Marketing Plan for Contractors & Home Repair Businesses
May 13th, 2020
Seth Godin once said, “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” Which brings me to this question – "Are you investing in the growth of your construction or home repair business; or are you doing nothing and waiting solely on word of mouth to reach potential customers?"
As you just read, doing nothing will cost you more. For example, staying on the sidelines and not strategically promoting your business allows your competitors to shine and show off their work while you sit there, in the dark, doing nothing and hoping a customer miraculously finds your business. Have you ever tried working in the dark before? Yep, that’s what it feels like if you have a business and aren't actively promoting your business.
Just like working on a construction project or repair with a plan and end goals in sight, running your business requires you to have a plan, strategies, and end goals. You need to know how you would like to share with the world your passion and work.
Winning at Marketing Starts with a Strategy
So, what are some marketing strategies you can employ right now and long-term to make sure that you’re winning?
First and foremost, you need to understand that marketing is an investment and not an expense. When you spend money on any marketing initiative, know that there will be a return on investment. Sometimes you can calculate the return and other times, it’s impossible to calculate the returns. No matter what, it’s an investment. And because it’s an investment, you want to make sure that you are choosing the Right Strategies.
Take for example, losing weight and staying healthy. If your goal is to lose weight in order to stay healthy, you will need to invest time, energy, and money to achieve your desired health results. Likewise, if you want to grow your business or even increase your awareness, you will have to do the same – invest your time, energy, and money by choosing the right strategies.
Are you choosing the Right Strategy? Do you know what channels your target clients are on? How do they find you?
A right strategy could be running a benefit of service campaign on Facebook or via email to your chosen target demographics to share the benefits of a particular service. Another strategy could be writing a blog and running a Google ad to your blog page. So, how would you know what strategy to choose?
It all starts from sitting down and coming up with a marketing plan by answering a few questions. Honest truth, everyone likes to know how whatever you are offering can make their lives better – moving them from a Sad State to a Happy State. Your target audience is asking the question “So What’s In It For Me – SWIIFM?”
Just like a building plan that allows you to build within a scope, cost, time, etc, a marketing plan does the same. Most people wouldn’t even think about starting a remodeling project or an electrical project without a plan. So why do you run your business without a marketing plan?
Sit down as the owner and answer the following questions:
- What are my desired outcomes?
- How much would it cost?
- Who am I targeting?
- What are some variables that I need to be aware of?
If you don’t have time, since it’s going to cost you at least that much, hire an agency or freelancer to help you with it.
How are you going to measure success if you don’t have a plan? You need to start with a clear goal and strategic marketing plan in mind. The contractor and home repair businesses that are thriving today and will thrive tomorrow are the ones that have a plan and do continuous improvement on their plans.
BEGIN YOUR MARKETING PLAN WITH THESE 3 OVERARCHING QUESTIONS
- What’s the current state of your business?
- Where do you want to go with your business (goals or objectives)?
- What steps do I need to take to reach or exceed my goals or objectives?
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER UNDER CURRENT STATE OF BUSINESS
- What differentiates me from my competitors?
- What do I do really well – your strengths?
- What do I need help with – your weaknesses?
- What is my primary value that I provide to my clients?
- Who are my clients?
- What are my top services and how are they essential to my business?
- What is the one thing that you do so well that it cannot easily be duplicated?
- If time, money, and energy weren’t an issue, what will I do?
- Do I have a website?
- How are people currently finding me?
- What is the one thing in your business that you, the owner, does well?
After answering some of these questions, you will also need to answer some questions on how you would like to grow focusing on sales and marketing.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER UNDER SALES AND MARKETING
- How do your prospective customers and current customers find you?
- What are your current sales and marketing activities (lawn signs, newspaper ads, referrals, postcards, internet marketing)?
- How many interactions does a prospect have with your business before becoming a customer?
- How long does it take from the prospect’s first contact with your business to the prospect becoming a customer?
- What are your most effective client acquisition strategies (word of mouth, newspaper ads, lawn signs, website, etc)?
- What are your least effective client acquisition strategies (word of mouth, newspaper ads, lawn signs, website, etc)?
