Online Marketing For Home Contractors

How Much You Should Invest in Online Marketing

How much you should invest in online marketing

How Much You Should Invest in Online Marketing

Today let’s just dive in to talking about money and your business and investing in online marketing.

Something business owners wrestle with all the time, whether you’re a home services contractor, or in real estate, an attorney, or whatever your field—you’re always trying to figure out how much you should be investing in marketing. This is an important topic because if you’re not investing in marketing you’re not going to continue to grow your sales and business. Word of mouth is great, but it can only get you so far. The businesses who are doing the most in revenue are typically the ones investing in marketing.

1. Set your overall marketing budget.

The first thing you need to look at is the breakdown of the overall marketing pie that you’re dealing with. What percentage of revenue are you putting toward marketing? There are different schools of thought on how to do this. I know some people say that 10% of revenue should go to marketing no matter what. Some people say 5%, some say 8%. That’s up to you. You have to look at your accounting to see what looks good for your particular business.

2. Break down your budget into types of marketing.

Once you’ve figured out how much you’re putting toward marketing overall, you have to break that amount down into what you are spending on each type of marketing. Are you putting out door hangers? Are you going to your local Chamber of Commerce? Are you investing in online marketing? Are you doing direct mail campaigns? How much are you spending on each thing? Where does your marketing budget go?

And now I’m going to ask you, how much of your marketing budget is going to online marketing?

It’s important to use several different types of marketing in your overall strategy. That said, when it comes to your overall marketing pie, I believe the majority of your money should go into the online marketing piece of the pie.

Why? Because online marketing is where the attention is. The attention is not in mailboxes. The attention is not in magazines. The attention is not in the door hangers. When I come home from work, I pull a door hanger off and throw it in the trash like most homeowners.

Your customer’s attention is in the palm of their hand. They’re scrolling through Facebook. They’re reading their emails. If I own a company, I want to get in front of where the attention is.

3. Shift your budget around to be able to afford what works.

Often when people think they can’t afford online marketing, all it takes is shifting some of the marketing dollars around.

There are a lot of business owners out there, and a lot of contractors, who don’t think they can afford online marketing: blogging, email marketing, Facebook ads, SEO (search engine optimization), etc. One way you can afford online marketing is to take a hard look on which parts of your marketing are working for you, and when you find places you’re not getting a good rate of return, shift those funds into the online piece of your marketing pie.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest in other types of marketing. It’s important to have a diverse marketing strategy. But I am saying that you should take a look at your marketing budget and shift things around so that the greatest percentage of your budget is in online marketing because that’s where the eyeballs are.

If you’re paying for things that are not driving dollars back to you, reallocate some of those dollars. If you’re buying ads on someone else’s website, such as banner ads, you can shift that into online marketing.

If you’re paying for things that are driving dollars back to you, by all means, keep paying for those things. Just like a financial portfolio, that your marketing portfolio should be diverse. When you do online marketing you should still be sending someone to the local Chamber. You should still be sending out some direct mail. You should still be wrapping your truck and investing in that. AND you should be putting money into online marketing.

4. Online marketing is surprisingly affordable.

Online marketing is very affordable. Some companies see fantastic results with as little as $1500 a month. Some companies are spending more, up into the $3,000-$5,000 a month range. But you can really do some significant things in your marketing for about $1500-2500 a month! You also have to consider how much money you’re getting in return for your investment.  The great thing about online marketing is that it’s easier to track where your leads actually coming from than just relying on a customer to answer the question,  “how did you hear about us?”.

5. Decide who will do your marketing.

Once you’ve decided how much to allocate to online marketing, next you need to consider whether you’re going to allocate that part of the budget to someone in house to do all this for you and pay them a salary, or whether you’re going to outsource the work to a marketing company (someone like me).

It may seem cheaper up front to pay someone in-house. However, a dedicated marketing company is going to be there for the long haul, consistently. When your marketing employee, or intern, finds a new job, your marketing could suffer until you hire a new person. Some companies have a jack of all trades employees who do the marketing between managing the phones and doing other tasks (or this could be you). You have to think about whether you’ll get the kind of results that will bring you more business that way, or whether it’s better to invest in professional outsourcing to get the job done. Either way, that’s up to you and how you want to run things.

I hope this helps you see how you can free up some money to put into online marketing, especially if it’s something you thought you could not afford.

If you know a business owner who is really struggling with affording online marketing services, please share this with them! Thank you!

