There is a public inquiry going on right now in Montreal called “The Charbonneau Commission” (presided over by  Madam Justice France Charbonneau) which is investigating fraud, collusion and corruption in the construction industry related to contracts awarded by different levels of government.  If you`ve been following the “Charbonneau Inquiry”  you`ve heard how a group of a dozen or so construction companies who specialized in infrastructure work (sewers) allegedly colluded together to raise prices and side step local government rules and regulations which were intentionally designed to give all bidders  a fair chance at being awarded  contracts.

It turns out that these companies, along with city engineers, filled their pockets with lots of cash obtained illegally.

So it got me to think that their marketing techniques were quite effective. We can all learn marketing lessons here, even if we agree that their basic premise was allegedly illegal.

So let’s go through their approach step by step.

1-What they did was what every successful entrepreneur should do. Choose a target market.  They picked local government as their target. They rarely bid on commercial jobs, and basically concentrated all their efforts on this one group.

…..Marketing principle 1- choose your target market.

2-Once they were crystal clear on who their target market was, they were able to figure out where to concentrate their networking efforts. They were able to find out what events they attended and began forming relationships with them there. Essentially they would go to golfing and social cocktail events organized by the local government`s infrastructure (sewer) department and started to form relationships with the engineers responsible for drawing up Requests-For-Proposals.

…..Marketing principle 2 – Find out where your target market hangs-out and join them there.

3-These same entrepreneurs started to invite their target market to different events such as hockey games and fine restaurants. They would organize golfing trips because they knew that this particular target market loved to play golf. The engineers who testified at this enquiry said that they were always invited to events and began to develop trust and friendship’ with the very people that were corrupting them.

…..Marketing principle 3 – Always have something to invite your target market to so that they can get to know and trust you.

4-They also learned that the majority of these infrastructure engineers were paid much less than their private sector counterparts and didn`t feel respected and valued by their employer (the city of Montreal). Hence, these entrepreneurs figured out the one big result they would need to deliver in order to get these engineers in their pocket. More cash and lots of praise for the work they did (Illegal mind you). At this point, the entrepreneurs succeeded to corrupt the engineers so that they would provide information that would allow these construction companies to win bids on a very regular basis. Two of the engineers that testified admitted to receiving $500,000 $700,000 respectively in brown envelopes over the course of 6-8 years.

….Marketing principle 4 – Always deliver on the one big result your target market wants and desires.

I hope that these allegedly dishonest and illegal activities which these construction companies used will not go unpunished. However, from a marketing perspective, the principals they used just about guaranteed their success.

Marc Samoisette is the Founder of Elevate Coaching. If you would like to receive Marc`s articles as they are published register here.

Marc is a leading Sales Turnaround coach in the Montreal area. He helps leaders of small businesses book a lot more deals. His approach spans the sales spectrum, from working with leadership, to working directly with sales people, empowering them to book more business. Marc takes a scientific approach based on repeatable processes.

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