Small Business Marketing – Building A Brand
You might be the best contractor in the world, with outstanding services, yet none of that amounts to a hill of beans if people don’t know about you. You see “word of mouth” only goes so far. You’re probably rolling your eyes and saying, “Who has the time to do marketing”?! Well, I’m guessing your successful competitors do! In this video, I’m going to lay out an easy to follow guide to build an effective brand marketing plan that will help you get your name out there, bring in new work, and set you apart from your competition.
1. Build Your Brand
Regardless of who you are, your age, position, or the business you happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding.
Why do people pay $4 for a cup of coffee when they could just as easily buy a similar product for $1.50? The answer my friend is branding…the power of a brand.
A great brand is not about touting features and benefits. It’s about the connection on an emotional level. It’s about loyalty that defies logic. Your goal is to differentiate yourself from the competition by identifying and articulating not only competency but value and values.
Brand Marketing For Small Business
So, what does that mean? How do you build that type of brand? Let’s use what I call the 3D approach to flush this out:
- Define what you do
- Determine how what you do sets you apart from your competition
- Maintain discipline with your consistent message
As you think about the first two, you need to think about who your target audience is, what will engage them, and keep them coming back. Ask yourself these questions:
- What does my business stand for?
- What am I really good at?
- What solutions do I offer that matter?
Have patience with these: draft a few answers, and workshop them with friends — especially those who give you direct, honest, unvarnished feedback. You need that at this stage. Be ruthless, and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Once you have #1 and #2 down, it’s time for your message. The concept of my “consistent message” came from Henry Ford, It speaks volumes about competency, craftsmanship, and reeks of integrity. It says, simply: “Quality is doing things right when no one is looking.”
So simple and memorable. If you can do this, be in touch — I want to be in business with you!
Once you’ve taken steps 1-3, you’ve defined your core brand and it’s time to build it! Remember to be authentic and use your brand message in everything that you do. I’ve gone so far as to put my message on a sign attached to my tool trailer door. It’s a great conversational starter with folks.
2. Make a Professional Website
If you don’t already have a professional website, now is the time to create one. I’ll be honest, my website is 15 years old and outdated. My blog ConcordCarpenter is so popular that I never had to make one. But I should.
Your website should provide answers to the most common questions: who you are, what you do, and what value you offer.
A professional website spreads brand awareness and shows up in internet searches. When people in my town search for a carpenter the search term often looks like “Carpenter, Concord, MA.” Guess who’s website shows up top? Mine: Concord Carpenter.
Lastly, post photos of your work and ask clients for testimonials on your website. The best messenger for your brand is not you – it’s your clients. It might feel awkward at first, but once you start asking, you’ll find how easy and powerful it truly is.
3. Create A Blog
Blogging is a great way to show people what you do, who you are, and create engagement. Creating a blog on your professional website can help drive traffic and new clients your way.
The key to a successful blog is regular, quality content. That takes time, discipline, and creativity, but pays dividends. A blog can be about your projects, industry advice [like this video] industry news, or anything relevant to your line of work.
4. Contribute Content to Other Sites
I know — this might make you pause. You’re already strapped for time, and here I am telling you to contribute to someone else’s site. But remember, as the Beatles said, “The love you get is equal to the love you give.”
Ok, the business might not be love but you are looking for an emotional connection to your work! Look for other publications, websites, or blogs that share your target audience and pitch relevant topics that you can write about. This is brand marketing 101 and will drive traffic back to your website, increase your business visibility, and get you the street credibility you looking for. This is how many influencers become thought leaders in their industry.
Give back to your community by volunteering your services where they are needed. It’s a great way to meet people, it feels good, and it often comes with media coverage. It’s also something you can write about in your blog. Remember people who volunteer are typically good people – potential clients want a nice person working for them.
6. Use Social Networks
Maintaining a social media presence is a great way to connect with current and prospective clients. Create a company LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram page. Post relevant industry updates and link back to your blog posts. Take progress pictures of your jobs and post several times a week.
Just remember: it is called “social media” not “me media.” The difference here is important: be social, in the ways by commenting and responding and complimenting, just as you would in real life. You might be typing on a phone, but you’re interacting with people — treat them as you would any client or friend.
If you comment on other social channels, make sure your comments are meaningful and insightful in order to build your reputation and establish yourself as a thought leader.
7. Ask for Referrals
When clients hear about your business from people they trust, it lends credibility to your skills.
One thing to consider is who’s doing your referring? I’m the first to say that my existing clients are a great source of referrals when they refer us. But the reality is that existing clients don’t think of us every day! As a result, they are not my best chance for a referral.
My best referral sources are the businesses that sell to the same target customer. Non-competing businesses — like your sub-contractors: electrician, plumber, painter, decorators, architects, or my lumberyard salespeople — are my best chance for continual referrals.
I get more jobs from referrals from one guy at the lumberyard because I asked him for referrals. Have you asked anyone for referrals yet? Take the time to consider who might be willing to help, how you might ask, and how you might help them in return.
8. Add Videos To Your Content
A video shows people a more authentic sense of who you are. There are many different ways you can use video in marketing efforts. Post videos on your blog or create a YouTube channel where you offer advice, answer frequently asked questions, or do how-to videos or tips.
Creating a video does not have to be expensive: I use a simple video camera, shotgun microphone, and iMovie on my Mac to do all my videos. Videos can be a great way to personalize your brand and show your personality.
9. Email Folks
Email marketing can help maintain and advance relationships with your current and prospective clients. Create a form on your website where visitors can sign up to receive emails from you and then utilize an email service such as Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp to easily write, track, and send emails to a list of contacts. This is a great way to share your blog content and remind people that you’re out there.
Consider posting monthly or quarterly and give your contacts the ability to opt-in or out at any time. My newsletter is called On-The-Level and published once a month with recaps of things we do on the website and video channel.
Also, don’t forget to reach out to your past 10-20 clients and keep in touch, maybe remind them that your booking for interior winter work. You can even ask them for a referral!
10. Use Old-School Methods
Old-school networking methods still work, such as:
- Jobsite Signs
- Business Cards
- Smile and Wave marketing
Smile and wave brand marketing is simple. Be friendly to everyone. That lady walking the dog by your site, say good morning and chat her up. I’ll bet dollars to donuts she’ll want to know what you’re doing. Tell her [while petting the dog] and make sure you sprinkle in how good you are, your best practices, and problem-solving abilities. My son calls this my 90-second elevator pitch.
Place a nice looking job sign at the job site, people call me all the time based on a job sign. Make sure your website is on the sign, and make sure it looks good.
Would you install a rusty gutter? No? Well then don’t leave a rusty job sign outside of someone’s house.
These principles certainly have been helpful to me, and I hope that they are helpful to you.
In my mind, a strong brand marketing plan will ensure you reach potential clients, keep them engaged, and build lasting relationships.
Remember the goal of your marketing plan is to generate leads. This can take some time but you need to be disciplined, pro-active, and put yourself out there.
The phone will not ring on its own. You have to make it ring at first — and then, if you follow these steps, it just might keep ringing.
Stay well and good luck. ~ ROB