The following is a guest post from Darren Slaughter, a construction marketing consultant who works with contractors large and small to sell more, advertise better, and market to buyers. Let’s make Darren feel welcome by posting your comments below! Many thanks!
Traditional advertising platforms such as direct mail and print Yellow Pages are designed to get a specific, trackable response from a specific set of people. Traditional advertising should have a verifiable return for every dollar spent as it provides a message to consumers that creates enough interest to get them to respond to your specific call to action; phone, website, email or coming into your showroom.
Television and radio do the same thing; invite potential clients to reach out to you the contractor, but these two platforms are used more to build brand than anything else. And many contractors who use radio and television are fine with that since they know the value of an impression. And since many of the best contractors I know don’t consider themselves great salespeople, impression-based marketing helps them soft-sell prospects. You see, they know their trade, but after that, they need bringing in the business, which is why so many spend a ton on advertising.
How to use social media to your advantage
Social media marketing should be used to complement your traditional marketing. Include your Twitter and Facebook addresses in all of your print media and make sure to promote them both on your website. You could also include one or both on your business card. If you have a YouTube page (and by now you should), make sure you promote that as well.
But is there an ROI on social media?
Social media doesn’t really offer you a solid method of tracking results like you have with other advertising platforms. Most social media marketing isn’t aimed at a specific person with a goal of soliciting a specific response.
Instead, social media marketing is about getting involved in communities where people from all walks of life are interested in your product or service. While some may be ready to buy, many more are still in the information gathering stage, and providing them with the information they need to make better decisions is what your role as a social media influencer is all about.
Once you satisfy someone’s thirst for knowledge, one of two things can happen. They either become clients of yours or they become influencers on your behalf over others. In other words, someone living in Philadelphia CAN have a direct impact on your painting business in Boston simply by what they say about you inside THEIR social media circles.
Social media is the softer side of selling
Social media marketing is brand building with benefits. While it isn’t as trackable as an Adwords click or a tracking number in your YP ads, social media promotes the softer side of selling many contractors favor because it gives them the chance to talk about the work and not so much about themselves.
But don’t come off like a salesman
Realize that any social media marketing that blatantly pushes an agenda will almost always fail. The best advice I can give you is this; operate inside social media circles as if you were at a cocktail party; ask questions, answer questions, and just have conversations that flow naturally. These will be your best opportunities to influence others.
The final analysis
In the end, social media marketing is about pitching in and helping the community. Obviously the community I am talking about is online and includes a lot more people, but it’s the same thing as if you were participating in a local car wash to raise money for the local youth athletic association. The only difference here is complementing social media marketing with a traditional advertising campaign will provide a one-two punch in developing an overall marketing strategy both online and offline.
So, if you haven’t done it yet get over to twitter and Facebook and get yourself set up right now. And remember this bit of advice when it comes to using social media platforms – don’t do anything online you wouldn’t do at a block party or neighborhood picnic.
My story is pretty simple, I write a marketing blog for contractors that is a plain-English, pull-no-punches tale of what I see working for the clients I work with everyday. What I talk about isn’t theory out of some book, I am living it. I’m in the trenches getting my hands dirty just like you!
The topics I tend to talk about are print and online advertising, website design, social media marketing and sales tips and strategies that I hope will help grow your business. If you want to read more, you can check out my blog at http://DarrenSlaughter.com.