With a mountain of work on the go, expending energy on encouraging new enquiries into your company’s services or products could well be the last thing on your mind. But even if you’re busy, your current workload is going to come to an end eventually, and if your business is going to thrive – rather than just survive – it pays to be on the ball when it comes to generating new leads to secure new work.
But where do you begin? You could start by trawling through huge stacks of marketing textbooks, or sitting through another lifeless sales course. But let’s be honest, even if that didn’t sound like the most boring thing on the planet, it’s unlikely that you’ll have time for any of it. Luckily, this guide to generating new leads can help you attract new business on your own terms.
Identify your target audience
The first step of lead generation is to identify your target audience — after all, you won’t be able to reach customers if you don’t know who they are. To achieve this, you’ll need to conduct market research to find out things like where your ideal clients are from, what they do, and how much money they make. This will allow you to market yourself towards the right people and make you more likely to generate leads.
For instance, tradesmen who ‘do everything’ are still tailored to a certain kind of audience. They are unlikely to be called upon by someone wanting a luxury designed house, who will instead be likely to rely on a specialist tradesman who has far more tailored experience in building those types of properties.
There are several things you can do to identify your target audience, and the easiest way to start is to compile data on your existing customers. This can be done in numerous ways, from offering loyalty schemes or reward cards in return for this information, to encouraging people to sign up to your website. However, it’s critical that these endeavours comply with data protection laws, namely GDPR. You could also conduct competitor research to learn which markets are being targeted by your competitors, as well as whether these efforts have been successful.
Show you can meet industry standards
It’s crucial that your business has all the relevant trustmarks associated with your industry, and is an accredited member of a relevant trade association or governing body. By proving that you can meet the strict high standards set down by these organisations, you can immediately demonstrate to your potential clients that you are reliable, professional, and will deliver a high quality of work. If people see you as an official business, they will be more likely to contact you, rather than some unknown they’ve found in the phonebook. With trustmarks in place, be sure to include them in your marketing materials and website.
Invest in marketing
Anyone can claim to be a tradesman worth hiring, and these days, it’s even possible for somebody to set up a Facebook page and call themselves a business owner. But only someone serious about their company would invest the proper amount of time and money in creating marketing materials — though not as much as you might think. These can not only be great for making the general public aware of your services, but also help you create a good first impression when you go out to try and win customers . Once you’ve figured out your target audience, consider these marketing avenues:
If you’re one of our regular readers, this won’t be the first time you’ve heard us say it: over two-thirds of homeowners use social media to find tradesmen, with 71% preferring Facebook to any other platform. So, if you haven’t yet set up a Facebook page, or you have but you’re not using it regularly, you’re missing out on promoting your work to a lot of potential new customers. Good ways to optimise your Facebook business page include regularly asking for reviews, uploading photos of your best work, and using the Page Manager app to stay on top of any messages and comments.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only social media platform out there, with Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn also proving incredibly useful for tradesmen — your market research should inform which ones to use. Whatever platform you opt for, you should actively engage with your customers, posting regular content and using industry-relevant hashtags.
An optimised website
If homeowners aren’t using social media to find tradesmen online, chances are they’ll be using Google. When they do, you’ll want to be sure that it’s your name and contact details that come up when they’re looking for businesses like yours. That’s where having your own website proves essential. Built around the cornerstones of good search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, which includes factors like quality content, page speed and usability, a good website can work wonders to ensure your business gets found by potential customers.
The good news is that you don’t need a degree in computer science or graphic design to put a good website together, nor do you need to remortgage your home in order to pay someone who does. As explained in our guide to digital marketing for tradesmen, there are a number of platforms out there which make building a website as easy as dragging various elements (text boxes, pictures, contact forms etc.) around a screen and dropping them into place. The likes of Wix, Squarespace and Weebly are the most popular DIY website builder tools, while more advanced users might want to take a look at WordPress. Alternatively, tools aimed solely at tradesmen, such as TradeSiteBuilder are also worth considering.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising
Building an SEO-friendly website can be a great way to get to the top of Google’s search results, but let’s face it, it’s hard work! Fortunately, there is a shortcut straight to the top, and it’s as simple as investing in a pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign. You’ve likely seen these in action already — whenever you search for something on Google, you’ll see several results at the very top of the page with the word “Ad” in a small box next to them. That’s a PPC advert. While the costs may mean PPC isn’t ideal for everyone,, it can prove highly effective in generating quality leads if you can set aside the budget for it.
Create a Google My Business page
This is a quick and easy way to help people find your business using Google. Your Google My Business page gives you a free listing on its results pages, where you can add pictures of your work, contact details, and a link to your website. You can also use it to generate and showcase those all-important customer reviews and testimonials. According to BrightLocal’s Google My Business Insights survey, the average business was found in just over 1,000 searches a month, showing just how valuable it can be for obtaining leads.
Remember when GDPR made every company you’ve ever dealt with go a bit mad and spam your inbox, begging you to let them stay in touch? It’s tempting to look back on that as a sign that email marketing has now become too complicated and time-consuming to bother with. But here’s the thing: done correctly, email can be a quick and simple way to let customers know about new services or special offers, and can still produce good results. Just make sure you’ve got consent from the people you’re emailing first!
SMS marketing was all the rage a few years ago, but that was before all the digital tools we have at our disposal today came along. These days, few people even think about text messaging, but it can still be a useful way of getting the attention of potential customers. Again, GDPR means you’ll need to be careful about how you go about it, so it might be a better approach for winning repeat work from previous customers, but either way, SMS marketing is still well worth considering.
There are some tradesmen out there who view platforms like CheckaTrade and MyBuilder.com as a welcome boost for their business, putting them in direct contact with the customers who need them and helping them win new work. Then there are others who consider such platforms to be a scourge on the industry for their excessive fees, taking a sizable chunk out of many hard-working tradesmen’s profits. Whatever your opinion, there’s no denying that these kinds of websites can be effective, so we’d encourage you to look further into which trade site may be best for your business.
Flyers & leaflets
So far we’ve concentrated on digital channels, but there’s nothing to stop you from keeping it old-school, with a well-designed flyer — though unless you’re pretty nifty with design software yourself, you might benefit from getting a professional to create the right image for your business. Then it’s just a case of getting those flyers out there into shops, through people’s letterboxes, or anywhere else you can think of to help spread the word.
Most local areas have business networking events, which offer a great chance for sole traders and small business owners to get to know each other and swap contact information. However, if you’re a tradesman who mainly works with private homeowners, this might not seem like the most obvious source of lead generation, but even businesses need tradesmen’s services from time to time. Getting yourself recognised could work in your favour when they need someone to fix a fault, help revamp their office, or install a new feature.
Offer a discount for referrals
Having done a great job for a client, you’d love it if they recommended you to his friends and family, but there’s no guarantee that he will. That’s where offering an incentive can come in handy. Simply tell your clients that you’ll give them 10% off the next job if they refer you to a friend or colleague. Sure, that 10% may take a small bite out of your profits, but if your referral scheme takes off, you’ll easily make that money back from the number of new customers you’ll be attracting.