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Marketing for The Trades

Marketing for Contractors: The Basics

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Marketing for Contractors

Marketing is critical to the long-term success of your contracting company. No matter how much work is available in your area or industry, the competition is fierce. You have to fight for every new project.

Leveraging proven and effective marketing strategies and tactics is the only sure way to win new business. This guide explains the basics of marketing for contractors. Use this information to promote your operation so you can succeed.

Passive vs. Active Contractor Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Marketing tactics take on two forms: passive and active. Understanding the difference between passive and active marketing is critical for building a complete and effective marketing plan.

  • Passive tactics include things like your website, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) listing, and directories. They provide information so that customers looking for the contracting services you offer can learn about your business. Consumers seek you out, and you’re already right there for them.

  • Active marketing strategies include things like social media and email marketing. It involves pushing out content to current and prospective customers hoping that they will reach out to do business with you. You seek out consumers.

The best contractor marketing plans pair a solid passive foundation with strong active marketing campaigns.

The Four Pillars Of Contractor Marketing

As a contractor, you know that having a solid foundation is critical to a sound building – the same is true of marketing. Here are the four pillars of a sound foundational marketing plan.

  1. Your website. A good website is necessary for marketing success. Your website is where prospective customers learn about your company and become leads. A great website is a lead machine. It must include clear calls to action (CTAs), intuitive navigation, customer stories, positive reviews, and easy ways for prospective clients to connect with the people on your sales team – it has to be fast, too.

  2. Google Business Profile. One of the key ways prospective clients can find you (other than referrals) is through an online search. This is how most people find builders, contractors, and construction companies. One of the best ways to appear near the top of Google search results is by having a complete, accurate, and up-to-date Google Business Profile. It will help Google understand what your contracting business does, making it more likely it will be served up for searchers it could be suitable for. Your Google Business Profile is also prime real estate for answering FAQs so web users get immediate answers to what’s already on their minds.

  3. Your brand. Your brand must be clear and distinct. Prospective clients should understand what your business does — and what makes it unique — at a glance. Contracting and construction can be a sea of sameness. Differentiating your operation from the others makes it more likely that people who are right for your business will want to know more.

  4. Word-of-mouth. People are more likely to do business with a company if someone in their network or similar to them recommends it. That’s why client stories, testimonials, ratings, and reviews make up the fourth pillar of a sound construction business marketing plan. You must make a point to ask for these things from pleased clients.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these pillars.

Contracting Business Websites: An Overhead View

Every contracting business needs a website – it’s the primary way your business can be found online by prospective customers, and where they learn about your company and find out how to contact you. It’s not good enough for your website to be attractive. It must also function as a lead-generation machine. To accomplish this, you must:

  • Optimize your site for search so prospective clients can find you on Google.

  • Explain your business clearly and completely so people will want to contact you.

  • Provide clear and easy-to-act-on calls to action so prospects can connect with you to discuss their construction, contracting, building, and other needs.

The best way to ensure your website performs as you need it to is to get professional support from a web developer with contracting industry experience. If you can’t afford that and need to do the work yourself, use a proven template on a platform like WordPress or Wix designed for construction-related businesses.

Google Business Profile: Quick Tips for Contracting Businesses

If you don’t already have one, set up a Google Business Profile (GBP) for your company (this is the new name for Google My Business). You can do this by visiting while signed in to your Gmail or other Google account. From there, Google will take you through several steps to help you correctly set up and optimize your GBP listing. The most important thing is to fill out your profile completely and accurately. Input your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, website URL, and other relevant information. Add as many photos as you can to your profile to help build a clear connection between prospective clients and your organization.

Filling out the profile thoroughly will give your business an advantage over your competitors.

Take it to the next level: Post regularly in GBP. Include photos of your recent work, testimonials, company updates, FAQs, and more. This will keep your profile fresh, sending positive signs to Google.

