Recently I have been working with a few contractors helping them market their businesses. Besides defining their brand and setting up their Internet presence, I work with them on how to decide what type of marketing will work for them. The following is a presentation that I gave to a group of contractors a few weeks ago and a brief transcript of the key points that I make when I give this presentation.
Slides 3 & 4:
Let’s discuss what marketing is all about. To me, marketing is educating your customer about why they should do business with you. Marketing is helping the customer realize the value you provide by eliminating a problem or satisfying a need.
Good marketing will attract your ideal client, retain existing clients, encourages referrals and helps you avoid price wars.
Marketing is not specifically advertising, sales or public relations. These are strategies that you could select as part of your overall marketing plan. Marketing is also not your Web site or blog, a brochure or a business card. These are tools of marketing to be used to effectively build awareness for your products and services.
A marketing plan gives you direction and clarity on how you will market your business. By following a plan, you are also more likely to be able to measure your results. You won’t be reactive in your marketing, spending money and not following through. The plan will help you define what you do, why you are the best, who needs what you do and how to attract them. Another key point of the marketing plan is that it will help you determine the overall budget so you can allocate sufficient funds to successfully follow through.
Slides 6 through 15:
The key parts to the plan include:
- Define your vision and goals – What do you want your business to look like in 5 years, 3 years and 1 year? Answering these questions helps you frame your marketing plan to ensure you are moving in the right direction. If you don’t want to build a large firm with multiple crews, your marketing needs to focus on things that drive enough business that you can handle yourself or with a subcontractor if need be. Once you have your vision, your goals are developed to help you reach your 1 year plan.
- Identify your ideal client and how you are different from your competition – Who do you want to work with, who would benefit from working with you and how are you better than others that do what you do? Not all customers will be ideal and understanding why helps you avoid customers that drain you.
- Develop your core message – What problems does your ideal client want fixed or what needs do they wish to fulfilled? Speaking to your customers on how you can help them enables you to develop a relationship that establishes trust. When a customer trusts you, they are more likely to do business with you.
- Create your brand identity – What image do you want to project? Your image should align with your vision, values and goals so it does not send a conflicting message to your customers. Once you have established your brand image and identity, use it consistently throughout all of your marketing efforts.
- Determine your marketing strategy, tactics and budget – What activities will you use to build awareness of your business? Understanding your customer and how they purchase your type of service will help you determine what will work and what won’t. Think about all the ways you can reach your customer, how much it will cost both in terms of money and resources and select those that you know you can implement. If you plan out for 6 months to a year, you can manage your budget more effectively and find the time to work a tactic completely.
- Create sales tools to support the tactics and build your database of prospects and customers – What supporting materials do you need to help you sell your services? Web site, blog, brochures, business cards, signs, promotional items (pens and apparel) and other items can be designed to help you get your message to your customer. Wait until you’ve determined your strategy and tactics to avoid creating sales tools that are not needed, thereby wasting valuable budget.
- Execute, track and measure results – Are the activities you are doing working? Take on only the activities that you can complete and measure. Working a strategy half way only sets you up for failure.
This is a really brief overview of how to develop a marketing plan for your business. I’d love to hear from home services professionals about whether you have a marketing plan and if so, how it works for you. What types of activities are the most successful and which did not work at all.