How do people in your region feel once winter hits? Do they ‘run up’ against the cold leaking through poorly fitting windows, complaining about the shortcomings of their home while dreaming of a warm, dry, comfortable room where all the family gathers?
Changes in the season bring changes to your marketplace. Being aware of these changes and positioning your business to best take advantage of them is a good way to get more work. Here are several marketing strategies you can do to warm up your advertising in the coming winter months.
Get Inside Their Head
Imagine how easy your advertising would be if you knew what your potential client was thinking. Say you knew that in July they dreamed of getting a more functional kitchen, so the family could enjoy creating winter meals together, or doing something about the sunless rear of the house. On the other hand, what if you knew in August that as they climbed the ladder again to clean out the gutters, they were thinking, “I can’t keep doing this. We’ve got to resurrect that new home dream”.
If you knew these thoughts, your advertising message would be simple. In July you’d say something like, “Is your kitchen no longer family friendly?” and shape a message around kitchen remodelling. In August your line could be, “Here’s how to get started on that new house dream”, and outline how accommodating you are for people starting the process.
To best understand the needs of your customers, you need to put yourself in their shoes and get the feel of what it’s like living in their homes.
Try to imagine their feelings when they experience condensation running down the windows, or their frustrations when struggling to create a welcoming environment for family and friends or to accommodate a growing family.
Or sense the frustration of not knowing where to start with a new home project.
The better you can ‘sense’ what your potential clients are thinking and feeling, the easier it is to target a message that will be noticed.
Review Your Service Offerings
Winter weather brings out the worst in houses. Summer inconveniences become obstacles in winter, indoor living accentuates the desire for space and cold nights accentuate poor design.
Some builders expect their business to slow down over winter, but people are still thinking about making changes to their homes – small and large – from immediate work on overdue maintenance now clearly obvious, to starting a major upgrade or a new build.
Winter can be a great time for growing your business, if you position yourself correctly. Maybe you accept a number of smaller jobs to keep the team busy. While these can be fiddly, if they are priced correctly (factoring in a higher share of management and administration costs), they can be a good source of new business.
At each new job, you also get an opportunity for low-cost advertising – you can erect your sign outside the property, drop flyers to homes in the immediate neighbourhood, ask for referrals from your new customer, gain a new testimonial and add your new customer to your database for future contact.
When customers are ready to purchase, they will almost invariably do so from the company they think has the best to offer. However, what you offer goes well beyond simply what you can build.
You can also offer things that provide additional value for your customers at low cost to you, such as an upgrade or your availability to do the work now, or the quality of your workmanship and guaranteed back-up should something go wrong.
For example, “free installation” and, “free appliance upgrade” means that your customer gets more than s/he pays for. “Available now” means they get the benefits sooner. “Personal guarantee” means peace of mind, while “fully qualified and/or registered tradespeople” means an assurance of integrity and “25 years experience” suggests good advice and quality.
Think about what it is your target customer would consider as great value and come up with a list of offers you could make. Here are some suggestions:
- FREE heated mirror with every bathroom renovation (ask your electrician to supply at cost).
- SAVE $300 on specialist interior and colour consultation (ask your interior consultant to consider the reduction as a marketing cost against future work).
- FREE lounge suite with every new home confirmed by November (look for an arrangement with a supplier who also supplies other homewares).
Invest In Online Advertising
There is no question that advertising online is powerful and that astute building businesses are growing their online presence.
While you can readily publicise your business on social media sites by uploading photos and videos of interest (a good place to start is Facebook and Pinterest), investing in and marketing a good website is essential to creating a great presence.
If you don’t have a website, make sure that you build one with a clear picture of your target customer (check out www.websitesforbuilders.co.nz for help, which is run by The Successful Builder’s digital marketing manager Felicity Owen).
Measure The Results
Whenever you do any advertising, make sure that you measure the results. The best way to do this is to record the source of every new enquiry you get, after you have asked how they found out about you.
Analyse these at the end of every month (or quarter). I assure you that if you do this routinely, you will learn much about your business and your market. You will find out what works and what doesn’t, helping you save time, effort and money.