I think the more appropriate way to position this piece of content is to say “How to choose the right marketing platform – At the right time for your contracting business”.
Understandably, the answer to this question can be really overwhelming for a lot of people because there’s so many different platforms and no shortage of people trying to sell you on them.
Not only are there a lot of different marketing channels for your business, but every business is different and there are certain marketing channels that are better depending on where your business is in its growth.
So, what I’m going to do is actually put together a whole series of blog posts and videos going over the different channels. There’s a lot to go over and consider for each, so I didn’t want to short change you by just giving you some blanket statements about each of them.
In this post, I’m going to talk about some questions you should consider before even thinking about where to invest your marketing dollars and your time.
At the bottom of the post, I’ll link to the other posts so you can jump to what you’re interested in.
One disclaimer before I begin, I really like to stray away from saying that any given platform is “dead”. When it comes to marketing really anything can work, you just have to do it right. Regardless of whether it’s on print, a billboard, or digital, it can all work. That said, I’m going to focus primarily on the digital options, but I will touch on print options in another post.
If you come across anybody who is telling you that any platform is dead – they’re trying to sell you something.
Anyway, let’s jump into those questions…
Where is my business at? And where am I looking to take it?
For me to just start giving blanket statements on something like SEO, or Google Ads, and make claims that they are or aren’t good for you would be a disservice. It’s a bit more in depth than that.
Every business is different in terms of where they’re at in growth, team size, revenue, profit, etc, so we need to start by looking there.
Also, not everyone has the same goals, so the channels that you invest your time and money into will also be determined by where you’re looking to go.
Here are some key things to think about when considering where to put your marketing dollars
- What are my growth goals?
- What are my expectations for how quickly I will reach my goals?
- Where is my revenue at, and what can I realistically invest into marketing?
- Where is my team at now, and do I have the systems, processes, and people to scale?
What are my growth goals?
Depending on what your goals are, will determine how much you need to do in terms of marketing your business.
If you’re looking to just keep it a simple operation and have maybe just one or two crews who handle work for you, then you don’t need to be spending money on a million different platforms. In cases like this, just having your business set up on Yelp, a well optimized Google My Business listing, and a website can be enough to get you the lead volume you need.
In this case, you can have the essentials set up, and pretty much be good. You can get a solid flow of leads from people searching on Google and Yelp. Depending on the market, you could even sustain yourself on a GMB listing alone. I wouldn’t recommend relying on one thing to prop up your whole business, but it can be done.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to really build a bigger business, then keeping things limited to those platforms won’t be enough. You’ll have to start looking into SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc. This is especially true if you’re in a competitive market.
What are my expectations for how quickly I will reach my goals?
On top of that, I would add – How quickly do I expect my marketing to work for me?
Every platform is a bit different when it comes to answering those questions, but there’s one key mindset point to cover first…
If your expectation is for your marketing to work IMMEDIATELY, then you’ll ALWAYS be disappointed.
Even the best marketers in the world don’t always hit a home run on their first try.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get results faster, but expecting things to take off right off the bat within the first couple of days, weeks, and in some cases the first month can sometimes be unrealistic. I’ll go over the different platforms in other posts, and go over the timeframes that you can expect to start seeing results from them. But in the meantime, here are some ballpark estimates on a few channels so you can get an idea of time frames…
These can start working and producing leads on day one, but they can take longer to convert into business. This is because usually leads that come from Facebook require more follow up and nurturing to get to a close. Usually a solid time frame to start seeing a return (with a good follow up and sales process in place) would be about 1 to 2 months.
Google Ads are one of my favorites when it comes to contracting and home improvement type businesses. The reason being is that the leads that come from Google Ads will have the highest intent compared to just about any platform.
That means that the people who are coming from Google are actively searching for a service provider, and they’re looking to do business with someone. This translates into a higher close rate, but a higher cost per lead.
Typically, a Google Ads campaign can take about 3 months to get profitable, and then as the months go on you’ll be able to continue to lower your cost per lead. You can get leads and jobs coming in month one, but it can take a bit of time to really get a Google Ads campaign cranking out a high ROI.
Google Ads is a platform to be careful with though, because if you don’t know what you’re doing Google Ads can waste a lot of your money.
Websites and SEO
I believe that building a high quality website is essential for just about any business. Just having a Yelp listing and a Google My Business listing is sometimes not enough.
When people are looking to do business with you, they’re going to do their research. This will affect if they end up converting into a new customer, or if they even call you in the first place. Having a great looking, professional, website will improve the number of people who are interested in your services.
So, in that sense, the impact of a website would almost be immediate, but SEO is another story.
SEO can take at least 6 months in most cases to really start turning a profit. It’s definitely a long term strategy, and one that I only recommend for people who have the time and financial runway to invest into it.
It’s more of a complimentary addition to all of your other marketing efforts. The profits that you make from your other advertising, should be invested into a really good website and SEO so that you can have an online asset that works for the long term.
