How to Scale Your Marketing
A growth guide for small home services companies like landscapers, plumbers, and pest control services.
As a small home services company, how can you get the most from your marketing efforts now and also lay a firm foundation for future growth? It can be hard to even know where to start with so many marketing options available in today's world. And do traditional advertising mediums like yellow pages even work anymore?
Today, we'll share some ideas that you can incorporate into your marketing plan now, while also providing some guidance on the best places to start. We'll take a look at the cost and effort involved, and how these marketing activities can fit into a long-term plan to market your services.
Free Marketing Activities (only time needed)
1. Write and memorize your elevator pitch.
As a business owner, you should never miss an opportunity to market your services. Marketing starts with getting a potential customer's attention. Once you have their attention you need to be able to quickly explain what you do, in a clear and compelling manner that sparks interest in your services.
By preparing a brief speech, one that lasts no longer than an elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, you'll always be prepared to best answer the question, "what do you do?" When you run into an old acquaintance or meet someone new at a social or business function, you'll be prepared to maximize a sales opportunity the moment it presents itself.
Here's an example elevator pitch:
I founded a website design company that has grown to be one of the top marketing agencies in Richmond Virginia. Initially we worked only with small local businesses, and by helping them to increase sales leads from their websites, we played a part in their growth and were fortunate to receive many referrals. Over the years our capabilities grew in response to customer needs and today we have the experience and resources to help with websites, digital marketing, brand creation, and traditional marketing mediums like print and signage.
Ideally, your elevator pitch will leave some questions unanswered so that the prospect has an easy way to ask for more details.
Your elevator pitch will also give you some words to use in other places. You should be able to easily adapt it for use as a description on your Facebook page or for a sales flyer.
Make a point to seek out opportunities to meet new people, especially other business owners. Some may be a prospect for your services, but also keep an eye out for potential referral partners. How great would it be for a pest control company to meet a home inspector who could refer them when he finds termites?
If you've prepared your elevator pitch in advance, you'll be ready to have success with meeting new people in social or business settings. These new relationships can lead to lots of new customers and fuel growth in your business. When BCS Website Services studied our sales over a 10-year period, we found that about 30% of our new accounts came from referral partners.
3. Ask for referrals.
You've worked hard to help your customer with their problem, and maybe even succeeded after others have failed. Sometimes your hard work will cause your happy customer to refer your services, but consider taking an active role in the referral process.
You can ask for a referral when completing a job, or perhaps ask when you call back to check on the services you have provided.
4. Knock the neighbors
After spending some amount of time helping your customer, it makes sense to take just a few minutes to call on the neighbors. If you've done a large job, chances are the neighbors have noticed you and are curious about what you've done.
Some people cringe at the thought of making a cold call, but it doesn't have to be overly complicated. Keep it simple and when the neighbor answers their door just tell them you were working next door and wanted to leave your card in case they needed help too. If no one is home, slip your card under the door knocker.
5. Create a marketing plan.
This could be an extremely complicated task, but it doesn't have to be. Starting out, it probably doesn't make sense to make a detailed analysis of your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (known as a SWOT analysis). Save that for when you have a marketing department.
But failing to plan is a big mistake. You need to devote some portion of the time you spend running your business to marketing, and you need to set goals for what you hope to accomplish from your efforts.
Commit to engaging in whatever marketing activities make the most sense to you, and think about how you will budget time to get them done.
Low-cost Marketing Activities
1. Create a logo.
A well-designed logo helps to keep your brand top of mind for potential customers. A good argument can be made for spending the money to have a logo professionally designed before you spend money on any other marketing activities.
You'll use your logo on business cards, vehicles, uniforms, your website, and every place you have the opportunity to place it.
2. Leave a yard sign.
This one should be a no-brainer. It just works. Create a simple message with your logo and phone number, and leave them at every big job you do. The neighbors want to keep up with the Jones' and you'll likely get their call.
3. Distribute flyers.
Create a simple flyer with your logo, phone number, and a few words about your services. Printing 1,000 flyers will only cost about $100.
While you're working in a neighborhood, you'll often have some time before or after your appointment to drop some flyers off to the neighbors.
4. Create a brochure.
You'll need to invest a fair amount of time to create a brochure, primarily to write the sales copy. But there are some big gains if you can commit the time.
A well-written sales brochure can be used as a visual aid in your sales presentations, helping customers to see how your services are provided. That will help to close more sales. It can also be used as a take away for interested prospects. Attach an electronic copy when emailing quotes. And use the brochure content as a basis for other marketing pieces like your website.
5. Vehicle branding
We've never seen a home services company vehicle that was not lettered with a name and phone number. Of course if it was not lettered, how would we know it was a home services company vehicle (LOL).
