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The 2 most popular sections are:
✅ Contractor Video Marketing Framework For Leads
✅ Google Local Tips & Tracking
The table of contents is below.
- 1 Keep Building Reviews On Google Local
- 2 Position Your Marketing For Direct Response
- 3 Get Ready For Conversation Marketing
- 4 Keep It Simple With A One Page Website
- 5 Online Marketing is Getting More Expensive → Offline Marketing?
- 6 Use Facebook Advertising For The Full Customer Cycle.
- 7 Use Video Marketing To Generate Leads
- 8 Make Sure Your Website Is Fast — Page Speed Matters
- 9 Plan On Spoon Feeding Content (Content Marketing)
- 10 An Offline Marketing Idea That Is Cheap: Business Cards On Side of Truck
- 11 Get Ready To Follow Consumers… to the ‘BIG NAMES’
- 12 Understand Your Product Ladder
- 13 Deliver Notifications Where Consumers Aren’t Bombarded — VoiceMail Drops
- 14 What About Blogging and SEO (Is It Worth It Anymore?)
- 15 Use Story To Differentiate Your Business
- 16 Ignite Word of Mouth Marketing
- 17 Get Rid Of The Local Pages On Your Website
Why You Need To Stay On Top Of Contractor Marketing Trends
Ever heard the saying “what got you there, won’t get you there?” It applies to marketing just as it does every other aspect of business.
What worked a few years ago, might not work so well now and what is going to be working to drive sales for our contracting businesses won’t work in the that’s why we need to be on top of the marketing game.
For example, when I first started my exterior contracting company in 2012 and subsequently got into contractor marketing; search engine optimization through a content rich website was all the rage as it yielded incredible marketing results.
Going in to 2019, the value of having a content rich website to generate inbound inquiries through search traffic has diminished. Yes it still ‘works’, but it is not what it once was.
Here I cover the current trends in contractor marketing that every trades business owner should be aware of.
Keep Building Reviews On Google Local
In this video below I explain how Google Local works, some ways to get more exposure, and tool you can use to track your results!
I know. I know. It sounds basic. You want more from me. But the best ‘free’ marketing for contractors out there is Google Local and one of the dominating factors behind your exposure (or lack of) is your reviews.
Position Your Marketing For Direct Response
Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages and content.
This means you need to capture leads quickly. Long drawn out content and copy is old news and often won’t hold attention. To be effective in the current marketing climate, you need to capture attention with short content and direct consumers into your funnel where you have what is essentially a captive audience that you can market to for free.
The secret to pulling off effective direct response advertisements lies in understanding specifically what you are selling, who your are selling to (your avatar) and their pain / pleasure points.
In other words, don’t run ads that say:
“We are a home service company that does Plumbing, HVAC, and electrical, call us for all your home service needs”.
“We can put an end to that dripping noise from your sink before you close your eyes tonight. Call now; it will take less than 5 minutes to get scheduled”
Get Ready For Conversation Marketing
I think this a ‘coming soon’ buzz word particularly with the growth in Facebook chat bots. Essentially conversation marketing entails getting a consumer to open a conversation about your product / services without actually asking for a quote.
For example you might show an overview video of a new patio and outdoor kitchen and then prompt the user with some templated questions such as
‘What kind of flooring did that use?’
‘How long did this project take?’
‘Could this project have been done with a double sink?’
From there communication can be automated and geared towards driving the consumer to request an estimate.
On the flip side you could jump into conversations already being had about your business.
Keep It Simple With A One Page Website
Pre-req sections: Direct Response
Back to the that direct response thing!
I’ve watched internet user behavior change rapidly over time through the data on my own content rich website that gets thousands of visitors. Just a few years ago people would click around and view page after page reading (consuming all the content). This meant that content rich websites providing insight into the projects and services contractors offered were highly valued and the content ultimately built trust / authority which would lead to inbound inquiries.
That has diluted away to a few swipes down the page on a mobile device while skimming the headlines. With fewer people consuming content, the value of a content rich website is diminishing.
Now a one page website that presents all the pertinent information a customer needs, in a skimmable one page website into to capture leads is preferred.
The Home Pro Website Funnel Framework I put together outlines the key elements of an effective one page website on desktop AND mobile.
Online Marketing is Getting More Expensive → Offline Marketing?
Online marketing has been low cost relative to traditional offline mediums for the last several years, but more contractors are taking their business online driving up costs in that area.
If you’ve been running pay-per-click ads for a few years you’ve no doubt seen your costs increase.
At the same time, traditional advertising mediums are losing clients. With decreased demand these publishers are lowering their advertising cost.
AND online users are being bombarded with marketing messages.
So wtf does this all mean?
I still find a much better ROI in online marketing methods as a trade contractor, but the difference between the two methods is closing and I expect it to close faster.
It also increases the value of network marketing, referral building, and repeat customers. I still believe that referral programs are worthless, but a word of mouth marketing planusing a talk trigger is an extremely valuable to any contractor marketing efforts.
Use Facebook Advertising For The Full Customer Cycle.
