Does Your Marketing Have Good Bones? The 6 Pillars of Growth For Local Contractors

If you build a house on a shaky foundation, or with a poorly engineered support structure, chances are the building will crumble in the first storm. Likewise, successful marketing depends on essential elements working together. We've identified 6 marketing pillars that can make or break the growth of your contracting business.

This Baby’s Got Some Good Bones

A few years ago I was looking to purchase a commercial office building. I was inspecting a property with my good friend and commercial TI contractor, Shane, and I remember his assessment: “well, it needs some TLC, but it’s got good bones”. 

If you are a contractor, you know what Shane meant. From an investment perspective, I wouldn’t have to worry about major structural repairs. We could focus on less costly superficial cosmetics to transform the property into the vision I had for it. 

There’s an analogy here to successful marketing. Just like it wouldn’t be wise to invest in the cosmetics of a building that had structural problems, its similarly unwise to invest in marketing outreach and promotions when there are foundational gaps in the brand positioning, reputation, or web experience (the bones).

I frequently hear from local business owners, “we’ve tried [some marketing tactic] before and it didn’t work for us”. My response to that statement is always, before we make that determination let’s have a look at your brand fundamentals. Often the problem is not the tactic, but something beneath the surface.

So without further ado, here are the 6 pillars for contractor marketing success:

  1. Make sure you have a rock solid unique value proposition & offer
  2. Ensure you have a modern website that reduces friction and clearly presents your brand narrative
  3. Commit to steady local search engine optimization
  4. Leverage highly targeted paid digital campaigns
  5. Guard and invest in your  online reputation & reviews
  6. Implement and use a CRM to capture & nurture leads

Let’s dive deeper into each of these local service marketing pillars.

Marketing Pillars for Local Contractors

Pillar 1: Nail Down Your Value Proposition

If you don’t have your unique value proposition (UVP) nailed, nothing else you do will bear fruit. In our experience, only about 1 in 10 small businesses have their UVP adequately defined. 

Start with understanding your target audience needs and your competitive advantages, then craft that into a simple, compelling message that engages your prospects. Getting it right improves the effectiveness of every future marketing initiative. Getting it wrong, or ignoring it, means all your future marketing tactics, campaigns, and promotions will fall flat and struggle to generate return on investment.

Business Growth

 

If you are a DIYer, a google search on crafting a UVP will give you plenty to ponder. But if you want to ensure you have rock solid strategy, Rocketship can lead you through our proven process to craft and implement your brand messaging throughout your website and other marketing assets.

Pillar 2: Frame Up A Growth-Driven Website That Conveys Your Brand Narrative

Your website is your single most important marketing asset. Yet small businesses rarely treat it as such from an investment or commitment perspective.  Most local services companies are essentially an online brochure. The online brochure website has all the basic information—what your company does, work samples, and how to contact you, presented in a templated-based design that usually sits stagnant for years. These sites don’t differentiate your brand, and they fall short on attracting, engaging, and converting visitors into customers.

Here’s a checklist you can use to self-audit your website. Bring up your top 3 competitors in browser tabs, then give yourself a check for each item in which your website exceeds your competitors:

Design

  • Unique and memorable
  • Easy to navigate
  • Clean and uncluttered
  • Interesting, relevant imagery that draws user in
  • Use of illustrations, infographics, tables, etc to reduce wordiness and visually convey main ideas
  • Modern layout with clearly delineated sections

Content

  • Identifies your customers’ problem or unmet need above above the fold
  • Tells a story that engages the reader and tells them how you’ll solve their problem
  • Clear value proposition stated on home page and key service pages
  • Concise and scannable content that helps the reader quickly find what they are looking for
  • Easily navigable pages for each core service/product, and each audience segment
  • Trust signals, e.g. testimonials and certifications, woven throughout the site (not buried on a separate page)

Performance

  • Fast loading pages (check your website speed here)
  • Mobile responsive design (content renders well and is readable on all devices and screen sizes)
  • High / passing accessibility score (to check your site, click here then click AUDIT SITE in the upper right)

SEO

  • Good technical SEO score
  • Ranking in top 10 results and/or higher than competitors for high-intent keywords
  • Appearing in maps (Google, Apple, Bing)
  • Dedicated pages for each key product or service
  • Dedicated location pages for each major market or city you serve
  • Higher domain authority than competitors

Use our free website grader to find out your scores, as well as your competitors. 

Conversion Rate Optimization

  • Clear calls to action (CTAs) throughout site, in header, and on home page and key product and services pages
  • Low barrier / transitional CTAs for visitors who are not yet ready to purchase, e.g. downloadable pricing, live chat, free trials, coupon requests, newsletter signup)
  • Urgency offers
  • Trust signals, including reviews, testimonials, certifications, recognitions
  • Guarantees
  • Form submissions flow directly into Integrated CRM that tracks source attribution and helps managing sales pipeline
  • Form auto responders
  • Integrated email nurturing

As this checklist makes obvious, there’s big difference between a run-of-the-mill bargain website, and a growth-optimized website.

Contractor websites built on the Rocketship Growth Architecture deliver 5-10x the ROI of typical websites. How? We have leveraged over a decade of research and real world testing to optimize the design, brand narrative, key messages, calls to action, and keyword content at each stage of the buyer journey.

