What kind of marketing should pro painters be doing now? PPC sat down with Al Pirozzoli, a marketing consultant who has helped numerous painting companies and other trades grow their business through good times and bad. Here is Al’s advice, along with some ideas designed to get you more business now.
During the course of teaching a marketing and advertising workshop last November, one of the participants asked:
“Coke is the best-known brand in the world. It’s sold in every country and is the leader in soft drinks. They have more customers than any other brand. Why do they continue to spend billions on advertising?” Here’s why:
- Because new potential customers are being born every day.
- New competitors enter the market every day trying to attract Coke customers.
- They intend to stay “top of mind” as the undisputed leader.
- Customers – yes even existing customers – want to be sold. That is: reassured that they are important.
Show your staying power and gain customers
Though it might sound counterintuitive, this is the time to gain potential business.
In slow economies (and in our current case, pandemics), it’s certain that some of your competitors are going to panic and hold off or cut back on their marketing. That gives you an opportunity to demonstrate “staying power.” By remaining visible through marketing, you are confirming the stability of your business and ensuring that you are at the top of your customers’ minds.
Over the years, studies have shown that businesses that continued to market themselves during downtimes fared much better than the ones that reduced marketing. When the dust clears, it’s extremely difficult to become “present” again in your marketplace.
One of my advertising school professors made an indelible imprint on me when he made this point:
“When a company starts losing sales, they tend to cut the only rope that will reel them back in, and that rope is marketing.”
Let’s look at a few smart and practical ways you can use marketing to win more business.
Offer a deal
If your business is experiencing more time flexibility, consider offering a deal to your customers. (You must be honest about the situation which makes it advantageous for the customer.)
However, make sure that when you discount your price you don’t discount your image. To achieve that, you need to make an offer that qualifies the discount. For instance: We will paint two interior rooms for only ($$$) if the project is done by (date). Offer expires on (date).
This adds urgency. Or you can offer some savings if they refer you to someone and you get the painting project. You could also offer a gift card for coffee for a referral. Be creative.
How to produce the deal offer
This can be a low-cost production, such as a letter mailed in your business envelope. If you have a color printer, you create the offer graphics and wording and print it out yourself. Maybe you and your significant other stuff envelopes while watching TV. This saves a great deal of money.
How to follow up
Once you’ve mailed the deal offer to existing customers, follow up with a phone call asking if they received your special offer. If not, tell them about the deal on the phone and then re-mail it. But try to close the deal on the phone. The mailing should also include inactive customers that you haven’t heard from in over a year.
Six more ideas
- A letter campaign: The deal offer is a one-time stimulus. Another idea: send one-page letters on a regular basis that show one or more of the painting problems you resolved. Use photos and captions for fast reading. This builds confidence in your company’s ability to deliver. Generally speaking, most painters focus on painting and not how their painting expertise solved specific problems. Doing so gives you a positional advantage. Take it! You can find a sample letter template in our story Keep Your Business Moving with a Focus on Exteriors.
- Email campaign: Your letters can be emailed to customers if you have their email addresses. If you do so, be sure not to overwhelm them and provide an “unsubscribe” button. For additional information on email requirements, see the CAN-SPAM Act Compliance Guide for Business.
- Website promotion: You should post your limited time offer on your website as well. By the way, it’s absolutely key to update your web content quarterly, at the very least. If you have a blog, update it monthly showing your painting challenge/solution.
- Social media: If you don’t have a business Facebook account and LinkedIn account, you are losing valuable networking opportunities. Instagram and Houzz might be other platforms worth pursuing. For more ideas, see our story How to Get the Most Out of the Top 5 Social Media Platforms.
- Postcards: Postcards are a fast read for customers and relatively low-cost to produce and mail. To save money, you can produce them yourself using office supply store templates that work with most printers. Consider postcards that are 51⁄2 by 81⁄2 inches. The larger size allows for more selling space and will help your card stand out in the mailbox.
- YouTube channel: Got a friend or family member who’s good with video? You could produce a series of informative videos (say, one per month) and post them on YouTube. These are like commercials, so 30 seconds or 60 seconds tops. This is highly effective and again, virtually no cost.
Whatever method you choose, make sure what you create looks good. Over the years in my work with painting contractors, I have noticed that they often forget this absolutely critical fact: You are a painter, and painting is all about image. That means your literature, website, your painters whites, your trucks/vans, your equipment, and your crews must look sharp. Your business is all about image!
Tips on managing the workflow
Written goals tend to get done. I recommend that you write each marketing tool out on a sheet of paper in the form of a timeline. Using a timeline will help you visualize what needs to be done and when. It doesn’t have to look professional, it just has to work!
Number each one in the order you will produce it. Then place a date next to each one. Also, as you look at your dates and goals, try to get a sense of rhythm on how they work together. Using an integrated approach like this will cover more ground. If the audience doesn’t see one thing, they’ll see another.
Here’s one example:
If you commit to the time and effort, it will help you to stay top of mind of the customers in your market. Remember, if a world-leading brand like Coke needs to be out there consistently, so do you!
Al Pirozzoli is the author of several marketing books and creative director at Pirozzoli & Williams, a Connecticut-based marketing consulting firm. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get more of Al’s ideas for growing your painting business in the PPC digital edition archive.