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How To Attract Customers Who Aren’t Just Looking For a “Reasonable Price”

 

How To Attract High-End Customers

How To Attract High-End Customers

If you’re a home repair contractor, you know that “reasonably priced” is a customer’s code word for cheap, inexpensive, low priced. I’m not knocking the customer here, but it is what it is. If you’re plumber, garage door repair person, landscaper—it doesn’t matter. People want great service, really fast, and really cheap.

Personally, I think you’re worth more than that. If you’re reading this blog post and are looking for tips on how to find better clients—I already know that you do a higher-quality work than just the lowest bidder would do. The fact that you’re looking for ways to improve your marketing and your business means that you’ve got a lot going for you, and it’s important to find clients who understand what you’re worth.

If you’re tired of dealing with people who are looking for the lowest bidder, or a “reasonable price,” you’re going to want to follow these tips:

1. Targeting the right client.

If you’re targeting demographics, locations, and interests, that’s great. But you can do a better job of refining your target. If you run an ad on Facebook you can choose criteria like income levels, location, and even home value. This kind of targeting is not always 100 percent accurate—Facebook uses many data points to form a picture of where we live, what we do and what we’re into. But they’re pretty accurate, based on the clients I’ve worked with, at attracting people who can afford their services without haggling over prices. They’re looking for quality contractors to come in and do the work.

Smart people with money do negotiate for a good price, don’t get me wrong. However, someone who lives in a $500,000 home in Dallas is not going to be thrown off by a bid just on the price if they understand what value they’re getting for that money. On the other hand, someone who lives in a less expensive area may not be able to afford your services. I’m not at all talking down at people who live in less expensive homes or who make less money. What I’m saying is you can target people who will not blink an eye at your proposal. There are ways that you can get in front of these people, to sell your services.

2. Show off your work!

Take pictures of your work. If you do a bathroom remodel or an outdoor kitchen, or whatever the project is, and you take before and after photos and show your worth compared to the next contractor who came in thousands below you and cut corners and did shoddy work. You can show your potential customers the difference. You can show them where the extra money is going because it’s not apples to apples—it’s apples to oranges.

3. Show off even more of your work through videos!

Make some explainer videos of you actually doing the work, and show them to your clients. You can use this to show the little details you put into your project. This is one way you can really help your customers understand exactly why your bid might be higher than someone else’s, by showing them the craftsmanship that goes into your trade.

4. Reviews, reviews, reviews!

If you’ve been following my blog and my videos, you know how important reviews are. I will believe Tim and Susie in Frisco more than I will believe you. Whenever you give someone their final invoice and they’re just raving about the work and blown away—maybe they’re so excited that they give you a hug right there on the doorstep—ask them if they would go to your Facebook or Google page and let people know about their experience with you. If you start stacking up those five-star reviews, and not just reviews but reviews with a story, people will know they can trust you to do quality work.

You have to show people why it’s worth it to spend more money with you, and building up good reviews is a great way to do that.

5. Show off your team.

I know a lot of my content sounds the same time after time, but that’s because it works! Show off your team! There’s an intangible that you can’t really track in marketing, and that’s how you make people feel. People do not buy with their brains, they buy with their guts. When you show off employee anniversaries, employee birthdays, when you show off all the team members that go into building your dream, it gives people an emotional connection. We don’t want to give our money to brands and logos. We want to do business with people!

So get your people involved. If you ask, you’ll have some team members who will jump at the opportunity to be featured on Facebook and Twitter!

When a potential customer has two bids in their hand, another company’s bid and your bid, which is a lot more—you have to show the customer why your bid is worth it. 

If you need help with any of this, this is all I do! I work with home service and repair contractors, I help them with their online marketing so they can help more customers, and not have to chase around people who are just kicking tires and trying to lowball them. Give me a call! I’d love to talk to you about how you can get your work in front of the right people.

I hope this helps!

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Why Home Contractors Should Have iPads

home contractor iPad

Why Home Contractors Should Have iPads

Today let’s talk about iPads! Every home service contractor should have iPads (or tablets) for their techs. Whether you do garage door repair, lawn care, plumbing or any other home service, your techs need to have iPads when they’re in the field. Let me give you three reasons why:

 

1. They make you look more professional.

You look more professional when you carry an iPad or a tablet, and you can show your orders and estimates on it right there to the client. This is more efficient than fumbling through paperwork, and it makes you look more efficient. I know some home service contractors who don’t even bring paperwork to their customers anymore. Plus, people expect you to be tech-savvy now. We can do just about anything with a smartphone or tablet, and your clients expect you to be on top of the technology. It just makes you look more professional, across the board.

