This month Simply Business hosted a roundtable discussion on marketing techniques for tradesmen.
We were joined by James Woodham from London firm St James Design Interiors, and by Charlotte Platzer from Rated People. The panel fielded questions from a number of tradesmen interested in boosting their marketing efforts.
We have compiled the questions into a series of videos which you can watch below. Alternatively, read the summary to find out their answers.
One participant wanted to know how best to publicise the great feedback they receive from customers. It was explained that tradesmen recommendation sites like Rated People have this functionality built in, but for jobs that do not come through sites of this sort James Woodham explained that it makes sense to get back in touch with happy customers and politely ask them to spread their feedback through their own social networks.
James has recently joined Pinterest, and said that he values the ease with which users can make “impulse decisions” on the platform. He said that his firm has integrated Pinterest into their website, and that they are working hard to keep it up to date. Charlotte Platzer suggested that it is “better to do a few channels really well than to try and do a bit of everything,” and agreed that Pinterest works best for trades with appealing visual products and results.
A number of questions concerned referral schemes, and whether or not tradesmen should experiment with them. Jasper said that Simply Business offers a referral scheme, but that the priority for trades customers will be the quality of the work. As such, tradesmen may wish to concentrate on word of mouth and online reviews instead.
At Simply Business we offer a proof of policy badge that tradesmen can use on their website, business cards, or other marketing materials, to demonstrate that they are properly insured. Charlotte underscored the importance of insurance for tradesmen, and said that Rated People encourage users to post details of their insurance on their profile. She also suggested that homeowners should ask to see proof of insurance before doing business.
James agreed that explaining you are fully insured is a key part of securing work. Highlighting that you have the proper cover is important for a potential customer’s peace of mind.
James said that St James have recently redeveloped their website, and that photos were a key factor. He underscored the importance of sharp, clear images that reflect the things the customer will want to see. He also said that it is important to tell each job as a story as far as possible, as this will help to ensure customers enjoy the browsing experience.
Charlotte suggested that a brand should be consistent across all platforms. Things like the tone of voice on a tradesman’s social media channels and the content of their website should be uniform, and the general feel of the brand should carry across all communications.
Charlotte said that many people use their own names, or abbreviations thereof, on Rated People. “It makes it more personal,” she said, and suggested that the fact many tradespeople are using personal branding must mean that the strategy is effective. James has branded himself both personally and as a company. He suggested that tradespeople who work on their own should include their own name in order to highlight the “personal aspect” of their work.
James said that tradespeople should focus on a “clear, precise” logo that stands out. He said that it is best to avoid too much description in order to minimise scrolling, and that tradespeople should be able to explain what they do within a paragraph. Social accounts should be included, and photos should also be given prominence.
James suggested that tradesmen working in different areas should “bring everything together” as this can make it easier to “get established”. He said that customers who come looking for one service could be encouraged to take another if they see it offered on the same website.
James said it is vital that tradesmen know what they are talking about, and that they are able to answer the range of questions that will be posed by potential customers. He also said it is important to “go the extra mile”, and that courtesy calls after a job have finished are a good idea.
Charlotte said Rated People allows tradesmen to go that extra mile, and offers ‘top tradesmen’ the opportunity to provide advice to other users. “A lot of it is about communication,” she said, and continued to suggest that a key factor in good customer service is demystifying the terms that may be familiar to tradesmen but which are less easily comprehensible to customers.
Another questioner said that they have set up a successful business, but that they have had to move. James said that tradesmen may wish to go into local shops and meeting places to introduce themselves and begin conversations with potential customers.
Charlotte said that Rated People allows potential customers to search for tradesmen in specific areas, while tradesmen themselves can set distance parameters determining the potential jobs that they see.
James said that St James use a range of local online marketing techniques. He said that it is important to highlight the areas in which tradesmen work in all of their advertising. He also said that online platforms like Google Places and Google Adwords allow users to target specific areas, rather than wasting their budget advertising across the country. Services like Rated People also provide opportunities to target by location.
Finally, a questioner asked whether or not trade shows are an effective marketing tool. James said that St James do not exhibit at trade shows, but that attending with the intention of networking may be beneficial. He suggested that this also provides a good opportunity to assess the competition.
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