Yesterday, if possible. Otherwise, right now.
Contractors in the early stages of running their own businesses don’t have time to think about frills like marketing plans and branding, do they? Those things may be nice to have someday, but right now we’ve got to get orders to keep the business in business.
Budgeting for brand advertising?
At what point in your business should you start using part of your budget for brand advertising? The day you opened for business is the best choice. But if you haven’t started budgeting for brand advertising, this afternoon’s not to late to start making it happen.
Isn’t branding a luxury?
There’s a common misconception among contractors that branding is something a company really can’t afford until it reaches a certain size. But if you don’t create and maintain your own brand image, the marketplace will do it for you — and you probably won’t be happy with the results. That’s why you have to think about branding as part of every effort to promote your business.
Serves two purposes
Let’s say you use a coupon pack as the center of your lead generation strategy, with a $69 tune-up as the offer. Without a carefully branded message, you’ll get some takers right away. But if the message on your coupon is branded correctly, you’ll also get business down the road. Each time someone sees your brand, they feel better about your business, because it seems to be more well-established and successful.
That sounds nice, but you may wonder why we think it’s so important. Do the homeowners you serve call to schedule furnace failures? Do they plan ahead for leaks in the condenser tubing? Of course not. A problem arises and they need help. So are they going to call you or your competitor? Depends whose name comes to mind first. If they’re on your maintenance plan, you’re probably fine. But if not, why would they call you?
How homeowners decide
Some people still ask their co-workers and neighbors for recommendations. “Hey, you know any good heating companies?” But most go online to see what Google or one of the contractor search services has to say. They enter “furnace repair near me,” and you pop up alongside two competitors. They’ve never used any of you. Thanks to your coupon, they not only recognize your name and your branding, but they have a favorable attitude towards it. You look like a contractor they can trust.
You can never afford to lose sight of the fact you’re in a need-based business. People don’t decide to replace heat pumps for fun. They have a problem that needs to be solved right away. They get three contractor choices and pick the one that makes them feel the most comfortable. And that’s why you need to be sure everything you do consistently and positively carries your brand.
You may have 20 competitors in your market, and you’re not exactly like any of them. Each company has its own personality, approach, community presence, and reputation. All those things factor into how homeowners react to them. Branding formalizes the process by capturing who your company is and what it does best in a familiar, recognizable way. Every time they see your coupon in that mailing envelope, they remember you a bit more. Each time they recognize one of your vans packed in front of a home, you’re more familiar … and must be good if so many people are using your services.
The portion of your budget you invest in branding is what makes them choose you when your company is up against two of your competitors on the homeowner’s phone screen. She’s upset the A/C isn’t keeping up with the heat and she wants it fixed now! Whose name will she click?
You’ve got limits
I know, you’d love to invest tens of thousands of dollars in additional advertising, but you just don’t have it. So you try to do as much with your limited budget as you can, and you end up with two billboards, ten radio commercials a week in local high school games, and a cable TV package you don’t quite understand but that looks like a good deal. Wrong approach.
At this stage, the barrier of entry to using most of those marketing channels effectively is way too high for a business like yours. What you need are leads, like the mailed coupon that’s advertising your offer, from sources that also deliver well-executed branding. Instead of spreading your marketing budget every which way, your goal is to find the single branding vehicle that provides most efficient cost per thousand, and concentrate your efforts there.
It’s been called Poor Man’s Branding. And yes, it flies in the face of the advice you’ve heard about putting all your eggs in a single basket … but this isn’t about eggs. It’s about money, and investing yours in the way that’s been proven to generate more new customers than any other.
If you’d like to know more about Cornerstone, and how we work as your outsourced marketing department to help grow your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can call (317) 804-5640 x108.