Contractors seeking customers need to look online and have the right strategy when doing so.
By Charles Kile
I’ve been in the local service industry throughout my entire adult life. Some of my childhood too, come to think of it. I grew up remodeling homes with my father, so the sweet smell of fresh lumber has been ingrained in me from a ripe young age.
Over the years, I worked my way up the ranks and eventually became responsible for more than building. Where once I was focused on making sure projects went smoothly, I became responsible for making sure the business side of things was going smoothly too. One thing we always struggled with was finding our own customers.
Don’t get me wrong, most of our schedule was usually filled with referrals and repeat business. There were times, though, when the referrals weren’t coming in and we needed them.
The last time that happened was also the time I taught myself about marketing. A Google search had told me marketing is what I needed to do to get more customers. “Great! What do I do next, Google?”
As it turns out, the internet is not only great for teaching yourself just about anything but it’s also good for marketing and attracting customers. Using the internet, I taught myself how to use the internet to keep the company schedule full, give us more options, and make our business run more smoothly.
How I Eventually Found Out What Types of Marketing Work Best
First, I learned how to build a website. Then, I taught myself how to use Google Adwords, which is now called Google Ads, to advertise our company.
I’m not going to lie. The website wasn’t pretty, but it worked. After about six weeks we had jobs on the books and were back in action.
This experience was so impactful for me I decided that I wanted to help other businesses do what I had done for ours, so I founded my marketing company, Adapt Digital Solutions.
It’s roughly six years later and I’ve tried just about every form of marketing there is, and Google is still where all the action is at in my opinion.
When people come to me for marketing help, amongst other questions I often ask is, “Are you sure you will be in business a year from now?”
Many of our clients are well-established companies that just want to have a better online presence and be proactive about customer acquisition, so their answer is yes. They are mostly interested in the long-term approach since their schedule is full in the short term.
Some folks I talk to, however, are needing to get customers immediately or they might not be around in a year. For them, the long-term approach doesn’t make a lot of sense just yet.
So, what are the long-term and short-term options I suggest?
Long-Term Approach: The Foundational Marketing System
About 95% of people in the United States are using Google to find just about everything, including local services like water well drilling and pump installation or repairs. It doesn’t make sense to market anywhere else unless you’re already marketing here. This is where I always recommend we start.
Over the years we have developed a unique approach to local service marketing on Google. What is unique is not what it is but how it is implemented. The system is made up of three simple things:
- A Google business listing
- A professional and thorough website
- An online presence throughout the internet.
Most companies these days have a website and most of them also have a Google business listing. However, most of them never see the light of day.
When you search for a local service on Google, they only show you three options even though there might be hundreds of companies who offer what you’re looking for. The few that figure out how to be one of those select three get all the attention—and phone calls.
This is a long-term approach because, for some companies, the phone calls don’t come immediately. It can take a while for Google to notice you and for you to gather enough reviews to look attractive in comparison to your competitors. That said, this foundational marketing system is always the most profitable form of marketing in the long run. It also brings in a higher quality of customers.
Short-Term Approach: The Pay-to-Play Marketing Strategy
For those companies that already have a firm marketing foundation in place, it’s easy to add on pay-to-play methods of marketing such as advertising on Google or Facebook. For those who need to get customers immediately, this is one
of a few options.
Marketers call these forms of marketing “CPC,” which stands for cost per click. When someone clicks your ad, you pay anywhere from $2 to $200 depending on how much others are willing to bid.
The good thing about these methods is that they are quick to implement. If it was wanted or needed, I could have ads going by the end of the day and be getting phone calls tomorrow.
Yes, there is certainly a learning curve, and it can be expensive when you don’t know what you’re doing. And sometimes it can even be really expensive when you do know what you’re doing! That’s the downside of instant gratification: you pay a premium for it.
If I was in a situation where I needed to make something happen now or the future was questionable, here are some other things I would be doing in addition to advertising:
- Going door to door handing out business cards and talking to people
- Sending out mailers through the local post office
- Running ads in other places like the Yellow Pages (maybe outdated in your town)
- Buying leads from lead reselling companies like Angi Leads (least favorite option).
Marketing for the Ages
Ultimately, you want your business to be easy to find by people who are looking. If you can do this and do it well, you’ll increase the options you have for moving forward. Things like:
- Expanding into new territories
- Offering additional services
- Having a business that is more attractive to buyers and investors
- Being able to say no to the jobs that aren’t ideal for you.
If you’re like my family, you treat other peoples’ property as if it were your own and you go the extra mile to provide the best customer service you can. Your customers’ experience starts the moment they become aware that you exist, and these days that is often happening online before you ever get a chance to talk to them.
Make their initial interaction with your company a pleasant one by paying attention to what your business is doing online, and it will pay dividends in the future.
The companies that have a highly professional online presence are getting all the quality customers and will continue to do so no matter what the economy is doing.
Are you one of these companies?
Don’t wait until you’re hungry for jobs to question this. By then, it will be too late to avoid the pain that comes along with that.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or to discuss your options with online marketing.
Charles (Chuck) Kile is the founder and director of Groundwater Digital, a marketing agency dedicated to helping groundwater businesses establish themselves online. He is commonly seen speaking at conferences and teaching continuing education classes virtually and in person. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.