Last week, we introduced our 3-part blog series on marketing yourself as an independent home improvement contractor. This week we’ll discuss lead generation and marketing strategies for independent contractors.
Ways to Market Yourself and Generate Leads
Whether you’re just starting out as a home improvement contractor or you’re an old pro, it’s crucial that you know the best ways to market yourself and generate leads to build your business. There’s an overwhelming number of ways you can do this, but they may not all be equally effective.
Let’s look at 10 lead generation and marketing strategies, both on and offline, that are especially effective for home improvement contractors:
1. Posters and Flyers
Hanging posters or flyers around your neighborhood or in local stores, restaurants or community centers can be a great way to gain some exposure. If you’re posting your ad on a bulletin board covered in other local ads, you’ll need yours to be more eye-catching than the rest. This means you should avoid adding too much detail. Keep it simple with bold colors and easy-to-read, professional font. Before and after pictures of some of your best work are also a great way to draw attention to your poster. Ideally, you should include a vanity number, such as 800-REMODEL, to make it easier for people to remember your number.
You can use signs in much the same way as posters and flyers. However, focus on placing signs in front of homes where you’re working on a project, or have just completed one. Most of your clients will be happy to help promote you by placing your sign in their yard. Again, keep it simple and bold with your company name and a memorable phone number.
3. Print Ads
Print ads are a tried-and-true traditional advertising method. Focus on taking out ads in local newspapers. Make sure your name and contact info are the main focus, but also consider adding a bulleted list of some of the jobs you have done or are qualified to do. Someone looking for bathroom remodeling services, for instance, will be more likely to contact you if you list “Bathroom Remodeling.” Adding those details will help potential clients make the connection between your business and their specific home improvement needs.
4. Creative Marketing Materials
Whether you’re handing out marketing materials at a local event, or mailing them to potential customers, consider giving out promotional products, such as fridge magnets, pens, or key chains. People are more likely to throw away paper flyers, but everyone uses fridge magnets, and the next time they need new kitchen cabinets, your number is right there. If you’re concerned about your budget, you can easily find some great deals online with a quick search.
5. Radio and TV Ads
Did you know that more than 92% of Americans age 12 and older listen to the radio each week? Radio is far from dead, and it’s a great way to promote your business. It’s especially important that you have a memorable slogan or a vanity number for radio ads. You only have a short amount of time to ensure that listeners commit your number to memory. You should repeat your slogan and/or contact info several times during your ad. A catchy song is a good choice because people remember something that rhymes. It may sound silly, but it works.
The same results apply to television ads. Like radio, TV is certainly not dead. Studies show that TV reaches 70% of the populace in a day, 90% in a week, and nearly 100% in a month! Check out our blog post on effective television advertising for tips on creating TV ads.
6. Professional Partnerships
Other general contractors in your area are your competitors, but they can also be your allies. Look for ways to network and build trusting professional partnerships. Try to connect with established contractors who have a solid client base, but who may have to turn some clients away when their schedules get too full. When this happens, you want them to refer clients to you. The same is true for contractors who may be contacted by clients that are closer to your geographic location. Contractors who have to turn away business usually want to offer a referral to clients. Make sure they give these clients your name.
7. Referral Incentives
Speaking of referrals, previous clients can also generate new leads for you. Of course, you’ll want to establish a good rapport with these clients before asking them to provide a review or recommend you to others. While other forms of advertising are important, word of mouth is one of the best ways to generate leads. And people who know that you provide professional, quality work will naturally be motivated to spread the word. Offering incentives, such as offering a discount on future jobs, is another great way to motivate your clients to recommend you to a friend.
8. Community Engagement
Don’t forget that other local businesses can often help you find new clients. Attend local meetups or other events for small business owners in your community, and be sure to go to chamber of commerce meetings. Find out if they have a welcome program that offers local services at a discount to new residents. Learn how you can participate in their programs to grow your network of homeowners and other small businesses. Support your community and get involved.
9. Social Media
Creating and maintaining a social media presence can be a great way to promote your business, but it can also feel overwhelming. To keep it simple, figure out what social media platforms your target audience uses the most, and concentrate on posting content there. For instance, older generation homeowners are more likely to use Facebook than Snapchat or Instagram. Posting pictures of jobs you completed can generate interest in your business. Also, pay attention to local or community pages where you can generate leads.
10. Online Content Marketing
Online marketing is all the rage these days, and you shouldn’t ignore it. But your online marketing should be targeted specifically towards generating leads in your local region. If someone 2 states away is interested in your services, that’s not a helpful lead. As online marketing gains more and more momentum, some businesses have forgone traditional advertising methods. But traditional advertising methods can be a great way to reach locals who may be looking for a contractor for home improvement projects.
Content marketing is all about providing useful content that can generate interest in your business. For example, having a blog on your website — like this one — is a great way to post content that is relevant to your business but is not a direct advertisement. For example, you may post an article called, “The Top Five Mistakes People Make When They Refinish Kitchen Cabinets.” Content marketing online can be helpful for generating leads since you can include a call to action to contact you at the end. If you don’t know the first thing about creating or maintaining a website, you probably have a relative or a friend with these skills who may simply want more experience on their resume and will help you for free.
Marketing yourself as an independent home improvement contractor doesn’t have to include all of these strategies. If you’re limited in what you can do, that’s understandable. Whatever you do choose to do, it’s critical you do it well and that you’re good about following up with leads. If you try implementing several strategies and want to know what’s working best, ask clients where they heard about you. This is a simple way of tracking your ROI from the various strategies you’ve employed.
Can I Market Myself or Should I Hire Someone?
As a home improvement contractor, you know how to figure things out on your own to get a job done, but should you use this approach when marketing yourself? Think about it in terms of how you work with your clients. You’ve probably had clients who want to save money and think if they had the time and the right tools, they can do the work themselves. They may be able to DIY a project, but it is highly unlikely that they can get it done as efficiently or as effectively as you can. Now, apply this thinking to marketing.
You can use the strategies above to generate leads and market yourself, but do you have the time and expertise to do a great job? That’s the question you have to ask yourself. Even if you know enough to do some marketing yourself, it all takes time. And it takes more time if you’re learning as you go.
So, would marketing yourself save money? Yes. Would hiring a professional marketer or marketing agency save time and help you get your ROI on advertising? Definitely. If you’re not financially able to hire a professional at first, start out by employing a few of the strategies above and investing smaller amounts of money in marketing materials. Then, once you’ve built up your business and established enough capital, you’ll be in a better position to hire a professional who can help your business really take off.
Stay tuned next week for the last post in our 3-part series. We’ll provide some quick marketing wins for the independent home improvement contractor.