Generating leads with Facebook ads is the most ‘glam’ of all in marketing but the real power is the ability to deliver marketing messages to consumers at all points in the sales process. In other words marketing to those that are familiar with your company but have NOT requested an estimate (remarketing), have requested an estimate (leads), or are past customers.
For most trades businesses, your audience of leads or past customers will be relatively small which means that you can reach them for a modest $5 per day.
I say, the best $150/m you can spend on advertising is Facebook advertising to leads — lead nurturing.
🔥 Corey’s Note: I was recently on Perpetual Traffic, a Top 5 Rated marketing podcast discussing Facebook ads for contractors and providing insight into what is working for me. You can listen here.
Use Video Marketing To Generate Leads
Attention spans are shortening, internet user behavior is subsequently shying away from reading text, and direct response marketing with strong calls to action is working well. That leads us to VIDEO. Video marketing holds attention, and works well easily across multiple devices, and forms a stronger impression.
I know video as a marketing tool has been in use for several years, but most contractors overlook video as it can be too complicated — or overwhelming / frustrating. You need to figure out what you need to video. It needs to be staged. Then comes the talking part on camera; WTF do you say while you’re standing around a job site trying to make pvc pipes and concrete mud look glam?
I can only wonder how many contractors make a video and then say “F it” because it looks like crap. That’s why I put together this simple video framework which shows you the simple process that can turn any contracting project into a lead generation video without the frustration of wondering what you’re going to say on camera or what the video will show!
Make Sure Your Website Is Fast — Page Speed Matters
Pre-req sections: One Page Website, Direct Response
Google has explicitly stated in the recent years that page speed is a ranking factor. Considering the increased pace of user behavior online and the demand for instant information I expect this to become a more important organic ranking factor.
Admittedly maintaining page speed of a website is a pain in the ass. One update to the site can lead to reduced page speed score and then the subsequent frustration of figuring out to get page speed increased while maintaining the update.
However this is such a priority, that a weekly page speed check has been implement to ensure that it is never overlooked.
You can check your page speed here at Google Page Speed Insights. As of writing this (Dec 18) all wordpress sites are getting notoriously low scores. All things relative to our competitors, a page speed score of 40 is our benchmark.
Interestingly enough, the only sites getting high scores are old school static websites.
Plan On Spoon Feeding Content (Content Marketing)
Pre-req sections: One Page Website
I’ve already explained how the changes in internet user behavior is leading to a lack of content consumption. And while this means that the value of creating and publishing content about your services and company is declining, it doesn’t mean that content is worthless. Educational and insightful content still has a powerful place in contractor marketing efforts but you need to be smart in your deliver and spoon feed it. You can no longer assume that users will find and read it.
Instead you need to strategically put it in front of your prospects. I find two ways effective in delivering it; Facebook ads, and emails.
Now when you receive an estimate request from Jane for a new pool, assume that she knows nothing about the process. Make sure that you get her into a Facebook marketing funnel which showing those posts, and email the posts explaining their relevance.
An Offline Marketing Idea That Is Cheap: Business Cards On Side of Truck
Yes business cards. I’ve never been a fan of them but they do work particularly if the Baby Boomers are in your demographic.
I don’t recommend aggressively handing them out, those just end up in the trash, but you should have them available for those that want to take one. And what better way to make them available then putting them on the side of your truck?
You won’t even need to get interrupted on a job site for someone to take one.
This one is available on Amazon for $9.99.
🔥 Use a unique call tracking number on these cards to see just how many calls they generate. YOU SHOUD BE TRACKING YOUR COST PER LEAD.
Get Ready To Follow Consumers… to the ‘BIG NAMES’
Pre-req sections: Facebook Advertising For The Full Customer Cycle.
A major factor in marketing success is being where your customers are. I’ll be the first to say it sucks, but consumers are increasingly taking their search for a contractor onto ‘big name’ sites like Amazon, Thumbtack, Home Advisor, Houzz and the whole slew of other ones out there.
While there are still many other options for marketing and generating leads it is time get serious about incorporating these 3rd party platforms into our current marketing plans. That includes understanding your product ladder (next section) and remarketing to those in your sales process.
Understand Your Product Ladder
Product laddering can increase the value of a single customer and put your services within reach of a larger audience.
This is of particular importance for trades that are seeing encroach from the Amazon / Groupons of other world.
Consider an contractor that specializes in full in home entertainment systems. A full in home entertainment system may be out of reach or not on the mind of many homeowners, however simple TV mounting may be. Advertising TV mounting with a strategic marketing plan, post the initial sale, will get you more sales for a much higher ticket service without the often high costs of generating leads for these types of projects directly. You’ll also be selling to customers that have a connection with you.
Knowing your numbers is crucial to making this happen, so that you can improve each touch point to optimize for your ultimate goal… the next step on the ladder.
Two of the largest companies I know (both hvac / electrical companies) operate entirely on the manner of product laddering.
Deliver Notifications Where Consumers Aren’t Bombarded — VoiceMail Drops
Getting your message read in an email inbox is a challenge. Getting a voice message heard though is incredibly easy.
