By: John Devlin
We’ve all known tradesmen or contractors that have grown their business’s to be the dominant force in their area.
You know the people who managed to get off the tools and into an office.
They managed to scale and employ people to do the dirty work while they holiday and debate about which car to buy next.
We also all know tradespeople and contractors that have never grown at all and are stuck on the same merry go round of scratching for work every day.
Successful businesses learn the best local advertising methods quickly.
The people that learn how to grow a home improvement or home services business successfully do three things very well:
Below I have included a screenshot of one of my Adwords accounts. As you will see £134,000 on just one platform is no small chunk of change.
Now I’ve been at this (and still at it) for over one and half decades.
For more about my story it’s here.
Not all monies were mine; a proportion was provided by businesses I worked with.
You’re probably wondering what local trades advertising gets results and what is a waste of money?
Below I break down over 15 years of experience in marketing for trades businesses.
I will go over each method step by step and show you the best advertising for contractors and home improvement style businesses.
Covering both online and traditional marketing methods, showing you what works, what doesn’t, what will kick start your business and what will kick you in the wallet.
You may be wondering why I am throwing tradespeople in with home service companies and contracting businesses.
I mean a local plumbing business is nothing like a local carpentry firm right?
The answer is because promoting a business doesn’t change depending on the industry.
It varies on what you are trying to achieve.
The one thing that binds all these companies from estate agents through to landscapers is lead generation.
They need the same type of inbound leads, the calls and emails that become appointments and quote requests.
Which, in turn, hopefully, become sales.
Driving local sales leads and calls are all you should focus on.
As you can see if you didn’t already know there is a significant shift towards online advertising for tradesmen.
All businesses need to follow customer trends, and if that’s where the potential customers are, then you need to look at that also.
Now all of these promotional ideas work, there is no question.
Pick an idea, and there will be someone out there selling what you are selling and doing very well with that form of generating leads.
The list below is everything that I have worked.
I have tried to show you that some are better than others.
Some are easier forms, and some are very difficult.
Although with the right skill set, they all can all lay claim to be the best way for tradesmen to advertise locally.
I put this first because, in my opinion, it’s the most important. Learning, understanding, and being able to implement best practise SEO will give you two things:
I learned it, and it became my career.
I am a full-time content marketer utilising advanced SEO skills every day.
The fact your here and reading this is proof of that.
But before search engine optimisation I was a small business owner.
I’ve spent close too if not more than £1,000,000 on home improvement advertising ideas targeting local customers.
I know what customers are looking for and what kind of user experience they want when they start the buying process.
Think about it, if a customer goes online to look at booking holidays.
What do they want?
All at the click of a button.
Well, someone searching for local trades and contractors wants a user experience of their own.
They may not expect prices of a new conservatory built in their garden or locksmith website to tell them the exact cost to get in their front door.
Never the less they subconsciously have a journey that they want to go on.
And they will go through website after website until its provided.
They’re looking for,
Ok here’s the deal:
All your customers when they’re ready to start the buying process,
I’ll say that again, WHEN THEY ARE READY TO BUY
They go online.
It’s an indisputable fact that people searching for local services use Google search results to find what they want.
The consumer trusts them to list reputable companies high on its page for any given search query.
So successful SEO campaigns for tradesmen combined with the website journey discussed above make sure of one thing.
The customers landing on your website first and then stick to your site (and your brand) like glue.
The vast majority of customers finding your local website advertising and you providing the services they require.
That is the perfect online marketing partnership.
I wrote a full guide on how to do SEO for tradesmen here.
Number 2 on the best way to advertise locally is a professional Facebook page.
Every business should have a business Facebook page with no exceptions. Facebook is a phenomenon, and nearly everybody uses it.
Businesses can use it in a multiple of ways, like sharing their recent projects (especially if your service is visual like a landscaper) and pulling in referrals from other friends of the page.
