You know that you need to market yourself as a contractor. But many people mistakenly believe that it’s not really possible to track the success of your campaigns. Sure, you may see upticks after running an ad, but can you really tie the two together? The truth is, it can be quite easy to put a dollar amount on the results of your efforts.
Marketing includes research and analysis of your target audience. Advertising, of course, is also a part of marketing. It’s the actual design and placement of ads. A key component of marketing, it falls kind of in the middle of the marketing process. But there’s a lot of work to be done before and after the ad to make it worthwhile.
You may not be spending hundreds of thousands for a prime-time TV spot. But you should still do marketing and you should also know if it’s working. So let’s take a look at how you can measure your profits.
What Numbers You Need To Know
There are three sets of numbers that will help you figure out how much your marketing efforts are worth to your company. Obviously, you need to know how much you spend on your campaign. You also have to track the number of clients the campaign brought in and how much those clients spend.
Let’s use an example here. Say you decide to distribute flyers in a certain area. You want them to look professional, so you hire a college art student to design them. You have 5000 full-color flyers printed. If you hire someone to distribute them, that’s an added cost.
So you pay the student about $150 for the design. You get the flyers printed for a total cost of $1600. And you find a couple young people looking to make a few bucks who can distribute them, and pay them a total of $250. Add those up, and you see that you’ve spent $2000 total on this marketing campaign.
You’ll also need to know how many new clients you’ve brought in through this effort. This can be both simple and complex to figure out. Simple, because it’s a single number. But it’s also complex because you won’t (always) know that it was the campaign brought them in.
The easiest way is to count how many new clients you have from the area where you distributed the flyers. You won’t be sure that they were a result of the campaign, but the odds are pretty good they were.
You could make it a little more precise by saying, “Don’t forget to mention this flyer.” Or ask each new client how they heard about you. You could add a discount code to the advertising – but that, of course, means you have to offer a discount. However, these do give a more exact count of clients that the particular campaign produced.
At this point you can figure out how much it cost you to acquire one client – take your total cost and divide by the number of clients. In our example, you spent $2000. We’ll say you got 10 paying clients as a result. That means you spent 2000 ÷ 10 = $200 per client.
Of course, to really know if your marketing campaign is worth it, you need to know not only how much it cost but also how much it helped you bring in. What’s your profit from the jobs these clients hired you for?
Let’s stick with your current example. Say that Mr. and Mrs. Jones were among your 50 new clients. They hired you to install a $4500 stamped concrete patio.
Your actual cost for labor and materials was $3300. That means your profit was $1200. It cost you $200 to “get” them as a client. So your advertising campaign netted you $1000 from that client.
Of course, not every client is going to have the same project done, so your profits from each will be different. Many projects will be smaller, so the value will be less. Some might net you more.
Wait – There’s More!
As contractors, many jobs are larger and longer-lasting. But there are maintenance packages and other add-ons that you can sell. For instance, in the stamped concrete industry, the surface should be resealed every two to three years. If you work in HVAC, you might do seasonal system maintenance.
There is also the potential for additional major projects. You may be hired now to do a patio, but there’s always the potential for a pool deck or driveway down the road.
Those are all part of the value produced from that initial advertising campaign. It doesn’t end with one project. Hopefully, it will lead to an ongoing business relationship.
There may also be additional costs to retain the client, of course. You might send them a postcard to remind them when it’s time to reseal their driveway. You might invest time and energy in, say, a Facebook page to keep your brand in front of them. You might even gift them a calendar at Christmas just so they remember you’re there.
Ideally, you should track the lifelong value of each client so you know the true value that your marketing campaigns have generated. That will help you make decisions about how and when to advertise and how much to spend on it to meet your goals. By tracking each client individually, you’ll be able to determine an average lifespan that a client stays with your business.
Looking at the long-term value is a bit tougher for contractors since clients don’t typically need our services frequently. It would be easy if we were selling office paper or laundry detergent, products that get used up quickly and need to be replenished.
A Client’s Lifetime
Still, it can help to know how long a client is likely to use your business before moving on. As hard as it is to admit, there’s a point when most customers will decide to try out another business. For the sake of predicting your company’s future, it’s great to be able to know what to expect. Using the information above and developing an estimate of how long a client normally stays with you can give a good idea of the total value of an individual client.
This method, called “Customer Lifetime Value”, is a great way to reflect on what marketing works and how profitable it is. It helps you realize that marketing is an investment rather than an expense.
In some industries, a business may even accept losing money on an initial sale because they expect a lifetime profit. It usually won’t work out that way on major installations. But if you do maintenance plans or other services that are renewed regularly, it can be ok to lose a little money the first time if you know there’s a likelihood you’re going to earn a profit in the long run.
Yes, You Can Track Online Marketing, Too
With more and more marketing done online, it’s become even easier to track all of this. Social media and websites offer tremendous amounts of data that can track exactly what led a customer to get in touch with you.
In fact, the hardest part of this is wading through the huge amounts of data available. But if you use Google Ads, Facebook ads or other online advertising, you can see a wide range of statistics. This could include how many people saw the ad, how many clicked on it, and whether they sent you a message from your website. You can even define goals and see how much it cost to achieve them.
Many business people erroneously believe it’s not possible to track whether marketing works. It’s true that some variables are hard to quantify. But in many cases, you can put a cost on what it takes you to get a new customer. You can also calculate how much profit you make from them. That can include both short-term and long-term results. Tracking this information will help you make better decisions. Eventually, it can help you predict how long your clients will stay with you and what their long-term value is to your company.