Contractor Marketing Tips, Ideas and Methods
2020 How to Guide

As a contractor they're many decisions that need to be made when considering marketing your company. We've put together a guide of Tips and Ideas for contractors. It is important early on to identify who you are and where you want to be in 5 to 10 years. Contractor Marketing is not a short term plan, rather a long term vision, seeds need to be planted contractor marketing online that will eventually grow. Whether you're a general contractor, plumber, roofer, painter, flooring contractor or a landscape design contractor, marketing your come services business is relatively similar.

Consumers look for you when they want to update their homes or commercial spaces. If you don't know who you are you're going to plant the wrong seeds or they may not even grow.

They're many decisions to consider when you finally decide it is time to grow. Online marketing has many different avenues and channels, some working better than others based off of YOUR particular location and goals.

Are you a residential contractor, a commercial contractor or both? How many employees do you currently have? Do you plan to grow with increased demand or just create a bigger headache?

Planning For Your Business's Growth

Next step towards planning your future revolves around growth. They're two options, grow the job count or keep it relatively the same, just higher numbers. For example some companies may want to do 10 renovations a month while some contractors may want to do one renovation every month or two and that is just fine. There is nothing wrong with staying small and highly profitable. But how do we get there? Well, the short answer is more leads. When considering Contractor Marketing, the more leads that come in, the more options you have, the higher bids you can put out without being stressed out of losing them. This is the sweet spot many contractors crave and rightfully so. Often times overgrowing and trying to get as many jobs as possible can lead to headaches, unhappy clients, hiring bad employees- you know the rest.

Being fully booked at the prices you're happy with WHILE the phone is still ringing every month puts YOU, the contractor in the power position. Every contractor knows when things get slow, it is all too easy for that dynamic to change. You get a referral, they're interviewing two to three contractors. You're writing up the bill and all you can think about is "how am i going to keep my guys busy this month?". Well, this is why planning long term in regards to your contractor marketing is so vital to long term success. Do not be drawn in by the get rich quick stuff- it doesn't last.

contractor planning for growth

Traditional Contractor Marketing Methods

You mauy already do some marketing or even have joined the Contractors Association as this will help build trust with potential customers but are you utilizing all the new methods avaliable? Here are the most common old marketing methods for contractors:

  • Door knocking (usually when you specialize in a niche- windows, roofs, driveways, etc)
  • Angie's list, Home Advisor, etc
  • Print in local publications
  • Direct mail
  • Referrals
  • Directly reaching out to property management companies (best for commercial)
This is what most contractors do in the life span of their business. How does this usually end?

Door knocking- Actually this can work, really well. Not so much for general contractors but if you specialize in a niche, windows, roofing, siding etc, commission based guys on foot can do some damage. This can be sustainable as well. No reason to knock this, if you can find the right people, motivate them correctly this can help grow your business.

Matching websites- These are good to be on just to occasionally get lucky but building a brand off these sites, not the best direction to go on for obvious reasons. You're at the mercy of these platforms, they can change anything in minutes and who loses? You, not them. Also these sites typically bring in price shoppers which again, not fun to deal with everyday.

Print- Most will get a phone call from a local paper, get pitched for $500 or something, bite the bullet and go for it. These types of ads usually bring in small jobs, not necessarily bad clients but seeking smaller work. Nothing against this but typically it doesn't take you very far. It may work a few times, then stop. The biggest draw down is the types of phone calls it brings in. You need a strong pitch and a great copywriter to make this ad for you to even consider it be effective. Sadly, most never get there, the publications in house team will make some generic ad with your logo, number .... and well you know how it ends.

Direct Mail- This again actually works best for contractors specializing in a niche, roofing, siding etc. The issue here is its difficult to quantify why it works, if it does. Difficult to scale because one month it may work, the next not- they're no "analytics" to track. Its basically shot gunning from the hip. In addition you need to hire a rock star copywriter who has a great pitch, most never do which is why they don't see success with it.

Referrals- the life blood of the business. This is by far the long term goal of any Contractor Marketing their business. Grow high quality referrals. The only issue is when things get slow. This is why its important to constantly be marketing your contracting business, keep new potential clients flowing in, enough where you get to be the shot caller, not them when work slows and you have to take the work to keep the guys busy.