- How are you tracking and measuring your marketing strategies?
- What is your return on marketing investment (ROMI)?
- How do you nurture your prospects and customers? Is it through spreadsheet, notepad, or other software?
- How much does it cost you to acquire each new customer?
- How many leads do you currently receive each month for your business? (a lead is someone you provide a quote, an estimate, a proposal or bid to)
- What percentage of your leads become customers?
- Do you have repeat customers? How much of your revenue is from new customers and how much is from repeat customers?
- How are you keeping in touch with past clients to make sure your business is always top of mind for them?
I know as the business owner, you are probably reading this and thinking, this is a waste of my time or maybe too much work. However, answering these questions and knowing your numbers will help you make some smart business decisions that will position you for success month after month.
Our goal is to make sure you always have work coming in and we want you to flatten the curve (or what others call a business roller coaster) – busy some months and no jobs other months. Once you answer all of these questions, understand the numbers, and establish some goals, you will be able to implement strategies that will allow you to reach your goals.
Now that you have gone through this exercise and answered most of the questions, it’s time to put your marketing plan together. Mind you, this plan should be continuously monitored and evaluated to ensure that it’s performing and meeting your goals.
Creating an Effective Marketing Plan
An effective marketing plan should contain at least these 6 elements.
#1 Business Summary
Business summary is just the summary of your organization. It will include your company name, mission statement, and anything that is vital to your business. You will have to include, from the questions that you answered earlier on, your SWOT analysis. SWOT just means strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
#2 Business Initiatives
This shouldn't be the overall company strategy, although it could include that as well. However, this section should focus on marketing. You will define your goals here and how those goals will be measured.
#3 Target Market
In this section, you will provide information about your market and target audience. Answering the questions from earlier on will help you come up with some basic market research. You will be able to describe your industry, analyze your competition, and come up with a good description of your ideal customer or what marketers call “buyer persona,” which simply includes age, location, job title, interests, and personal challenges
#4 Market Strategy
Although the market strategy is the fun part of marketing, it is important to understand your market, your competition, your strengths, etc. before putting the strategy together. So don’t skip any of the questions above or the “Target Market” section. What is your business going to offer your ideal customer that your competition isn’t offering them?
In this section, you will focus on the 7Ps – Product (Service), Price, Promotion, People, Process, Physical Evidence. Based on the types of services you offer and the information you have on your ideal customer and competition, you may decide to present yourself to your ideal customer by differentiation or cost. You might do a combination. Your strategy could also focus on your great reviews and the awesome things people are saying about you.
As you can see, you wouldn’t be able to come up with a good strategy if you are not willing to answer some of the questions previously asked and also take the time to work on every segment of the plan.
Every marketing effort in your business should have a budget. This will help you measure the return on investment when you are going through your evaluation process. Are your strategies working? Are they bringing in leads or awareness? How much is it costing you to acquire a customer? You won’t know the answers to these questions if you don’t have a budget.
Also, make sure to itemize your marketing budget so you will know exactly where your money is going. For example, marketing expenses may include marketing software, paid promotion, events like trade shows, print collateral, and marketing agency costs.
#6 Marketing Channels
One of the last segments to complete is your marketing channels. Where are you going to promote or publish your content to educate your ideal customer? What platforms will you use to generate awareness about your brand and generate leads? Once again, understanding your target market will give you insight into where your ideal customer lives - either online and offline. This ensures your channels are well selected and targeted.
Should I advertise on Social Media, the newspaper or maybe through email? Well, this is why you will use the channel section of your marketing plan to lay out the various media and networks that you will use in reaching your ideal customer.
Your marketing plan, after it is completed, should help you outline your annual or continuous marketing strategy, identify your most important initiatives, nix projects or strategies that won’t help you hit your goal, track the right metrics throughout the course, and align your marketing objectives with your overall company’s goal.
But Wait—There's More!
6 Strategies to Win Over Customers
Bonus for you – some quick strategies that you can implement (make sure you complete the exercises above to align these strategies to your overall marketing goals):
- Offer your customer a different experience. What if you offer your ideal customer a branded bottle of wine and a handwritten thank you note for giving you the opportunity to work on their project? This is just a suggestion. You can come up with your own spin that differentiates you from all the other contractors out there.
