It’s summer, we get it. People use July and August to get away from it all. Even in the throws of 15-hour days, you are going to find yourself taking some time away from work over the summer months. The one thing you shouldn’t do is turn on your out of office reply. Watch the video for my solution.
We are all in sales, somehow, some way. But too often selling is made out to be too complicated. If you can just remember that boiling construction marketing and construction sales down to their lowest common denominator means it is just a one-on-one conversation between two people. From your flyers and newsletters to your estimates and follow ups.
That day is gone. Homeowners can get just about the entire blueprints to build their own space shuttle on line these days…for free. They know the value of their email addresses, and they know the hassles of dealing with identity theft, so they aren’t giving up their info for your ebook anymore. If you want people to share with you, you have to share with them, and it has to be you first.
This was this week’s newsletter. I talked about being your client or customer’s utility. Sign up for the newsletter here.
Today, let’s talk about utility…For reasons that go on for far longer than I want to keep you this week, my wife has been crazed about getting the landscaping buttoned up early this spring.
Now, I like a good-looking lawn and garden, but I’m the “let’s have someone do it” kind of guy, while she is a get your hands dirty and do it yourself kind of girl.
That means I’ve spent my fair share of time in garden supply stores lately
We’ve gone to the big box joints for stuff, but my wife finds herself (with me in tow) going to a local mom and pop joint called Primex Garden Center for most of our garden needs.
It’s a 2nd or 3rd generation kind of spot with fantastic greenhouses and beautiful grounds that could double as gardens you’d pay money to visit and the people who work there are as knowledgeable as it gets.
And that’s the difference
The big box stores and Primex have pretty much the same things; tomato plants, basil, miles and miles of bulbs, shrubs and mulch…oh the mulch, I’ve humped 4 yards of mulch all over my house the last 2 weekends and my back is yelling at me as I type.
The difference between Primex and the other stores is the staff. At Primex, everyone knows everything there is to know, they are helpful, friendly and willing to do the extras to make you feel special.
At Lowes, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knew what red bark mulch was much less where to find it. It’s not their fault, it’s the nature of the beast; low prices means lower expectations.
And that’s why some, if not most people are willing to pay more
People are willing to pay for knowledge they can’t get somewhere else. From where the mulch is located to how to plant Heinz tomato plants to understanding the permitting process for a new kitchen…and that’s where you come in.
If you compete with a bigger competitor, or your find yourself always battling over price, the best way to move the message is to be the utility. Being a utility makes you immune to price, it leaves competitors defenseless when faced with people who are willing to pay more for knowledge and it helps you distinguish yourself as the expert.
You do that in your marketing. You let people know up front they aren’t getting the cheapest, but they are getting so much more. You insert whatever your so much more is and go to town!
Have a great week!
I spend so much time trying to convince smaller contractors that it is ok to stay/be small, that I could write a book, but I don’t have time for that shit so you are getting it here in a post.
Fuck big…big isn’t such a big deal
Go ask some giant contractor in your market if he/she wants to be as big as they are today. I promise you they would tell you they yearn for the days when they were on the job site every day or they were getting their hands dirtier than they do.
Being small means being the underdog
The underdog is so much cooler than being the big fish in the pond. The big fish has lots of overhead, lots of inertia that make them slow and easy to catch by every other operator in the space.
All those trucks and payroll and overhead make them easy pray for small time operators who can win on margin alone. Everyone talks about quality craftsmanship and good customer service, but that’s what we all should be providing, so that isn’t a competitive advantage at all, it’s the ante.
Underdog status is a destination, not a journey
It’s ok to be small. The underdog has plenty of competitive advantages with consumers because, by default, people typically root for the little guy. The underdog also enjoys acceptance by the marketplace due to these factors:
- Being small makes it easy to relate to people one-on-one
- The underdog can tell a better story or create a narrative that the big fish doesn’t get to participate in.
- Being the underdog gives you the first-mover advantage as new products or developments happen in your vertical.
Most contractors are small shops. They either hire out subs, have a small team or do all the work themselves. The competitive advantage you have only comes out to play when you compare yourself against the big fish. If you ignore the fish like they don’t exist, your advantage goes away, so always make sure you know what makes you better vs. the big fish and use that in your presentations. Always.
There are so many changes and improvements to products and service offerings these days that your head spins just trying to keep up. While you the underdog, may not get the pricing power the big fish has, you are able to act faster while the big fish slowly rolls out new products or services, giving you a seasonal advantage on new offerings.
All in all, you can make a nice living being the small-time operator. You can choose to be the big fish if you want to as well. The point is, the big fish doesn’t have to be the result. If you need help getting it all done, check out one of our construction marketing campaigns in our Contractor’s Toolbox.