you want to be part of the governance structure of the organization. You want to be a participant in developing and implementing the policies and practices of the organization and inserting yourself into highly visible situations — showing your target customer base that you serve an important role in the industry.
Arguably, there are several ideal positions to participate in any organization. However, the single position that ensures you get to see every member is the sub-group responsible for acquiring new members and/or integrating new members into the organization. This position assures that you will meet every member of the organization, giving you one more chance to pitch your business attributes.
If you follow the 3 “P” Solution, in no time at all, you will have increased the size of your customer contact database several fold. Now, with a burgeoning customer database your next step is to leverage it through your own internal marketing strategies. For most contractors, the use of electronic newsletters serves as a great first step in continuing to build on your brand — with a concentrated effort to push “readers” to your website.
The 3 “P” Solution is a simple way to break out of your current ineffective networking practices and begin to rebuild your potential customer database. The key is to take advantage of what good networking organizations and associations already provide to their members and leverage it for your own value. In a short time, you will be flush with new customers, leaving your competitors to only shake their heads.
Brad Dawson is the managing director of LTV Dynamics, a business consulting firm based in Catharpin, Va., that guarantees the growth of contractor businesses especially in these difficult economic times. He can be reached at BLDawson@LTVdynamics.com.