Your Construction Marketing Plan in 2,500 words.
You need a construction marketing plan you can use that is practical, includes both online and offline resources, and won’t cost a fortune. Well, I promise, this could be the only construction marketing plan you will need for the next few years.
Because it’s not that complicated. Agencies and consultants and forums and marketing people make marketing out to be complicated, but putting a construction marketing plan together is something you can do in a night. The tough part is sticking with it!
Ready? Let’s get it on!
First, you need to establish a budget. You can’t develop a construction marketing plan with no money in your pocket. Sorry. The days of free-ride marketing are over, even in social media. You are going to have to dedicate some funds towards promoting your business. The trick is figuring out how much.
How much you spend on marketing is a personal question. Seriously, no bullshit. I don’t know your situation. You could be moonlighting on weekends trying to get your grind on or you could be a $100-million-dollar home builder with plenty in the bank to put towards a full-throated construction marketing plan.
So here is my rule on how much to spend.
If your business is less than 5 years old, I want you to spend as close to 15% of gross sales on advertising as you can. That is a shitload of money, I know. But it will be worth it. If your company is over 5 years, I still want you to spend 7-10% on marketing.
Because I don’t want you to lose business just because someone outspends you. That would suck. There are too many wannabe contractors out there who don’t have the overhead you might have who could simply “buy” the business, maybe not forever, but for a while. The more your brand can be associated with what you do in the marketplace, the less you have to worry about competition. So don’t think of 10% as an expense, because it is an investment in your company’s future, I promise.
If you wanted to, we could drill down into average customer worth and lifetime values. But let’s pretend I’ve already done the math in my 20 years as a construction marketing consultant and determined that these are pretty decent numbers to work with while you set up your construction marketing plan and budget.
Now, let’s talk about where to spend your money. Offline first.
The secret sauce to a good construction marketing plan is to have a solid OFFLINE campaign in place. I know, I know, online is sexy, but offline marketing is where the bills get paid, I promise.
If you are in a market that has a full color, high-gloss magazine (we have Philadelphia magazine) that goes out each month, I suggest you be in that, and buy the biggest ad you can afford, depending on what you do.
For example, if you are a plumber trying to get more water heater jobs, this isn’t for you. But if you remodel, build additions, kitchens, baths, basements, new construction, then this is the type of publication for you. I promise.
If you are a plumber or an electrician or a contractor who is in a transactional-based business, meaning you do a lot of jobs per month, then nothing beats resources like Money Mailer, Clipper magazine, or other coupon-driven opportunities that get delivered to homeowners. Why? Because someone looking for their drain to be snaked or to upgrade their junction box are looking for a deal, the best price possible, and that’s when a coupon or a discount comes into play. Sure, they may be in a jam, but they still want to know they aren’t getting overcharged, and coupon-driven marketing is great for transactional tradespeople.
You also want to use yard signs. Yard signs are big, but here’s the thing with yard signs. Most contractors want to stuff as much shit as possible onto the sign, and I get it, they are expensive, but to be effective, you should limit your signs to 6 words, max. I know, that’s cramping your style, but if you want someone driving by to actually get something out of your sign, then use the least number of words you can.
Now let’s talk direct mail.
I love, love, love direct mail. Know why? Because hardly anyone sends it anymore, people LOVE to get valuable things in the mail, and the home improvement category is a great vertical to still use it! Know why? Because you KNOW you are sending it to people who own their homes and may be in the market to update or upgrade!
You could own the mailbox with an oversized postcard in full color. A 6×8 inch postcard going out into your area will kick ass because most contractors think the only game to play is online. There is so much opportunity in direct mail, that even if you have to pull money from other forms of marketing or advertising, it would make sense right now, so make sure you make adjustments to your construction marketing plan to account for some direct mail.
In fact, another great mailing opportunity is using proximity mailers. If you don’t know what this is, man am I gonna open your eyes up to a solid addition to your construction marketing plan. Proximity mailers are direct mail you send out to neighbors of the current house you are working on. Now, understand this, this type of marketing doesn’t work much if you are in and out in a day. This is a better program for projects that last a few days, a few weeks or a few months.
Why? Because you are going to apologize for all the “inconvenience” you are putting people through while trying to sell them on your services. That’s how proximity mailers work. “Sorry for the noise, we’d love to help you too.”
The last type of direct mail I love is new mover mailers. These are postcards that go out to people who have just moved into their homes. I forget where I read the stat, but new movers spend 5 times more on their homes in the first 5 months then they do over the next 5 years. You want a piece of that action. So new mover mailers for the win.
Now let’s talk about the secret weapon to offline construction marketing, your truck. If you are driving around with a white van with no wrap or signage what so ever, you are wasting tens of thousands of dollars a month, I assure you.
If you can afford it, you should have your truck professionally wrapped. I bet it brings you in at least 5 leads a month, and a job or two to boot, EASY!
Now, I want you to AVOID if possible, the magnetic sign slapped on the sides and back of your truck. Nothing says no commitment like a sign you can remove in seconds.
