Content Marketing for Trades
Written By: Chad Treadway
If you're like most general contractors, HVAC, electricians, or plumbers, you probably rely reasonably heavily on word of mouth marketing to generate new leads. Why shouldn't you? You put in years honing your skills, and hopefully you have a good reputation! The problem is that those leads may start to dry up as people look online to find information and companies.
Also gone are the days of having ads in the phonebook and billboards to gain traction and win business. Having an online presence and using content marketing techniques is key to being found these days. In fact, a recent study by Pew Research Center reports that 77% of Americans are online daily!
Content marketing uses online channels to attract customers during various stages of the purchase funnel. With content marketing, customers start the conversation, and you can create targeted content that makes it easier for people to find you online.
How do I know this "content marketing" is going to work for my business?
The short answer is, the results are easily traceable. Additionally, how do you know that the traditional methods are working? With content marketing, we can accurately track and report on what is working and what isn't and maximize the dollars spent.
Think about the last necessary purchase you made. If you're like most people, you went to Google or at least one of their properties, since they own 93% of the search engine market.
Traditional Outbound Marketing versus Content Marketing
Traditional Outbound Marketing
Marketing for plumbers, roofers, landscapers, etc. has changed dramatically to match the buying process for American consumers. Things like on-site signage, sponsoring events, and memberships of networking organizations are great, but they can only take you so far. In the past, you may have done these along with more traditional forms of marketing and advertising, such as radio, TV, and print ads. You may have also even printed postcards or placed large ads in the phone book. To be honest, these traditional 'outbound' marketing efforts are dying or even dead!
Content marketing can be an inexpensive and highly effective way to bring in new leads for your construction, home building, or service business. It is the practice of Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability (VCP) online. Google will eventually find your site, but it's about being visible and credible to both Google and searchers when they are looking for what you offer. Once you have them at your site, you can work on converting them into customers.
Essentially, the consumer will go through their research process, which will be something like this:
They will more than likely use Google to search for your business. It may be something like "construction contractors near me," "plumbers near me," or "best HVAC tech."
If you have things set correctly, your website should show up for their searches.
You then want to enable buyers to engage with you, earn their trust, and realize you are the expert in your area.
Once you have gained their trust, you will have a new customer that believes in what you do and is willing to pay for your skills and expertise.
Laying the Foundation: It All Starts With Your Website
Most of our clients have come to us for a simple website redo, assuming that it will fix all their problems and that the leads they get will be better because the site looks better. As great as it sounds, a good looking website is just one part of a much bigger puzzle.
I often tell clients that Google, much like lady justice, is blind. No matter how good your site looks, if you don't have content for Google to consume, it's nearly impossible to be found.
Our practice is to start with a comprehensive review of your current website. If you don't have one, then that is the best place to start. I can also look at your existing site and determine if a renovation or redo is needed, or if you just need to rearrange some things.
Educate and Inform Your Prospects
One of the critical points of content marketing is educating potential clients or buyers about you. It goes far beyond the "about us" or "our history" pages. Ideally, you want to take the prospect through a journey starting at the problem and leading to the solution, or show someone how easy it is to do a simple task.
Some examples might include:
How to shut off your water main video or tutorial
How to do "homeowner maintenance" on your HVAC system, such as changing your air filters or cleaning and doing a basic visual inspection up your outside unit
What to look for in a general contractor
What are some options to increase energy efficiency when building a new home or remodeling an existing home
The bottom line is: you are an expert. You want to, and should be, seen as one.
Remember that the bigger the purchase, the more research people will do in your field and about you or your business.
The Keys to the Kingdom: Word of Mouth (WOM) and Referrals
For the service and trades industries, word of mouth or WOM has always been some of the best advertising. Why not? If I have a great experience with a plumber, then I will sing their praises and constantly refer them.
WOM is one of the most traditional forms of content marketing, except today, we utilize Google and social media to search out reviews. According to HubSpot,
"Recommendations from friends and family members are the most trusted source of advertising for 83% of respondents, and nearly 100% of customers surveyed said they trusted recommendations from other people -- even strangers -- more than content from brands."
At Cube Creative, we have a dedicated review system to help you get, respond, and manage your online reviews. The system allows you a bit of control. The goal here isn't just to prevent bad reviews from popping up on specific sites, but it will enable you to resolve any issues you may be unaware of. If the customer had a good experience, they're redirected to a review site. If they had a bad experience, they're asked to fill out a form detailing it so that a representative can get in touch with them. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
An important note about reviews: it's in your best interest to get genuine reviews. Avoid paying people to leave them or write fake reviews.
Content Is King
It has been said that content is king when it comes to the web, and this is still true today. As I stated earlier, Google is blind, and no matter how good your site looks, you still need to have content to be found on Google.
How much content do you need?
I am often asked how much content needs to be produced to rank well. I often explain to clients that Google is much like the plant, Audrey II, in the play Little Shop of Horrors. The more you feed it, the more it wants, and the more it comes around.
The good news is that content can come in a variety of forms, and what works best will depend on your audience.
Content can include things such as:
Project progress for large, complicated, or highly visible jobs
Having high quality and consistently posted content makes all the difference in attracting the right leads to find you online. It goes back to VCP (Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability).
SEO and Local Listings
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a marketing industry term that refers to the practice of optimizing website content for search engines. It should really be called Search Engine Content Optimization (SECO), because the search engines are already optimized.
Regardless of what acronym we use, the principle is the same. We want to optimize the website to rank higher in search results for targeted keywords and phrases. If someone searches for construction companies in your service area, the goal is to have your company appear at the top.
Time is Money: Staying Local by Getting Local
Ben Franklin once said, "Remember that time is money." Windshield time can be a real waste if you are in an industry where you don’t get paid for travel time. The key is to stay as close to your base of operation as possible.
This image shows all the different things that one could and should do to ensure the local SEO is what it should be. It's a process to get all these updated, but the results can be astonishing for your business.
At a minimum, I recommend having your Google My Business Page created, and that you have all the correct information listed, including name, address, phone, and hours. You will also want to make sure that your address and phone numbers listed are consistent across all properties.
Geographical landing pages combined with a specific service can provide website visitors with specific information. These will help you convert more of your website traffic into qualified leads.
Quick Wins: Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising has its place in the content marketing pie, but a much smaller piece than you might imagine. PPC has its place at the beginning of a campaign or for a quick win. Using content hosted on your website, referred to as organic, is a much longer play.
Organic takes time and will typically have hockey stick growth. By this, I mean you may see slow growth at first, then it tends to spike.
PPC can help mitigate the slow growth, and once organic growth is taking off, you can taper off the PPC and allocate those funds to something else.
Getting Social With It
Billions of people interact and communicate every day using social media. Billions.
There is an audience on social media. We suggest utilizing social media to reach your target audience. Think of each channel as a conversation, not a platform.
Use it to:
Talk to your prospects and customers
Share project photos
Promote your content
Above all else, use it to listen to your audience!
Have Your People Email My People
Email marketing allows you to create personalized content that reaches potential clients right in their inboxes.
Creative uses of email marketing may include:
Keeping your clients in the loop about your company's latest happenings
Update potential clients about your latest offerings
Friendly reminders to do certain tasks, such as changing their air filters
Starting a conversation with them when it's time for them to have some type of maintenance completed
Want to learn more?
Interested in finding out more about how content marketing can help your contracting, electrical, or plumbing business achieve greater success online?