Today we have a guest post by Marc D. LeVine, Director of Social Media for Riaenjolie Inc., a web development company that specializes in websites for contractors and other tradespeople. If you’re a contractor, look at his tips to help improve your site.
Darren Salyer of Total Home Remodeling in Wentzville, MO has been running FaceBook ads since December 2009. By March 2010, he had only spent a total of $125 dollars to gain some needed attention for his then struggling business.
As a result of his dabbling in Social Media Marketing (SMM), Darren’s Facebook fan page received eighty-four clicks over the three month period with about sixty-five of those visitors moving on to review his business website.
It would seem that the marketing effort paid off for Total Home Remodeling, which was rewarded with three nice jobs to bid on. The total value of the three bids was $87,000. Not bad for a $125 total investment.
Under the marketing blog where Darren Salyer posted the results of his online marketing strategy, he reported that “things look good” for getting all three of these contracts signed. Regardless of the final outcome, he snagged three promising opportunities that may not otherwise have come his way had he not given FaceBook’s pay-per-click advertising a try.
Hard Times Call For Hard and Fast Solutions
The current recession has taken its toll on the construction industry. Many independent contractors have been forced to close up shop; while those still hanging on have had to cut back and revise their marketing strategies as Darren Salyer may also been forced to do.
Strapped for cash, many small contractors have had to resort to lower-cost business marketing ideas to bring in more work. Social Media Marketing has proved to be rather effective in helping some of these builders and handymen reach out to a new audience of Web savvy consumers; many of whom live locally and are in need of quality home improvement services.
Local contractors are, for the most part, chasing the same limited pool of work in their area and should be seeking out marketing strategies and tactics to help them stand out among those in an increasingly competitive crowd. The Web offers these small business owners what may be the marketing equivalent of “low price flights” to the usual year long PennySaver ads, which come with recurring cost. Very often these kind of local ads offer little or no response during extended periods throughout the year.
Andy Gaur, CEO of RiaEnjolie Inc., a New Jersey web page design company specializing in professional looking and affordable websites for general contractors and other tradespeople, is very well attuned to the world of traditional and social media marketing. “It is much better to be preparing a well conceived and comprehensive marketing plan and getting ready to use an appropriate mix of outreach strategies rather than just sticking with just one or two that haven’t been working so well lately for most general contractors,” says Gaur. “If you don’t jump on different things – like Social Media – that show promise, you may end up in a struggle to retain your current customers and fail to gain new ones that are unaware of your business and what you can offer them in quality workmanship, good service and competitive pricing.”
Social Media Can Add Depth to Your Marketing Effort
You say you don’t get Social Media? You will not get ‘it’ until you have experimented with ‘it.’ We all engage in Social Media Networking and Marketing in ways that suit our own unique needs and personal styles. Some use it to promote their business. Some use it to research information. Some use it to create a network of friends and business people to communicate with. And, others use it to “lurk” and listen to the conversations of others. For them it is a way to better understand different points of view.
Your time is at a premium, so take some baby steps with social media. Reconcile the time spent on Social Media Marketing by accepting the value of the “conversations” you’ll be soon be engaging in with your existing and potential customers.
No matter what your approach is to social media marketing, you should have a strategy and goal that keeps you focused on your target audience and the ultimate prize – doing business with them. Rather than complicate things too much, here are three steps that apply to almost every small business engaged in Social Media Marketing:
Tip 1: Listen. Blogger Tania Yuki in her post on comscore.com shares the following advice:
“People are talking about your business, so you may as well get down in the weeds and know what’s going on.”
Tip 2: Engage. “Social media is the tool, social engagement is what you do to create awareness and earn sales.” This is according to Social Media Guru, Brian Solis, who has offered a number of bestselling books dealing with Social Media for business. Solis goes on to explain that “Creating a presence in social networks is mandatory, but it’s also not enough. Actively and thoughtfully engaging consumers in social networks is quickly becoming an expectation. It’s up to your business to develop a following.”
Tip 3: Respond. Great response begins with great listening. Lindsay Lebresco of Conversation, a Social Media agency recommends the basics like Google Alerts, Twitter, Technorati and search engines to search out key categories – using keywords – that will let you know what people are saying about you and your business. Carefully read and understand what is being said; (if the remarks are negative) take a few deep breaths and perhaps sleep on it; think of a positive way to frame your response and respond in an appropriate manner.
Before You Can Soar You Must Build A Place to Land
Oh, by the way, there is a preliminary step to these three. You won’t be successful in social media marketing without, first, having an effective website for your consumers to visit when they want to check you out. Most potential customers start their consideration process at your website. It must be professional looking, informative and able to bring them to whatever the next step is that you want them to take leading to doing business with you – a “call to action.”
So take a look at your website and ask yourself the following questions about it? Does Your Website Really Measure Up?
1. Is your website’s design aesthetically pleasing?
2. How intuitive is your website to navigate?
3. Does your website have a clear statement of PURPOSE near the top of its homepage?
4. Is your website copy concisely written and richly informative?
5. Do you update your website content REGULARLY?
6. Does your website have a “call to action” on every page for customers to respond to?
7. Does your website’s index page draw visitors further into its content and to where you display and sell your products and contract your services?
8. Is your website designed to encourage future visits (i.e. is there a newsletter; a tell-a-friend feature; a blog with an RSS button to subscribe with?)
Contractors, you can definitely “build some sweat equity” into the process of social media and most likely will get the business results you are looking for. You just need to be smart in the ways you employ the Internet in order to be easily found by consumers and then, be able to impress them when they land at your website for their very first time.
If your website passes the effectiveness test and if you have done all your homework with regard to local geo-search, you’ll be very pleased at the additional phone calls you’ll be getting from local customers looking for a reliable residential general contractor in the local area .
Marc LeVine – About the Author:
Marc LeVine is the Director of Social Media for RiaEnjolie, Inc. (http://www.riaenjolie.com/construction-websites.html) a NJ-based web development company specializing in professional looking and affordable websites for small businesses.
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