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THE IDEAL AGENCY-MEDIA RELATIONSHIP

September 18th, 2018 by

In Spring of 1997, when our firm was young and had relocated only six or seven months beforehand from Chicago to Portland, Maine, we had a visit from a media rep. David Corson called on me. He worked for a publication called “Retail Operations & Construction.”

I didn’t know who he was, what he wanted from us or our clients… or, anything about his magazine. But those were the days when we weren’t so busy, and probably, were a lot more hospitable. So I agreed to meet him for breakfast.

Immediately upon meeting, we found out we had some commonalities. Both had athletic backgrounds, were workout fanatics… and the pièce de résistance , both of us were members of the same national college fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE). From the get-go, I liked this guy.

I liked him even more when at the end of our initial meeting, he said, “I think I know an account which would love your services.” Within one week, we added a new name to our growing client roster.

The years passed, our business grew as did David’s. He ultimately left the publishing company he was with and started his own firm. In what seemed to be no time at all, he was owner/publisher of Retail Construction, Hospitality Construction and Healthcare Building Ideas magazine & Commercial Kitchens. He developed and managed a number of tradeshows, summits, retreats and other networking events. He did well… and from our vantage point, never forgot us. As a matter of fact, he even hired us! For a number of years, Communicators International, Inc., was full-service advertising and public relations agency for David’s company. We had a blast together. But more importantly, we helped each other grow.

Like so many others in this industry, his firm and ours were hit by the recession. In July of 2008, Communicators had a client roster consisting of many overseas accounts that focused on America. Bam! All at once, we lost 60% of our annual revenue due to non-domestic firms cancelling annual contracts. David really got clobbered, and ultimately re-tooled his firm, winding down his tradeshows and bringing the three aforementioned magazine titles under one new masthead, which he still owns and runs: Commercial Construction & Renovation. In spite of his business hits, David was 100% honorable to us. Whatever he owed, he paid us in full.

Since that time, slowly and surely, both of our companies have come back. We moved to Florida in 2012; David’s firm continued to build up the magazine, added some addenda publishing titles and more. Over the years we’ve signed on a number of new accounts due to his recommendations. We’ve never forgotten the services we get from his firm over and beyond running our clients’ advertising. Bottom line, after 21 years, this publisher still cares about us… and, we still care about him.

In retrospect, looking back to 1997, all of our businesses have changed. 21 years ago, we were all becoming quasi-geeks, getting stoked about all the conveniences and digital tricks we were bringing into our respective companies. David’s firm was doing this, as were we. Like all small businesses, ours were changing with the times. But one thing never changed in the relationship between this media company and Communicators International, Inc. We were interested in each others’ success; we listened to each other; we helped each other… and both firms continually benefitted due to this ongoing, beautiful relationship.

In this blog, I want to publicly thank David Corson for being a great partner.

Phi Alpha, Bro!


Building your business within the commercial construction sector for 2017

February 15th, 2017 by



If you’re a business owner/manager and work within the commercial construction arena, chances are at times you’ve felt like the mythological King Sisyphus.

Remember him? He was punished by the Greek gods. He was forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, repeating this action for eternity. Not ironically, ever since those ancient times, tasks that are both laborious and futile have been described as “Sisyphean.”

Quite honestly, it’s not always good to be King.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t build your business. After all, if you’re the king or a top-ranking officer, it’s paramount that if you fall down, the best thing to do is get up and keep moving toward your goals.

I know that sounds a bit cliché-ish. But if you have a program from which to work off, a strategically posed business growth plan, I don’t think you need a magic wand to build your business. Just some patience, a strong dose of optimism and, a firm commitment that once your plan is crafted, you’ll stick to it.

From a discipline standpoint, having and sticking to a business plan really is no different than committing to get your tired old body back in shape. You put together (or have someone put together for you) a workout program, and then stick to it religiously. No pain, no gain, and after you get used to the routine, you see results. Your business-building plan can work just as easily.

 

To begin, you must:

  • Know what you strengths (and weaknesses) are. Be honest.
  • Ask yourself, “What is a reasonable sales growth goal for my firm?”
  • Step out of your ego. Just because you don’t like your competition, don’t be in denial if they’re beating you in certain areas.
  • Never hate your competition. Be civil regarding them, especially if you ever rub elbows. You might even be able to find out more than you’d ever realize. Remember what Don Corleone said? “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
  • Include your management team in the development of this plan. Their input will prove to be invaluable.
  • Make sure once your plan is in place that you share it with your people. Get them excited about being part of it, especially your sales team.
  • There’s no reason not to keep using old school tools to promote your business, especially if they’ve successfully worked over the years. But to be afraid to learn about/implement the newer online promotional tools is insane. If you’re over 55 and set in your ways, be smart enough to bring in younger employees who aren’t. It’s even smarter if you jump into the 21st Century and learn/understand these disciplines.
  • It is imperative to have personnel with a strong understanding of today’s social media and how it can be used to positively build your image, reach prospects and educate your targets regarding why they need you.

