Advertising For General Contractors

 
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:18 PM   #1
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Advertising For General Contractors


In developing a marketing plan for my biz, I've been reading a lot of posts here regarding the yellow pages, newspaper inserts, websites, lead generation companies, PPC and so on.

In addition, I've been studying the market to see what my competitors are doing, and it's all starting to get a little confusing.

I've already started circulating my biz cards, I have a couple of yard signs up, and I've got magnetic signs on my car and van. (the van is parked in a very strategic location 4-5 days per week). So the initial low cost micro advertising stuff is moving.

Now, it's time to ramp it up, but I need to make sure I'm strategic in how the remaining budget is allocated.

My question is this: If you're a general contractor starting from ground zero and you want to reach kitchen, bath, and basement customers, how would you rank the following advertising vehicles in terms of ROI.

With a 1st year annual budget of $5000.00. Where would you spend it?

1. Website development - SEO expert
2. PPC advertising
3. Newspaper - Feature Ads
4. Newspaper - Classified Section under Services
5. Newspaper - Inserts
6. Direct Mail - Personalized letter
7. Direct Mail - Post Card
8. Yellow Pages - Feature Ad
9. Lead Generation Company
10. Other

Last edited by HomerJ; 02-23-2009 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:23 PM   #2
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Quote:
Originally Posted by HomerJ View Post
In developing a marketing plan for my biz, I've been reading a lot of posts here regarding the yellow pages, newspaper inserts, websites, lead generation companies, PPC and so on.

In addition, I've been studying the market to see what my competitors are doing, and it's all starting to get a little confusing.

I've already started circulating my biz cards, I have a couple of yard signs up, and I've got magnetic signs on both my car and van. (the van is parked in a very strategic location 4-5 days per week) so that low-cost stuff is underway. Now, it's time to ramp it up, but I need to make sure I'm strategic in how the remaing budget is allocated.

So, my question is this: If you're a general contractor starting from ground zero and you want to reach kitchen, bath, and basement customers, how would you rank the following advertising vehicles in terms of ROI.

For argument's sake, let's say I have a quarterly budget of $2500.00. Where would you spend the money?

1. Website development - SEO expert
2. PPC advertising
3. Newspaper - Feature Ads
4. Newspaper - Classified Section under Services
5. Newspaper - Inserts
6. Direct Mail - Personalized letter
7. Direct Mail - Post Card
8. Yellow Pages - Feature Ad
9. Other
I would do the 3 highlighted ones and leave the rest alone

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Old 02-23-2009, 07:24 PM   #3
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


I would start at , SEO marketing as you need back links to your site to increase google level of your site listings index.

A little ppc on targeted keywords in your area that target anyone who looking for your service within a 10 miles radius of your zip code of you.

More, long term traffic will come from, SEO, Articles - Back Links - Directories etc.

Good Luck.
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:08 PM   #4
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Personally I like mailings of any sort the best. All others are great but IMHO nothing is better than a good mailing. I use Postcard Mania as they have all necessary resources in house. It is my philosophy that while quality is important it is quantity that makes the biggest difference.

Good Luck
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:28 PM   #5
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Quote:
Originally Posted by HomerJ View Post
In developing a marketing plan for my biz, I've been reading a lot of posts here regarding the yellow pages, newspaper inserts, websites, lead generation companies, PPC and so on.

In addition, I've been studying the market to see what my competitors are doing, and it's all starting to get a little confusing.

I've already started circulating my biz cards, I have a couple of yard signs up, and I've got magnetic signs on my car and van. (the van is parked in a very strategic location 4-5 days per week). So the initial low cost micro advertising stuff is moving.

Now, it's time to ramp it up, but I need to make sure I'm strategic in how the remaining budget is allocated.

My question is this: If you're a general contractor starting from ground zero and you want to reach kitchen, bath, and basement customers, how would you rank the following advertising vehicles in terms of ROI.

With a 1st year annual budget of $5000.00. Where would you spend it?

