Build Your Brand
three steps to marketing your business effectively
ne of the biggest challenges facing the renovation industry in Canada is the lack of a common trusted “brand.” Ask a hundred different homeowners in a hundred different neighbourhoods who the most recognizable renovation contractor is and you’ll get a hundred different answers. So, as an individual contractor you’re competing against every other contractor for homeowners’ mindshare. Properly branding and marketing your business will give you a distinct advantage in the marketplace. Building an effective plan to promote your business is a daunting task. Here are three major steps to get you started.
Know your target client Knowing your target client is key to your marketing efforts. Every decision should be made with that client in mind. You can begin to define your target client by deciding what geographical area you would prefer to
By Mike Draper
work in. This could be based on your office or home location, the age of the homes in the area, the type of work that you want to do or the area in which you are best known. Next, you should consider the types of clients that could potentially suit the work that you do. For example, if you love to do basements, then you might be looking for clients who have young kids and unfinished basements – they need the extra space for the kids to play, entertain their friends, watch TV, play video games, setup their larger toys, etc. Another type of basement client might be a couple with aging parents. They need a space that pairs proximity with privacy. Even though you’re finishing the same space – the basement – you would have to develop different marketing efforts to reach these two, distinctly different client groups. It’s critical that when you develop your marketing plan you separate the construction from the client’s need. canadiancontractor.ca
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Target your market To figure out where to target your marketing efforts, ask yourself the following questions: • Where would I find my target client? At the golf club? At the nursing home visiting their parents? Running back and forth from a daycare or school? • When they are not speaking with me, who are they talking to? Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll know where to focus your marketing initiatives for that target client. Think of it like this: If your target client is a family who needs to renovate their basement to make room for their growing family, then you need to be marketing to their lifestyle. Since daycare or school is somewhere they frequent and it is important to their stage of life, participating in school-related events and school fundraisers would be a good use of your marketing resources.
Build your brand The most important thing to understand about branding is that it’s not about getting your target client to choose you over another contractor. It’s about getting him or her to view you as the only one who can provide the renovation of his or her dreams. In order to succeed in branding, you must understand the needs, wants and dreams of the homeowner. People buy from a brand because they trust it. There are many examples where people continue to buy a brand knowing the products they offer are not necessarily the best. In some cases, people buy things that might not even be healthy for them. Why do they buy from them? Because no matter where they buy it, they know exactly what they are getting and they know the company will stand behind their product. Homeowners who want to do a renovation are no different. The main problem in contracting is that there is no national renovation brand. So people ask their friends at dinner parties, look at lawn signs, notice
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names on trucks, etc. How many times have you received a call or had a neighbor drop in while you were working on a home and ask you if you could help them with something? The fact is that the trust they have in their neighbor is now being transferred to you. This is a great example of a passive transfer of trust. However, since it is passive it means that you did nothing to make it happen. Branding plays a very active role in transferring that trust from one homeowner to the other. You do this by marketing your brand at every point of contact with a homeowner and while at a the job site. For example, having branded trucks in the driveway/on the streets and the job site sign prominently displayed on the lawn in full view of all people passing by is critical to building your brand. Far too often a beautiful sign is placed in a great spot on the lawn only to be blocked by a big white van with no branding on it. That’s a waste. Not only is the lawn sign blocked from view during the day when there is a lot of traffic, but the sign is blocked by a vehicle that is not displaying your company name or, even worse, has someone else’s brand on it. The more on-site workers that wear your branded clothing the better. Every time a worker walks onto your job site without a uniform you have missed an opportunity to promote your company. Getting trades to wear your brand might be tough at first. One suggestion might be to make it a mandatory requirement for those working with you. You may even have to provide the shirts, but the exposure you’ll be getting will be well worth it. Plus, it will make your company look far bigger than it might actually be. Your brand resides within the minds of homeowners. It is their experiences and perceptions of your company (some of which you can influence and some you cannot) that build up your brand. So make sure your company is always making a positive impression. cc Mike Draper is a business coach for Renovantage and a frequent contributor to Canadian Contractor. www.renovantage.ca
Canadian Contractor June 2012