Editorial note: Constructive Communication Inc. (CCI)—a specialist in marketing communications and public relations for the design and construction industry—partnered with Concrete Construction magazine to offer marketing scholarships to eligible readers. The first recipient is Stephens & Smith Construction of Lincoln, Neb. CCI led discussions with key company members and presented a marketing action plan. In exchange, Stephens & Smith shares its marketing challenges with CC readers.

The marketing committee for Stephens & Smith meets to discuss how to implement the ideas suggested by Constructive Communication Inc.
Constructive Communication Inc. The marketing committee for Stephens & Smith meets to discuss how to implement the ideas suggested by Constructive Communication Inc.

Stephens & Smith Construction Inc. is a prominent concrete contractor in the Lincoln, Neb. metro area listed as No. 59 on the CC Top 100 list. Founded in 1971 by Bob Stephens and Mike Smith, the company's services include concrete and specialty products, foundations and footings, waterproofing, flatwork, architectural coatings, high-performance floors, concrete repair, industrial coatings, tilt-up construction, and more for residential, commercial, and industrial projects. Well respected and even well known in its market, Stephens & Smith doesn't have a formal marketing process, budget, plan, or staff.

According to vice president Brett Richert, “The role of marketing in our company is undefined. We have four different divisions based on the type of work performed, and each division has been responsible for doing its own marketing. From this marketing scholarship program, I would like to understand better how to present a unified front for our company. We need a common program—a face to go with what and who we are.”

Stephens & Smith received several recommendations to define a marketing plan, including numerous strategies to address the company's marketing challenges.

Tweak the brand

Stephens & Smith does an excellent job of placing its logo on everything from golf balls to jobsite signs and T-shirts. However, the company needs to pay closer attention to logo usage and misuse. In the past, its logo often had an inconsistent appearance between offices. To accomplish this, Stephens & Smith will select one logo version and consistently use it companywide. Logo guidelines outlining when, how, what, and why to use the company emblem also will be created to aid employees.

Although customers recognize the Stephens & Smith name, the company suffers from the “Oh, I didn't know you did that” syndrome. People just don't recognize all the company offers; a very common problem. There are several ways to remedy this but most important is cross-selling. Proposals are an excellent opportunity to tell prospective clients about many specialty offerings. In addition to stating a dollar figure in a proposal, including a standard paragraph about the company or a comprehensive list of services are subtle ways to cross-sell. A standard proposal template used throughout the company also can reinforce the logo.

Market to existing clients

Stephens & Smith needs to take advantage of marketing additional services to existing clients. Key ways of doing this include:

  • Sending a newsletter: Highlight the company's expertise and experience in all of its markets with a printed piece. Avoid e-mailing this message so it to stands out from other communication efforts. The cover should provide information or comment on an industry trend. Spotlighting a project not only promotes a customer, but demonstrates the company's other offerings. The newsletter also should include a current project list to keep customers aware of company success.
  • Thanking the client: Each month, select one client to thank individually for its business. One logical choice is a client with a newly completed project. Clients who have given referrals or those that were a pleasure to work with also are good options.
  • Featuring testimonials: Identify clients that can be approached for testimonials. This feedback helps provide text for use in collateral marketing pieces.