 

2. They make you more efficient.

For instance, if you take payment at the point of service, you can hook up a card reader to the iPad, swipe your customer’s card, take the payment, and immediately email a receipt to the customer. (Please note that to do this, you need an iPad or tablet with a data plan to make sure you have an internet connection.) Not only does this streamline the process, but all the information automatically syncs with your computer back at the office. Everything is seamless! This is so much better than having your technician come back to the office with a stack of paperwork that has to be manually entered, or doing spreadsheets. The iPad and your business software will take care of all this for you!

 

The iPad makes the bidding process more efficient, too. If you are a service that comes up with a bid after you’ve met with the homeowner, you can go back into your truck, figure out what everything is going to cost, and show your customer right then and there. (If you do this, I recommend that you get one of the larger iPads with a larger screen.)

 

If your job is to assess damage, you can use the iPad to take pictures of the damage, and you can show them to the homeowner right there. Obviously, you can do this with a smartphone as well, but the iPad lets you show the pictures on a bigger screen so that they’re easier for your client to see.

 

(FYI – For social media purposes, I don’t recommend taking pictures with an iPad. They’re too big and bulky for pictures. And if I see anyone holding up their iPad to take pictures at a schools play … I’m just kidding! Do whatever you have to do to capture those moments! But pads and tablets are bulky and inconvenient for taking social media pictures.)

 

With the iPad or tablet, everything is streamlined, paperless, and right there at your fingertips.

 

3. You can use them to grow your email list.

 

There are different apps you can use for this. I like to use MailChimp. They have an app called MCSubscribe (MailChimp Subscribe). If you go to trade shows like the Home and Garden Show, you can collect emails right there on your iPad with MCSubscribe or a similar app, when people come up to your booth. There’s nothing worse than getting back from one of these trade shows with a list of hundreds of email addresses, and then you or someone else has to manually follow up and enter all that data into your computer. That’s time that you could be doing something else! Instead, you can set an app up on your tablet, set it up for your clients to see, and be collecting email addresses all day long that automatically save to your Constant Contact, MailChimp, or whatever you use to manage your contacts. Then you can set up campaigns to email directly off those captured emails. This saves time and helps you build your email lists. If you watch my videos and read my blogs, you understand that the gold is in the email list!

I hope this gives you three really good reasons to go out and invest in some iPads for your technicians! I promise you that they’ll look more professional, the whole office will run more efficiently, and you’ll capture more emails at trade shows and events!

 

If you need any help setting this technology up, that’s something I love to do for my clients! If you need a free quote I’ll be happy to meet with you! Just click the button below!

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Online Marketing vs Direct Mail

online marketing vs direct mail

Online Marketing vs Direct Mail

Let’s compare direct mail, like a postcard or some type of mailer, and online marketing.


Before we get started I want to make sure to get something very clear: I do not talk negatively about any other forms of marketing. I always tell people that online marketing only complements print marketing, or direct mail, or any other kind of advertising. I still recommend that my clients do something like direct mailers. However, I want to make sure you understand the differences between direct mail and online marketing

1.  When someone checks their mail and find a mailer in the box, what do they typically do? Most people just throw it in the trash. That’s a reality for direct marketing. 

2.  Direct mail is relatively inexpensive to send out one piece. The problem is, it’s only going out, typically, one time. So say for instance that you send out a mailer to a thousand people, and it’s only $200. You think “Wow, that sounds great! I can send it to certain zip codes, and certain neighborhoods, it’s awesome!” 

But with online marketing and social media, you can send out a message every day. What if you wanted to send out a mailer out every day? Well that $200 now becomes about $5000! Just like that! So if you think it’s a better use of resources to do direct mail, I challenge you to add up the dollars to see what it would take to be able to send something out every day. 

targeted fb posts3. Not just that, but the targeting you can do in online marketing is fantastic. I’ve talked about this before, how with social media you can target not only certain demographics but specific interests. You can send a mailer to particular demographics, zip codes, and neighborhoods, but you still can’t target those interests.

4.  And not only that, but you can’t have a conversation with your customers through direct mail. Your customers can’t ask that piece of mail a question. Meanwhile, on social media, you can have a two-way conversation with someone, whether it’s through email, or messaging their Facebook page, or sending a tweet.