1. Website development - SEO expert
2. PPC advertising
3. Newspaper - Feature Ads
4. Newspaper - Classified Section under Services
5. Newspaper - Inserts
6. Direct Mail - Personalized letter
7. Direct Mail - Post Card
8. Yellow Pages - Feature Ad
9. Lead Generation Company
10. Other
1. I still have not seen the hard numbers with a web site. I get about
7 hits per day and get an occasional lead, buy they are always young shoppers who can't make an intelligent decision. Don't bank on getting anything from a web site. Use a web site your customers can use as a reference after you reach them through another advertising media. Don't spend any money to build a web site. They are not that complicated and the effect is over-rated.

2. I think I spent about $6,000 with PPC and never got one lead. Obviously, I had the clicks, but they must have been other contractors clicking me out of my allowance.

3. Newspapers feature ads can generate some leads and we still use them today, but your budget will be gone very quick. Although, it may work.

4. Classifieds can work well and they are the least expensive.

5. Inserts are our favorite and we have been using them for 36 years. We do about 30,000 every week in two different papers.

6. Direct mail is too expensive and you can reach 10 times more people with inserts. Dollar-for-dollar inserts are 10 times more effective because every person is forced to see your ad.

7. Post cards are too expensive. Especially when you consider the size of your ad. You are better off doing about 5 times more inserts for the same price.

8. Yellow pages will get you nothing unless you pay $5,000 per month to have the entire first page, and you better be able wait for the book to come out, and go to court if you can't pay the balance of your contract when you don't get the number of leads your yellow page rep tells you every other contractor is getting. I spent $60,000, in one year for yellow page advertising and got about three leads. Hard to believe?

9. Lead generation. I never tried this, but read a lot of negative posts about contractors being ripped off.

10. Other very effective ways are Home Shows and door-to-door canvassing. I actually hired a door-to-door salesman. Today was his first day and we have a lead set up for tomorrow that looks promising.

If I had only $5,000 I think I would try classifieds, inserts, and door-to-door. We set our advertising budget at 10% of our gross sales and spend about $8,000 to $10,000 per week. So, you can expect to do about $50,000 in business for your entire years, or get fairly aggressive and pound the pavement. With only $5,000 I certainly would not make any advertising contractual commitments and cross my fingers.
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:31 PM   #6
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Quote:
Originally Posted by JBMagi View Post
Personally I like mailings of any sort the best. All others are great but IMHO nothing is better than a good mailing. I use Postcard Mania as they have all necessary resources in house. It is my philosophy that while quality is important it is quantity that makes the biggest difference.

Good Luck
I'm guessing that a post card must cost about 30 cents when you have to pay for the list, management, etc. Post cards advertising campaigns take more time and are more difficult to manage.

We can get an 8 x 10 full color two sided brochure printed and delivered for 5 cents. That gives you 6 times more brochures than post cards.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:25 PM   #7
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


We can order postcards here directly through the "Canada Post" website and select the mail routes we want it delivered to.

I did a test run in my neighbourhood to see the quality of the postcards. They are very nice, but I'd rather have a customized card than go with a template.

I need to look into it a little more. I could probably find a company that could do it for less.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:22 AM   #8
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Three lines of the classified section of the Orange County Register.......1000.00 a month. Used to be 600 but every year it just goes up and up.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:06 AM   #9
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Internet with a blog. Also get your customers to write testimonials online. Most of this stuff is free.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:07 AM   #10
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Go to jobsites and drop off material and find out contractors name. Also go to home shows and talk to contractors in booths.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:03 AM   #11
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Homer-

Listen to RBS on this one. Concentrate on those three things. That is where you need to be.

Door&Window-
Why would a General Contractor go to another builders site to drum up business?

Pcp-
I know you post on here all the time, so I'm not trying to bust your balls but if you are only getting 7 hits on your website per day, then I think you are doing something wrong with your SEO. Also $6,000 in PPC is a ton. Maybe you were too broad with your keyword and target area to get any worth while clicks. You may have been getting clicks on your ads from all of CA or maybe all of the US to rack up $6,000 in clicks and not a single lead. Over what period of time did you spend this $6,000 on PPC

I also agree with Door&Window that you can go to homeshows but I would be going just to check out the competition. See what they are doing. Pick up some of their literature and read through it. I won't say "steal" their marketing materials but you can get a good idea of what you like and don't like and develop your own. I bet the porter county fairgrounds have some massive homeshows coming up.