Property Management Companies- Getting in the door with a property management company is always a smart move. Obviously they're pros and cons to this strategy. It needs to fit your model but some of those PM companies can keep you busy year-round.

plumber marketing his business

The New Way of Contractor Marketing

Alright, let's finally get into it. This is what we're all here for anyway isn't it. Marketing online for contractors is still wildly untapped, most of your competitors have no clue what they're doing, or they're working with some ad agency that doesn't understand what contractors do and what their GOALS are in the long run. Not to get 100 calls a month from poor clients, but to slowly drip in dream clients. So how do we do it?

Below we'll list all the ways to market your contracting business online:

  • Google & Bing search engines
  • Google Ads
  • Google Map Pack
  • Google ReMarketing
  • Facebook Ads
  • Advertising directly on particular websites where your potential customers may be hanging out (media buying)

Google & Bing Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization- The most widely talked about, ranking yourself to the first page of search engines. Also known as "SEO" Search Engine Optimization. This will forever be the holy grail for service pros.

Pros: Being on page 1 of Google for a widely searched term builds an authority you can't get anywhere else. If you're there... you're making money, period. These are the best leads for one simple reason, the consumer is literally looking for YOU. You're not trying to convince them or hard sell them, no they are searching to find you. In addition there is probably no other place that compares as far as "getting lucky". Every once in a while you'll get a random phone call or email for some huge project. We ranked our client below #1 for a competitive term and check the results:

contractor ranking top of google seo

contractor marketing internet results

You rarely ever will get leads like this elsewhere- this brings in the random game changing clients.

Cons: Time. Ranking to the first page is not an overnight process. In addition your website may need to be completely re-done or optimized. Google looks at multiple factors in deciding if you should be at the top for a widely search phrase, one being your website. Lastly, there is no set time to get to page one of google, it can take months or more. The more desirable that search time is, the more time it takes.

Google Ads (Adwords)

Running Ads- Google Ads are one of the best ways to get known instantly.

It looks like this:

contractor using google adwords

Pros: Instant Eyeballs. Within a day you can be setup and running ads to the local community. Google Ads is best for identifying which searches are best for you. There is no way to see what searches actually bring in leads until you actually try them all and see what worked and what didn't. From there you can actually tell google i want to come up for this search time but not that one. Obviously not paying for clicks on a poor performing search will help eventually become profitable.

Cons: Expensive. A click can cost anywhere from $1.50-$6 on average. Yes just for a click you pay that much. If the person leaves you still paid for it. This can get you in a lot of trouble if you dont know what you're doing. A lot of business owners get an email from Google asking them to setup Google ads, they do, they fail and say "it doesn't work". It works, you just need to know what you're doing. This is a big step towards correctly starting contractor marketing. There are so many things you can modify on Google ads. Small things like day of the week, time of the day are huge as well. For example some clients we only run their ads 2 hours per day because that is when the leads come in. Any other hour of the day we've found has been a waste of money. The last con of adwords is expect to waste some money early on getting data. In order to see what works and what doesn't there is only one way to accomplish this right? That is throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks AKA money. There is no way around that, it is what it is.

Google Map Pack

Listings at the top of Google- A lot of people are confused about what this actually is. Google map pack is the actual results with ratings at the top of the page.

It looks like this:
contractor in google map pack
Over the years google has been pushing this more and more on the consumer. Its extremely important to build this out and ask customers to leave reviews.
Does it work? Well, check out a client in a small market:
google map marketing for contractors
Considering this is free and 3 months into setup, yes we say it works.

Pros: It's Free. Well, to some degree, there are ways to increase showing up over competitors and that does take time and effort. Its great to be here, if you're running ads, top of the map pack and ranking #1 from SEO, you're literally dominating eyeballs 3 times in a row. This is tough for a competitor to compete with. You are simply everywhere when someone searches on Google.

Cons: It takes time. Typically you need to reach out to clients and ask for reviews. The more, the better. Nothing is guaranteed. It takes time to rank this to the top of Google, as it becomes more valuable, competitors want the top position as well.