 

Let’s talk about focus. What kind of growth are you looking for? The easiest is to stay where you are, work hard to maintain all your existing customers, and then just raise your prices across the board by a certain percentage. Now, that sounds pretty basic, and it can make sense. But would your incumbent regular customer base stay with you, were you to announce a 10 percent price increase, especially for the upcoming New Year?

From a realistic standpoint, growth sometimes can be gauged based upon internal need. For example, if you’re maxed out, if all of your team members are working more hours than ever to accommodate your clientele, then obviously, you need more bodies.

But don’t just bring in new hires as a Band-Aid due to having more work than workers. Rather, bring in people who not only can help you meet the demands of your everyday business – ones who will free up fellow workers. Allow them the time to focus on bringing in new business, rather than just slaving to maintain what you already have. After all, it will soon be 2017. Everybody wears more than one business hat these days.

Do you want to grow what you already have and branch out in other directions? Or, maybe you are thinking about growth by acquisition? Maybe you just want to grow your business, so that it can go on the sales block? In other words, build it to sell it.

 

On your mark, get set, grow…

Once you decide the direction to grow your business, go online and look for some of the commercial construction economic reports, which often readily are available. I’ve read many.

Perhaps the best annual commercial construction preview in my estimation comes from the Gilbane Company. It’s professionally done, unselfish and very much on target. Obviously, knowing your marketplace well is a necessity.

To structure your plan, there are many basic protocols.

 

Here’s an outline of one.

  • Start out with your company’s mission statement.
  • Every construction firm has a certain company culture. State yours here.
  • If you’re big enough and want to project your organizational structure, possibly via a flow chart showing hierarchy of positions/roles, do it.
  • Go into detail regarding company goals and the financial projections needed to attain these. It’s best to be conservative.
  • In great detail, outline your product/service offerings. With your staff, go over each component that you “sell” to your customers. Be open and honest. Are each of these offerings as good as they could be? If not, how can they be improved.
  • Make sure you have an ironclad HR program in place for existing personnel and those to be added. If your firm is large enough to have a dedicated HR person/department, look at that as a great insurance policy for your firm.
  • Make a listing of all the challenges you envision in the upcoming year. Of course, this will change, but by realistically forecasting what you very well may confront, eye-opening business surprises during the year will be dealt with more effectively.
  • Clearly, know all the laws to which your firm must abide. As business owners and managers, you’ve all been hit once or twice by some regulation (taxes, zoning, etc.)
  • Embark on a cogent marketing program. And to do so, think about working with a professional marketing firm offering a strong track record within the industries you target. Even though so many firms want to go “in-house,” which in many cases makes sense economically, determine if you’ll get the best talent that way. Or, should your company partner with an outside firm? This marketing program should be put together in great detail. It can and should include participation in networking events, utilizing social media, ongoing content development, advertising, public relations, community outreach services, an ongoing protocol for targeting potential customers… and, so much more. Included also should be a review how to best support your sales team with the best marketing tools and customer services.
  • Make a strong effort to make your plan flexible, so you may adjust to the many business variables to be encountered.

 

Let’s face it – 2017 will be upon us in a few months. Some people believe an “election year” is a guarantee of business increases. Whether or not that is valid, I cannot answer. I can state, however, that if a company puts together a convincing business plan, remains patient and optimistic, good things will happen. The best indicator I’ve seen these last few months is the amount of cranes at construction sites in larger cities. If you do it the right way, business can and will grow.

Unlike King Sisyphus, you indeed can be King of your own domain. 


Blog Project of The Year!

December 26th, 2015 by

Our client, General Shale, ran an article in Masonry Construction Magazine online…. it won blog of the year for 2015!

This article about General Shale's new and beautiful brick offerings won Blog Project of the Year in Masonry Construction magazine for 2015!

This article about General Shale’s new and beautiful brick offerings won Blog Project of the Year in Masonry Construction magazine for 2015!

Click read full article


TODAY’S BRICK COLORS GET SOME INK

September 17th, 2015 by

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 8.44.35 PM

For the last two years we’ve been working with Arriscraft; it’s been a real labor of love. Our client has been pleased with our work and as a result, hooked us up with its parent firm, General Shale, one of the largest and most successful sources of brick material in the United States for decades. Here’s one of the first articles we’ve written, “Not Your Grandfather’s Building,” that recently appeared in the national media.  Thanks for everything, Marta and Dawn!


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Communicators International, Inc.

Headquartered in Jupiter, FL with satellite offices throughout the nation

Call: 561 203 2981

E-mail: info@communicatorsintl.com

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