Contractor Marketing Goals: Are You Where Your Customers Are Looking?

Target your contractor marketing efforts where your customers are looking
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan November 29, 2023

A survey completed in Fall 2023 via ACHR News reviewed how HVAC customers and companies interacted. Specifically, it assessed...

  1. Where contractors focused their marketing efforts and
  2. What marketing channels were the most common for homeowners to interact with to find HVAC contractors.

The end result reveals what home service providers with a limited contractor marketing budget should focus on to maximize their spending based on where your customers are actually looking.

While this research is limited to HVAC clients and the study sample, I think we can safely assume that the patterns found here exemplify the majority of service-based contractors and their customers’ journeys to hiring a contractor.

Are you putting your contractor marketing dollars in the places where your customers are looking?

Reviewing Your Own Data Before Making Rash Marketing Decisions

As a bit of a disclaimer before you pull the plug on any existing marketing efforts and blame me for any resulting heartache. You shouldn’t make contractor marketing decisions based on individual outside sources - review your own data, track how you get sales, and identify where your customers find you so that you can best care for your business and meet your customers in your community.

Every town can be different and yield optimal results with a variety of marketing and advertising tactics based on previous successes and customer demographics. I’m willing to bet that some of the companies who responded to this survey that got it right are those companies that worked to understand their business operations and customers.

What’s The Worst Money Waster For Contractor Marketing

If you’re looking for a broad strokes answer, the biggest difference where where contractors spend money to be present versus where customers find contractors is in local print media like newspapers, magazines, and the like. 47% of the surveyed contractors identified that use local print media in their marketing strategy. Compare that to the response that only 22% of homeowners said local print media was how they found their contractor.

That means nearly half of these contractors committed marketing dollars in a place that was only popular with ⅕ of decision-making homeowners

If your marketing budget is tight and that’s where you’re focusing a significant portion here - moving your marketing spend to a more productive strategy could better maximize the value of your money.

How Most Homeowners Are Finding Their Contractors

The top two ways that surveyed homeowners selected their contractors were

  1. Word of Mouth / Recommendation (including social media) at 71%
  2. Search Engines (Including Google, Bing, and Yahoo) at 56%

We’ve talked at length about incentivized referral programs - and this demonstrates the incredible value that your past success and happy customers can bring to the table when you do it right.

Not surprisingly, running to a computer or smartphone and doing a quick Google search is a part of how more than half of homeowners found their new contractor.

Other popular avenues for homeowners to find contractors included lead sites (like Angi), repeat business from a previously used contractor, and home improvement big box stores - all at about 29% of responding homeowners.

The Best Use For Your Contractor Marketing Spend

Without a doubt, your online marketing presence is clearly a key component of a successful contractor’s efforts to gain new customers.

Between social media’s part in word-of-mouth conversations and the impact of Google Ads, good Google Business Profile tactics, and a solid performing website for the all-encompassing “search engines” route - home service providers simply cannot ignore this stuff anymore.

If you can only do one thing with a marketing budget, it should be to push forward with your core online marketing presence to capture these searchers and convert them into leads.

Best Practices And Business Process Improvements To Be Present Where Customers Are Looking

Not every marketing problem requires you to throw a bunch of cash at it to gain success.

While it doesn’t require nearly as much money to be spent, making sure your referral programs and processes are in place is a great, inexpensive way to build your customer base.

Creating and following through with an incentivized referral program (along with the good customer service necessary to make them love you in the first place!) can be much, much more cost-efficient and less of a headache than buying leads via the contractor lead farm sites. Not only that, they’ll also deliver a higher caliber of clients, one that is already inclined to be happy to talk to you and ready to work with you.

What To Consider Along With This Information About Customer Habits And Marketing

To clarify, while we do know that - historically from our own experience and as confirmed in the ACHR survey - online marketing efforts represent a cornerstone of your business-building efforts, it is a well-rounded marketing plan that performs best.

With surveys where individuals self-report, there always may be a bit of unknowing bias. Also, when it comes to service-based businesses - there is no doubt that the cumulative nature of multiple exposures of marketing and multi-channel / omnichannel contractor marketing efforts, also have an impact. That’s compounded by the fact that self-reported results may be based on the last specific thing the customer remembers - which may not include multiple marketing touchpoints.

The Takeaway: Be Where Your Customers Expect You To Be

All that considered, we agree with the overall assessment that referrals and search engines are great places to focus your efforts on your overall marketing efforts.

Maximize your dollars to get your business in the places where your customers are looking. This is accomplished in a combination of long-term and short-term marketing efforts.

  • Long-Term Marketing Efforts
  • Short-Term Marketing Efforts
    • Formalize Your Referral Marketing Efforts
    • Ask Every Happy Customer For A Review
    • Gather Customer Data So You Can Stay In Touch After The Job Is Done

By focusing your attention on the places where your customers are most likely to find you, you can get the most out of your marketing dollars and build your business success.

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