Adding your company name, telephone, and website URL to your service vehicles is fairly inexpensive and allows for the curious neighbors to easily reach out and inquire about services.
If you've improved your logo, consider having your vehicle graphics updated. It's important to keep your brand consistent in all places and your vehicle is one of the most noticeable parts of your business.
Be sure to practice safe driving while in a marked company vehicle too, especially in residential areas.
Digital Marketing Activities
1. Secure an email address.
Use GoDaddy or another registrar to search for available domains, and secure a .com if at all possible. Then, once you have registered your domain, you can purchase email hosting for as little as $1.99 monthly.
2. Create or claim your Google business listing.
If you're not already familiar with Google business listings, they are the modern day equivalent of phone book listings. Listings may appear when a user does a Google local search like "pest control in Richmond" or "pest control near me."
Google listings are free, and your business may already have a listing even if you didn't sign up for one. The listings are built from publicly accessible data about your business, and will include photos from Google maps or even photos submitted by Google users.
If you're not already using Google My Business, then visit the page at https://www.google.com/business/. Use the Sign Up button to get started, and follow the on-screen instructions to claim your business listing. Once you've claimed it, you'll see an indicator letting you know if your listing is complete. If the listing is not 100% complete, add a business category, description (from your elevator pitch!), hours, photos, and other information as needed to get to 100% complete.
3. Customer Reviews
With a Google Business listing, customers will be able to leave a review of your services. You'll get a notification every time a review is posted, and keep on eye out for any negative reviews so that you can reply to those quickly.
When you have a big success with a customer, ask them if they will post a review to Google. From our experience, about 1 in 4 will post a review if asked.
As your digital marketing efforts grow, you might one day contract a service to help solicit more reviews from your customers.
Your company website is the foundation for your digital marketing efforts. Think of a wheel: your website is the hub, and all other online efforts are spokes that connect to the hub. So if you have a Facebook page, the page should direct users to your website so that they can do business with you.
There are options to build your own website, and this is a good starting point if your budget is constrained. The most important part of your website is the content, and you'll need to spend a good deal of time writing great copy for the website pages. Alternately, get some assistance from a writer if you can.
You'll also want great photos on your website. Pictures of happy smiling people are a sure way to improve the look of your website, and make sure that you license photos from a stock image supplier or take your own to avoid any copyright issues.
Make sure that your website looks good on mobile devices, and that your phone number is displayed prominently at the top. Over 50% of Google searches are done on mobile devices, and this is especially true for home service.
5. Social Media
Before starting a social media page, you should have your website in place. You’ll want to link some posts to your website to help funnel prospects to the website.
You also need to consider the time needed to post to social media. If you’re too busy to post 2 or 3 times per week, it’s best to hold off on creating a social media page. Irregular posts won’t get you much attention.
Here are some thoughts about different social media platforms and what benefits you might see from using each of them.
- 1. Facebook
Users spend a lot of time on Facebook, and a strong presence there can really help build your brand awareness.
You’ll want to create a Facebook business page, not a new Facebook account for your company. Be sure to complete all of your About information including business description, location, hours, telephone, and website URL.
- 2. Instagram
Photos are what drives Instagram, and it’s a great place to reach millenials in particular. Post your awesome bug pictures, and don’t forget to use #hashtags.
- 3. YouTube
Video content engages users, and you can also easily embed YouTube videos in your website pages. If you have ideas for interesting footage and a phone to capture video try your hand at producing some video content. Even simple videos with little or no production work can go viral if they’re interesting enough.
6. Review sites
In particular, you should claim your Yelp listing, and then make sure all the information for your business name, address, and phone number is accurate. Yelp can play a role in SEO ranking, and there is no cost to complete your listing.
Yelp will try to upsell you, and their advertising packages are expensive. This is also true of other review sites like Angie’s List and Home Advisors, and we’d suggest starting with other online advertising options before you consider these services. Google and Facebook ads will generally give you a faster and better return on investment.
7. Paid Advertising
Unlike traditional advertising, most digital advertising users pay for performance pricing. Instead of a fixed cost to display ads, you pay only when a user clicks your ad. And those users can be targeted by many key demographics, like location, so that your ads are most effective.
Here’s where to start in priority order:
- 1. Google Ads
Your ads can show at the top of Google searches like "pest control near me".
- 2. Facebook and Instagram Ads
Highly targeted demographics.
- 3. Email Newsletters
Marketing to existing customers.
- 4. SEO
Working to get to the top of Google search listings in your area.
- 5. Blogging
Part of your SEO efforts, establishes you as an expert.
We hope that you find this guide helpful, and if you’d like to discuss how we can help you take the next step in growing your marketing please visit www.bcswebsiteservices.com. Our team of digital marketing and graphics specialists are here to assist you with all of your marketing needs and take your business to the next level.