The life of a contractor is not easy. The competition is stiff and there are never enough customers for everyone. It does not matter if you work in the construction industry or if you are an independent contractor working in some other field; there is always a need to attract more paying customers. Since this is the 21st century, one of the most cost-effective ways to do this is to do some online marketing and attract customers who look for professionals online (an ever-growing number of people).
Don’t Rush In
The first mistake independent contractors (and not only them) make when getting into the online marketing game is rushing in and doing a bit here, a bit there, without any plan or strategy. This very rarely pays off, if ever. There is a reason why there are companies that do this and why people pay them. This is not saying that you should hire someone, this is simply saying that it is a serious undertaking and that you need to dedicate time to it.
The place to start is to analyze your business and where it stands at the moment. What do you hope to achieve with your future online marketing efforts? Do you need more leads? Do you need to better convert those leads? Does your contracting business have an online reputation problem? What kind of time and money do you have to spend?
These are all questions that need answering and that will guide your future efforts.
Start With a Website
There are different ways in which people start their online search for a contractor, but sooner or later, all of them will want to check out your website – not your Yelp profile or a profile somewhere else. They will come to your website to check what you have done in the past and how up-to-date you are (this is especially true for younger customers).
In the contracting business, it is all about the past work and this is where a great design and great photos can be your best ally. Forget about dimly-lit photos you took on your 2006 phone. Spend some time on doing your photos and seriously consider the before and after thing. People just love it.
You should also try and have your satisfied customers share their stories about you and your company on your website. Customer testimonials can be extremely confidence-instilling for people who are on the fence about hiring you.
Another great thing to do is to put up a map of the jobs you did in the past so that people can walk by and check them out themselves.
A blog is also a must and, for a contractor business, there is nothing better than sharing stories from the jobs. Write about what the customers wanted, how you approached it and use a lot of pictures. People will love seeing you work and this will definitely make you more attractive as a contractor.
Finally, wrap everything up with a nice About Us page where you will talk a bit about your company’s history, the team that works for you and where you will share your licenses and credentials. Since there are numerous contractors who do not work entirely above board, make sure to display your required contractor license bond and any other credentials clearly for everyone to see.
Do Social Media
Social media is becoming increasingly important for small businesses like contracting companies, especially since they are local in nature and they can really benefit from the community aspect of social media.
One of the best things about a contracting business is that the majority of social media platforms will work for you. Facebook has become a small business heaven, with people jumping on company Facebook pages to learn more about the business. You can use Twitter to engage with other local businesses and the community in general. It is a place to be funny and interesting. Instagram, Pinterest and other more visual social media channels can also do wonders for you as you can share images of your work.
Finally, don’t forget about YouTube. It is not a social media platform strictly speaking, but it can be a great place to showcase your company. Do a short and sweet About Us video or a video of your team on a job somewhere. If you have the time, you can start a YouTube channel where you will be sharing tips and tricks from your trade. If you do it regularly, put a spin on it and actually provide the viewers with amazing tips, your video content will spread like wildfire. And the best thing is that an ordinary phone can nowadays do amazing HD video (not the aforementioned phone from 2006, though).
The important thing is that you really do social media yourself. This way you will be making true connections and through these interactions, you will be bringing new business to your company.
Do Some SEO
The SEO game is a complicated one and it would really take too much time and space to even start getting into it. This is especially true since good SEO takes a lot of time and skill to do. If you want to learn more about it, check out websites like Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and Search Engine Journal.
If you want to see actual results from some SEO efforts, the best way is to go with an agency of some kind, although it can be difficult to find people who will provide you with real results without wasting your time and money.
Still, learning about it, staying on top of it and actually doing it yourself will take up far too much of your time.
It is definitely possible to do some seriously good online marketing for a contracting business, although it will take some time and effort.
Still, in the end, it will pay off handsomely, especially if you focus on the local level.