Despite the construction downturn, now might be the best time to join a professional association or organization. Doing so might provide you with marketing advantages that your competitors won’t have.
Clear Seas Research* has been polling our Building Materials Panel, a cross-section of construction pros who frequent BNP Media publications, e-Newsletters and Web sites. We wanted to know what percentage of construction pros are participating in association/organizations. We also wanted to know how such memberships were contributing to the pros’ success.
First, we learned that a whopping 78% of respondent have not joined any business groups in the last 12 months, nor do they intend to in the near term. This was a bit disturbing because associations, marketing groups, buying groups and other organizations can do so much to advance a market and help members.
On the other hand, 22% of our responding panelists have joined Associations (15%), Marketing Groups (4%), Buying Groups (3%) and Other Organizations (6%). (Multiple responses were allowed, which is why those breakout percentages exceed 22%.)
So business group “joiners” are clearly in the minority. Why would just 22% of construction pros join one of these groups?
Our next question provides answers. We asked the panelists to tell us how important these memberships are to the success of their businesses. As you can see by the bar chart, they feel they are getting good to great value.
First, 93% of those who have joined Associations feel their memberships are Somewhat Important to Very Important to their company’s success. An impressive 40% selected Very Important, the strongest response option.
Next, 66% of respondents said their memberships in Other Organizations (typically smaller/local groups) are Somewhat Important to Very Important.
Next, 54% indicated their membership in Marketing Groups contributed to their business success.
Lastly, 41% said their membership in Buying Groups contributed to their success. However, a surprising 40% also said Buying Groups were Not Important At All (weakest response category) to their business success.
It’s no secret that most business associations and organizations have struggled to grow their memberships, especially those that have been battered by the construction downturn. Even so, I would have thought more than 22% of construction pros belong to at least one business group.
Ironically, those who do belong give strong props to these groups, especially professional associations. Let’s look at some reasons the respondents gave for joining groups.
-Better exposure/recognition; serves as a temporary Web site until I get mine up
-Better grass-roots feel to networking and local connection to people
-Business organization & image presentation (training employees)
-Exposure to our customers and learning information about the industry
-Finding techs, buying vehicles at a better price, getting discounts on gasoline
-Given us more exposure to realtors and the foreclosure business
-Giving us some free advertising and marketing
-Higher search engine ranking, more targeted and efficient advertising
-I can make a more informed presentation to the customer and speak with more confidence
-Increased our market share
-Increased employee specialization and certification in green building practices
-Increased exposure to our services through word of mouth and networking events
-Now we are growing faster
-Promoting the business, supporting the community and local events, not just a rookie, hoping to look professional and well educated in the field we specialize
-Provided industry requirements, training, interaction
To summarize, the four marketing techniques respondents said most contribute to their companies’ success are:
Other Organizations (66%)
Marketing Groups (54%)
Buying Groups (41%)
With 78% of your competitors NOT joining business groups, you’ll have a distinct--possibly exclusive--advantage if you do. But joining a business group works only if you engage, so make sure you participate in the group’s activities and opportunities.
Next blog - Part 4: Four Incentives That Improve Employee Productivity and Sales
*To obtain a copy of the survey results, contact Kelly Clinton at clintonk@clearseasresearch. Results from this study are copyright @ 2009 by Clear Seas Research. All rights reserved.