How to Market Yourself as a General Contractor
By Kara Parlin
Whether you’re newly open for business or just looking for ways to bring in new customers, marketing your business is the key to growth. Luckily, there are numerous ways to generate awareness both online and offline. And operating a local business can open up additional opportunities to reach potential customers near you. In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive list of ways to market yourself as a contractor.
Marketing yourself online
If you’re not familiar with online marketing, it can seem a little overwhelming, especially when faced with all the options available. But rest assured that even the most tech-averse business owners have had success with digital marketing. The thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to implement every option simultaneously. Pick a few avenues to focus on, and then track the response you get. As you determine what works best for your business, you can add additional options to the mix. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Create a Google My Business profile
When looking for a local professional, the first thing many people do is search Google for some variation of ‘general contractor near me.’ If you’ve created a listing for your company through Google My Business, your profile will appear near the search results, with a map section giving directions. The best part is that creating a listing is free. And it will likely yield positive results, since you’re presenting your business details to people who are already actively looking for your services in a customer mindset.
Set up a website
Having a company website is another way to show up in Google’s organic search results. While it might take a little more work, your website can be an evolving marketing tool. You can add content over time to attract different types of customers.
Site-building tools such as Wix and Weebly can walk you step-by-step through creating your site. You can start with a single, business card-style page that lists your contact information, services you offer, license info and customer testimonial quotes. As you have time, you can add articles that address questions potential customers frequently ask or highlight recent projects you’ve completed. These will help you stand out as a knowledgeable resource that produces quality results.
Have a presence on social media
Setting up business pages on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram can help put your business in front of thousands of potential customers. The key is finding ways to make your posts engaging and shareable. Providing industry insights or going behind the scenes on a project adds authenticity and gives potential clients a sense of what it’s like to work with you. As more people like, share and comment on your content, it will become visible to a broader audience.
Join listing services
Some services will match clients with service providers, which streamlines the process for both parties. By becoming a preferred provider on sites like Emprove, you increase potential streams for client inquiries. It’s like having an external salesperson who finds new business for you while you’re focused on other work. It’s a low-cost solution that enhances your professional appearance while helping you build your business.
Solicit customer reviews
Psychology has a part to play in how you market yourself. Social proof is the idea that people tend to follow along with what others do, assuming it’s the correct behavior. When people read reviews of a product or service, they’re relying in part on social proof — the wisdom of those who have gone before them. Word of mouth also comes into play with reviews. People tend to believe the unsolicited opinions of real customers over a company’s marketing materials.
It’s easy to gather reviews simply by asking customers to provide them after you’ve completed the job. You can point them to your Google My Business profile, Facebook page or even your Yelp listing. Once you start to get an idea of where customers find you most often, you can choose the best place to direct them.
Marketing yourself offline
To maximize your marketing efforts, you’ll want to add offline options to the mix. These tactics can help you reach those who may not spend a lot of time online. They can also offer more passive ways to keep your company name on people’s minds. Offline marketing can also provide more personal, one-to-one interactions, allowing you to engage your potential clients more closely.
Incentivize customer referrals
As we mentioned above, social proof is a powerful marketing tool. You can make it easier for your customers to recommend you to friends and family by offering them an incentive to do so. Give customers business card-sized referral cards that they can hand out. Include a discount for the new customer and reward the referring customer with a discount on future work. Alternatively, you can send a special ‘thank you’ gift for their referral.
Put your fleet to work
All the drive time that you and your crew log in your vehicles is potential advertising time. Make sure any vehicle going to and from job sites has some company branding on it. For company vehicles, you can invest in a custom paint job or wrap that will last for years. There are less permanent options, such as removable magnetic signs or car toppers, that drivers can add to personal vehicles while on the job.
Participate in local trade shows and expos
Builder and home improvement trade shows are a great way to get in front of thousands of potential customers. By simply participating as an exhibitor, you’ll have the opportunity to create a list of prospects you can follow up with after the event.
Even if you have only a small tabletop of exhibit space, you can provide pamphlets or other small takeaways, such as magnets, to remind visitors of your company once they’re home. One tried-and-true way to gather contact information from booth visitors is to raffle a prize at the end of the show. All you need are a large bowl (or hardhat) and preprinted slips of paper people can fill out and drop in with their name, phone number and email address. At the end of the show, notify the winner and add the rest of the entries to a list of potential clients. Follow up a few days later.
Sponsor a team or local charity initiatives
Operating a local business provides unique opportunities to cultivate a sense of community. By becoming involved in community activities — especially those that align well with your company’s brand — you’ll attract customers who share similar values and interests. Clients may choose you over a competitor if they feel their business will benefit local initiatives.
As you can see, it’s possible to market yourself in many ways as a general contractor, both online and offline. No magic combination spells success, but getting a start is the first step to growth. The more you know about these tools and platforms like Emprove, the more options you’ll have when putting your marketing plans together.
Kara Parlin is a writer with more than 15 years of experience. She has served as magazine editor for home and business technology publications and brand copywriter in the consumer packaged goods industry. Parlin holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Boston University College of Communication.