Do you remember the days when you would go next door and ask your neighbor who they recommended to work on your house, fix your car, or drill a well? Perhaps that time was yesterday for you, but for most people, it was never. The people coming of age these days spend most of their time looking at their phones. You’ve seen them walking down the street, oblivious to everything including the dog poop they’re about to step in. Okay, but seriously, people are on their phones all the time these days. It’s no wonder that they are using these phones to find everything from the recipes they use to cook dinner to the local contractors they choose to work with.
15 years ago, my mom took a night class at the local community college and learned how to make a website. She made a website for my dad’s remodeling company and almost overnight the phone started ringing off the hook. We were some of the early adopters so we reaped the rewards of being first. Our business flourished for over a decade before the local competition finally caught up and even surpassed our marketing engine.
When the phone calls started slowing down, we turned to companies like Home Advisor to generate new business. Man, they worked so dang good we made a killing yet again. A few years later and that started to fade out too. It was at this point that I went back to the drawing board to figure out how to solve this problem once and for all. I asked myself, “What can I do to fix this problem once and for all?” That’s where my journey began almost 5 years ago and it’s led me to this very moment writing these words down for you to read. Here’s how I solved this problem once and for all.
The Foundational Marketing Strategy for a Contractor in the Digital World
Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of business owners and have spoken with thousands more. The most successful ones always have 3 things figured out:
- They provide a great experience for their customers
- They made sure to have a professional website
- They understand the value of online customer reviews
As with almost all business, the most important piece of the puzzle is being able to make your customers happy. If you are really good at that, a lot of other things take care of themselves, but not all the time. I worked for a remodeling contractor in Portland, Oregon who had the happiest customers I’ve ever seen. They absolutely loved this guy. His business thrived off of referrals alone. Until one day, no referrals and no jobs. He was dead in the water. He couldn’t believe it and neither could I. Here I was, 2 months into my dream job and about to get laid off. How did this happen?
It happened because he never thought about marketing until it was too late. He had no idea how to get customers without someone handing them to him on a silver platter. This was the time when I really kicked my marketing education in gear and learned how to get the sales going again.
Years later I’ve figured out that these three areas are often the only areas one needs to focus on to generate enough business to keep going. Sometimes it’s enough to grow huge! But, most people just want to maintain and enjoy their life. Either way, this is where you start.
I won’t get too much into Customer Experience. That is a huge topic and I could probably write a whole book about it. At the same time, it’s pretty dang simple. Just make them happy dang it! Let’s skip that one and head straight into the website. What makes a website professional and what is it about a website that makes people want to give you money?
A Professional Website: Where they get the first impression of you without ever meeting you.
For most businesses, there are only a few reasons why someone will come to your website. If you are a remodeling contractor like me, then people come to my website to get an idea of who I am and what my company specializes in. They also want to see pictures of our work to make sure that we do the sorts of things they are looking for.
For water well drillers, it is slightly different, but mostly the same. People will visit your website to learn about your company, you, and what you do. They are also likely looking for some answers to questions they have about the process, cost, and other details related to getting a well drilled and using it to access groundwater.
The bottom line is they want to see that your company is professional and trustworthy. A solid website that contains the right information, answers their question, introduces the team, and points the way towards getting what they want will produce great results every time. A website that is not all of these things will produce subpar results if any.
Google Maps: A Google My Business profile gives your customers a place to tell the world how great you are.
Okay, so maybe you’re not that great, but it doesn’t mean you don’t make your customers happy. In 2019, multiple studies were done that showed that people trust online reviews more than they trust their own family. Can you see how that is possible? If my grandma told me that a restaurant was good and I went online to find it had 200 1-star reviews and people complaining about the cleanliness, would I go there? Probably not…
Google Maps is the single best marketing tool for local companies available right now. It’s just a sign of the times. Over 90% of people use Google to search for local businesses. What do they see when they get to the search page? Google Maps!
Showing up in the top 3 of Google Maps will land you smack dab on the top of the search page for everyone to see. Having more 5-star reviews than your competitors results in you getting more new customers than everyone else. It’s that simple.
For simple services that are low-risk (low cost), the Google listing might be enough. I know landscapers that get tons of customers from Google Maps and they don’t even have a website. That’s because people already know what lawn-mowing entails and it’s not a high-risk purchase. Remodels and water wells on the other hand carry a higher price tag and therefore require more vetting on the part of the consumer. This is where the website comes in.
Marketing is Simple: Be found and look good. That’s it, Or is it?
In my next article, I am going to cover the steps a business can take beyond the fundamentals. When the foundation is set, there is a lot that can be built on top of it. It’s called a foundation for a reason, however. Trying to skip these important pieces of your marketing strategy will result in a lot of pain and strife. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. Now, I know better, and so do you.
If you are ready to learn what comes next, follow me onto my next article: Building Upon a Solid Marketing Foundation
See you there!