One thing I've noticed in talking with professional land surveyors is a real ingrained sense of competency. Sometimes, this sense of surveying competency borders on boastful (luckily, not often). Most of the time, however, you'll discover these feelings of self-competency only after getting them to open up about how they conduct surveys and the work of the other professional land surveyors in their area.
Want to get right to the point? Then just show them a survey plan prepared by another professional land surveyor, and you're likely to get an earful about that survey and plan quality, along with a lesson on how the survey should have been conducted!
The other thing I've noticed in talking with these professionals land surveyors is that many of them are, indeed, very competent. And, I think this is the very problem we have in marketing our professional land surveying services.
How Can You Stand Out As A Professional Land Surveyor: Are You A Black Zebra With White Stripes Or A White Zebra With Black Stripes?
If you've ever watched the movie Madagascar, there's a telling scene where the main character, Alex the lion, can't distinguish his zebra friend, Marty, from within a herd of zebras. When Alex is finally able to pick out Marty from the herd of zebras, he explains that he was able to do so (although not entirely true) because Marty is a white zebra with black stripes, while the others are black zebras with white stripes (I might have that backwards, but you get the idea).
This is the crux of the professional land surveyors' marketing problem: To most customers, professional land surveyors look the same, like a herd of zebras; so you need to figure out how you can stand out like one white zebra with black stripes in a crowd of black zebras with white stripes.
In this Premium post, we will look at marketing challenges to transform your professional land surveying firm into a standout, go to, land surveying company for your clients.
Create A Marketing Plan That's Successful With Your Customers And Geographical Area
I've studied how to differentiate your land surveying company from your competitors for many years, and it's a tricky problem, to say the least. Your goal is to create a marketing plan and approach that's successful with your customers and geographical.
With that said; keep in mind what works for my land surveying company might not work for you. Let's start with a few typical land surveyor's marketing examples that are not very effective on their own:
- No marketing at all, or only relies on word of mouth.
- Marketing highlights surveying equipment, truck and/or software used.
- Marketing tells how many years in business and/or years of professional experience.
- Marketing touts professional or industry knowledge, understanding, and use of techniques.
- Marketing includes a laundry list of former clients, usually larger engineering firms and municipal clients.
How To Create a Standout Professional Land Surveyor Company Marketing Strategy
Our goal, is to create a marketing plan, strategy, and message that makes you stand out from the crowd. I'll breakdown the above examples, and explain how to improve and build on those common marketing themes for success.
Remember, to your customer, now you probably look exactly like every other land surveyor out there, so the differentiating factor most likely is price. If you want to get sucked into low prices, price wars, and competition with low-ballers, then don't change a thing.
However, if you'd rather get better clients and more profitable projects, then you need to develop a marketing plan and company message that says loud and clear to your customers that your different and better than everyone else, and why.
No Marketing at All, Or Only Relies On Word Of Mouth
Most professional land surveying companies do not do any marketing at all. So, the easiest way to stand out from the crowd is simply to do some marketing. The beauty of implementing a marketing strategy is that it makes invisible your competitors who do no marketing at all. This is particularly true with internet search results.
Word of mouth is great, for sure. But, word of mouth is the added benefit to your marketing strategy, rather than the sole source of marketing. Let's be honest, those who rely solely on word of mouth often do so because or two factors:
- Good economic times.
Then, when the economy sours, they complain because they haven't laid the marketing groundwork to keep work coming in.
Colburn's Moral: Stand out by having a marketing plan, marketing message, and a marketing strategy.
Marketing Highlights Surveying Equipment, Truck And/Or Software Used.
Professional land surveyors are in love with their tools and the public is not. Don't get me wrong, your customers will find your advanced land surveying equipment interesting, but few care at all unless your message clearly explains to your customers how your land surveying equipment will benefit them.
News flash! - Your customers expect you to use a vehicle to transport your field crews and equipment to their property, the same as every one of your competitors. They expect you to show up in a serviceable and neatly organized truck. In fact, it's such an expectation, that they don't even think of it at all. Unless there's some extraordinary benefit to the trucks you use, do not focus on your trucks in your marketing.
Software, is like your advanced surveying equipment. Generally, every land surveyor uses one form of software or another. Your customers understand that mostly everyone uses software in their businesses, and your marketing message might not explain how your software choice benefits the customer.
I think using your advanced land surveying equipment and software in your marketing is valuable, if you explain the benefit to the customer. Match your message in this area to your marketing strategy and show the customer how your land surveying equipment and software can make their lives better.
