Marketing work for you
for profit and growth
A good many electrical contractors
are under the misapprehension that marketing is a field best left
to the giant corporations which have, over the years, built a mystique
around the concept and the process of marketing. This is a fallacy
which literally cries out for correction.
Granted there may exist a mystique surrounding
marketing, and it may have been nurtured by huge multi-nationals
in an attempt to protect their market shares, but it is a man-made
mystique. There is nothing mysterious about marketing! Marketing
is simply a process by which a company plans the best possible method
of getting its product or service to its customer, and with any
luck, finding new customers in the bargain.
Electrical contractors often claim they have
no marketing plan, or strategy. The fact is, however, each and every
one of them in business today uses marketing on a regular basis. Joe
Contractor may not have a formal plan or budget written down on paper
or carved in stone, but every decision he makes is motivated by his
understanding of market trends-that is, the needs and wants of his
Joe gets up for work in the morning and while
dressing, it hits him that nobody in his area is providing HVAC
services. The germ of a marketing plan. . . While he's driving in
to his office he's rolling a few ideas around in his head. When
he gets in to work he calls in his partner, Fred and says, "Look,
Fred, I know this could be risky, but I've just had a great idea.
There's no one here in town doing heating, ventilation and air conditioning
work. It's all being done from outside. What if..."
No mysterious marketing specs and forecasts here.
Joe simply had an idea. He told Fred and the next thing they know,
they're in the HVAC business as well as their established contracting
line. Of course Joe took a calculated risk here. He based the future
success of his new venture on the reputation he'd built up over
the years with his customers and it paid off. After all, why should
customers import services that suddenly become readily available
in their own area-and possibly cheaper in price?
Joe and Fred Contractor expanded their business,
made a profit and have a rosy outlook for the future. Why? Because
they saw a gap and filled it. That's marketing.
Sophisticated or simple?
Joe Contractor can continue to run his business
on a simple basis, just keeping his eyes open for any opportunities
that fall into his lap and acting on them. Or he can take the hint
from his first successful departure and take an active and aggressive
attitude toward searching out new markets to be serviced. It will,
of course, depend on the size of his organization, the number of people
he has at hand and the time and money he can afford to put into active
market research- looking for the gaps.
Let's say he starts small and simple. Joe has
a person on staff who has been dealing with the firm's customers
for a few years and Joe thinks it's not a big leap from what the
person has been doing to what he could be doing in terms of market
analysis (another frightening phrase to many). So, Joe takes the
person aside and says, "Look, you're in the best position to get
the feel of what might be needed out there, right? So why not do
a little poking around while you're talking with our clients and
see what you can find out." What Joe is asking that person is to
try to anticipate the customer's future needs so Joe can analyze
Joe can then weigh the pros and cons of moving
into new areas of specialization, based on the information received
from his person in the field. Can his company handle the physical
work required in this specialized area? If not, will the cost be
low enough to ensure he can make money through this specialization
if he decides to go ahead with the necessary up-dating of his facilities?
Will the venture be a flash-in-the-pan or a steady-growth market
with continued return on investment? And (a very important factor
in Joe's equation) will this move attract new customers looking
for exactly what Joe might be offering?
Suddenly, Joe Contractor finds that his intended
expansion into new areas of specialization will, indeed, work, as
well as turn a tidy profit. Does he then rest on his laurels? No,
sir. Joe is an entrepreneur who knows a good thing can be made better.
And, as we can see, he has already established a simple, but effective
marketing plan. Now Joe wants to build his business in a more sophisticated
Realizing what a great help his man in the field
has already been to his expansion, Joe theorizes that a permanent
salesperson is his logical next step toward growth. But, since Joe
is still in the infancy stages of his company's expansion, his salesperson
will also function as his marketing specialist. So, Joe arranges
for his sales/marketing specialist to attend a number of seminars
and perhaps a course or two on marketing strategy in order to more
easily identify new markets (again, find the gaps).
