Having a marketing plan is essential for contractors, because it doesn’t matter whether you’re new to the business or a veteran of the craft, you will reap benefits from it. But with so much talk of marketing, social media, SEO, blogging, etc., it’s not easy to know where to start and what to invest in.
That’s what we need to clarify.
The thing is, big companies can afford to hire marketing professionals to take care of all this stuff for them – they simply align goals and the marketing team does all the work. But as a private contractor, it’s safe to assume you can’t afford a marketing team – because let’s be honest, very few businesses can. So you’re left on your own to deal with this complicated job, which can be intimidating.
Let’s start with the basics and go up on the ladder from there:
Why create a marketing plan in the first place?
Creating a plan is important because, as mentioned before, marketing is really complicated.
Marketing is not something you can just figure out on a daily basis in between jobs. Firstly, because answering calls, going on meetings, and working on site will probably encompass most of your day – as it should.
That’s why planning your marketing is so important. This way, you can set your plan in motion every day without having to figure anything out on the fly.
Think of it this way: trying to sort out your marketing without a plan would be like trying to construct a building without a blueprint. You don’t know how big rooms are, you don’t know how tall it is, you don’t know how many workers you need to hire, yet there you are making orders for cement when you don’t know how much is even needed. It’s easy to waste resources and make mistakes when you don’t plan ahead.
But what to include in your plan?
That’s what our next topics explain.
Outline your strengths and weaknesses
Being honest about your own strengths and weaknesses is a great way to start.
For example: one of your strengths might be your approach to customers and how to make them happy, but you lack personnel to take multiple jobs at once. Doing it all yourself helps you in pleasing customers, but limits how much you can earn in a single week.
But another interesting example: perhaps you have a small team of contractors you can send out on the field, meaning you can earn more per week, but you struggle to find enough jobs to fill those roles and keep everyone busy.
Whatever the case, be realistic about your business and yourself – it’s the first step in figuring out how to make up for those limitations.
For the first example, you can focus on marketing yourself locally. This will ensure you’re never taking up more than you can chew, while offering a reliable service to your customers, who will not hesitate to refer you to friends and family, further enhancing your reputation.
And for the second example, you can market yourself a bit further via social media and sign up to receive leads in your area, which means alongside your marketing efforts, you will also receive leads passively to keep everyone busy.
Study your competitors
Take a moment to study your main competitors in the area. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they have a good reputation? Do they invest in social media and blogging? What is their price range?
Discover everything you can and write it down. One of the best ways to market yourself is not to put yourself directly against an established competitor, but to offer something no one else does. Here are a few examples:
- Notice payment options are limited? Make your payment options more flexible.
- Notice most competitors charge for visits? Advertise your visits as free of charge.
- Notice lots of informal contractors working in the area? Make your business and presentation as professional as possible.
In fact, an easy way to learn where you make a difference is to read negative reviews of your competitors online. While these may not reflect the overall quality of the business (since some negative reviews can be due to difficult customers), they are a good way to learn where you can excel.
For example, one of the most common complaints customers make is when a contractor leaves a job site messy – which is understandable because it means they had to clean it themselves. Be sure to make that a selling point when talking to customers, so they know beforehand your commitment to cleaning everything before you call it done.
Where to market yourself
The main way to market yourself nowadays is online – it can be free for the most part and has been greatly streamlined and facilitated over the past few years. But that doesn’t exclude the merits of marketing yourself locally by means of physical media as well, you just have to be smart about where to invest your money.
Email. For the most part, email marketing has limited uses for contractors that focus more on local businesses. The email format itself though is incredibly useful for sending quotes, contracts, and trading notes with homeowners, since it’s far more organized and professional than a messaging app, for example, where things can easily get lost and sidetracked.
Social media. For a small business, Facebook is basically a given. There’s no way around it. It’s super easy to set up and makes you INSTANTLY easier to find by local homeowners in need of your services. Having a Google page set up is also easy and makes for free engagement, since being found on Google by homeowners who can hire you is a big deal.
Blogging. Blogging is an excellent way to generate engagement, as it keeps your website always updated (which Google really loves) and helps in cementing your reputation as a knowledgeable contractor. However, it’s a lot of work. You’ll hardly have time to write the recommended minimum of one article a week, so hiring a writer would be more advisable. It won’t break the bank or anything, but it can be hefty if you’re starting out. If so, focus on the free marketing alternatives first.
Locally. Local newspapers, outdoors, dropping some business cards in strategic places, all of this can help you get your name out. The only real advice here is to investigate which means are more effective investments, since these are usually more expensive.
Set realistic goals
A good way to improve is to set a few goals for your business in terms of engagement and results. For example, write down a specific number of likes, comments, and even jobs per week or month. It’s a simple but effective way to encourage yourself to keep up and meet those goals.
Create a calendar
Once you have everything laid out, it’s time to put it on a calendar. This is one of the most important steps, because all the preparation you’ve worked on up until this point matters, and it’s this calendar that will help you achieve your goals.
Remember, the idea behind planning is that you don’t want to be figuring stuff out on the fly. When you know what to do as soon as the day starts, you’re free to worry about other things!
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