The right of marketing for contractors is one where you spend a lot less than you make.
Besides from Facebook adverts which are next up, the platform is free to the business’s, so that is a good start.
Facebook is fast becoming a search engine like Google in their own right with people highly likely to seek you out for advice, prices and quotes.
Pro-Tip: Keep your friends and family off your business page, there not your customers.
They start by sharing and liking things for you.
The engagement eventually disappears, and you’re left with sometimes half your followers (your audience) that doesn’t interact with the page.
Facebook sees this and assumes what your putting out is not great and slows down your reach to your real customers who might well want to buy your services.
The number three strategy for promoting your business online is Facebook paid ads.
Facebook has an elegant and fancy ads platform, so elaborate and neat in the fact that they make it easy for people to have a little try!
“Boost this post” we have all seen this right!
Because it’s so easy to get started boosting posts and running small adverts to get more likes and shares, then it can appear to be the best place for tradesmen to advertise.
We have to go back to the customer journey to understand this truth.
Customers when making large purchases (anything over £100 usually) are rarely spontaneous buyers.
How many customers do you think see an advert for a local heating engineer and think my boiler is getting old? I am going to ring him now, and it’s not many trust me.
Customers in the home improvements industry plan these purchases.
From buying and selling a house, to a new roof right down to blinds in the back bedroom is thought of and considered way before the lead goes in.
So how do we use Facebook for this?
Facebook ads for tradesmen in my experience should be used to build the brand and awareness of your company and services.
Show the quality of your firm, the skills you have and the work you produce.
That, in turn, triggers your name when that buying conversation starts.
Think about it, you have posted 30 great landscaping jobs, and that customer has been keeping an eye on your page.
Who do you think will get the call when they’re ready for a new patio?
Use paid Facebook to get your incredible content like case studies and testimonials (video works well) in front of local homeowners.
You can start small to learn then really go for it.
This case study explain how I got 297 conversations started in Messenger with potential customers for a landscaping company resulting in £70k worth of new work.
Facebook Ads for Tradesmen case study – check it out
To set up a proper Facebook campaign for tradespeople requires knowledge of the platform
Facebook ads can be extremely difficult for newbies.
But if you continue to boost posts with the correct targeting implemented you WILL NOT get the same bang for your buck.
Google ads for tradies is PPC (Pay per click) and is a tremendous yet super tricky tool to use.
How you use it and with what level of skill you use it will ultimately define how much you will make or lose with it.
For starters, it’s super powerful because like SEO above, it catches people at the right point of their buying journey.
No messing about, if a customer has typed Locksmith London and triggered one of your ads then it’s highly likely (depending on your website usability) you may well get a call.
But it is only ever an auction, not like an auction you may be used to either!
Trader one bids £5.00 for a click on Plumber in Liverpool.
Trader two bids £3.50 for the same click
Trader 1 wins, right?
Wrong or maybe right!
It depends is the correct answer.
And so on and so on. It’s entirely possible that another advertiser bidding £2.00 will swoop and beat both, and pay less!
Like SEO to advertise locally on Google, it’s all about optimising and guidelines.
If your ads and landing pages are the most optimised and relevant, then you will be getting a lot more for a lot less.
Expert PPC management for tradespeople should be able to cover their costs within the saving they make you.
When planning the best advertising for home improvement and construction companies, PPC adverts should be used at some point.
Improve your website first. Don’t scale up until your fully optimised,
A little money wasted at the start can soon become a hell of a lot further down the line.
Most contractors waste a fortune of PPC advertising to the point where they believe it doesn’t work.
I was taught years ago when I hired a specialist with a fantastic track record to work in one of my business’s.
She proved to me that this is the best way to advertise a small construction business when starting online.
I was able to watch the changes she made to my AdWords campaign virtually in real-time.
I was nearly sick with the complexity of the whole set up.
But I was watching a master at her trade in real-time so no wonder I was feeling nervous.