Now that I’ve told you how direct mail doesn’t work, let me tell you where it does work. And it does, I’ve seen it work on me! One of my clients runs an auto repair shop, and they sent out some direct mail that was very timely — it reminded me that I needed an oil change. I thought, “Oh, yeah, I need to get that oil change!” So I went to the shop and got it done. That’s an example of how direct mail can be effective when you use it to target your current audience. 

Those are some of the differences between the way direct mail and online marketing work. Now let me explain why your direct mail marketing will be much more effective if you use it along with online marketing:

Mom and baby with laptop computer working from homeImagine someone gets a mailer. Instead of picking up the phone to call that business, more and more people are taking this next step — they’re going online and they’re researching what that company’s all about, looking through their Facebook page, clicking through their Twitter account, their Pinterest account, looking at reviews, etc. If you are only doing direct mail, understand you’re missing the boat on that second step, because people want to see transparency. They want to go online and learn all about you. 

On the other hand, if you’re only doing online marketing you’re missing that person, like myself, who may have forgotten about an oil change and your targeted piece of mail will bring him in. 

The world is moving towards online marketing and for good reason! With online marketing, you get everyday exposure, and with direct mail marketing, you get a one-time blast. But sometimes that one-time blast may be just the right piece of information your customer needs. Direct mail and online marketing really work best when you use them together. If you would like to move some of your marketing budget from direct mail to online marketing, request a quote below! 

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Appointment Booking Software For Contractors

Appointment Booking Software

Appointment Booking Software For Contractors

One thing I don’t talk enough about is how I’m able to implement strategies and processes that help customers go through the lead process to get to my clients’ front door.

 

As customers, most of us don’t have a lot of time to call or go back and forth via email to schedule a service. I’ve researched a couple of appointment-setting applications that a customer can use to book an appointment with you without having to pick up the phone or sending several emails. With these apps, a customer can go to your web page, your Facebook page, or wherever they find you, and book service with you right there!

 

This not only saves time for your customer, but it saves your time too. The time you’re not spending on the phone frees you up to do the things you do best, and it frees up your admins or whoever handles your appointment-setting process so that they can work on other things.  

 

These days we want to do everything with our phone, except make phone calls! Think about it from your customer’s point of view. Do they want to spend time on the phone, pulling out their calendar, trying to figure out a good date and time while talking to you? Or do they just want to go to your website, pick the day and time they know is good, and be done?

 

Here are my favorite scheduling apps:

 

1. Setmore

This app allows you to have a booking page right on your website, or you can text the appointment app to your customer. Either way, the customer can pick the date, time and service, and any other criteria that you set. Then Setmore will sync with your Google calendar, or your iCal, whatever calendar you use. You can have it sync with your calendar and/or one of your techs’. That way the app knows when you have other appointments and blocks those out so that the customer can’t schedule you in a time that’s already committed to something else. All the customer sees are the days and times you have available, and they choose from that.

 

Once the customer books the service, they get an email confirming the appointment. The customer also gets a calendar invite so that they can get it onto their own calendar and get reminders. Your tech or whoever manages the service will also get a reminder email for that calendar appointment. Plus, you (or your customer) can reschedule the appointment through the app, and everyone will get the updated information.

 

Setmore has an app for iPhones and Samsung phones. However, it does not sync with QuickBooks. I know that many businesses use QuickBooks, so that’s something to keep in mind. It will, however, sync with your email campaigns through Mail Chimp, if you use that.

 

2. Acuity Scheduling

This is the tool that I use. I like this app because not only does it sync with my email campaigns through Mail Chimp, but it also does sync with QuickBooks. Acuity Scheduling does not have a phone app, but it does have a very mobile-responsive website. This means that when you look at the Acuity Scheduling tool on your phone, it looks and feels like a phone app.

 

It has the same features as Setmore in that you can set up your whole schedule and sync your calendars, and not allow customers to schedule service over times you already have blocked off. It only shows customers available dates and times.

 

I had one of my clients use this for the last few weeks, and he’s booking appointments nonstop! I put myself as a CC on his confirmation emails so I can see the lead flow, and his business is just blowing up! I love it! And the beauty of it is, all he has to do is wake up, look at his calendar, and see what he has on the schedule for the day. In the meanwhile, he’s saved himself valuable time by not having to be on the phone booking these appointments, and he’s saved his customers time making phone calls that they don’t want to make.

 

If you’re interested in these apps and need any help to implement these strategies to get lean and efficient with your business and cater to how today’s customer wants to do business, please give me a call or click “get a quote.” We can definitely set up a meeting to see how we can help you out!

 

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