As marketing professionals who have worked in the roofing industry for more years than we like to admit, we are very aware of the challenge that contractors have in developing and implementing successful marketing programs. With the flurry of lead generation companies popping up seemingly every day, and the SEO companies who promise first page of Google results, how can you decide what to spend money on and how do you know what will work?
It’s very tempting to fall victim to “spray and pray” marketing, where you throw some money to a bunch of different things, spray some marketing ads or mailers out there and pray that it works and the phone rings. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Success comes from having a plan in place that supports your business goals and provides consistent activities and messaging.
We know that marketing for roofing contractors can be confusing, frustrating and elusive. Most roofing contractors are craftsmen and women who have started businesses by understanding and excelling at roofing, waterproofing and building envelope technology. They are not marketing professionals, so it is hard to change gears and figure out how to sell or promote their services while also running operations, estimating, sales and the business overall. A good marketing plan helps drive marketing without having to worry all the time.
Taking the time up front to strategize and plan on how to market your business successfully enables you to move on to other challenges of the day, week or month. A good plan can be the template for what needs to happen daily, weekly and monthly to keep marketing on task. It also eliminates daily questions or sales calls for additional marketing initiatives. By creating and sticking to a yearly plan, you are simplifying the day-to-day decisions that can stymie progress.
Fewer approvals and more action reduce the stress put on decision makers and puts the action into the hands of the marketing professionals. Whether it is a person in the office, an agency or a marketing coordinator implementing the marketing plan, by being prepared ahead of time you will reduce the stress of making reactive decisions or, worse, doing nothing due to lack of time and/or planning.
A good marketing plan will also save you money. Without a plan it is easy to say yes to that advertising salesperson from the local media or free coupon website; or that great new advertising concept for ad words or events that is purchased mid-year without planning or research. It can cost the company in lost time, low productivity and extra expense when you do not budget in advance. When you formulate a plan and establish a budget, you can still move money around if necessary, but there is a set allocation to work within.
Timing is important. Look at starting your yearly marketing plan in the fall if possible. It should be a planned exercise to review the past year and look at the upcoming year. Reviewing statistics, campaigns and lead/close ratio is important before starting on the tactical plans for advertising, PR and direct marketing. By organizing budgeting meetings or even off-site working retreats with your leadership team (ideally comprised of leadership from sales, operations, accounting and marketing), you can take the time to review past performance while setting new goals that reflect growth. By being conscious of past performance, you will set the stage for developing strong marketing programs for the next year.
Establish Your Goals
In fact, you should not even start looking at a marketing plan until you have your goals set. What are the company’s plans for growth next year? Will there be new services or products? Will there be any changes in overall company mission? Marketing supports the goals of the company and supports the sales team in attaining the revenue and profitability goals that make a company successful. If you do not have strong goals and plans, then marketing will most likely flounder.
Regarding sales, it is critical that marketing works hand-in-hand with sales. The marketing plan needs to reflect the goals of the sales team so that the marketing activities are nurturing and delivering the right types of leads for sales success. If the goal is to grow metal roofing but marketing is delivering asphalt shingle leads that are not upgradable, both teams will fail.
By understanding the types of customers the sales team is looking for and the products and services they will be selling, a marketing plan can be created that will result in success for all departments as well as for the company.
By creating a marketing plan for your roofing business, you are taking the time to determine the ideal customer for your business and how you will attract, convert, close and delight that customer. A good marketing plan that is well thought out will address every stage of the sales and marketing process and detail how you will retain the attention of past customers while also gaining ongoing referrals.
So, let’s get back to that original question: how will you know where you should be spending your marketing dollars? Well, it depends. That’s the reason developing your marketing plan is so important. During the process you will have identified your goals and ideal customers. If your business goal is to focus on commercial roof restorations, then you want to invest dollars where your customers can be reached. You might consider joining your local chapter of a building owner or facility manager’s group, or implement an advertising program on LinkedIn that targets specific job titles in your area.
On the other hand, if your business goal is to focus on residential roof replacements, you might consider a digital advertising program that is geofenced to target neighborhoods with homes that are 20 years or older and will soon need a new roof. The strategies that you use to reach your customers really depend on what you have determined in your marketing plan.
Your marketing plan serves as a guide for your business. It spells out your company’s positioning statement, the markets you will serve, your yearly goals, your brand promise, the tasks and timelines as well as the tools and technology needed to achieve your goals. It will also help you determine budget and resources needed to implement the tasks, campaigns and initiatives detailed in the plan.
About the authors: Heidi J. Ellsworth and Karen L. Edwards specialize in the roofing industry, helping contractors, manufacturers and associations achieve their marketing, branding and sales goals. They have authored two books: “Sales and Marketing for Roofing Contractors” and “Building a Marketing Plan for Roofing Contractors.” Both are available in the NRCA Bookstore and on Amazon.
Source: roofingmagazine.com =>Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?