Let’s get online now
First thing you have to do is have a kick-ass website. You need to have a website that reflects your good work. If you built your site with some site builder from your host or registrar, I promise you it doesn’t reflect your good work and you might as well throw out the rest of your construction marketing plan. That’s how important this one single aspect of your marketing is.
Your website is your online showroom. It is the basis and the foundation to a solid overall construction marketing plan. Having a crappy web presence is going to make your lead generation game suffer…a lot.
Why? Because people make the final decision to do business with you from your website. Sure, they may go to Yelp and Home Advisor and all the other places on the web where you may have a presence, but they decide to work with you from what you show them on your own site. So, if you asked me where to over-spend, I’d say your website above all else.
Now onto social media marketing and your construction marketing plan.
Social media has a few jobs to perform; to amplify your message, to help you engage new people, and finally, to provide confidence-building content on an ongoing basis.
Here’s what I mean:
Amplifying your message: There are more people hanging on the worst social media site today than who are on your website right now. No fault of your own, it’s just how the game works. So use social media to show them images of your finished work, to give them details about your business, employee profiles and events. Use social media to promote your blog posts where you teach people what you do, then watch as they hire you to do it for them. I’m purposely not going to point out any one social media platform in particular, because you want to be where your prospect’s eyeballs are and that can be anywhere. Sure Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are as good a place as any to start, but there are others to consider, too.
Engaging new people: You post pictures of a completed project on Twitter using the hashtags #basement and #Boston. Someone who follows either or both of those hashtags likes your tweet and retweets it. You follow up and say, hey, thanks for retweeting our work, we appreciate it. You now have a new friend who may never do business with you, but now that they’ve retweeted your tweet, you have their network of friends who know who you are. It is networking on steroids, but it is also engaging people and a cornerstone to a solid construction marketing plan.
Confidence building: Instead of just telling people you can build a deck, being able to show them with your finished work is a huge confidence builder. It gives you the ability to say hey, we are experts at this shit without actually have to say it. If you use video, you know not only provide a confidence boost with your work, but you get to sprinkle your personality into it as well. Now, before you say you have no personality, that’s great too, because there are plenty of people out there who have no personality either who will be fine with your dry approach, believe me.
There is no better way for a contractor to develop quality leads over time than by blogging. That’s it. It’s a great resource to get people back to your website showing them you know what you are doing with your blog posts, your images and your content and design. Remember I said earlier that people decide to do business with you from your website? Well, by having a couple hundred blog posts that show up in the search engines is a great way to get people to find you and STAY with you, then hire you. Then pay you. See what I am getting at?
And one more reason I love blogging; it is great for SEO. Every post you add to your site is just like adding another page. A site with 100 pages gets something like 10x the amount of traffic that a site with 50 pages gets.
That’s why you want to create blog content that teaches people. Because people are going to Google and they are searching on how to do the very thing you do. Show them you can do it by teaching them how to and you won’t have to sell another day in your life.
Shooting video is a goldmine that some contractors are just starting to figure out. Short-form video content on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube make for a great way to give viewers an idea of not only what your work looks like, but what working with you would be like. Just don’t forget to use that video content on your site as well…and first if possible! Remember, people decide to buy from you from YOUR website, not Houzz or Facebook or Yelp.
Now let’s talk about advertising online
Right now, the only game in town is Facebook advertising when it comes to an online resource for construction marketing plan that involves paid media. There is no other resource that allows you to get as granular or as detailed a prospect as Facebook. If you think you really KNOW your customer, then Facebook is all you should need to drive traffic back to that amazing website of yours.
There are so many ways to use Facebook profiling to get at your perfect customer, from location and hobbies to shopping and residential profiles, Facebook can drill down into people’s kitchens like no other online.
Having a solid Facebook business page and a keen eye for your prospect can turn your ho-hum construction marketing plan into a dynamite lead source.
After you’ve shown them your initial ad push on Facebook, you can then turn on Facebook’s retargeting to stay top of mind while your prospects wander the web looking for what you do. You want to use retargeting because most people don’t make a decision to do a major home remodeling project on a whim; they search for weeks or months.
By using Facebook retargeting, you get the ability to stay in front of people who have previously visited your site. This is a great one-two punch to delivering your message, and very cost effective as well. You pay for engagement instead of buying keywords like you would on Google AdWords. For example, do it right and you can drive down your cost per click on Facebook to below a quarter, compared to $5, $10 or $15 per click for extremely competitive keywords over on AdWords.
The concept is simple, the execution is sometimes hard. If you need a hand getting this going, maybe we should have a consulting session and see how we can work together. What I do know is, once we are done, you will come away from that call with an actionable plan to get this thing going!
That’s it. I know I said it was simple, and some of these things may seem a bit complicated, but I promise you can do it. I will also keep this page updated as new opportunities come along or old ones go out of style, that way you can massage your construction marketing plan as needed, so check back often!