Posted over 3 years Ago
Is this your story? When everyone else was captivated by the Internet, and wanted to become an IT specialist, you decided that you preferred the real job option. You liked being practical and handy, and settled for a trade. Good choice. Right now, in the middle of an economic crisis, there is a critical shortage of tradesmen in the UK. This means that your skills are so sought after by the UK consumer, that you can even be choosy about your clients.
The reason this might not be happening for you right now, is because you lack the skills to market yourself effectively. The good news about Internet Marketing, is that the winner does not take it all. The scope is so vast, that you can establish and control a dynamic, personalised niche of your own. It's much more equitable, and everyone has a fair chance to play the game well.
Everyone needs a tradesman, and probably often, during the course of their lives. This means that your marketing targets span almost all generations. With the advent of the Internet, some of your potential clients have never-the -less been left off the massive "instant reach" radar, and are lagging behind in traditional mode. This means that your marketing efforts must span both the traditional and the new, virtual platforms.
The demographics of Internet activity show that the older generation are less, or maybe not even, Internet savvy. The elderly just prefer doing the local, hand on, face-to-face thing: chatting with friends and visiting local establishments and clubs. They are more likely to browse the local newspaper as a pastime, or pick up a pamphlet in a bar, than reach for a smart phone. This should be the focus of your local marketing to them.
For them, trust and word of mouth mean everything. A pile of business cards left on the counter of your local shops and clubs (preferably where the owners can put in a good word for you) goes a long way with this generation. They also have more time to sort though the mail selectively. Flier work with them. They need to be brief, concise, to the point: also include one or two testimonials and authentic trust signals, with an explanation of what they mean. Local newspapers can also produce good results, but they lack the relevant trust and adequate information emphasis; for this reason they could be passed over.
Another effective strategy which could be used in a local marketing set up, is to partner with local businesses which offer similar services, and in this way build a referral network. You need to be aware that when you do this, your reputation becomes vulnerable, because you could become associated with the failures of other businesses. You need to be discerning about who you partner with.
The thing about the elderly audience, is that they have time to chat and socialise in the real world. If they like you, they will be generous and enthusiastic about sharing the information with their friends and family, which could also span the Internet generation. This kind of target is not expensive, yet can be very rewarding.
Word of mouth did, and still does, carry a lot of weight.; only now, it has become digitally transformed into online reviews. That's why you need to realise that good reviews are like gold coins in the Internet world. Garnering them, and maintaining them, is paramount for your online success. If someone gives you a good review, offer them a voucher - they're worth that much!
What you should remember about your marketing strategy and emphasis as a tradesman, is the mindset of your potential consumer. You are a particular kind of service for them, because though they find you on the Internet, your service is not virtual. You actually enter into the privacy of their homes. this makes your service very different to buying something on Amazon, or even visiting the local dentist they find on the Internet. You are more, socially speaking, like another neighbour they let into their home and personal space.Think about it, how do you feel about neighbours who knock on your door and offer you something of value, but who you don't know very well? You are grateful, you want to be polite, but you prefer to be reserved. You thank them, but you don't necessarily want your home space to be invaded too often by them. If they call again too often, this is just annoying, and may be even threatening. That's how most people feel about tradesmen.
This is why it is important to understand the concept of branding and etiquette in your service. The trust element has to be very high, and it's something you can't fake either. If you abuse the consumer's personal space, they probably won't use you again. that's why the small, honest local tradesman often does so well. This also explains why slick operations, sharks and smooth talkers don't have long-term success in this game.
What works for people looking for a tradesman, is someone who is reserved, polite, does a good job, offers a good price, ensures a good back up service, and then leaves. Life is too complicated and stressful in the modern world for most busy, working people to accommodate anything else.They value their privacy, and want you to respect that.
This is why, before talking about visibility, you need to understand the concept of branding. No matter how good your marketing reach is, and how many clients you attract into your funnel; if your branding isn't authentic and you don't offer a good service, all your hard work could not only be of no use, but could even seriously backfire. Internet marketing can either be a golden goose, or a Pandora's box of trouble.Whichever that is, depends on the service you offer: the reason being because your reputation is no longer passed on from person to person, but virtually and virally.
This can either be pretty scary, or refreshingly exciting. Either way, it's a roller coaster ride, if you've been used to using just traditional methods. Before you say," Wait, this is really not for me"; it is important to understand that a bad review is not the end of the world.There is an area of Internet Marketing called Reputation Management.Basically this deals with how to ward off the blows of the few bad reviews and other Internet flack. This definitely requires professional help. However, loosely speaking, if you get a bad review, don't avoid it: respond immediately, offer an explanation, apology - whichever is appropriate - and offer free additional service and a coupon.Most people will think, "Well, heck, everyone makes mistakes sometimes, don't they?"; and if they are honest, they will appreciate your transparency. As for those perfect people, who never make mistakes - do you want them as long -term clients, anyway?
Think about what makes you stand out from the rest - do you have a particular speciality in your field?
Just focus on your main skills - don't come across as a jack of all trades.
Build and maintain a reputation you can live up to. Be punctual. if you are running late, call. Organise to do the job at a time when it is convenient for your client. Explain what you are going to do, and then offer a good back up service. Leave their home neat and tidy, and check up with them if it is neat and tidy enough for them. If you make a mistake, offer additional services or a voucher with the apology.