If you are just starting out, with this current economic situation, I recommend you focus on basements, minor remodels like kitchens and baths, and maybe even get into some decks. I know about 10 years ago "four season" rooms were huge in that area but I'm not sure how they are doing now. These are types of things people will be doing this summer in the Chesterton and Valpo area. Good Luck.
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:43 PM   #12
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Quote:
Originally Posted by pcplumber View Post
1. I still have not seen the hard numbers with a web site. I get about
7 hits per day and get an occasional lead, buy they are always young shoppers who can't make an intelligent decision. Don't bank on getting anything from a web site. Use a web site your customers can use as a reference after you reach them through another advertising media. Don't spend any money to build a web site. They are not that complicated and the effect is over-rated.

2. I think I spent about $6,000 with PPC and never got one lead. Obviously, I had the clicks, but they must have been other contractors clicking me out of my allowance.

Do you think that perhaps it isn't that websites aren't a good lead generator but that Your website isn't? Maybe it isn't set up properly to convert visitors. I just started and spent 40$ on adwords and have 2 leads already.

This isn't a critique of your website as I haven't even seen it. It could also be that there was a problem with the way you set up your adword campaign.
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:50 PM   #13
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


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Do you think that perhaps it isn't that websites aren't a good lead generator but that Your website isn't? Maybe it isn't set up properly to convert visitors. I just started and spent 40$ on adwords and have 2 leads already.

This isn't a critique of your website as I haven't even seen it. It could also be that there was a problem with the way you set up your adword campaign.
I get about 7 to 10 hits per day. That is about 70 per week, or 3500 per year. I get about 1 to 3 calls per week, but they are always young customers who shop several contractors. I give only about 3 to 5 estimates to internet people per year because most people just want a little more information. Young people who use the internet are just not good customers.
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:04 AM   #14
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


I agree that a strong web presence is a top priority and will be treated as such.

Beyond that, I will need to make a decision on whether to spend money on some form of direct mail or newspaper inserts.

One last observation. In my area, there are a few pretty well positioned competitors whose shops are very visibile. Their locations are off busy streets and their signage in front of their shops is pretty nice.

I'm wondering how much traffic I could drive to my site, or directly to my phone by leasing a decent space in a prominent location with a strong sign out front.

I could easily spend $600-$700/month in newspaper ads. If I could lease a small office and hang a decent sized sign for $800-$900, wouldn't that be a better use of that money?

Thoughts?
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:37 AM   #15
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Quote:
With a 1st year annual budget of $5000.00. Where would you spend it?

1. Website development - SEO expert
2. PPC advertising
3. Newspaper - Feature Ads
4. Newspaper - Classified Section under Services
5. Newspaper - Inserts
6. Direct Mail - Personalized letter
7. Direct Mail - Post Card
8. Yellow Pages - Feature Ad
9. Lead Generation Company
10. Other
If I had $5000 and was just starting out I'd want to stretch my dollars as long and far as I could... First I'd put up a website with some solid SEO behind it. This is something that can offer you returns for many years, for minimal $$$ aside from your initial outlay and then it's just your hosting/maintenance fees.

$2500 towards a Website & SEO and the remaining $2500 in putting some good signage on my truck, and a small yellow pages ad with my website address.

Spend the money on mailouts etc... it's got almost zero residual effect... meaning, If you send out your mailout is it still working for you next year...? Not as well as your website could be.

Carl Sorensen

Last edited by carlsore; 02-26-2009 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 02-26-2009, 12:09 PM   #16
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Not sure how these fit in with the categories mentioned previously but do any of you have much luck with the Pennysaver type advertising?
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:21 PM   #17
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


I have info on postcards. Used RSVP mail to the upscale in the Ct. Area. They company was great to work with. They designed a nice looking card for us. However, ROI is not covering at the moment. We ran it three years- 100,000 cards out 3x's. each year. Price per 50,000 post cards mailed out is $4000.00 give or take. It is mailed out 3 times, March June and end Sept.- For us as Landscape Lighting dpecialists, I was hopeful-break even for us. Would try surround mail next? Google works, SEO works. There is LIFE after the yellow pages. The ad is stagnant for 15 months and it costs more to size down the ad- What a hoax. Don't need them to help you do internet either. The yellow page sales reps are still learning the internet themselves because they know the yellow pages is a door stop. They also don't tell you that statistics say that the averge person goes past the full page ads because they know the cost is expensive to run the ad and these businesses must be "expensive". Anybody use billboards? magazines? interactive tv?
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:29 PM   #18
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Quote:
Originally Posted by HomerJ View Post