Google Re-marketing

Ads following you around the Internet- Have you ever went to a website and then those annoying ads follow you around from that same website? Yeah.. that's re-marketing. They're doing it because it works... really well. These can increase your leads over 50%, yeah so if you're not doing it- you're messing up big time.

Pros: A lot. Think about how important this is. Let's say someone sees your truck on the side of the road, a sign on a job or even they get a business card from a friend as a referral. Now that person goes home, finds your website they're browsing around but then their wife or husband says dinner is ready. They click out. They are gone forever. Worse is this- they're probably doing searches all over the Internet and research and guess what your competition is doing- they are now paying to have ads pop up in front of them. You literally just primed the pump for your competitors and now you are GONE. Sounds terrible right? It is which is why you must have this setup.

Not good.... this happens so much more often than businesses realize, you can drive over 40% MORE leads from simply implementing this. If you don't have this setup yet you are messing up big time.

So how does it work? You have to make ads in all different sizes like we did for our client: contractor google remarketing ads

You rarely ever will get leads like this elsewhere- this brings in the random game changing clients.

Cons: None. Once these are setup its a breeze. These ads will follow around your website visitors for weeks or months. You can set the frequency. If they fill out a form on your website, there is even a way to track that and STOP running these ads to them.

Here are some results from a client we recently set it up for:

google map marketing results

Facebook Ads

Running ads on Facebook- This is a hot topic right now and rightfully so, a huge percentage of the world is on facebook.

Pros: Data. Facebook provides a ton of ways to micro target the consumer, by their interests, their income, relationship status and just on and on.

Cons: Time to setup and get "dialed in". Also you are trying to sell yourself, they're not particularly looking for you like they would be on google for example, for that reason leads are less hot. You need to spend money experimenting on what works and what doesn't. Also inconsistency, what works today may randomly stop working tomorrow.

Media Buys

Buying ad space directly from a website- This is typically for the businesses that have already been running ads. You need to know a lot about your customer before you just randomly guess where you should be buying ads.

Pros: Cost effective. Once you spot the right place to target, if done correctly you can get a lot of cheap clicks to your website that convert into customers.

Cons: You need to be running Google ads prior. Why? You need to find out where your customers are first, you can't just guess. Sometimes it may be possible but its rare and only one site isn't going to do much for you. The goal is to buy many ad space from multiple websites across the Internet. Another con with media buying is these ads eventually go stale. When the same people visit these websites over and over they stop clicking on your ads.

Contractor Marketing Summary

Obviously the Internet has changed things forever. The irony is most contractors have not adapted. This is a good thing, it leaves a ton of opportunity for the ones willing to adapt and do it right. Many have a skeptical view of how it works and rightfully so. Common phrases are "i tried it, doesn't work" or "i don't have time"... well great, we hope you continue to not have time to grow your business and make more money because we know plenty of guys who would love to. Most have bought leads, most of which have been sold to their competitors at the same time. Next is the angies list, home advisor and other contractor portals. Listen, do these contractor matching or lead selling sites work? Yeah.... to some degree but its clear you're not in the power position. You're guaranteed to be fighting for the business, most times based off price. Sounds fun right? Didn't think so. A good idea is registering with the Better Business Bureau as many consumers seem to check this specifically for home service providers. Most of these people are coming in looking for the cheapest price. That's not where you want to be, you're basically interviewing for each job. The goal is for YOU to interview your clients. Having enough quality lead flow where YOU, the contractor pick and choose who your clients will be. Its not even question, this is the only way to be running a stress free contracting company.

contractor starting new-project

This is how it should work for any contractor or home service company:

  • You do great work.
  • You get photos of your work.
  • You get testimonials of your work.
  • You build a reputation.
People come to you. Look, having referrals is great and many contractors lie to themselves thinking they'll just come in non stop. They don't, eventually they dry up and you're slow. But there is something more important we're missing about referrals so lets talk about it.

Referrals come from previous clients right? So a cheap job will most likely refer another cheap client. A great client with a large budget typically refers another great client with a large budget. This is why you need a constant inflow of good clients. You drip out the bad ones as you get newer better ones. Thats the only way over the course of a 10 year span to build up a contracting business with high margins. Compounding effects of good vs. bad referrals.

You can read our Case Studies to see what is working in todays marketing environment.