Marketing in Place
A digital checklist for developing new clients and retaining past clients.
We are in unprecedented times, facing a global pandemic and a looming economic recession. What does this mean for the future of the construction industry? Sadly, not all contractors will survive this moment. How can your business be one of the ones that does? Let’s look at strategies for marketing during a pandemic, with a focus on digital marketing.
While our job sites may still be shut down or moving at a snail’s pace, our potential clients are also at home, realizing all the constraints of their outdated kitchen, noticing their need for a home office space, or dreaming of a quiet space for their kids to play or do schoolwork. Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels are reporting dramatic increases in time spent on their apps since the stay-at-home orders have been in place, so the potential for your business to reach these customers is also on the rise. How do we reach them with messaging that’s relevant to this moment, without coming across as opportunists?
Start with the basics
Take the time to do an audit of your company’s digital presence. Make sure your website, social media platforms, and business listings are up to date. This may involve adding a note saying your office is closed to the public right now, but people can still reach you by phone or email. It may mean updating your business hours on your Google Business listing. Review the “bio” for each of your company’s profile pages (Instagram, Facebook, Google Business, Twitter, Houzz, and LinkedIn are the ones we see the most frequently), add photos, and check that all your contact information is accurate and complete.
Update your advertising message
Adjust your digital advertising campaigns (most commonly Google and Facebook ads) and the content of your posts. You don’t want to come across as insensitive to the fact that there’s a global crisis underway by sending out the same old stuff. Develop new messages that speak to this moment. This may vary depending on the type of work you do, and whether you’re currently allowed to operate your business. If you’re not actively on job sites, think ahead to when you will be, and how you will change messaging at that point. As a business owner, pandemic or not, you should maintain a social media presence and stay connected to your clients and potential clients. Here are some potential scripts and ideas to populate your social media feed:
- “Does all this time stuck at home have you thinking about the things you would like to change? Need a home office? How about some upgrades to your kitchen? Maybe it’s time to invest in making your outdoor space more enjoyable. We’re here to help. Contact us now to start the design and planning process.”
- “Have some spare time on your hands? This is a great time to get started planning for your next renovation.”
- “We’re protecting the safety of our team and our clients.” Demonstrate safety measures on the job site through photos or videos to show you are a trusted partner who is following safety recommendations and best practices.
- Show how your business is supporting a community response to the pandemic/other local businesses, and being a good neighbor.
- Post homeowner tips or how-to videos highlighting things homeowners can do themselves while stuck at home, like how to clean gutters or change an HRV filter.
Reach out to past clients
If you’re limited in the number of people you can have on a job site, this may be
a great time to do smaller warranty/ handyperson/exterior repairs for past clients with whom you want to maintain a strong relationship. This “filler” work may remind them of larger projects they are interested in starting to plan. Plus, happy past clients can be your best source of referrals for new work.
While you’re reaching out, ask your loyal past customers to write a review of your company on one of your social media pages (most commonly Google, Facebook, Houzz, or even Yelp). If they’re spending more time at home and online, they may be more likely to follow up on this type of request. Let them know this is one small thing they can do to support your company in these challenging times.
Be a source of information
Share timely information that has value to your customer base—but make sure that you’ve vetted the info before you push it out to your social media channels, as you don’t want to be spreading false information in this time of uncertainty. Whatever you share should be in alignment with your brand and your company’s values.
Action shots and “throwback” reminders of past projects are still great content for social media, but be wary of posting pre-COVID progress photos that show your crew without masks and necessary PPE. Many consumers are nervous about having contractors in their homes (for good reason), so part of your brand awareness can be about your attention to safety practices.
Overall, your marketing goal right now may not be driving the normal volume
of leads, but instead building brand awareness and developing your reputation within the industry so that customers think of you first when they are ready to move forward with their next project.
Kate Stephenson, partner at HELM Construction Solutions, is an experienced leader in the fields of green building, professional education, sustainability, and business management. She’s worked with established and emerging businesses and nonprofits to achieve triple bottom line metrics, develop business systems, and plan for a dynamic and resilient future.
Image Credit: Andrew Neel