1. Website development - SEO expert
This is a good option, but there's many threads in this site on the subject in which will turn you into somewhat of a pro when it comes to this. If you have time you can invest not only to benefit your website, but for personal knowledge (this way if you hire a company you don't get played for a fool) than I would recommend trying to learn the basics and beyond from threads in this site and it's free.
2. PPC advertising
Not sure what this is
3. Newspaper - Feature Ads
4. Newspaper - Classified Section under Services
5. Newspaper - Inserts
Anything having to do with newspaper, or even the yellow book in my opinion is somewhat a waste of money. We once did this option specifying we're a licensed and insured General Contracting company and we would get calls to do repairs. Needless to say, we didn't bother with those options. I would however recommend to list your company in the yellow book's online directory.
6. Direct Mail - Personalized letter
This is a very good option and one that we actually do
7. Direct Mail - Post Card
If you're a G.C. I wouldn't do this. What we do instead is provide a "marketing package". Which contains a binder filled with our company info and who we are and what we can do for their home and/or business. In this package we also include 2 business cards (one of the G.C./owner) and mine. We also include about 3-4 "booklets/brochures" in which the peron whom receives the package can give to someone they know, pretty much serving as method to get a "reference".
8. Yellow Pages - Feature Ad
9. Lead Generation Company
Do your research on these companies. We tried EveryContractor and some other company there (can't recall the name), and both of them sucked. Some leads that we received were fake leads. At times we got contact info of a "potential client", but when we contacted them, the person had no idea to what we were talking about. In one instance, the woman didn't even have a house in which the lead claimed needed an addition to the second floor.
10. Other
I think for all of us in the construction industry we need to be much more proactive when it comes to quality and service (this should've been the case from day one, but even more so now when jobs/projects are scarce). We should also be more hands on with our marketing campaigns. There's many affordable ways to market yourself online. It'll just take dedication, time, and patience. What we're doing, since we've decided to put off our magazine ads for perhaps the next quarter is simply e-mailing prospects. Since our demo graphic are individuals whom for the most part aren't being affected directly due to the recession (at least not struggling to pay the bills, or put food on their table). I've purchased various magazines that lists countless of businesses down here in South Florida (i.e. luxury hotels, restaurants, spas, corporate offices, medical offices). I send a very brief e-mail "introducing" those prospects to our company. I invite them to visit our website so they can familiarize themselves with what we've done in the past and what we're capable of doing. Surprisingly, this approach has worked very well. Out of 10 e-mails, I perhaps average about 5-6 e-mails replying back to me. Which in return has resulted in a couple of jobs over the $100,000 tag to be completed within a month or so. Thus, giving us a very nice profit at the end. If you have a website, you definately want to make that very "search friendly". This site and some of its members have provided very useful tools to the point that we're getting many calls due to the website. In some instances, we're listed in the "local business" portion of Google searches, which are the ones way up top. It's just a matter of being dedicated, patient, and optimistic. There are many other ways and approaches I've taken to ensure that we don't find ourselves waiting in the office for the next phone call to see if it's the one that finally gets us busy again, but this is pretty much the easiest one I've done so far and by far the cheapest. All you have to do is invest your time and a well written "introduction" and people will call.



....hope some of this helps
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:22 AM   #19
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


I really like the approach of CF referred above. This is simple, inexpensive, fast acting, and intelligent marketing. Note that CF is sending individual emails, not spam, and is using external sources (which are readily available in his market) to find prospects.

As well, the emails can be sent during your off or quiet hours, you target effectively and specifically, and your cash cost for marketing iz zero, providing you have a reasonably good website set up.
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:09 PM   #20
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Re: Advertising For General Contractors


Each way of Advertising has pro and cons. What you need to do is set up systems so that no one source is more than 25% of you leads. From my experience most small business end up trying to find that one source for leads.

I have worked for newpaper, Yellow pages, online with major companies, and would be happy to talk with you further.

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