Small businesses have long turned to door hangers, magnets and can koozies as the main marketing effort for their company. While such methods offer contractors an opportunity to keep their company's name in front of customers and potential customers, contractors must be aware one untapped marketing source—the Internet.
Lauren Vitale, of C&L Sweeper Service located in Jackson, NJ, and Grayson Carter, of Bill's Sweeping Service located in Orange, CA, offer contractors several tips for conquering the challenges of online marketing. Whether contractors utilize e-blasts, blogs or social media they can enhance their company's image while reaching to an unlimited source of potential customers.
E-blasts maintain contractor's presence
An important marketing outlet contractors should consider is e-blasts. Contractors can form marketing lists from the e-mail addresses they obtain for communication between clients and potential clients. C&L Sweeper Service has found great success in e-blasts utilizing them to maintain contact with clients.
"E-mail marketing, such as e-blasts, is a great way to keep in touch with our current customers," Vitale says. "It is a way to remind them who we are and what we do. They may only use us for a sweeping job, but they may forget that we also do crack filling and sealcoating. By sending out monthly e-blasts they are reminded of all the services we offer."
Vitale sends e-blasts to several types of clients. "We target builders, municipalities, mainly any company interested in sweeping, line striping or paving," she says. "Homeowner associations are also a big market. We've gotten leads from them and shopping centers. We are going to start hitting engineers."
When sending out e-blasts, contractors must be aware of their audience. "We cater each e-blast to the specific market," Vitale says. "When I send out an e-blast, I don't want them to feel like they are just receiving a commercial e-mail. I like to tailor the e-mail so it is personalized—every e-blast includes ‘Dear' and the contact name for each company. This makes it look more personal by being addressed to a specific person."
To make the e-blasts relevant, Vitale sends them for various holidays including a link to the company's blog and website. "I might include something such as ‘Hope you have a safe and happy holiday...Just a reminder, we offer this service, this service and this service," she says.
Open rates are the best way to calibrate the success of e-blasts. "I like to see an open rate between 25-30 percent," she says. "There were a couple of e-blasts that I thought were great, but then they turned out to be complete duds. It's all a learning experience."
While not every e-blast will have the open rate you're looking for, Vitale notes that it only takes a few clicks to see the return. "All you want to do is hit two or three people, just so they call and say they like what we're doing."
Contractors must also regularly clean up their mailing lists. "I like to go through them once a month and eliminate all the bounced e-mails, the reason being is that certain companies I deal with have changing employees," she says. "The decision makers at the lower level may not be with the company a month from now. You could have someone moving to another company or a different position in that same company. Because of those reasons, it's important to constantly keep updating the list at least once a month."
Blogging to establish industry expertise
With competition increasingly intense, contractors must prove to clients they are an industry expert, complete quality work, follow safety procedures, etc. before that first call is even made. How can contractors prove to potential clients they have everything needed to complete the job? Blogs.
Carter has spent the past year learning the ins and outs of blogging. Prior to blogging for Bill's Sweeping Service, he began with his blog, "Blacktop to Laptop."