Eventually, I hired her to teach me.
Slowly! Very Slowly!
I don’t use twitter or twitter marketing all that much, so I am going to pass this one over.
I never indeed bought into this platform for advertising a local tradesmen style business.
Firstly 280 characters in a tweet, why would I restrict myself to this when I can write the message freely to whatever length is suitable for a note on other platforms.
I was taught early in my marketing career that not all social media platforms suit all businesses
This fact has always stood me in good stead.
Here’s what social media for tradesmen I’d recommend.
I do not doubt that there will be people who read this and challenge my thoughts on this with tangible evidence that they have made a success of lead generation using twitter for this market.
I never said it couldn’t work.
I believe there are better places to advertise for free locally and paid options to spend your money if you’re a local home services professionals.
There’s nothing in that piece that makes me want to go out a spend money with Twitter for this niche.
Other industries I have no doubt it could be explosive, but not for me.
Yell is another place you can spend money.
Now, this is something where I certainly have experience.
When I first started as a sales manager for my father’s home improvement company (read more about me here)
I got heavily involved in Yell sponsored listings.
Yell sponsored listings will get you calls and leads.
You only have to speak to the rep that manages your account to get a whole reel of how many calls and leads you have had.
So it works?
Well, that depends on how you measure “works.”
For what you get which is a place in the top 3 – 4 (depending on how much you spend)
On a page for one service in 1 area
The worst part is,
The page also contains every competitor that you have I didn’t feel like that was an avenue that set my business apart.
Did my business get an edge over the other companies on the page?
It did possibly being higher up, maybe.
Was it enough of an edge to stop people ringing half the people on the page for a quote?
Did It provide the correct ROI and scalable solution to grow my business?
Email marketing is an exceptional tool for local business and used right can bring an excellent ROI.
I hear a but!
Yeah, for email marketing to succeed, you need to build a list, and you need to do it legitimately.
You can’t just go scrapping emails and blasting out offers.
Not unless you want your company email blocked or banned.
Using some of the excellent tradesman marketing and advertising tips included here to get traffic to your website from there, you can capture emails.
Once you have a list (try to start with at least 200+) you can promote your business, services and offers virtually for free
Please don’t overdo it with the selling or you will end up with a bunch of unsubscribers.
Tradesman review websites are my pet hate!
Pay to play subscription websites.
I wouldn’t buy into a checked or approved type tradesmen site.
Why would I?
Much like YELL, they have superior SEO skills than the average plumber or roofer.
So they can drag a considerable share of organic traffic to their sites and sell you a spot on a page.
Now I know people personally and have worked with clients that have said they have done OK with this type of service, and of course, this will be true.
Their business model is not flawed; they get traffic and customers pay a membership to access calls and emails.
Good business for them, and they certainly do a lot of good for companies that need help with lead gen.
If you want to know the best tradesman website to use than it’s here.
But i just can’t get past the fact you will always be paying.
I know and can prove that local contractors and tradespeople can bypass that all together.
They are capable of landing potential customers on their site.
Would I use them if I was you? 100% I would but only to get started.
I’d always be looking to gain knowledge of how to advertise and generate leads myself and use my company assets like a website or Facebook page to build my company.
Local directories are all good for local businesses. I don’t have a bad word to say about them, just a quick word about vetting.
Check out they are local and about your town or city.
You don’t want to register with loads of national directories that are low-quality sites built to capture information and sell it on.
If it’s local and talks local, then it will have local intent and visitors so get yourself listed.
It won’t flood your business with leads, but it is a small yet reliable free tradesmen advertising technique that can certainly attract the odd new customer here and there.
Being seen on the best local directory sites can also improve your local SEO efforts.
Being seen is good for business.
I loved this avenue, customers walking up to you asking for a free quote or a price, as a marketer this is the stuff of dreams!
But it has to be a good deal for both parties.
The cost I was quoted was, wait for it £1200 a day!
