Get more paying customers with these four tips
Leads are the lifeblood of any painting business, but acquiring them is easier said than done. Moreover, you want to make sure your estimates actually turn into paying customers, so acquiring targeted, high-quality leads is important to ensure you’re not wasting your time. When you start off with the right customers, you are much more likely to win the job.
Here’s four things you can start doing today to continually generate quality leads for your business, so that you can spend less time on marketing and more time on painting.
- A little math goes a long way
You don’t need to be a math whiz to track a few of your business’ most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). When it comes to digital marketing, Brandon Vaughn—owner of Wise Coatings and chief strategist of Conquer Coaching—says the three most important KPIs are cost per estimate (CPE), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and return on investment (ROI).
- The CPE is generated by taking your monthly spend for each digital platform—such as Google, Facebook, or Instagram—and dividing it by the number of estimates you got from that channel.
- The CAC divides the monthly spend on a platform by the number of paying customers generated from that source; essentially, it measures how much money has to be spent to buy a customer.
- ROI compares how much you spent on marketing to how much money you ultimately made from purchases.
For example, Vaughn says, “Let’s say we’re paying $100 to buy estimates from marketing channels, and we close 40% of them. What this means is we can buy customers off of this platform for $250 each. Say our average job size is $4,000. If you spend $250 for a new customer, and they pay you $4,000, that’s a 16x ROI. That’s pretty good—and we’d want a lot more of those.”
Experiment and determine which platforms give you the best leads in your market, and then use that to orient your marketing strategy. Figure out how large you want your customer base to be, then spend appropriately on marketing to acquire that many new customers.
- Hustle and build relationships
For those with less money to spend, boots on the ground marketing can be an effective marketing strategy. Vaughn says not to underestimate the value of hustling to build relationships in your community. You’re probably familiar with cold calling, flyering, canvassing, and knocking on doors, but it doesn’t stop there.
Joining HOAs and your local Chamber of Commerce—and actually attending the meetings and being engaged—can be a great way to create fruitful relationships with other local businesses. A 2021 Sherwin-Williams survey found 16 percent of painter hires were the result of referrals from contractors in other trades.
“Other home service businesses have a similar customer dataset as you,” Vaughn says. “If someone’s paying to get painting, they’ve probably paid to get their gutters or carpet cleaned.”
If these businesses will recommend you to their clients, the results can be very profitable, as Vaughn learned firsthand.
“One of the best ROI marketing pieces I’ve ever created was ‘Best in Portland,’” Vaughn says. “We made it up. We found seven businesses complementary to our own. We put them all on a sheet, printed out 100,000 of them, and divided them among each business. On every service call each business would do, they’d hand deliver the list to the customer and say, ‘We’re part of the Best in Portland list. If you need a painter, if you need a cleaner…’ It was one of the best ROIs we’ve ever had.”
- Build up your online presence
If you don’t have a website or a Google Business Profile, take care of that as soon as possible. You want to make sure that when people in your area search online for painters, they see your business near the top of the list.
Once you’re on the list of top results, how do you stand out from other entries? Get reviews and pictures of your successes posted online. Ask past customers to leave testimonials and five-star reviews. Reply to reviews; thank everyone who leaves a good review, and address everyone who leaves a bad review.
“Consumers are more likely to trust a brand or company with online reviews,” says Megan Hinz, marketing community manager at Sherwin-Williams. “A lack of reviews makes consumers feel increased risk, which makes them less likely to buy a product or schedule a service.”
- Differentiate yourself
When it comes to closing leads, you need to find a way to make your business stand out from the rest. Vaughn notes that if the average painter is asked why to pick them, they might reply, “We’re a professional company. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured. I’m a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. We’re a locally-owned company. And I’m a nice guy or gal.”
The problem is, Vaughn says, “your competitors are all saying the same stuff. When a customer compares you, it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. … So they’ll immediately go to price.”
The key to avoiding the race to the bottom in pricing, Vaughn says, is highlighting what your company offers that the competition doesn’t. Maybe that’s being eco-friendly and only using zero-VOC products. Maybe that’s adopting a baby elephant in your customer’s name for every room you paint. Maybe that’s offering high-tech AI visualization tools to let consumers “see” the finished job before you even start. Whatever it is, lead with what makes you different.
“Now the consumer doesn’t know how to compare the two of you, because you’re so different from your competitors,” Vaughn says. “So when your bids come in, you’re going to win more often than you lose. Consumers value experience. They value perceived value more than the actual tangible value of price.”
Spending marketing dollars effectively, networking with other businesses, highlighting positive reviews, and differentiating from competitors will help you to generate far more leads and turn many of them into paying customers. It takes some intentionality and effort at the beginning, but the return on investment will be worth it. Get started today to set your business up for future success.
For more tips from Vaughn, check out the PRO+ Business Training Series webinar on “Driving Quality Leads with Ease.”