- Trusted User-Generated Content. Do you encourage your customers to share content about how good you are? Try asking your customers to create videos or upload photos documenting your work from before and after.
- Create a Loyalty Program. Give some incentives for future business. Any individual who refers you to a potential client gets a star for their referral. Each month, you can celebrate the customer with the most stars on your website or social media platform. You can offer discounts on services, which they can pass on to others, etc.
- Be Supportive. See what charities, associations, or social responsible activities your ideal customer likes and support them. You can even invite them to participate, as well. It shows that you care and it’s not just about your business.
- Promote Your Values. What do you stand for? Don’t shy away from that. Promote it. If it’s about helping people, let your ideal customer know that. That’s not being arrogant. You’re sharing your passion with them.
- Launch Contests. Contests are a great way to increase brand awareness. Come up with some good ones and promote them. You can offer your customer or ideal customer the opportunity to compete for something by sharing information about themselves, which you can use to remarket to them at a later time. For example, you can run a contest that says, “make a 90 second video on your ideal bathroom and why you need a bathroom remodeled.” Share that video on Facebook with a particular hashtag and give 3 lucky people a bathroom remodel at cost.
- Guest Post on Popular Niche Sites. As a contractor, you have many affiliates and groups within your industry that have blogs and social media platforms. Comment on their articles or content. In fact, write one yourself on their platform. However, don’t forget to link your post back to your site or social media platform. This way, you’re exposing your brand to a whole new audience.
There are multiple strategies out there that you can tap into. However, it all starts with knowing your business, who you are, and what you would like to accomplish. Answering these questions will shape the direction of your marketing plan. Don’t forget, your marketing plan is a living document, which you can come back to at any time to review, evaluate, and to improve or tweak your strategies.
Your marketing plan also helps you put a budget in place and track expenses, so you avoid costly mistakes. The plan lets you answer questions like the following. What’s required to compete in my market? What’s the size of my target audience (population and geography)? How many marketing channels do you need? How much work should you outsource to a 3rd party marketer vs internally? What basic tools do I need to manage my own marketing? How much time it will take to create awareness, penetration, and to reach critical mass to achieve a return on marketing investment (ROMI)?
Avoid Costly Mistakes
Never, ever think of marketing as a type of fixed cost, because marketing moves based on changes to the variables in your marketing plan. If your target population decreases or your competition intensifies, your costs must change. When you view your marketing plan as a fixed cost, it creates many problems.
- You’re unable to recognize and target your barriers to entry. As a result, everything you invest might be a sunk cost. You’ll need to invest in marketing to the point of critical mass (investment to revenue ratio is self-sustaining). If you can’t do that, then you’re better off not investing at all.
- Don’t look at marketing as a cost because that will allow you to start price shopping instead of looking for best options to generate return. Don’t look for the cheapest services. Look for the best service or option that will allow you to achieve critical mass. Your attempt to save money might cost you money and business in the long run.
- Don’t have a cost mindset because that lacks flexibility. You need to be agile in marketing – responding to changes in the marketplace, trends, and technology. Your investment will change over time. Be aware of that. This is why it is so important to have a marketing plan, because you will know when to dial back or what to improve in your strategies or tactics to save you money. We always advise that your marketing should at least be 10% of your revenue per month.
- When you start your marketing with a cost mindset, you are going to have a poor sense of the time frames necessary to be successful. For example, it takes around 6 to 9 months for a well optimized website to see improvement with Google. With a cost mindset, instead of businesses waiting patiently to overcome their barrier to entry, they panic and pull the plug. Don’t be like that. Don’t pull out when your investment is about to pay off because you think it’s costing you too much money. Wait and compare your investment against your marketing plan.
So today, we want to encourage you to start your marketing plan. Understand the variables – what you need to invest to get the return – and in the end, you will be successful and invest your money wisely in strategies and tactics that will position you for success.
Let us know how we can help you get started. Ask us any questions. We are more than happy to help you WIN in your market.