People generally want to compete on a level playing field in sports and in business. But when marketing a construction company, don’t strive to be equal to everyone else. Strive to stand out.

One way a contractor can do this is by “unleveling” the playing field to its advantage. Of course, this does not mean cheating to win new business, which ruins reputations, and karma (or the law) always catches up.

Imagine playing football on a field that is angled at 15 degrees. Think how much easier it is for a team to run downhill for a touchdown, while the competition has to run uphill. That is what happens when a contractor positions the company to attract the right clients and employees. It becomes easier to succeed, while simultaneously making it harder for other businesses to compete.

Focus on what the company does best; it can be a highly specific trade or, more likely, working within specific industries.

Prospective buyers are looking for experts in the field and will pay more to get access to the specialized knowledge these experts have to offer. Why? Because they want a “safe bet.”

However, most construction companies don’t do a good job of explaining to prospective clients why they are a safe bet. In fact, most construction companies stay generic and say things like, “We deliver projects on time and on budget.” Guess what? Everyone is stating that as part of their pitch. If a firm wasn’t on time and on budget, then it would be out of business. That’s just the baseline.

Clients want and need more specific information to help them decide to choose a company over others that claim to be as qualified and possibly less costly. If no one offers them more, they often settle for the lowest price. As a buyer or decision-maker, wouldn’t something more specific like, “We renovate hospitals while keeping them open, and we minimize infections with our proprietary infection control methods,” sway the decision in that company’s favor?

When a company focuses on specific markets, such as health care, this differentiation stands out to prospective clients. It makes one company a more attractive hire because it understands the owner’s needs without having to learn about things such as infection control. Specialty knowledge is the reason a client will pay more for building its project.

Focusing on a specialty also can save a company money because it reduces client acquisition costs by focusing on fewer prospects and joining fewer associations. Being focused also allows a company to invest in specialty equipment for meeting clients’ particular needs, instead of requiring a variety of equipment for every possible jobsite issue. The benefit of specialization also pertains to employee training.

When company leaders know they can handle clients’ special needs, they can target a limited group for business development, narrow company training and procedures, and create design proposals to speak to prospective buyers’ specific concerns. This allows the contractor to easily charge more for the same amount of work while reducing overhead costs—something every construction executive values.

Perryn Olson is president of The Brand Constructors, the construction marketing division of Design the Planet, and author of “Construction Executive’s Guide to Brand Marketing.” For more information, call (504) 355-4119 or email