Call Us
(408) 749-1028
Importance of Focus out weighs tactics

Fewer Proposals, More Wins.

Commercial construction is a relationship-driven business where the consequences can run into the tens of millions of dollars. For a well-established specialty builder, an increasing trend in the number of lost proposals was a cause for concern, especially as the firm prepared to expand into new geographies. Project performance was outstanding, so they expected a marketing tune-up and tweaks would put them quickly back on track.

The solution wasn’t quite so simple, but in the end produced greater benefits than they imagined possible.

Changing Market

A more competitive market brought new competitors eyeing the firm’s niche. The firm was highly regarded, yet poorly differentiated. It defined itself as a “technical builder” serving specialized markets. They emphasized their craft assuming clients cared about the same things they did.

As with many professionals, the lesson that competence and experience gets one considered, but not hired, was a hard one. While existing clients understood why they were the best choice from first-hand experience, prospects didn’t.

Leveraging Their Strengths

In depth interviews of clients and partners revealed a genuine appreciation and respect for the way the firm handled high-impact projects. These are projects where not getting details perfect the first time, or even small delays have unusually large impacts on the client. These projects tend to be technically demanding, so the unexpected must be expected.

Not surprisingly, the firm’s culture, structure, and management style were to “over-manage” these very demanding projects. While this worked exceptionally well for the highly complex projects where they thrived, it made it hard for them to complete economically for other types of work.

Vulnerability Hiding Behind Strength

Managing complex projects built strong individual relationships which tended to limit knowledge of the firm’s broader capabilities. The executive team was shocked to hear of over-the-top happy clients who nonetheless turned to competitors because they weren’t aware of the firm’s full capabilities.

The stockholders had been grappling with how to grow. Up until now, they planned to broaden the types of projects they took. I presented them with a more attractive option: they could focus on owning the types of projects where they brought a real advantage. Framed in those terms—and with the firm’s strong culture—the choice was easy.

Change in Mindset

Sharpened positioning reshaped thinking firm-wide. Rather than talk about a building, the business development team started speaking in terms of adding capabilities to the client’s business. When presenting to potential clients, they found it surprisingly easy to demonstrate why they were a better choice.

Fewer Proposals. More wins.

The strategic marketing plan aligned the firm around winning more of the projects they wanted while steering away from resource-sapping proposals they were unlikely to win. To their surprise, fewer, but better thought-out proposals, consistently won the best projects and generated higher revenue.

Extended Gains

The founders hired LaFetra Consulting for a marketing plan, but ended up with much more. With detailed—and prioritized—guidance, the corporate website, collateral, events and campaigns, social media, proposal generation, and recruiting all began to operate in tight alignment. Recognizing an opportunity to transform their firm, leadership sent all new management employees—including those working primarily on job sites—to a half day of marketing training.

Looking forward, the firm’s stockholders seized the opportunity to break with the boom or bust construction mentality. Determined to be the strongest player in their segments, a consistent and focused strategy positioned them to not just survive, but to gain competitively the next time boom turned to bust.

Go from Good to Great

Deep customer insights—-why your customers select your firm–form the foundation of positioning that is simple, credible, and compelling. In-depth customer interviews allow company leaders to see past their own biases and focus on why their best customers select their company.

Not every firm will be great, but any firm can be. It’s your choice.