When you first decided to go into business yourself—marketing probably wasn’t your biggest “top of mind” priority. And if you’re like most of us—with hundreds of things you jungle in a week—we doubt it’ll ever be your number one concern.
Too often, when we ask for advice on how to market our electrical contracting business, we get bombarded with hyper-technical, overwhelming, time-consuming advice. You hear about the nuances of branding, paid advertising “hacks,” and high-level campaign strategies that take expertise to implement.
But there are still a few, tried-and-true techniques you can rely on to grow your business—without investing hundreds of hours of work, or thousands of dollars in consultant fees.
Here’s an easy-to-follow breakdown of simple marketing tricks for your electrician or electrical contracting business.
1. Keep your target customer close
Who do you like working with? What sort of jobs have been the most profitable for you in the past? Knowing who to market to, and who to network with, is half the business-growth-strategy battle.
If you’re looking for new construction projects—you’ll want to reach out to contractors and architects in your area. Get to know local facility managers. Find out what events these customers attend, and be sure to make an appearance. Even if they don’t have any projects that need any help with right now—they’re people you can learn a lot from. What do they like about the electricians they currently work with? What do they dislike?
If you’re looking to do maintenance or repairs in homes—make sure you connect with homeowners associations. See if you can make an appearance their meetings to share some free advice (and a business card).
Regardless of your target market—be sure to meet with other contractors. Join lead groups, or professional organizations. If you there’s ever a moment where you have too much business—do a fellow contractor a favor. Having a good relationship with your peers can pave the way for future referrals during a less busy period.
2. Keep your existing customers closer.
As any marketer will tell you: it always costs less to retain a customer than to acquire a new customer.
So what happens after you finish a project?
The easy route: “Say thanks, collect a check, throw out a quick ‘call us again if you need us.’
A better route is: “stay on their radar.”
A few ways to do that:
If you’ve done maintenance or repair work—send a quick text or email to check-in on how things are running.
Offer a free yearly “check up” to prior customers. It’s a good way to screen for potential upcoming maintenance work, and to better solidify that relationship.
Send postcards and reminders—in particular around the holidays. Some contractors even send inexpensive, branded promotional materials (think: key-chains, bottle openers, slinkees) as small gifts.
If you’re working primarily with other businesses, offer to come in-office and give a small talk. Your expertise on basic troubleshooting can be a big help to potential customers. And helping potential customers can be a great way to secure new, and continual, business.
3. Own your online presence.
There’s no real way to sugar coat it anymore. If you own a business, it needs to be findable in search. You’ll want a website that puts your best foot forward, and an established presence on review sites and social media.
Your website doesn’t have to be a 12 month, thousands-of-dollar, ordeal. In fact, you can likely set one up yourself. But it should look professional, and include…
The services you offer
Information that boosts your credibility—like customer testimonials, the years you’ve been in business, and any certifications or licenses you’ve acquired.
Your contact info, your location, and the locations in which you work.
Aside from that, having a basic presence on social media is a good idea. No one expects you to send daily tweets—but social media pages tend to rank well in search. If someone searches for your business name, or “electrical contractor in your city”—a social media page might appear before your business website does.
Having a social media presence has a few other distinctive advantages:
It gives your target customers another way to contact you
It allows people to “tag” your business directly, if they’re giving recommendations online (something social media channels are more and more frequently equipped to do)
It acts as another “credibility check”—a way of demonstrating that your business is real, in touch, and responsive.
For most review sites, claiming your business is free. And having your business recognized, and endorsed, in the places where people are actively looking for your services is a marketing no-brainer.
A note of warning: be sure not to incentivize reviews from customers—it’s against the policy of most review websites. Even asking for reviews violates many sites terms of service. Your best bet is to let your reviews happen organically. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.
Other hubs may vary in your area. A great check on what is popular is to look for “electrician in *your area*” and see what websites comes up. Search engines tend to point towards local review sites. You’ll want to make sure you’re on the most popular.
If you want to expand your review presence, you’ve got to be patient. Asking customers is against the rules for a number of review sites. It can also rub customers the wrong way. Rather, be sure you let them know what sites are important to you by featuring those sites on your marketing materials. Images on your van, links in your email signature, and buttons on your website are all great ways. Just make sure you’re not saying things like “please review us” use a phrase like “find us on…” or “check us out on…” instead.
“Hey, I know that guy!” can be the backbone of a lot of our decision-making. And it’s easy to take advantage of the power of recognition.
A few simple ideas:
Make sure your vehicle displays your logo prominently.
Look into sponsoring local events, or local sports teams, for increased brand recognition.
Consider having branding campaigns in regular, inexpensive advertisements in local newspapers or other publications.
6. Be as responsive and adaptive.
It’s an easy trap to fall into: marketing smart, and selling poorly. One of the biggest mistakes busy small business owners make is letting leads slip.
If you have interested customers coming your way through a web form, or social media: schedule routine times to check your inbox, and your social media messages. If they’re calling your phone, or an office phone: answer the phone.
Often times, customers will send a series of inquiries out at one time, looking for quotes. They’ll make their decisions based on who responds the most quickly and the most clearly.
In addition to monitoring and responding to your inquiries–you should take the time to monitor and respond to the marketing channels that are performing the best.
Did you have to get a large number of quotes coming your way from local advertising? Increase your spend. Did most of your customers hear about you from a friend? Consider implementing a referral program. Did that lunch and learn you ran with a local business generate a lot of leads? Maybe it’s time to host another somewhere else.
Ask your customers regularly where they heard about you. Schedule a time once a quarter to evaluate your performance. Small adjustments in how you market can lead to huge improvements in your lead volume.