Contracting Business Branding from the Ground Up

There are thousands of contractors (possibly in your region alone). It can be challenging to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Solid branding is the critical differentiating factor between building-industry businesses that succeed long-term and those that fail.

Your brand is the face of your business. It’s what people identify with. It must explain to prospective clients what you do at a glance, what makes your organization unique, and why your company is different from — and better than — your competitors. This appeal is central to any marketing effort.

Set a solid foundation for success by building the ideal brand for your business. You will need to take time to understand what makes your contracting company unique. From there, find ways to express this uniqueness through a logo, tagline, text, colors, imagery, and more. Professional branding is typically outside the wheelhouse of most contractors, hiring a branding expert or agency to help you out is a wise investment. You only get one chance to make a positive first impression with your brand. You owe it to yourself to do everything possible to get it right.

Once you develop your brand, leverage all its assets consistently. It’s the only way prospective clients will be able to understand your contracting business and what it’s about.

How Contractors Can Get Clients Talking About Their Business

The best way to convert prospective clients into paying ones is to leverage the power of social proof, customer reviews, client stories, and testimonials. Gathering these things from customers typically requires business owners to reach out and request them. Make it easy for them – people are busy and won’t take time to do you a favor if it’s too difficult or time-consuming. There are several valuable tools on the market today that you can utilize to make this process easier.

These tools typically allow you to send a link to clients that takes them through a simple process for leaving an online rating, review, testimonial, or story. Reviews can be posted on many different sites, including Facebook, Yelp, and others. However, the most important platform is probably Google Business Profile because reviews on that platform can encourage prospective clients to visit your site and eventually do business with you.

Review tools also allow you to identify negative reviews in real-time and direct the client to a questionnaire where you can solicit information about why they were not happy with your services. This gives you the power to turn a negative experience into a positive one and fix any customer service errors. Responding to negative reviews can be an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to outstanding customer service.

Active Marketing Options for Contracting Businesses

Once you have the foundational four pillars of construction marketing in place, it’s time to start actively marketing your business. There are countless active marketing tactics contracting businesses can use to promote themselves. Here are some top ones.

  • Paid advertising. Paid strategies are an effective form of marketing for contractors. Paid advertising includes tactics like paid social media, website retargeting, Google Ads, and more. You must understand your target audience, marketing objectives, messaging, and how the different platforms work before launching any paid promotion – otherwise, you’re leaking dollars. Hire a professional if you have any doubts about your knowledge or capabilities in this area, to ensure your efforts are successful. A small investment in professional advertising support could pay off many times over in improved results.

  • Email marketing. Contractor hiring decisions often take time. You must stay in front of prospective clients during their decision-making process. Email can be a great — and almost free — way to do that. Collect email addresses from people visiting your website by offering them something of value in return (e.g., an eBook, promotional item, discount, etc.). Also, make sure you capture emails from anyone who contacts your salespeople. Create a campaign that feeds prospective and current clients with information of value so your business stays top of mind, whether it’s for new or ongoing work.

  • Video marketing. More and more people today prefer to get their information via video on channels like YouTube. Video can be an effective way to show people what makes your contracting business unique. You can document the project process and show the care you and your people put into the work you do. You can even allow customers to share their experience of working with you, which can be compelling for getting people to take action. Video is particularly effective for contractors targeting younger consumers.

  • Trade shows. Many businesses focus exclusively on digital marketing strategies. However, in a tactile industry like construction, contracting, and building, getting out into the real world can be invaluable. Consider whether renting space at a trade, home, or other industry show could help bring in new business. If you decide to go the trade show route, make sure you have strategies for gathering contact information and sharing your website address.

Construction Marketing: The Bottom Line

The construction industry is labor-intensive. It involves navigating a ton of paperwork and numerous legal requirements, and it requires complex project management and coordination. All of this complexity can get in the way of marketing. However, considering all the opportunities popping up, as well as increased competition, contractor marketing must be a high priority for your operation.

Following the guidance in this article will help you market your business effectively in as little time as possible.

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