Email and SMS Marketing
Whether you’re just starting, or you’ve been in business for years you should be building your list. I’ll go over why that is in another post, but this one is a requirement.
This is definitely a longer term investment, but once you have a list of leads and existing customers built up, you’ve got an asset that you can tap into whenever you want. Building up your email list definitely takes time, but it’s cost effective and a great way to get more new business, referrals, and reviews in the long term.
While I don’t personally do any print mail for my clients, I do still believe in it. Contrary to what many people believe, print mail is not dead. It can still work if you’re doing it right.
Print can work quickly assuming everything is done properly, and like Facebook Ads you could see some leads coming in within the first month or two of sending out mailers. One very important point here though – You need to make sure you’re tracking your metrics if you’re running print ads.
Leverage tools like Call Tracking Metrics or CallRail. Both of these platforms will allow you to generate call tracking numbers that will log and record the phone calls that come in. This way, you’ll be able to know if your print mail is actually working for you.
If you’re working with a specialist in your industry, then there’s a good chance that they’ll have tested and proven campaigns to work with. In these cases the results can come faster, but still don’t expect overnight success.
This also ties into my next point about budget.
Where is my revenue at, and what can I realistically invest into marketing?
This goes hand in hand with the point above about expectations.
The obvious part of this is to think about what your total budget is, and what you’re willing to invest per month and per year for your marketing.
Depending on where your overall budget is will determine where to allocate your money and time.
I want to highlight a part of that above statement though – Per year.
In general, with any kind of marketing, you need to have a runway to get campaigns working for you. Instead of thinking in terms of one or two months, think more long term. I’m not saying that things will take years to get working, but for the most part any marketing channel needs some runway to actually deliver results for you.
I’ll cover that expected time to results for different marketing channels in just a bit.
That said, you can get things working quickly, but far too often I see people who dip their toes into a marketing channel for one month only to stop doing it and claim that “it doesn’t work”. There’s a very good chance that it does work, but it just wasn’t given enough time.
Make sure you’re in a position where you can comfortably invest in different channels to find what works for you. If you’re cash strapped, and you can’t really lay out a budget for the longer term, then there are some other options you can look into that I’ll cover.
For example, with Google Ads, a good timeframe to look at to get a campaign (even a tested and proven campaign) profitable is about 3 months. From that point on, you can continue to lower your cost per lead month over month until it stabilizes at a good point that’s profitable for you.
The reason for this is because, in order to get any marketing or advertising to work consistently for your business, you need to have data. The only way to figure out what works and what doesn’t on your Google Ads account (or really any marketing for that matter) is to get data back by investing money, and then making adjustments and improvements based on that data.
Week over week, and month over month, you’re able to make adjustments and improvements to the campaign. This compounds over time to the point where the campaign is sending consistent leads your way at a profit.
Unfortunately, some people dip their toe into a marketing channel for one month, don’t see a massive return, and then shut things down.
There’s a big ol’ grain of salt to take here though. All of what I said above is assuming you’re working with a pro that knows what they’re doing.
Unfortunately, there are way too many people out there that will make promises, charge a ton of money, and then literally deliver nothing back to you.
That covered, let’s move onto the last important point that you should consider when you’re looking at investing into marketing…
Where is my team at now, and do I have the systems, processes, and people to scale?
This also ties into what your goals are. If you’ve got bigger goals, you’re going to have to make sure you have the people, systems, and processes in place to reach those goals.
There’s a lot of grey area when it comes to this final question, because not every scenario is exactly the same. Regardless of the business, there are a ton of moving parts between marketing, lead generation, sales processes, fulfillment, etc.
I like to look at businesses like a machine, and if there are any pieces missing from that machine, then it’s just not going to work properly.
For example, if you’re generating a ton of leads from something like Facebook Ads, but you don’t have anybody to handle the follow up and sales for those leads then it’s a wasted effort.
You’re essentially feeding a ton of leads into a system that is already at capacity and won’t be able to maximize them.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a team of people who can handle the follow up, appointment booking, and sales for all of those leads, then sending a large number of Facebook Ads leads would work.
The main thing to consider with this final question is to just look at your business from a top down perspective, and figure out what kind of volume you can realistically handle.
In some cases it could make more sense to just stick with a Google My Business listing and a smaller Google Ads budget so that you can get an extra 10 to 20 calls per month. This would allow you to bring in some more revenue consistently, and then you can bring on additional team members as needed to either handle the lead volume or to complete the jobs.
Again, there’s a lot of grey area with this question, so you’re going to have to take a look at your own business and make the call from there.
The way your machine is currently built will have a big impact on what marketing platforms you choose.
That’s it for this post, and if you’d like to learn more about the individual platforms to see what would be right for you, feel free to follow the links below.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in getting a 100% free audit on your online presence, click the button below.
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My name is Chris Down, or as some call me – “Downey”. I’m a digital marketing pro with multiple years of experience, and help contracting businesses generate more qualified leads and jobs with predictable lead generation systems.