Getting Ready for a Busy Season: A Contractor Marketing Checklist Chris Lonergan January 6, 2021 Share: Happy 2021! The holiday season is officially behind us. While all of your prospective clients are recovering from the additional costs associated with gift-giving and party having – it's time to inspect your business and make sure that you are ready to jump when the phones start ringing. Let's discuss a few simple things to do now to get organized and prepare for a busy year – Here's a simple contractor marketing checklist to make sure that you're ready to hit the ground running. Dust Off Your Website & Stay With the Times I think it's safe to assume that if you are reading this – at this point, you've figured out that you need a website. But websites are not set-it-and-forget-it contraptions. Unless you've got a marketing company keeping tabs, you need to keep a pulse on your website. We've discussed mobile friendliness at great length – From the Google mobile-geddon to mobile first site structure and everything in between. In summary – mobile users (+ Google!) want you to have a mobile friendly website. If you don't, you're missing out. Mobile friendly means all kinds of on-the-go device sizes. Whether it's a smartphone or a tablet – it is vital to have a site that is easy to use. Aside from keeping your site up-to-date from a technology standpoint, you need to keep your design in the now too. The web moves pretty fast, if you don't stop to look around every once and a while – you might miss the changing times. After considering visual design, your site content should also be updated regularly. Does your website copyright date still say 2002? Are your reviews still "Coming Soon" even though you've been in business for a decade? Keep your site alive by adding content on a regular basis. Keeping Your Brand Fresh & Alive One website does should not be your marketing plan. Your company's brand should be living and breathing – it should be able to stand on its own, with its own personality and vitality... so does it? Your online marketing presence includes everywhere your brand is mentioned on the web. Most people think of review sites and business listings, like Yelp and Google. This also includes your company's social sphere – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. With something as simple as a Google Alert or our review management system, you can keep your eyes on the prize while keeping an ear on the ground. Your offline marketing presence is how potential clients see your brand in the real world instead of in the digital world. From truck wraps and storefront signage to employee uniforms and patches – does your company need a refresh? While it isn't cheap, presenting your company in the best light possible and overall image crafting for your business is incredibly important. Getting Your Gear Ready for the New Year Depending on your industry, your tool and parts cost could be dirt cheap or sky high. You know your business best – be sure to maintain a balance within your toolbox and supply stash. Too much, and you risk overextending yourself in the short run. Too little or old-and-busted, and you aren't ready to take on the work. Take inventory, review PO histories, and take a look ahead to your growth – make sure you're ready! Prepping Your People for Success The growth of your business correlates to the growth of your employees – both in number and in skill. Aside from making sure you have the numbers to handle your expected workload in 2021 adequately, it's time to prepare your staff in body and spirit for a successful year. Besides having the aforementioned gear ready for deployment – your employee's minds and hearts should also be ready to go. Consider ongoing education efforts to keep your employees on the cutting edge of customer service and trade skills. Just as a machine works optimally when all of its components are properly maintained, your business operations and the people who complete the daily work need specific care to work as efficiently as possible. Even simple affirmations and thank you's for a job well done can do wonders for maintaining a positive work attitude and environment. Offline Marketing to Round Out Your Plans Your 2021 contractor marketing checklist should also include offline marketing to be a balanced attack on all fronts. From the everyday basics (like business cards and invoices) to your home show season marketing materials (like flyers and presentation folders) to your direct mail pieces (like EDDM postcards and brochures) – it's important to shape your year's print marketing plan. To avoid buying everything all at once, keep an eye on your stock and plan accordingly to keep your print marketing materials in good order and quantity. Expand Your Digital Marketing If you mark just one thing off of your marketing check list, it should be to grow your marketing presence. Your online marketing footprint should expand past your website. There are a variety of options that each require different amounts of time and/or money. To start, your social media can be managed in-house by knowledgeable office staff – or you could use social media management to do the heavy lifting. Automate Your Client Communication Processes In general, any steps you can take to simplify your work processes at an acceptable cost frees you up for taking care of more customers and develop your business. Ongoing client communication is an excellent opportunity for you to get your feet wet with streamlining your business operations. Even though your past clients may not have an immediate need for recurring service, that captured information can be used to draw out additional referrals. Contacting past clients individually would be incredibly time intensive. Chances are you wouldn't get a great open rate to emails or phone answer rates for all the wasted cold emails and calls you'd have to make to reach out to those people regularly. That's where email marketing shines. So long as you have confirmed with your client base that you can safely send marketing materials their way, a monthly email newsletter helps keep that top-of-mind-awareness. Consider Video Marketing Opportunities Technologically, video marketing is getting easier to manage yourself – just about any smartphone will be an okay baseline video camera for sharing quick videos online. Technically, there is a lot that goes into high-quality video productions. Composition, lighting, audio, content planning, captions preparation – there is a good amount of behind the scenes work that must be done to make a basic video that looks good. That's where real-time video (like Facebook Live) can be a major win. In this instance, it is absolutely acceptable to use your smartphone – aside from major productions, this is the most common way to "go live" on Facebook. This type of video content on social media doesn't have the same expectations of a "finished" video – it may not have the best lighting or audio quality, but that's to be expected with a simple smartphone as your main camera. Once you get past the stage fright, live video can really pay off. You can show off your office, a particular install, or host a simple Q&A for your customers to help establish yourself as a expert in your industry. Chances are you'll get more engagement for your efforts. Per Facebook – "People spend more than 3x more time watching a live video on average compared to a video that's no longer live." Mark Off Your Contractor Marketing Check List by Contributing Some of the opportunities above cost money, but you can cheap mark off this to-do on your contractor marketing checklist by sending a little more time each day to build up your business. You can no longer opt to be completely hands of with your marketing. To do well in today's day and age, you've got to be willing to join in the collaborative efforts to improve your business presence. That could mean providing IPP content, talking to each of your customers about reviews, or growing your client and email marketing lists – but you've got to be there to contribute to your success. Verify Your ACTIVE (Not Passive) Review Management Efforts If you haven't already done so, you need to formalize your review gathering and monitoring efforts. Your online reviews are not an "If you build it, they will come" scenario. The people who are most naturally acclimated to leaving reviews are the ones who are upset. Negative emotions are a bigger stimulus of natural reviews than positive ones, so even your most satisfied customers likely won't leave you a review unless they are given a clear path to do so. Whether you're following up old school with phone calls or using an automated system to make for easier review generation – have an ACTIVE gameplan for how you're going to improve your online review game. Pick a target number of reviews for each month and use your staff and your marketing efforts to reach those goals. About Chris Lonergan Chris Lonergan is the President of Footbridge Media. With a background in web design, print design, and online marketing, Chris is focused on providing quality marketing and business solutions in the construction and service industries - helping small business owners to more efficiently manage their company and grow their operations. Recent Articles The Importance of Reputation Management for Contractor Businesses What Makes Your Business Unique - Discovering & Defining Your USP 7 Proven & Effective Ways to Improve Online Presence for Your Contractor Business 5 Tips for Positive Brand Building for Contractors Successful Ways to Earn Repeat and Referral Business Is Your Contractor Marketing Plan Up-to-Date?