Mechanical and electrical estimating firms are in high demand but there are also a lot of them, and it can be difficult to turn around bids and provide quality tenders as the sole means of winning projects. This makes it a competitive industry and you may be wondering how you can better market your electrical estimating business in order to help your chances.
From ensuring your estimating company is found online, to persuading clients that your company is the right one for the job, alongside building networks via new, virtual means, it’s all part of the marketing process. In this guide we’ve pulled tips from our Countfire colleagues who were once electrical estimators, together with advice from our marketing team, to bring you the electrical estimators guide to marketing.
Marketing strategies for electrical estimators
Below are eight basic marketing strategies you can use, or ideally combine, to build a strong marketing presence for your electrical estimating company. Even if you can’t do them all, adopting one or two could make a huge difference to your sales pipeline.
1. Provide superior customer service
All great marketing begins with understanding your customers and their pain points. This is something you may innately know - after all, you likely speak to your customers every day.
However, in many cases new opportunities are time precious. Picture the scene: someone gets in touch looking for a reliable estimating company for an urgent project they need turned around. If the potential client then becomes stuck with an automated email reply, or unable to get through on the phone, they’ll likely move onto the next company.
Testing your customer experience from the point of view of a new enquiry, through to project completion, is a great way to ensure your strategy is watertight and that there aren’t any customers falling through the cracks.
Secondly, think about your existing customers. Especially in the current times, when you aren’t able to meet face-to-face as often as you’d probably like, working out ways to stay connected can help to maintain your best customer relationships.
Could you share details of an online event that you think your client might like, or organise a “virtual coffee” to speak on Zoom for 30 minutes?
Companies who offer great customer service usually retain more existing work, and find themselves receiving more referrals for other projects.
2. Adjust to virtual networking opportunities
As many estimating companies will know from their Business Development Managers, approaching clients in the “new normal” of a world struck by a pandemic has changed the way business is done.
Within electrical estimating much of the marketing and sales process usually happens in person, through networking and word of mouth recommendation. Before, if you tried to cold call a Director of contracts you may have found it difficult. It’s rare they would have been at their desk, or computer, as they usually would have been attending a lunch or rushing back from a meeting due to the nature of the industry. Today, senior staff members and tender owners are far more accessible.
As well as being able to book meetings without logistics and distance being an issue, workers are simply spending more time behind their screens.
This creates more of a level playing field and ability for any electrical estimator, large or small, to have a chance at connecting and networking for new business. Saying that, with this change in approach, understanding the social etiquette of online interactions is really important.
When speaking with a new contact it’s important to practice a short, concise method of sharing who you are and why they might want to speak with you. Have examples of previous projects that you can share to open the door and showcase expertise, but only if the cost to entry is low. Rather than sending PDFs which need to be downloaded and open, focus on having a few website links to case studies and testimonials, using a combination of text and images. Which leads us onto….
3. Create a strong online presence
This is where a strong website, demonstrating your work with previous clients will come in handy. Having case studies and testimonials on your website allows you to easily send URLs to potential clients and also means that anyone looking to validate your company will have all the social proof they need. Try to ensure you have a range of case studies across the different sectors, project sizes and types of contract you would be open to serving.
Governing bodies who are looking to invite companies to tender will usually start with word of mouth recommendation. But once they have an organisation’s name, the next step is to validate their choice by reviewing the company online. This is where case studies provide a double benefit.
It’s also important to make sure your website is easy to find. Website optimisation practices such as claiming your local listings and using basic SEO principles around having the correct titles and descriptions can help ensure a strong online presence.
There are also online marketing strategies outside of just optimising your owned channels like your website. Tender listing services such as The Builder’s Conference provides a data service which allows you to research which companies are involved in the tender process for a specific project.
This is a great way to use online research in order to supply bids for the companies who have the potential to win new contracts.
4. Find your unique selling proposition (USP)
As an MEP contractor do you know what your unique selling proposition (USP) is? For example, you may find that your BIM modelling and the point cloud scanning part of your business and tendering process is particularly strong which allows you to deliver a project faster.
