Over the course of this last year or so, I’ve talked to many in the industry – builders, remodelers, engineers, specialty contractors – with the same issue: they need more business.
- The economy
- The financial meltdown
- Consumers being tighter with what money they have, hence dragging their feet
- Competition that under-bids projects
- Regulations making new construction slow-as-mud
By no means am I trying to play down the very real issues that this industry has faced since the housing bubble burst 3–4 years ago; however, plenty of contractors are growing and thriving in this “new economy.” Plenty.
So what’s their secret? They probably have many, but the one that I believe is the real tipping-point factor is that time and time again, they are winning on the “know, like, and trust” front – that is, people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. Equally important, when people decided to invest their hard-earned savings on a new home or remodeling project, they want to also invest with a contractor they feel is an expert at their craft.
So how do you accomplish this? How do you get someone that you don’t know to know you, like you and trust you enough to hand over their savings and allow you to work on their home?
One word: Content.
In today’s world, you need to provide good, solid and consistent content. Content invites people into your business to take a closer look at what you do and how you do it. It gives prospective clients a real sense of who you are as a business – and hopefully who you are as a person, too. And over time, content builds trust, solidifies relationships, yes, as a result makes sales.
To help you sort through the many marketing choices in the business world today, I offer my top three content strategies for contractors:
Newsletters – Newsletters are effective because they keep your company in front of your prospects. In other words, when published on a consistent basis, a newsletter makes it difficult for consumers to forget about you – let alone hire your competition for a project they have in mind.
Some contractors get hung up on whether they should publish an email newsletter or print. My opinion is that it is more important to start ANY newsletter than get hung up on the delivery method. Just remember that newsletters are meant to be fun yet informative (read: non-sales-y). Keep the content light and conversational, use lots of photos, and invite your readers to connect with you further by subscribing to your blog, RSS feed or with social media.
Case Studies – Few contractors use case studies, but they are probably the most powerful means you can employ to sell your services to consumers. Case studies (sometimes called customer success stories) tell the story behind the project. Why are they so powerful? Because they show the problem (what the customer wanted changed/built), showcase your solution for solving that problem and share the results (the happy customer). Before consumers purchase something as expensive as a new home or undertake a remodeling project, they want to trust that you have the experience necessary to produce the results they want – with as little stress and headache as possible.
Blogging/Social Media – This is perhaps the most under-utilized tool in a contractor’s toolshed. Why is blogging so ideal for contractors? This is where you can showcase your skill and knowledge. You can write articles about all the topics your customers want to know about. What are they curious about?
- Are stainless steel appliances in or out?
- What are my roofing material choices and how long will each last?
- How do I get the clover and crabgrass to stop growing in my yard forever?
- Why do so many home buyers featured on HGTV hate carpet? What’s wrong with it?
What if you don’t have time to write? Not all content has to be “original” content (i.e., written by you). This doesn’t mean that you plagiarize! However, it does mean that in between posts dedicated to your particular niche, you can also take on other topics – such as landscaping or home safety tips, or how families can save money or practice green living. If you are a painter, for example, I can guarantee that your homeowners are curious about more than just paint products. Figure out what those hot buttons are and comb the internet for ideas. (Or, join my Social Media Content Warehouse for access to ready-to-use articles.)
If you aren’t incorporating a content marketing strategy into your business – to grow the “know, like and trust” factors with people – you are missing out. Consumers rely on content, such as blogs and online magazines, to get to know who they are buying from better and ultimately, make their purchasing decisions. Stop using “the economy” as an excuse – because we are all dealing with those issues. If you are going to get in the game and have your business thrive, you need to embrace content marketing. This is where it is at.