To be the one they call first, you need to be the one they think of first when they have a need. That’s the real dilemma because as contractors we always want to be able to turn on and off leads “as-needed”, but that’s not how you win the long game. But, first let’s talk about a couple of elephants in the room…Marketing is different than advertising and should be treated like the investment it is. And, like any investment portfolio, your marketing portfolio should be diversified to spread risk for the optimum returns. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one marketing basket. Generally, the main diversifications are digital (PPC, SEO, LSA, GMB, Home Advisor, etc), mass media (TV, radio, billboards, fleet, etc), direct mail (client retention, prospecting, radius mailers, thank cards, etc), with a small
Marketing also has to have a cadence or frequency to it, which is more than just twice a year preseason co-op cards with the manufacturer. If you wait until you “need” calls or leads to start, it’s already too late. The reason for this is what we sell is a “grudge purchase”, meaning nobody really “wants” to buy. Furnaces or air conditioning units are not like flat screens or jewelry or vacations. People only think about and buy our services when they have a need, and try as we may, we cannot convince someone to buy, either ever or definitely not at scale. This includes your existing clients too; despite what we think they really don’t remember us that way, plus they are constantly being barraged by competitors trying to woo them. We must stay in front of our clients and prospects every month to have any chance of having top of mind awareness (TOMA). Also, consider that if we’re not proactively building or at least maintaining our position in our market, then our market share is shrinking. There is no static market share position. Your marketing needs to have FREQUENCY.
Marketing should consistently build our brand, which is way more than just logos or colors, although those are crucial to get right. Brand is what the market thinks you stand for, based on what they see, hear, and ultimately perceive. We don’t get to directly control their perception, so we better make sure we control the messaging upfront and the experience when they call. Trying to be all things to all people is a surefire way to dilute our brand. Typically, a brand can be price, time, or expertise focused, but not all three. Branding and messaging should convey your message to help attract the clients you want. The market (and you too) already understands this when it comes to restaurants, stores, cars, and more, so why not home services? Your marketing needs to simplify your BRAND message.
Marketing should be strategically targeted to match our goals. That means knowing who are we trying to attract, as well as where do we want to work.
Marketing should be strategically targeted to match our goals. That means knowing who are we trying to attract, as well as where do we want to work. We also must know how much can we invest to get the calls and leads we need, By clearly defining our ideal client, it helps with the previous elements described above. If we understand who & where we want to work, we can select the appropriate marketing methods and mediums, as well as the reach or market area. Once we settle on method and market area, then we can maximize frequency to hammer our brand message and stay on budget. It’s better to be a big fish in a little pond, which means a smaller area hit more frequently instead of a larger area with less frequency. Your marketing should have appropriate REACH for your budget.
Marketing is overcomplicated by us as contractors, because we don’t truly understand where our business comes from.
Most contractors have stinking thinking when it comes to marketing. We talk about features to convince the prospects. We talk about discounts, thus training the market to always expect them or think they can haggle prices. Mostly, we all have the same basic,, boring offers; discounts, tune-ups, rebates, financing. Our brand messaging is generic and boring; 24-hour service, quality work, we service all brands, licensed & insured. We typically have inadequate frequency and excessive reach. Probably the worst thing is our set it and forget it mentality, when we don’t manage our spends, instead defaulting to what’s easiest but may not be smartest. The most glaring example for most contractors is the overreliance on either PPC or 3rd party aggregators like Home Advisor, etc.
Marketing is overcomplicated by us as contractors, because we don’t truly understand where our business comes from. We have imbalanced marketing portfolios, often relying on one strategy too much, so if/when it goes flat, we’re screwed. We don’t stay in front of clients and prospects enough, then are surprised when a competitor gains traction or we can’t keep our call boards full. We try to convey way too much information, check every imaginable box, and appeal to any or all possible needs with every campaign. We blow our budgets on a few huge campaigns, instead of the slow and steady targeted approach to dominate.
To summarize, the basic pillars of marketing to start to become the contractor they call first, by being the one they think of first:
1. Diversification – multiple places simultaneously
2. Frequency – monthly cadence
3. Branding – distinct, memorable statement
4. Reach – deeper before wider
Until we get these pillars dialed-in, we will suffer with haphazard results, never achieving the holy grail of being the contractor they call first.