Ah, the Internet! A wonderful invention that gives us all the hilarious prank videos and binge-worthy box sets we could have ever asked for. But what if we told you that same tool you’ve used to watch Apprentice Takes Wheelbarrow Proficiency Test for the thousandth time could be the most powerful tool at your disposal for winning new customers?
You’d probably just shrug, right?
After all, you still remember that time you made a post on Facebook to advertise yourself and it only got two likes (and one of them was your mum… and she did it by accident), so maybe marketing your trade business online isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Here’s the thing: if all you’re doing is making the occasional social media post, then yes – the results you see are going to be slim. If, however, you invest a little time effort into really building your digital profile, you could see your business take off like never before.
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Here’s a few quick and easy tips you can put to work right away to help you use the web to its full potential in marketing your business.
Build a website (it’s easier than you think)
Though that Facebook page you set up a while ago can be a very useful tool for growing your business, that doesn’t mean you can forget about having your own website. A website you build (or get someone to build for you) means you retain complete control over how your business is presented in the digital world, and, more importantly, means you’re more likely to get found when people head to search engines like Google to find the services you offer.
Go ahead and search for something like “plumbers in Birmingham.” You’ll see yourself that the results that come up aren’t social media profiles, but actual websites, so it’s important to get one of your own.
Here’s the best part – you don’t need a degree in computer science, or even a shed load of cash to pay some fancy agency, to get a quality website.
Do-It-Yourself web builders like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace make the whole thing as easy as clicking on elements and using your mouse to drag and drop them into place. Most offer free options, though to get the absolute best value, you might find it useful to pay a small (and we mean small) fee to get extra features that can really make your business shine online.
What to include on your new website
So, you’ve spent an afternoon experimenting with all the wonderful and varied design templates on your chosen DIY web builder, and now you need that all-important content.
Remember – even the best looking website in the world is no good if it doesn’t tell people three key things:
- What you do (and where you do it)
- Why they should hire you to do it
- How to get in touch with you to hire you.
Let’s look at each one in turn:
What you do (& where you do it)
The moment visitors land, it should be obvious to them you do, and – particularly important for trade businesses – where you do it.
So, you might start by saying that you’re a plumber in Manchester, but you also serve the Greater Manchester area and neighbouring towns, or that you’re an electrician in North London.
Again, this is going to help you tremendously when people come to search for services like yours. Most people are going to search for businesses local to them, so make sure you let people know where you are, and what areas you cover.
There are literally scores of trade businesses and self-employed professionals like you around, so why should anybody choose to work with you and not one of your competitors?
This is where you need to come up with your own Unique Selling Point (USP) and tell your customers why you’re the right person for the job.
Remember – anyone can make a vague statement about doing quality work at affordable prices, but you can go one better by saying that you’re qualified (and listing your qualifications), insured, and have a proven track record of delivering outstanding work. You can prove this by adding things like customers feedback and a portfolio of your work (remember to take pictures of finished jobs when you’re on site).
How to get in touch with you
Most websites have a dedicated contact page which lists a phone number, email address and other contact information. Often, they’ll also include a contact form too.
Whilst nobody is going to tell you that’s a bad idea (it isn’t, so do it), an even better idea is to include your contact details on every page in a prominent location – preferably at the top of the screen and perhaps again at the bottom so that people can easily see it if they’ve scrolled all the way down your website.
Getting people to your website
If you build it, they will come…
Unfortunately, whilst that might make a catchy tagline for a 1980’s Kevin Costner movie, it doesn’t necessarily apply to your business’ website. Simply building a website is no guarantee that anyone will come, but if you build it well, using the principles and techniques of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and make use of other digital marketing channels, then not only will they come, but they’ll come in their droves.
When some people think of SEO, they think of stuffing their website with keywords and writing things like “electrician in Birmingham” into every sentence, believing that this is the best way to get picked up by Google.
If this article were a presentation, this would be the point where alarms ring, red lights flash, and your writer picks up a megaphone to yell:
DON’T DO THIS!!!
Yes, telling people that you’re an electrician in Birmingham is important (unless you’re a joiner in Basingstoke, obviously) but once you’ve told people once or twice, there’s no need to keep repeating it.
In fact, Google will likely penalise if you do, meaning all your hard work will be for nought.
When a user searches for your services, search engines prefer to list results that offer value and good user experiences, so you should be looking at things like:
- Does your website load quickly? (if it’s too slow, users will just go elsewhere)
- Is it useful? Does it give my visitors what they need?
- Does it look good and function properly on mobile phones (that’s how the majority of your visitors will find you, so make sure it does!)
Industry experts like HubSpot can teach you more about SEO than we have time for today.
More quick & easy digital marketing tips
So, you’ve built a website, you’ve SEO’d the heck out of it. Now what? How can you take your digital profile to the next level?
Google My Business
Registering with Google My Business takes less than five minutes is a very effective way to ensure that your business details are found on Google and that you’re listed as a verified business. You’ll also be able to use your listing to invite customers to review you, and even track how well your business is doing online.
Keep on top of your social media
Yes, we did say earlier that simply making the occasional post on Facebook that nobody reads isn’t enough, but that’s because it isn’t. That said, using the likes of Facebook and Twitter regularly, and posting interesting and valuable stuff (think about how many times you simply scroll past another advert on your news feed), you’re likely to get more use out of it.
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Use trade sites
Consider paid advertising
Google didn’t become a multi-billion dollar empire because it’s paid advertising platforms are ineffective. They make their money because they work. Using Google PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising can be an affordable way to guarantee you rank highly in search results and drive traffic, so it’s worth looking into it when you’re considering how to build a digital profile that gets more results than an accidental Facebook like from your mum.
What tools and platforms do you use to market your trade business online? What top tips could you share with your fellow tradesmen? Let us know in the comments below or join in the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.