It is during this stage of Joe's growth that
he becomes aware of marketing mix. He notices that the new construction
market is no longer the dominant factor it was during the 1970s, rather
that technical specialties are now prominent, with energy management,
design-build work, electronic controls, life-cycle maintenance and
renovation following close behind.
Joe's sales/marketing specialist tells him that
some of the technical specialties include: air conditioning, computerized
control systems, electric heating, electric signs, energy management,
exterior lighting, fire alarm systems, heat pumps, integrated ceilings,
interior lighting, master antenna/CATV, motors and controls, security/TV,
sound communications, standby emergency power and telephone interconnect.
Of course, there are more, but by now Joe's mind is reeling with
Now, Joe has already committed himself to his
expansion and his decision to pursue his marketing goals, but how
can he follow through with any real success? Unless his sales/marketing
person can handle the vast number of potential markets available,
he will have to organize a separate division for marketing and one
for sales, (with the expertise to run them) and they will have to
not only complement each other, but support one another as well.
It is obvious to Joe that an infinite variety
of specializing combinations can be generated from the options he
now has. To make his problem even more complex, each combination
needs its own special set of capabilities, financial investments
and marketing methods. The way Joe puts these options together into
profitable business activities is his marketing mix. And as new
options are added to traditional ones, the total number of profitable
opportunities will increase, but the decision-making process for
Joe will become more complex.
Obviously, this is when Joe Contractor needs all
the help he can get.
The marketing concept holds that the key task
of Joe's organization is to; determine the needs and wants of the
markets he's looking into, adapt the organization to supply the
desired satisfaction profitably, and effectively and efficiently
communicate Joe's capabilities to his prospects.
Since Joe is becoming somewhat of a marketing
whiz, he knows there are other concepts involved with marketing. Some
of these include; constant improvement of production and delivery
efficiency, to attract and hold new customers; the best quality for
the price concept; and the concept that customer purchases are dependent
upon efforts to stimulate their interest and encourage their decision
Now that Joe has the physical capabilities in
his shop to service a marketing mix, he decides to hire an advertising
or public relations consultant to help him promote his services.
His marketing/sales person now handles personal sales only, the
better to service established customers and attract new ones.
But, Joe Contractor is not finished yet! He and
his organization must constantly innovate. Remember, Joe has competitors
out there admiring the advances he has made through marketing-filling
the gaps. This is where positioning comes into Joe's marketing strategy.
Positioning is another stage in Joe's marketing
strategy to distinguish him from his competitors. Positioning goes
beyond simple image making and visual identification-handled by Joe's
advertising consultant-it aims to help prospects know the real differences
between Joe and the others in similar fields, so they can match their
needs to the one of most value to them.
Finally Joe Contractor has a sophisticated sales
and marketing organization. Right? Well, let's see. He has achieved
sophistication in advertising, sales promotion, customer relations,
innovation and positioning.
That sounds pretty good. But, it may not be enough
to keep Joe riding his wave of profitable growth-unless all these
factors are professionally planned and controlled.
But, our Joe is a shrewd businessman by anyone's
standards, and he knows the ultimate essence of modern marketing
depends on analysis of the market and actions of competitors, identification
and evaluation of alternative strategies, development of organizational
plans to meet carefully stated objectives and goals, and control
of the various activities necessary to carry out his marketing plan.
And since Joe's people are the ones who helped
him every step along the way, he pays careful attention to the personal
objectives, incentives and rewards of those same people.
In Joe's new awareness, his customer is seen as
the ultimate controlling influence, with his company's marketing
function integrating activities of production, finance, purchasing
and sales promotion-all through the motivation of his team of people.
Joe Contractor, who not too long ago had an idea
while dressing for work, has attacked the concept he once thought
mysterious and forbidding - and he's won the prizes. Joe is now
a successfully diversified contractor servicing numerous customers
in specialty fields he never dreamed he could master. He's filling
the gaps-and so can you! No goal is too scary if you take it on
one step at a time, with a little help along the way.