General contractors are always in high demand whether they specialize in carpentry, plumbing, home and commercial renovation work, roofing, or are electrical contractors. There’s also a lot of competition among contractors to win customers.

According to the Canadian Construction Association, residential and commercial construction employs more than 1.4 million professional contractors and generates approximately $141 billion annually. Furthermore, Statistics Canada’s data on specialty trade contractors shows that 94,358 are small businesses, with 61% considered micro-businesses (employing less than five employees). Small businesses account for 38.4% of specialty trade contractors, and medium-sized companies account for 0.8%. Meanwhile, more than 116,000 are self-employed, independent contractors with no permanent employees.

A general contractor

The majority of these contractors work in the residential renovation and maintenance segment. What is the best way for contractors to market their services considering the competition? There is no single answer, but there are many worthwhile ideas to consider that are low-cost and may suit your small business.

Digital marketing for contractors is essential to make your general contracting business stand out from the competition. Here are eight ways to do that:

1. Know Who Your Customers Are

Who’s your target audience? You need to know who your customers are, what services they’re looking for from a general contractor, and what your unique value proposition is that helps them achieve their goals. Without these details, crafting useful marketing strategies for contractors or any profession is unlikely. Knowing your customers means interacting with them frequently, whether in-person, over the phone, in a video call, or utilizing social media networks to spark conversations (more on that below).

You’re in a competitive industry, so what’s your niche? Suppose you do residential renovation work. What services do your competitors in your region provide? You could stand out by specializing in kitchen remodelling or interior and exterior electrical wiring and installations.

2. Create a Google Business Profile

How and where do you search if you’re looking for something on your mobile phone or laptop? Chances are it’s on Google (Google dominates the search engine market with 92% market share). That’s why you should create a Google Business profile as part of your online marketing channels. For instance, whenever someone searches locally for a ‘general contractor’, Google serves up what it calls a local SEO (search engine optimization) three-pack: a listing of three general contractor businesses closest to the physical location when you’re searching.

Those listings show the name, address, location, and average customer rating of those businesses. Google shows what it thinks are the three most relevant results for your search term. By clicking on a listing, the searcher is given more information on that business, and it’ll list other similar businesses nearby. Be sure to complete your entire Google Business profile and don’t leave out any specifics. Include your physical address, contact and website information, and hours of operation. Also, ask your existing and former customers to publish a positive review of you and your services on your Google Business profile, as it will help you rise to the top of the list and drive more clicks to your website.

3. Have a User-Friendly Website

Speaking of websites, if you don’t have one, get one. If you’re engaging in digital marketing for contractors, you’ve got to send all that web traffic somewhere, and it ought to be to your small business website. If you want potential customers to trust your business is legitimate, a professional-looking website can help achieve that.

Your website serves as your 24/7 customer service tool. It outlines what you do and how you help people achieve their renovation or maintenance and repair goals. It enables you to establish your contracting business brand, differentiates you from the competition, and grow your customer base by gathering email contacts, providing quotes for your services, and securing new projects.

4. Get Active on Social Media

Using social media networks to promote your contracting business is another critical avenue to explore. As of early 2022, it’s estimated there are more than 31 million Canadians who are active on at least one social network, making Canada one of the most connected online populations in the world.

You don’t have to be on every network, but you do need a presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, at least. There are others, such as LinkedIn, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Deciding which ones to use depends on where your audience resides, what products and services you provide, and how much time you can commit to managing it all. If you’re a party of one, limit how many channels you use. Look at a few of your competitors to see which channels they use and how they’re using them to make an informed decision.

Use social channels by posting content consistently and regularly, including videos and images of the work you and your team do. For instance, you could show before and after images of the projects you’ve done to showcase your excellent work.

Also, get involved in discussions with customers and industry partners, share their news and perspectives, and they’re likely to return the favour. Ultimately, social media helps your content and messaging travel farther. Of course, there’s a little experimentation and trial-and-error involved, but each social network provides analytics tools that let you see which of your posts resonate the most with followers and non-followers alike.

5. Take Advantage of Search Engine Optimization

We mentioned the value of establishing a Google Business profile, a website, and social tools to engage with your target audience. However, to make sure people can find you online easily, you need to employ SEO tactics. So what the heck is that? SEO, or search engine optimization, is a method to grow your organic internet traffic (in other words, not paying for digital advertising, for example) through content, images, and the design of your website. According to Search Engine Journal, “SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to both understand and reach customers in key moments that matter.”

Using specific search terms in your site and social media content (like ‘home renovation contractor’) raises your visibility. It helps your website rank as high as possible on Google and other search engines like Bing. The higher your ranking, the more likely people will see your online presence and click through to your website to learn more.

6. Use Traditional Advertising Methods

Yes, we live in a world dominated by the internet, but that doesn’t mean the tried-and-true advertising methods of old should be ignored. If you’re able to manage your cash flow effectively and have the budget available, don’t discount the value of traditional advertising, including direct mail, newspaper ads, and billboards. Think about your target customers and carefully weigh whether traditional advertising is worth the investment in the areas you serve.

7. Nurture Your Customers Using Email Marketing

Email marketing is valuable to maintain relationships with former customers and encourage new ones to hire you. It’s an efficient, personal, and affordable way to grow your business, and it isn’t time-consuming. You can use it to promote your services, build trust, drive traffic to your website, and it’s a primary driver of customer retention.

Email enables you to maintain connections with vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors, raise your brand awareness in the regions you serve and generate new customer inquiries. Encourage your customers and prospects to sign up to receive your emails through your website, social media, and whenever you meet with or talk to them.

Be clever with your email subject lines to provoke curiosity to get recipients to open and read your emails and include a call-to-action (CTA), which is an action you want your customers to take, such as getting a quote for a renovation project.

8. Share Your Knowledge

Sharing your knowledge can also drive new customer inquiries. You can do this by establishing a blog on your website, publishing content regularly, and creating how-to videos to post on your site, YouTube, and other social channels.

Sharing your expertise can woo a potential customer to contact you, and through general discussions and guidance on renovations, repairs, and maintenance, you can build trust with your audience. Think about all the do-it-yourselfers out there: by sharing your knowledge freely, they may come to see you as a reliable source of information they turn to when they have a large project they need to complete.

Nail Down Your Contractor Insurance Coverage

Growing your contracting business means protecting it by identifying and managing insurable risks and protecting yourself from lawsuits and litigation. A customized contractor insurance policy can help you do that.

Fill out an online application with Zensurance to get a free quote for your insurance needs. Our friendly, licensed broker team will shop the market for you and advise you on the coverages and limits you need to be protected.

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About the Author: Liam Lahey

Liam is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance. A writer and editor for more than 20 years, he has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Yahoo! Canada Finance, Metroland Media, IT World Canada and others.