I have been in marketing my whole life and spent the past 23 years in the helical business. There are no magic bullets in the marketing of your contracting business. An individualized marketing plan requires a clear-eyed analysis of your contracting business, its potential, and the resources necessary to take it to the next level. This may require some soul-searching and professional assistance, but it is not the subject of this article.
We use traditional advertising and PR (HPW is a good vehicle) and employ direct marketing with the goal of enticing prospects to our website. This article includes some general observations I have made while interacting with our installing contractors and is limited to some simple steps that may be useful, on-site and online, to improve your business.
Your trucks and equipment should have signs with your name, services, and contact info prominently displayed. Post the info on both sides of your vehicle and get on site early to get a good parking spot. If you need to move your truck on to the site, consider a sign you can post curbside. For house-raisings post Superstorm Sandy, we used mailbox-like stands and put brochures in them so curious local neighbors with similar issues could help themselves. Take the time to clean up the site at the end of the day. Wear a team shirt with high-res vest and hardhats, even when it is not required. The locals don’t know a helical from a driven pile or anything about your stellar reputation. They will judge the book by its cover.
An inspector, code official, or GC will be judging you on a different scale. Commercial, industrial, or public work brings different scrutiny. As a rule of thumb, it is always best to display a professional appearance, decorum, and execution. Make the GC, Engineer, and Architect look forward to working with you again. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Some voices speak louder than others!
Most businesses have a web presence these days, but many contractors do not make sufficient utilization of this tool. Why? It’s not what we do. Technology is not something that many of us are good at. However, the reality is that some potential clients will judge you and your business by your web presence. There are some relatively inexpensive sources, including “do it yourself” ones, that can help in the design of a website. Find someone who can act as your web master. It could be a trusted tech-savvy employee, associate, local designer, or your cousin Vinny who can spearhead the initial effort and maintain/update the site. You need to keep your site current and continually add content. This will improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is the mechanism by which you are found in searches. An easy way to refresh your website with new content is to post case histories of the jobs you have completed. You can review our on-line form to see what we do with our installers to create website content. Again, you are naming names, identifying the application, and briefly detailing the challenges overcome through your skills and the virtues of helicals.
You can streamline our info to just include a photo, a location, application, and a list of project principals. Engineers, Architects, GCs, or Owners represent satisfied customers who can provide third-party confirmation of your quality work. Most folks won’t reach out unless they recognize a name, but just listing them provides implied approval of your skills. If it is a high-profile job, or easily recognizable building or locale, get a photo. A job at our nation’s Capitol quells any questions about credentials, security, and professionalism. Use the Case Study to validate your company and your competence. You can now send links to prospective clients showing them the work you have done, while improving your SEO. In a short time, you will have multiple case studies highlighting challenges met on a variety of applications in different environments.
Remember: word of mouth, the most valuable kind of advertising, can spread through “best practices” on-site and be further enhanced with online content touting those successful projects. Have some fun with it. Don’t be afraid to create your own individual site presence. Be proud and let the world know how good you are at what you do.