For example, does it make you work faster, more accurate, or cheaper than your competitors. Again, it's important to match the customer benefit to your marketing message. If low prices are not your marketing message, then telling your customers that your advanced equipment allows you to do work cheaper than the other land surveyor is a mistake.
Colburn's Moral: What you love, your clients might not understand why they should love it too.
Marketing Tells How Many Years In Business And/Or Years Of Professional Experience.
Successfully being in business for many years and having years of professional land surveying experience is impressive and important, too. By all means, do promote that your company is a long-time successful business in your area. And, if you're an experienced professional land survey, do promote that, too!
I would just add the following two caveats:
- We are an aging profession and most other land surveyors have also been around for a long time.
- Customers are savvy enough to know that doing something the wrong way for, say, twenty years or more, is not better than learning to do it the correct way in a quarter of that time.
Experience, is a great building block in your marketing strategy. Explain in your marketing message how your experience makes your professional services superior to anything your competitors have to offer. You might highlight how your years of experience benefit the customer because of your extensive collection of completed surveys, which saves them time.
Colburn's Moral: Time alone is not enough, tell customers the benefit of your extensive experience.
Marketing Touts Professional Or Industry Knowledge, Understanding, And Use Of Techniques.
Many land surveying company websites describe generic, bland, and non-specific claims of professional or industry knowledge and understanding, along with questionable statements claiming to know and use "special" surveying techniques. These are some of the lamest excuses for marketing and customers glaze over when reading this drivel.
Customers, whether it's right or wrong, believe that every professional land surveyor is knowledgeable and efficient in their work. Now, to some extent, it seems right to make these claims because you know that other surveyors's work isn't up to snuff, like your work is. But, let me assure you that vague statements come across as just words, for the sake of words, and don't add value to your marketing (or your customers, for that matter).
If you do have some specific professional or industry knowledge, or have developed a unique and useful technique that benefits your customers, then by all means use this in your marketing. Have a clear message identifying your special attributes and how they help your customers, and you'll appear heads and shoulders above your competitor.
Colburn's Moral: Customers are looking for detailed solutions, not mindless non-specific drivel.
Marketing Includes A Laundry List Of Former Clients, Usually Larger Engineering Firms And Municipal Clients.
One much used marketing strategy is for land surveyors to publish a list of past and current clients. This laundry list of former clients usually includes larger engineering firms and municipal clients. Riding the coattails of a name known to your customer isn't necessarily a bad idea. Certainly, if you are marketing to other large engineering firms and municipalities, then this list can help show your past success.
However, most residential customers will only be mildly affected by your list of engineering and municipal clients, at best. First, those larger clients aren't very "relatable" to many of the residential first-time customers seeking your services. And, a list of whom you've done land surveying work for in the past does not convey those clients satisfaction with your services.
Customer testimonials are a critical part of any successful marketing strategy. You invest a lot of money and time in obtaining and servicing a happy client, that it's a shame not to build on that success. Collection and sharing customer testimonials takes organization and work, but it will have a huge impact on your business.
Colburn's Moral: Enhance your list of former clients to include customer testimonials.
Closing Thoughts On Land Surveying Marketing
Expanding on the last Colburn's Moral, I'm now creating an automated customer feedback and testimonial collection system for my land surveying business. The automated system I'm creating is innovative and web-based, making it easy for my customers to give me feedback. As I work through creating this part of my marketing strategy, I'll share more with you.
As I mentioned above, marketing is not a last-minute throw-together effort because customers have stopped buying your services. You'll improve your business greatly with a focused marketing plan and with a defined marketing strategy and message.
However, you do have to start somewhere. So, if you're just starting to figure out your marketing strategy please contact me if I can help you. You can work with me on your company branding or marketing. Together, we can improve your land surveying business.
Finally, I can't stress enough how important it is to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Unfortunately, right now customers think that all professional land surveyors are the same. And therefore, they shop based on price alone. Looking at the ineffective and similar marketing done by many professional land surveyors, you really can't blame customers from thinking we're all the same - Our collective messaging tells them so!
If your desired marketing position is providing your customers with a low-cost solution, then don't change a thing (other than the downward price death spiral). If, however, you want to build a great and loyal clientele while increasing your profit margins, then improve and refine your marketing strategy to plan for your success!
This Professional Land Surveyor Premium Post written by Eric Colburn, PLS, Professional Land Surveyor Adviser & Revivalist.