Get a free professional audit of your website

CONTACT US to get started. 

 

Business Growth

Pillar 3: Drill In On Local SEO

85% of the population uses online search to find local businesses, with 30-40% of all local services originating from Google Maps alone.

Local SEO (search engine optimization) is vital for contractor companies, and also challenging. This is because contractors do business on location across a service area that usually includes multiple cities. You may rank on searches in one city but be invisible in other larger markets, losing out on significant opportunities from prospective clients who are ready to purchase.

SEO is complex and technical, and so contractors typically need to partner with a professional. The main thing to know is that SEO TAKES TIME, and should be understood as an ongoing activity. With SEO, slow and steady wins the race with consistent improvements every month. How long and how much should you invest? It depends on two things: (1) the size of the gap between your current visibility and desired visibility, and (2) the competitiveness of the market you are competing in.

Plan on 6-12 months to start seeing measurable benefits from SEO. While this may sound like a long time, once you break through with search visibility, you will begin to reap the benefits of organic (unpaid) inbound inquiries, which lowers your acquisition costs. 

One more SEO tip for contractors: At least 50% of your SEO investment should be directed at local SEO. Here’s a good default mix of SEO for most local services companies:

Local SEO and Map optimization – 50%

On page optimization and blogging – 25%

Off page SEO / Link Building – 15%

Technical SEO – 10%

Rocketship’s Rank Savant tool is a secret weapon in your toolbox, designed to help you overtake your competitors across your whole service area, in half the time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional SEO services.

Pillar 4: Hammer Out Valuable Leads With PPC Advertising

In contrast to SEO, PPC advertising’s superpower is its ability to quickly generate ready to buy, or high intent leads. The tradeoff for that speed, is that there is a variable cost (pay per click) for these leads. Since that is what most businesses want, and because many contractors have an average transaction in the thousands of dollars, acquiring leads through PPC can be expensive.

For this reason, it is recommended to outsource PPC to an experienced pro who can optimize your campaigns to minimize paying for low-value clicks, and maximize high quality conversions to get the best return on investment.

We recommend that contractors deploy Organic Search (SEO) and PPC strategies in tandem. Your PPC campaigns will generate near term lead flow while your organic search efforts are gaining momentum. Eventually when your organic web presence is dominant, you will be able to reduce PPC expenditures. 

One final point: We’ve seen contractors run successful campaigns on a variety of channels: Google Search, Display Retargeting, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even Linkedin (for commercial contracting). But avoid spreading too thin. Start with one or two channels and establish positive ROI campaigns. Then employ a test and learn methodology with the goal of beating your incumbent. This approach will ensure continuous improvement and growth. 

Rocketship employs a strategic approach to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that leads to lower overall costs, better lead quality, and higher return on investment. 

Pillar 5: Tidy Up Your Business Reputation & Online Reviews

In the contracting business, reputation is everything. Unfortunately, if you don’t actively manage your reputation, negative reviews are likely to tarnish your online ratings. If your online reputation is inferior to key competitors, your conversion rates will suffer and sabotage the effectiveness of SEO and PPC efforts.

Bad reviews happen. And there’s little you can do to remove them. So what do you?

Simple. Request a LOT of reviews, immediately upon completion of service, from clients you know are happy.

There are numerous tools on the market that help small businesses request and manage reviews. Some are expensive and complicated to use. You may even have a reviews management function in the CRM or Operations software you already use. We recommend using whatever tool or process that helps you consistently request reviews in a timely manner (within a day of service completion). 

Rocketship’s Kudo tool simplifies the management of online reviews and testimonials, making it easier to highlight positive customer experiences and bury negative feedback. Consistent use of Kudo will help you achieve more reviews, and higher star ratings than your competitors, which is a key driver in customer click through rate and brand consideration.

78% of local searches on mobile devices lead to a purchase within 24 hours.
86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. This includes 95% of 18 to 34 year old consumers.
82% of buyers find review sites valuable in their search.
57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars on local reviews.

Pillar 6: Your Marketing Multi-tool—A Sales CRM Platform

If you aren’t already using a CRM platform, it may just change your life. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and CRM platforms are powerful, convenient, and affordable for small businesses. A good CRM platform will help you manage all your customer data and streamline your marketing and sales operations, resulting in more sales. 

Here’s a short list of typical CRM capabilities:

  • Store contact info, log activity, keep notes and create tasks for all your customers and prospects
  • Manage web forms and capture leads directly into your CRM from your website, without manual entry
  • Use automations to engage with your prospects and customers at just the right time, via any channel
  • Create invoices and receive payments from the field or anywhere
  • Share completed projects and manage posts and comments on all your social channels
  • Bring all inbound inquiries (from social channels, website form submissions, emails, live chat, etc) into one unified inbox so you never miss a lead
  • View, manage, and report on your sales pipeline
  • Create landing pages for campaigns
  • Manage and report on your ad campaigns
  • Create and send email newsletters
  • Create and send surveys

CRMs save you time and help you and your staff accomplish more with less effort. If growth is your goal, it’s hard to imagine being able to do it effectively without a CRM.

Supercharge your marketing engine with Rocketship’s lead conversion platform and CRM, powered by AI and ready to integrate with the tools you already use. 

 

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