How to Reach Your Prospective Clients
If you’re old enough, you may remember ads for Maytag appliances. The brand is so reliable, according to the commercial, that the Maytag repairman was the “lonely man in town”, stuck in his office all day bored out of his mind. It was a great ad for the product – but as a contractor, you don’t want to be in the same position as the Maytag man was. You can’t make money that way! You need to be getting clients so you can be out in the field doing jobs. So how do you set out and get started?
Identifying Your Target Clients
There’s more to making a sale than just developing a quality product or offering a great service. And the “more” basically comes down to “who is it for?” Knowing the type of person that is interested in and can afford what you’re offering is essential. From there, you can reach out to them and try to make your sale.
Basically, this is a study in demographics, the science that looks at groups of people based on a variety of factors that may include location, job, age, income, and many others.
For instance, as stamped concrete contractors we know we’re looking for homeowners and for businesses. Renters usually aren’t interested in our product. When it comes to age, children aren’t our target and neither are people living in retirement communities.
We also know that our prospective clients need certain types of property. For instance, we won’t get very many clients living in row homes in the center of a city. They may love the product, but they have so little space to install it.
In addition to the types of property they own, it’s good if you can know if people in a certain area can generally afford what you’re selling. Sites like Zillow have research freely available to help you look at property values in your city and nearby cities and towns. And Bankrate.com offers a tool to determine how big a mortgage someone can afford; playing with these two can give you an idea of the income levels in different areas. That can tell you about how much the people who own homes are earning. Obviously, you’re more likely to be able to find clients in areas with higher income levels.
Identifying Yourself and Your Product
Besides knowing who your potential clients are, it’s important to know who you are and what your product is. What makes you stand out from the competition?
We recognize the difference, for instance, between Walmart and Sax Fifth Avenue. Both have their place in the market and that place is pretty well-defined. And the companies both clearly know where they fit in the grand scheme of things. They make no pretense of being something they aren’t.
In the same way, it’s important as a contractor – in stamped concrete or any other field – to know and capitalize on what you can offer. It could be value, but generally, it’s better to use quality or some special service you offer. At Patterned Concrete, for instance, our history as pioneers in the industry and our own trademarked stamps are just two of the ways we stand out.
As your company matures, you can become more aware of your company’s identity. Use it to your advantage. Show what makes you special and make that a selling point.
If you’re just like everyone else, then why would anyone fire you? Find what makes you stand out. Make that your selling point.
Stand Behind Your Service
Every client is going to approach you with some apprehension. Not just you – it’s universal. They’re going to want to be sure that they will get everything they hope for. They want their purchase to live up to the hype.
An important step to create confidence is standing behind your work. First, of course, your client should understand what to expect from the product. For instance, it’s important not to mislead with a statement like “If you get stamped concrete it will hold up forever and never crack.” That’s plain misrepresentation. Let them know the truth that yes, there will be cracks but that you install it to limit any obvious issues. Remind them the surface should be recoated every two years or so.
And then present a reasonable guarantee on your service. Considering the conditions and environment, how long should the work hold up if you did it right? What are the exceptions? What can you offer to repair or replace if something goes wrong?
It should minimize your risk because you already know what to expect from the installation. But it also provides comfort to the client knowing that there are reasonable safeguards in case something goes wrong. And that level of comfort makes them more likely to hire you.
We’ve written elsewhere about how to use social media for advertising as a contractor and how to do marketing in general. There are many options available for both “traditional” methods as well as digital marketing.
Go back and look at your target market that we talked about above. Make sure your advertising campaign is aimed at that market. Choose what media to use based on that information.
See How You’re Doing
Seem like a lot of effort for something you can’t measure? You’re right on the first part; it can take a lot of effort to get it right. But the second part would be wrong – it’s actually quite simple to measure the effectiveness of your advertising.
There are a lot of digital resources – the most basic being keeping track of emails you receive or messages that come through Facebook or other platforms.
But there are even more basic ways as well. All you need to do is add a promotion or coupon to your advertising. Something as simple as “Mention this ad and receive a 10% discount” works great. It tells you exactly what advertising channel is working. If you want to get more specific you can even say “Mention code XYZ123 for your special gift”, and tie the code to specific times or types of ad. That way you’ll know for sure where and when it was seen.
Steps as simple as that can show what’s working and what’s not. Of course, you’ll also know it’s working when business starts picking up, but these simple steps can give you a more accurate portrayal of exactly what is happening.
Specific marketing steps are just part of the process of reaching new clients. Before you even get to that level, you need to know who your clients are and where to find them. And it’s important to know who you are and what’s special about your company and your services. Backing up your product with a guarantee makes prospects more likely to hire you, too. Once you have all that in place, then you can start out to market your services with a clear identity and clear targets!