The long, dark winter months—often less hectic work-wise—offer an ideal time for planning ahead. It’s also when memories are still fresh about what worked well (and what didn’t) in your marketing strategy during the previous year. See whether any of these marketing mistakes look familiar as you plot a course for next year.

Ignoring past customers

Construction is a relationship business. People are spending big bucks on your services, and projects can stretch on for months. Without good relationships, construction projects become painful from many perspectives.

So, what about all those relationships you started and nurtured throughout previous projects? Do you still keep in touch? Your former customers might not ever need another construction project — but they likely know people who will. Word of mouth is a very real marketing advantage, and if you aren’t using it to the max you’re missing out.

No plan

Your business is unique, with strengths and weaknesses you know well. Your marketing plan must take into account the unique aspects of your business, as well as the time and money you can afford to spend on marketing. It’s very easy to go off in all directions, simply throwing marketing dollars at the wall and seeing what sticks. But that leaves you running after the wrong markets and using the wrong methods to approach the right markets.

To get it right, build your marketing plan based on your business plan, company goals and the kind of projects you want. As you do that, you’ll come face to face with your ideal customers and can custom-tailor your efforts to reach them.

Not tracking goals

Having a plan gets you started on the road to riches, but if you don’t track your progress relative to your goals, you won’t be able to tell if you are on the path to meeting those goals. You need to track what’s happening with your marketing so you can sync your efforts with your results.

Break through the fear of planning and just set some goals. Sure, you want to achieve those goals, but if you fall short it’s not a failure; it’s just a sign you need to adjust something. That’s where the tracking comes in. If one of your goals is to get 25 percent more work in a particular market sector and you track your progress monthly, you’ll always know exactly how well you’re doing in hitting that goal.

As you continue adjusting your marketing efforts you’ll also learn what works best for your business and what doesn’t. The bigger payoff will come in subsequent years as you review and adjust your marketing program annually.

Not using your network

The people and companies who you work with are the windows to your reputation. Ignore them at your own peril; more than a few contractors have been brought down by the company they kept.

Conversely, a network of highly performing partners can be a critical boon to your marketing. Such partners can bring more business your way simply because their involvement helps you close out projects on time and on budget. They also know a lot of people, and when they recommend you it means more to a potential client then seeing your ad or visiting your website. Your network is a powerful marketing organism that works both ways, so as you become and stay successful, you also help your partners do the same.

Measuring the wrong metrics

The things you do to market your business are not nearly as important as the results you get from doing those things. Try not to get bogged down in measuring the process, but instead focus on the results.

For example, ever since social media arrived on the marketing scene there’s been an emphasis on sharing, liking and views. These so-called vanity metrics are nice to know, but not really bottom line stuff for a busy contractor. If 100 people shared a blog post you put on your website and none contacted you interested in your services, you have no evidence that the blog post produced a return.

That doesn’t mean it was a wasted effort because at least 100 people were introduced to your services. But in this case you’d collect more meaningful data by using an analytics tool to follow visitors through your site so you can see how they learn about you—and how they ultimately get to the page where they inquire about your services.

Find the metrics that give you the most reliable information about the marketing efforts that lead directly to you landing a client. Then track those metrics to validate their results.