Pro picks: 4 pros share their most effective marketing tools
You’ve worked hard to build your business. You’ve invested in the best tools money can buy. Your subcontractors and employees are rock solid. You’ve earned a stellar reputation in your community. But for a lot of business owners, it’s hard to split your focus between working for your customers and marketing your business. We spoke with four pros to find out where they’re finding marketing success. Here’s what they had to say:
Testimonial videos are a useful marketing tool for Danny Arey, who heads up Arey Painting in Salisbury, MD. It’s a low-cost tactic too. He shoots the videos with his phone, then uploads them to YouTube and his website for prospective customers to see. Arey credits Steve Burnett of DYB Coach with the idea.
But to get the testimonials, he says, you must first give the customer an excellent experience. “Create an amazing experience for someone by doing everything you say you will do, and when you have the opportunity to do more, do it,” he says. “Go above and beyond their expectation to create a raving fan!”
He also keeps the process easy for people by asking three simple questions. “It can take as little as 30 seconds, but most wind up being two to three minutes long.”
Testimonials, Arey says, build trust. “When people visit your site and they see someone they know, you’re more likely to get the job,” he adds. “That just recently happened to me—a woman saw someone she knew on my site, and that’s why she went with me.”
Men in White Painting, LLC, a full-service residential and commercial painting company in southern Illinois brought creativity and deliciousness together for a fun marketing idea.
Borrowing from a Florida painter, owner Mark Black offers gourmet cookies as a customer thank you at the end of a job. He hired a local private baker to create the one-of-a-kind recipe, and the cookies are presented in a paint can with a creative custom label, which Black’s office staff puts together.
Playing off a paint label, his custom label includes recommended uses (sharing with friends and family), preparation (prime with milk for optimum performance) and cautions (may be addictive if swallowed).
The gourmet cookies, which are nearly the circumference of a standard paint can, are baked fresh each week and packaged in a way that shows time and love have been invested, he says.
“In a small town like ours, they’ve become quite famous,” Black notes. “People want these cookies … it’s been a great marketing tool for us.”
Pete Martin the Painter, a residential painting company in Gloucester, MA, gets jobs from three main sources: online search, word of mouth, and his lawn signs, which he puts in yards as he’s doing a job.
“Most new customers are coming from the lawn signs,” he says. He has five lawn signs ($20/each), and he’s earned a hefty return on that $100 investment.
“There was a woman who jogged by one of my signs,” he recalls. “She hired me for two jobs, then referred me to a friend. That one lawn sign got me many thousands of dollars’ worth of work.”
To make sure your sign does its job, Martin recommends simplicity. “I’ve seen signs with 10,000 things that no one can read. Or they’re written in cursive, which no one can read,” he says.
Make sure your name and contact information are visible and legible. “Even if they’re driving by, people should be able to read your name and look you up when they get home,” he adds.
For Doug Imhoff, owner of Imhoff Painting Company, Facebook helps him reach residential painting customers in Denver, as well as industry pros.
“I think of it as brand support,” he says. “Part of the reason I’m posting on Facebook is because that’s where a lot of people are.”
He’s still experimenting with content. He uses his business page to post photos of projects, how-to and testimonial videos, as well as project walk-through videos, meet-the-employee posts, and general information to help connect with customers and potential customers.
How-tos get good traction, he says. Also popular? Posts about mistakes they’ve made and how they’ve gone about fixing the problem.
Imhoff says Facebook is a long game—cultivating interest and a community—not about filling up his calendar for next week.
“You never know when someone is going to see something and pass it on or refer someone.”
One last tip? Stay above the fray, he says. “I focus on inspiration, education, maybe something funny—nothing below the belt.”