Perhaps you have a superior off-site prefabrication capability which keeps boots offsite for longer, allowing you to reduce the risk factor of health and safety concerns, or to enable a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Your USP is a considerable part of the marketing process. A series of companies may provide a close bid for a new tender, in which case the choosing of an effective contractor will come down to factors outside of just cost. Knowing your USP allows you to reinforce this regularly and become known for that aspect. Not only helping you to win more tenders, but also ensuring that the work you do win, is suited to your company’s strengths.
When your USP is defined you can repeatedly promote this across a series of touchpoints including:
- Your brand positioning statement
- Your website copy and “About Us” page
- Within your social media bios
- In video content and client testimonials
- As part of your tender application
5. Ensure health and safety compliance
You may think that focusing on your health and safety compliance has nothing to do with marketing, but many project owners will consider this when deciding whether or not to hire your company. Having a formal health and safety procedure and being able to show exemplary health and safety figures will help to market your business. Sending a message that your team is professional and that any risk factors have been mitigated.
In addition to physical health and safety, mental health within the construction industry is now being discussed more and more. Suicide rates for construction workers is over three times the national average for men.
Mental health in construction statistics as told by Construction News
Ensuring your organisation has a support policy in place to tackle the mental wellbeing of team members and remove the stigma of asking for help, will help you to be viewed as a progressive company that truly cares about its team.
6. Focus on your environmental impact
Reducing waste has become a huge company ethos for MEP contractors in the past few years. From keeping deliveries to a minimum, to item packaging and even where materials are sourced from, these are all aspects that could reduce a company’s environmental impact. Policies such as pre-fabrication can also help to reduce the use of diesel generators, helping towards targets of carbon neutral working.
Alongside minimising the environmental aspect, estimating companies are also looking to give back to their local communications. Taking part in charity initiatives, whether it’s raising funds, providing opportunities to those from disadvantaged backgrounds or giving time to help out with fundraisers helps to highlight key issues, and the social policy of your company.
All of which creates a much stronger proposition than just being good at the electrical installation and estimating side of the business.
7. Video and audio marketing
Social proof such as obtaining testimonials from electrical clients is a solid marketing tactic that can pay dividends in the long run. Particularly if you’re able to capture clients on video talking about how great your company is, where there’s no room for ambiguity on how much they believe in your company and work.
However, this isn’t the only way to use video within your marketing. There are now various online tools which make video recording and creation much easier and can be put to work by anyone.
One example is using a tool such as Loom or Descript to record your screen alongside a video of yourself talking. This is a great tool that can be useful for explaining presentations, walking through takeoff and estimating costs, or showcasing your company sales deck.
Creating a video that’s easy to watch and engaging is much more attractive to time-poor clients who simply may not want to read through a text-heavy document that you attach to an email.
It’s also a great way to still build face-to-face recognition if you’re unable to meet in person with a potential client.
Lastly, the world of audio marketing has seen a sharp increase with the rise of podcasting and voice notes. Many individuals are used to consuming these mediums in their personal lives and even listening to business podcasts while they workout or go for a walk. While audio marketing or launching your own business podcast may take some effort, the ability to have a potential client engage with your company and expertise for 30-50 minutes at a time has huge value.
Just remember that any video or audio marketing materials you create should focus firmly on what value you are giving your potential client, as rarely do audiences engage in a sales pitch wrapped up in this way.
8. Enter into construction awards
There are many awards within the construction industry, but it’s worth doing your research to spend your time and effort on the ones which are more recognised and renowned. Winning an award will help to raise your profile, and provides an asset you can share via your website or email signature.
Awards that may be of interest within the UK include:
- Construction News Awards
- British Construction Industry Awards
- London Construction Awards
- National Building and Construction Awards
For the US market, there are national awards including:
- Build American Awards
- EIC Awards (Excellence in Construction)
- Construction Management Association of America Awards
The world has changed dramatically over the past 12 months but hopefully this guide has given you some new and refreshed ideas of marketing that you can implement within the world of MEP estimating and construction work.
Staying in touch with trends, understanding your audience and using new and engaging ways to connect with them will help you to stay ahead of the curve and win more projects and tenders.