Recently I've gotten some e-mail from commercial contractors telling me that they'd like some attention, too.

Recently I've gotten some e-mail from commercial contractors telling me that I've focused mainly on residential marketing and they'd like some attention, too.

First, a technique called "drip" marketing works equally well for commercial and residential companies. Drip marketing is contacting your current and potential customers often. Plan on contacting them at least once a month. They should be short messages that they can read and remember your company by.

Here are some things that commercial companies can do from a marketing and advertising perspective:

1. Take pictures of every job. When prospective customers are thinking about using your company for a job, they want to see that you have done similar jobs for other companies. Pictures tell the story.

2. Write articles for the trade press. I'm not talking about the hvac press; I'm talking about the press in business areas where your customers are. If they are in food service, write articles for those trade publications. Get known in those industries. This takes a lot longer than just putting an ad in a magazine. However, the dividends that it pays over the years are well worth the writing effort.

3. Give presentations. Most trade associations are also looking for speakers. You'll be considered an expert. The more speaking you do in different areas, the more likely your company will be considered for jobs.

4. Give apothecary jars to your commercial service contract (and other good) customers. These are glass jars that you can put candy in. Have them printed with your company name and telephone number. Fill them once per month with candy. This gives you an excuse to visit on a regular basis. You'll be surprised how many additional service calls, discussions, jobs and more you will get simply by walking in their door once per month. And by the way, once you start this process, your customers will look forward to the candy, so you can't stop!

5. Do a quarterly newsletter. This should be filled with ideas that your customers can use to help them improve building efficiency, decrease costs and more. You can also talk about some of the projects that you've done and how they have helped customers solve specific problems.

6. Use direct mail. Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the direct mail activities were much different than those I would suggest now. At this time, I would use postcards. This means that you have to make your messages short and be totally benefits-oriented. Postcards should be sent out every month to 45 days.

7. Use an e-mail marketing campaign. This is a good way to attract current and potential customers with short ideas that they can use to save money, increase the efficiencies in their buildings, etc. They should only be a line or two. This is the perfect drip marketing activity.

8. Make sure that your Web site is up to date. Potential commercial customers are very likely to check out your company's Web site before awarding a job to you or asking you to bid on a job. Put biographies of your project managers, service department managers and personnel on the Web site. Also have a list of current and past jobs with contact names and telephone numbers (assuming that your customers will give you permission to use their names.)

Commercial marketing takes time. However, by making the time to do these activities, you'll build a strong potential customer base that will lead to a strong active customer base.

Copyright 2001, Ruth King. All rights reserved.

Ruth King's American Contractor Exchange

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