As a building contractor or remodeler, now is when you need to start ramping up your online marketing efforts, even if you have more clients than ever before. I realize that you’re probably so busy that you “don’t have time”. I get it. Yet, in this boom economy you can’t afford to ignore investing in marketing for your firm, and here’s why. When the market slows again, you need to have a strong online presence in order to survive. And what better time to build an online presence than when you have access to money to invest and you have the projects to leverage for marketing content.
Online presence is critical in slower times
Contractors may argue that they don’t need to update their website or focus content on their ideal client because they have more than enough work, but what they’re missing is that when times are tough, only the fittest survive. And I argue that being “fit” in 2016 includes a strong online presence.
During the last downturn, the companies that survived generally were perceived as doing top notch work, and even the best let entire crews go for lack of work. Back in 2009, homeowners weren’t using the internet like they are now. These days, homeowners ask for referrals online (think Facebook and Nextdoor) and then go straight to Google to search for the company. Those who are easily found, whose websites are newer and more attractive, whose company shows up in Houzz, those are the ones who are getting noticed and contacted. When the economy slows down again, it’s going to be critical to have a solid online presence to stay in business, not just rely on what you think is your high quality work.
What is “online presence”?
As a Master Duct Tape Marketing Consultant using the DTM tools, we look at online presence as encompassing all marketing that takes place online or has an online component to it. For builders and remodelers, this includes the following: strategy and content planning, WordPress website, editorial calendar, photo plan, blog posts, email marketing, social media updates, Houzz plan, directory profiles, ratings and reviews, video, advertising and pr plans and more. (See image below.)
Building an online presence takes time
It’s sad but true, building your online presence takes time. Now that you know the strategy and marketing tactics that are needed, you can see why it doesn’t happen overnight. Strategy and targeted content are key components to a company’s successful online presence. From there you can move on to creating a website that is not only mobile friendly but is also “marketing activated”, with tools and plug-ins installed to create an online marketing system. SEO takes time, as does building lists and followers if you’ll be emailing and engaged in social media. Photos are at the center of much of the marketing for builders. And we all know that creating the right mix of high quality photos and case studies that demonstrate the quality and types of work you do takes time.
Invest for long-term results
Obviously, the tactics I mentioned above require a budget. You can’t just buy them off the shelf and expect them to work for you; they need to be customized to your business and tap into the resources you already have to work most effectively. Thankfully, spending money on building and improving your online presence is an investment. It’s much different than spending money on a single ad in a glossy magazine; once it runs, the magazine ad stops working for you. Completing online directory profiles with consistent information about your business is necessary to rank well with the search engines and is best outsourced. Invest in your website design, with high quality portfolio images and client testimonials and engage on Houzz, then you’re building a presence that continues to work even as time moves on. All building contractors must consider investing in their online presence as top priority for their marketing budget.
Current projects make marketing easier
Current projects give you the means to create the content needed for your online presence. We all know that it’s nearly impossible to return to a remodel completed last year to ask for a photo shoot. I’ve had several clients faced with the challenge of coming up with top notch photos for their website or Houzz simply because they didn’t take high quality photos of past projects. Upshot, plan ahead. In addition, as you complete the punch list is the best time to garner testimonials and reviews. Your clients tend to be happiest when the project wraps up and everything is new and shiny, not 6 months down the road when there are a few nicks or dings. Use this busy time to collect the material you need for a solid online presence.
Take advantage of this strong market to invest both time and money into your marketing, especially your online presence. Then, when times get slow, you’ll be found, your website will have compelling content and more leads will come your way.