Voicemail Drops are simply messages that are sent straight to an individual’s voicemail.
I don’t recommend using these aggressively, as you need to stay out of the ‘pesk zone’ but occasional use for important notifications or follow ups as yielded positive results.
Do note that voice mail drops must comply with telemarketing laws.
What About Blogging and SEO (Is It Worth It Anymore?)
First let’s clarify that most contractors are interested in blogging because that is supposed to get you high in the search results (search engine optimization), and then get you tons of free leads.
I’ve done well with blogging as an inbound lead generation strategy over the last 7 years since I started my business, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a lead generation strategy today. In fact if I were to start a contracting business today, blogging would be very low on the priority list (if you’re wondering, my marketing priority would go; high converting one page website, Pay-per-click ads, Facebook Ads). So what has changed over the last 7 years?
In short, search results have been buried beneath (more) Pay-Per-Click ads, in some markets Google Lead Ads take up top space, and the Google Local Map Pack further hides organic results. At the same time, search visitors spend less time consuming the content. My site has seen a decline of over 30% of time on page for those that land on blog posts, and a 42% reduction in pages per visit for traffic landing on the blog.
Blogging isn’t entirely useless though. Blog content when delivered strategically (recall the ‘spoon feed content’ ), is still valuable as a tool to build trust and authority, however you should not expect blogging to generate inbound leads (at least not as many as it did 5 years ago).
Use Story To Differentiate Your Business
Your leads are going to get other estimates. There’s no way around that. And if they come through a lead generation service that might get contacted by a dozen contractors none of whom they consciously selected. In other words, they might not know you from Adam. You’ve got to stand out from the rest, if you want to sell the project at a higher price — you need to differentiate your contracting business.
The easiest, the easiest and lowest cost way to differentiate yourself is by using your business story in the sales process!
Let customers know who you are, how you came to be in business and why you do what you do.
You can read the full blog post on using story in the sales process here.
I like to have the differentiation by story done, before I even show up to do the estimate. To make that happen, I deliver content based emails introducing myself and the business story as soon as leads enter the sales pipeline. My goal is to have customers say “I feel like I know you” when they answer the door. If they refer to me as “the screen guy” I know that I failed in differentiating myself thus far.
Ignite Word of Mouth Marketing
Most contractors sit around and wait for word of mouth marketing to ‘happen’ as a result of doing great work.
Savvy contractors know they can ignite it. How? With a talk trigger.
A talk triggers is one unique, and unexpected, but related thing you do or item you left behind on every project that turns your boring trades project into a talking point.
Maybe your could bring your customers coffee every morning while you are working on their project.
Maybe you could pay to send their dog to a boarding facility while you are working in home (a possible win for both parties).
You’ll need to be creative and I recommend Jay Baer’s Book Talk Triggers for ideas development.
I’ve been leaving these fake decoy owls on our projects for years turn them into a conversation piece.
It is unique. It is unexpected. It is related — the decoy owl intimidates other real birds from hanging out on the enclosure, shitting everywhere (no other way of wording that), and tearing the screen. We find that when spending time in their screen enclosure with friends and family, the customer tends to pro-actively point out the fake bird that is hanging out on the top, the reason why it is there, and subsequently the company that left it there!
Get Rid Of The Local Pages On Your Website
Local Landing pages, stuffed with keywords and cities have been a search engine optimization tactic (SEO) for years. The sole purpose of these pages, has been to get google search traffic for long tail keywords to your site and then direct them to another part of the site that is actually readable. Any contractor that has done or hired SEO has certainly ended up with many of these pages on their site.
Google calls them ‘Doorway Pages’.
This worked well for many years through the mid 2000’s, and I repeated the benefits on my own website. In the past 2-3 years however, the value of such pages has diminished to nearly 0 — and they may in fact even hurt your web presence. Google considers these doorway pages a form of web spam as they are created primarily for search engines and add no value to the user experience. Elaborated on further in this Google Official Post. In general, spam detected on your website decreases the value of your site for search rankings.
On top of it all, fewer search users specifically use long tail keywords like ‘service city’, each year as Google is able to make location based inferences through your browser provided details.
With the clearly shunned tactics, and decreasing use of long tail keywords by searchers, it is time to put these doorway pages behind us, and focus on user experience. I would suggest eliminating the local pages on your website, and redirecting them to one kick ass ‘service area’ page on your website (that’s what I did).
Another idea, although more time consuming, would be to create a unique blog post discussing a specific project that you did in that city. Discuss the local permitting / code requirements to make references to the locale.
Going Forward with Marketing as a Contractor In 2019
The marketing landscape continues to change and evolve. Our websites need to be faster. Nobody reads our content. It’s all up to you as a business owner to stay on top of what is happening and where things are going. Hopefully this post helps!
No matter what changes, marketing cannot make up for a shitty service. Always keep that in mind and make sure that your customers and employee’s are happy before diving into new marketing ventures.
And when it comes to spending money on marketing, be sure to track your marketing costs using a program like Call Rail. Once you can track your lead source you can confidently experiment with new marketing campaigns and quickly cut what is not working!