Marketing and sales are about extending an invitation. It is our job to be clear in the invitation – what we do, what we are asking them do, what’s the personality of our business – and it is up to our potential clients to decide whether they’d like to partake. If we extend enough invitations and enough people accept, business is good. If we don’t extend enough invitations or enough people don’t appreciate what we are offering, business is bad.
Thinking this way about sales and marketing leads to subtle but important evolutions in marketing and sales approaches. Rather than using tips, tricks, and techniques to persuade people to call us or to sign on the dotted line, the invitation method calls for transparency in the relationship. Our marketing and sales literature, processes, and teams should be clear about what we do and hold sacred, and invite potential clients to work with us. Less time should be spent on closing lines or marketing fads. More time should be spent taking a bold, clear stand about our business and what it stands for – and then shouting that message as loudly as possible.
Others might be able to claim the same things (i.e. great people, quality work, etc.) but who cares? Most homeowners are skeptical of claims that we are the only firm with “x” anyway – they just want to find a remodeler that is authentic. They want to find a remodeler who is clear about who they are and executes on that promise. If we set a bold tone in our invitation, and if we consistently beat that drum, it’s up to the homeowner to decide to come to the party.
Confusion must be avoided. Imagine getting an invitation to a black-tie gala that is being held at the local fast-food joint. Think you’d be confused? Think you’d have second thoughts about attending? Think you’d have follow-up questions? If we say we are committed to excellence but the graphics of our literature are sub-par, it creates confusion. If we say we are sophisticated but our team is not, it creates confusion. Confusion breeds questions, reasons to delay, and justifiable skepticism.
Once you have clarity throughout your marketing and sales processes, ask yourself some questions. What type of people do you want to invite to work with your business? How many people do you want to come? How many people do you think you’ll invite that won’t attend (aka your close rate)? You need to send your “invitations” to enough qualified people; it is a numbers game. Don’t be swayed by your gut or by sales pitches from local media.
Focus on getting in front of the most qualified people for the lowest cost. I think of it as “dollars per potential client.” One advertisement in the right publication could get me twice as many dollars per potential client as 10 advertisements in the wrong publication.
Focus your marketing investment in that area and give it three to four weeks to start producing. If it doesn’t produce, shift gears. If it does produce, continue to monitor it monthly because at some point, you’re going to see diminishing returns. Inviting the same people over and over again to the same party isn’t smart.
When I buy something, I want a clear explanation of what to expect. What does it cost? What is good about it? What is bad about it? How does it stack up to my other options? The last things I want are marketing or sales tricks or techniques. Our prospects and clients are no different. It is our job to be clear in the invitation – what we do, what we are asking them do, establish a personality for our business – and it is up to them to partake.

Bruce Case is president of Case Design/Remodeling, in Bethesda, Md. bcase@casedesign.com