What would you say if I told you there’s a wildly-effective marketing strategy for contractors — that won’t cost you a dime?
You’d say, “Sign me up,” wouldn’t you?
And what would you say if I told you this wildly-effective marketing strategy involves sharing your expertise and advice online — without charging a dime?
You’d say, “That’s a really, really dumb idea, Ryan,” wouldn’t you?
I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s definitely not. What I’m hinting at is content marketing, and it’s one of the most effective ways to reach more people and earn more customers.
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What is content marketing for contractors?
Content marketing basically flips old-school advertising upside down. Rather than pitching your services before you offer people help, you come at it from the other direction: You offer valuable, meaningful content for free to build trust and credibility and to help people solve their own problems.
For example, instead of advertising your HVAC preventive maintenance program, you’d teach people how to do their own preventive maintenance. Or instead of pushing your after-hours drain cleanout services, you’d provide blog posts with detailed instructions for homeowners to clear their own clogs.
Now, I know you’re worried that if people go all DIY on everything you’ll never get any paying customers. But here’s what actually happens: People will still call you to do the things you’ve taught them to do themselves. People don’t want to clean their own drains and ducts. They just want to know the company they’ve hired to do those things is a good company. And offering valuable content that’s relevant to people’s lives — with no strings attached — is one way to show them.
An easy on-ramp to content marketing for contractors: blogging
Yes, blogging. I know you’re thinking ain’t nobody got time for that. But I’m telling you, by not blogging, you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s why:
- Blogging helps you get found. Once upon a time, if someone needed a contractor, they’d flip to the yellow pages, choose a company that sounded vaguely familiar, make a call, and keep their fingers crossed. These days, people open a search engine (Google, mostly), and they either type, “home builders in [their town]” or they ask a question like, “What’s the best floor plan for a family?” Google will serve up your website in the search results if you’ve done a good job with search engine optimization (SEO) and if you’re consistently adding fresh content to your website.
That second “if” is where blogging comes in. See, Google doesn’t love static websites. By adding new, quality content to your site on a regular basis — through a blog — Google’s algorithms see it as worthwhile and relevant. That means the search giant is more likely to show your site to your potential customers.
- Blogging establishes you as a trustworthy expert. By offering solutions to people’s home services-related problems via your blog, potential customers will experience you as a helpful company whom they can trust not to rip them off. How so? Well, if you were in the business only to make a buck, why would you tell people how to fix something themselves?
Again, I can guess your pushback here: “But I do have to make money. This is my business, after all. So, why am I giving away valuable advice for free?” My honest response is, “Because that’s the way the world works.” You can head to YouTube and find DIY videos for nearly everything these days. Since people are already looking for DIY advice, it’s good for them to get that advice from you. That way, when they reach the point of needing help, you’ll be the company they call.
- Blog content can be repurposed for social media. Your blog posts can be sliced up into bite-sized pieces to share on your social channels — which is where your current and future customers live. By actively engaging on social media, with a customer-first approach, your customers and leads will see your content more often. And being seen is half the battle.
- Blogging tells your company’s story. If you’re strategic with your blog posts, potential customers will get a feel for you as a company — your character, your expertise, your experience, how you treat your customers, whom you employ, and more. Business is relationship-driven, and blogging gives you an opportunity to begin developing that relationship before a lead ever picks up the phone to call you.
5 blogging tips for contractors
For blogging to “work,” you’ll need to approach it purposefully.
- Be patient. While blogging can be an effective way to connect and reconnect with customers, that’s not going to happen overnight. Building anything of value takes time, and blogs are no exception. It may take several months to see an uptick in business directly tied to your blog. It’s worth the wait.
- Be consistent. First, let me remind you that Google’s ears perk up when it sees frequent updates to a website — and when Google notices you, the search giant is more likely to show you off to potential customers. So frequent, regular website updates via a blog are extremely helpful to SEO.
So, what does “frequent, regular updates” actually mean? Well, it does not mean publishing one blog post every three or four months (or whenever you feel like it and have the time to do it). Instead, develop a sustainable rhythm that works for you, and stick to it. If that’s once a week, fantastic. But if you’re not sure you can maintain that schedule, start with fewer posts each month.
- Write well. How do you write good marketing content? Be concise. Write in plain English. “Chunk” text into smaller paragraphs so it’s scannable. Also, try to work at least a week in advance so you can let your content sit for a couple of days before you review it, make changes, proofread, and publish it.
If you’re simply not a writer, explore options for outsourcing this part of your marketing strategy. It’s worth paying someone to create consistent, compelling content for your website and social channels.
- Write enough. In general, longer, keyword-optimized — not keyword-stuffed — posts tend to get more traction, as long as it’s valuable content. In other words, 1000 words of gobbledygook won’t get you anywhere. But neither will too-short of a post, regardless of how well it’s written.
Optimal blog length also depends on the specific topic you’re addressing and how many words your competitors are writing about it. As of today, a helpful strategy is to write more — better.
- Close the loop. While content marketing for construction or home services is intentionally not sales-pitchy, you nevertheless need to help people move toward becoming a customer if/when they’re ready to do so. So be sure to include a call to action in every post. Tell them exactly what you want them to do: schedule an appointment, request a free estimate, and so on.
Content ideas for contractors
Half of the blogging battle is coming up with topic ideas, and it’s nearly impossible to dream up content for contractors when it’s 3:30 pm the day your post should be going live. So set yourself up for success by thinking ahead. Build a quarterly editorial calendar that lists at least one piece of content for each week:
- Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and brainstorm topics you think they’ll be most interested in. Chances are, they’ll care more about how to choose the best insulation, for example, than they will about industry trends. Allocate some time every month to brainstorming relevant, timely post topics.
- Keep a list of questions customers have actually asked you in the past, and begin by answering those questions. Content marketing only works if you’re publishing helpful, useful information, so think about your customers first.
- Check out this list of HVAC blog post ideas that can be adapted for any home services or construction business.
- If you’re really stumped, try using answerthepublic.com.
Think outside the blog
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on blog content, but it’s good to switch it up from time to time.
- Rather than writing a step-by-step DIY post, share a quick video or SlideShare to show prospective customers what you’re talking about.
- Create an infographic to illustrate a topic.
- Do a Facebook or Instagram Live to answer some commonly asked questions about your industry.
- Share customer success stories.
Get our free guide to online marketing for home & building services
Content marketing is a particularly efficient strategy because you can repurpose what you create for email campaigns and social media posts. To learn more about these other marketing opportunities for contractors, check out The Download: Making Sense of Online Marketing for Home & Building Services.