Make sure your client knows all the trust associations you belong to, what insurance you have, etc, to inspire confidence in your services. These are just some aspects. You need to do a detailed study of this. This needs to be the basis of your marketing, because it will make or break, your on and off line reputation.
After you have established your brand, you need to get a website. The Internet is in a very mature stage. The consumer is used to being highly entertained. You can't get way with an "iffy" site with bad graphics, and hope people will just take a chance on you anyway. The truth is that you just have a few minutes, or even seconds, to impress them, before they move onto someone else.
However, your website also does not have to be super slick and state-of-the-art either. You need to have an online presence which is at least as good as that of your competitors. That's why the landing page to your site should have a short introductory video, introducing your service. Most of the world does everything on a smart phone now. They have a brief attention span, and want everything at their finger tips right now; for this reason videos are the first choice for smart phone users.You should have your video made professionally, with you speaking, good lighting, and a good, punchy script. If you have a client who is prepared to throw in their testimonial, as well, even better. Make sure your contact details are on the landing page, with a clickable link to make a call. A good video, though very simple, could be your most powerful marketing asset in the smart phone world.
Your website should be clear, easy to navigate, and have both a contact form and a form to provide an online quote. The home page should have a lot of trust signals and marks, with a brief explanation about how this can benefit the client. The home page should also have a few client testimonials.If these are offered by well-known members of the community, even better.
The contact information should be clearly visible on the home page, with a map.
List your services in bullet form on the home page, and link them to content within the site.
Attaching a blog to your site is also important. This way you can focus on your content marketing.
How much will it cost? "It must run into thousands, I just can't afford that", you might be thinking.
This is the great news. Internet Marketing services are very costly, if you use agencies, visual designers, and all those professionals who command high salaries, because they know how to do the Internet stuff. Those people are usually employed by big companies with big marketing budgets. You probably can't afford them, and most likely don't need them.
If you want to start out on a low budget, this is the best piece of news you will have read about today: there is a virtual army, amounting to millions, of freelance workers, of every description, from all over the world, competing to do any job for you, at the best price. sites like Peopleperhour ( based in the UK ), Freelancer, and Upwork can provide you with easy access to millions of freelance experts, with ratings, feedback, and gradings. Post your job, and within hours you will have at least 20 capable freelancers offering you the best price.
Videos can also be very expensive. However, with services like Animoto you can create a very professional video. The editor is easy to use and the support is excellent.
These sites are also good for finding professionals who can create your content marketing materials, videos, e-books and anything else which will engage the public, and help brand you as a useful, friendly tradesman, who likes to help his clients.
Your website is an essential starting point, because with web analytics you can understand exactly how many people are visiting your site, and where the traffic is coming from, as well as the demographic. This way you know where to focus your marketing efforts.
If you combine this with a service like Crazy Egg, you can even tell, in real time, where the visitors are lingering on your site, via heat maps.
You guessed: Google. These are the facts:
Google as the favourite search engine is at 67.5 %
In the US searches with local intent are almost at 50%. It is a matter of time before these stats catch on in the rest of the world.
The bad news is this - everyone wants to be up there, and it's costly. The second piece of bad news is this: there's not a lot of room at the top. For some people, this is an option. But whether it is right for you, or not, is the topic of another article.The good news is this, you don't need a first page listing on Google to establish a dynamic client base, because of the second prize - social media.
How popular is social media? To get an idea of how many people regularly use social media for just about everything: conglomerately it could be considered a virtual country of its own - and not a small one at that. Why people love social media so much, is probably the topic of a complex socio-psycho analysis. For the time being, what is useful for you to know is this: it's viral and it's not private. If you value your privacy, don't post pictures of the kids, or what you had for dinner.
Everyone in the world can see them, if they want to.
What it is very useful for, is business. All of the channels have different advantages. However, the giant I would choose to get new clients, would be Facebook.
The first step with Facebook, is this: you can't do it wrong. One wrong move with Facebook and you could get banned forever. Find out the rules and stick with them.
Building your client base is not as free as it used to be; but paid advertising is very affordable, and can be done incrementally. The power of Facebook ads is that you can send them directly onto a page where your chosen demographic( interests, sex, income, local area, age group - anything) is chatting to their friends Some of their friends are real; others, well, let's say, they're just there for show. The point is, once they become familiar with you, visit your business page and website, try your service and like you, they will chat about you with their real friends on Facebook. This is how your client reach goes viral in a short space of time.
Of course, you will need a website. But the best way to get known, is to associate with "find a tradesman" type of sites. These cost something, usually; but before you garner a reputation, you can piggyback on theirs.
An essential one to belong to, even for veteran tradesmen is: trustmark.org.uk. This is fairly expensive, with an annual fee of £400. the chief benefit is the instant trust you gain in your local community; but there are others.
The "find a tradesman" sites are useful when you are starting out, because you can join to bid for jobs in your local area. Just Google these sites; they're easy to find.Read a couple of reviews about them, visit forums and find out which ones seem to work best.
The Internet is a very big pie. You can't bite into it all at once. These are just a few aspects. Try a few. See what works for you. Don't be in a rush to do it all at once.
The other thing is that this is not a magic bullet. It takes time, know how, and effort to build, and engage, your audience correctly. Mostly, it's all about following the rules of the different platforms.Be diligent about this, if you don't want your access to this unprecedented, and highly profitable, source of marketing suddenly cut off.