It hard for local trade companies to get past the prices.
So this is what I did:
I offered my services at a ridiculously low rate to get a foot in the door and build a relationship.
When a bigger job came on the radar for us, I traded our services and products for 14 days in store!
The job had a value of around 4k to me, but they were happy to trade advertising spots that they probably weren’t using anyhow.
Signs by the side of roads are a powerful promotion technique.
Road signage is a goldmine when it comes to advertising trades.
This one is short and sweet.
If you can find an excellent roadside spot, for example, a farmers field with heavy traffic then go for it.
Negotiate hard as the spot has limited value to the owner.
But do it, it has immense value to your company locally.
It will provide, awareness to the brand should comfortably give you a good ROI.
“The #1 Landscaper in Leeds – Call Today For A Free Quote”
While you chew over that question, I will tell you where the real value is:
The calls from the sponsored listing or membership site will have phoned 3-4 people minimum.
The call from the billboard will only phone your business.
Later they may call others, but you will get the first bite.
And lead quality is a right to point to remember when looking into contractor advertising ideas.
Don’t look for signs or boards, look for spots on private land and find the owner.
Usually, the owner doesn’t want any hassle so tell them you will do all the heavy lifting including erection and maintenance and you will pay by direct debit.
A fair few will go for it at very reasonable prices monthly or annually.
Another great way to grow a business is the leaflet distribution method.
Now I am a big fan of leaflets.
Door to door leaflet distribution for your services will produce ROI for some businesses but not all.
Luxury products work well
Like conservatories, landscaping, blinds, kitchen and bedroom companies etc.
All services that the customer will be planning and looking forward too.
It works so well because the customers know this project is on the radar maybe next month, six months or next year and they KEEP the leaflet.
I’ve had tons of calls from leaflets delivered the day before, and pamphlets produced 3 years ago.
Where they work less is for a grudge purchase.
For example, an electrician, central heating, roofing etc.
A purchase that the customer never expected or wanted to make.
When the leaflet lands if everything is working fine the flyer is thrown in the bin.
And that makes it hard to get a good ROI on leaflet distribution.
Flyers work best if you have multiple products or services.
If you’re a multi-service business and can list out 10-12 services, then this will work well.
Then you have increased your opportunity of catching an interested party massively.
Leaflets will be perfect for your business in this scenario regardless of whether it is a luxury purchase or a grudge purchase.
Remember branding and first impressions count, get the best possible leaflet design you can afford, you won’t regret it.
Solo drops (just your leaflet) are too expensive so agree that the maximum number of flyers yours will go out with is five or less on a shared drop.
And DO YOUR CHECKS
If they are a reputable company, they will provide tracking and data as to where the leaflets have gone.
Go and ask the homeowners the question.
Did you get my leaflet, and how many were with it?
The homeowners will let you know if the distribution company has you over.
The most powerful of all, and always will be.
What your customers think and say about your business should be an ultimate priority at all times.
If you get a recommend through people talking about you, then it is the best type of lead your business can get bar none.
Unfortunately, it’s a slow process to scale or grow your business.
Having people speak well and recommend your business is what every owner should strive to achieve.
But in the same breath, you shouldn’t be waiting around for recommendations to grow your business.
Be proactive and market your business correctly, and appraisals of your business will grow naturally also.
We shared all the points above to show that I do have a long term experience of this market and where to advertise if you’re a tradesperson.
If you’ve read these 5,000 words, then you are serious about marketing your business correctly.
For all, I consider myself a search engine optimization specialist and a content marketer; I would never advise you to dismiss other options.
The truth is the vast majority of successful businesses small and large have multiple channels of advertising.
They test and test some more and dismiss the platforms that make the least ROI.
They go “all in” on the ones that do.
That’s advertising folks.
Hopefully, this article will help you short cut some of the avenues and save you some money testing the marketing methods I have already tested extensively for the home services market.