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Part 1/2 – Steve Clark, President and CEO

While at a friend’s house last night for pizza and red wine I was drawn in to a conversation with a young (25 year old) man (Dustin) who was trying to build his own drywall contracting company. He’s a hard worker, a good dry waller and had worked in sub trades to general contractors with success predominately in higher-end residential homes.

Today, he has a crew of five guys working for him and a view to growing his future, self employed and owner of the business he has evolved in to.
While he was knowledgeable, hard working and personable he had no experience at owning and growing a business (see previous blogs and if you haven’t yet read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber).

The conversation evolved to advertising ideas and the efforts he was spending his precious few dollars on. Surprisingly just days before, he had met with the local radio station and was considering going on air with two 30 second commercials a day. The radio advertising rep showed him demographic charts and surveys, talked about frequency and reach but didn’t do what was really needed which was to send the young contractor packing with an honest “radio is not how you reach general contractors” or “you are not selling tooth paste to the general public are you sure this is where you want to market your business?”. I think he did say “two times a day was far from having the frequency needed to sink in to anyone’s busy mind set”…so at least that’s something!

Dustin could see by the cringe on my face I didn’t think much of the idea of going “on air” to reach busy general contractors. Yes I agreed some general contractors listened to the radio but he was paying to “reach everyone” and certainly not paying enough.

At this point, I started in on my “business to business marketing rant” and some of it started to sink in. He could see the demographics of radio listeners and I ask him “who signed and sent him cheques”? How many cheques has he received so far in his business from the general public? How many customers were the employed fathers and mothers who were the radio audience? He said none. He got his jobs from job sites and referrals in the construction industry.

Now it was Dustin’s turn to cringe. He told me he had an annual contract for a “display add” in the local Yellow Pages. Why? I asked and the reply was “I need to tell people about my business”. I ask Dustin when was the last time he used the yellow pages to look up a phone number. His reply was…”I don’t, I use the Internet”. After he said that, he paused, then wished he had that money back.

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