Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your trade business’s services. When you think about it like this, marketing is key to both winning new customers and retaining existing customers (because it encourages them to rely on your services, over and over again). Still, many trade business owners make one critical marketing mistake.

In this article, guest blogger Angela Smith, an experienced trade business owner, educator and coach, provides practical and proven marketing advice that you can easily implement in your trade business. Importantly, marketing has moved away from being about price and quality – the best results come from highlighting the customer experience.

Marketing tips for trade business

What you could be doing wrong with your marketing

You’re not alone if you spend more time in the business than on the business. In this situation, it’s easy to throw money and resources into ad hoc marketing campaigns – campaigns that do not cover all three stages of the selling journey:

  • Attracting new customers
  • Delivering an exceptional customer experience
  • Retaining customers, well after you’ve provided your initial service.

It’s this journey which will shape the way your customers experience your business.

Ad hoc marketing is one of the biggest mistakes trade business owners make. If this sounds like you, you are missing out on customers and sales. Thankfully, there are offline and online strategies you can apply in your trade business to make an immediate and lasting impact.

Three-stage marketing strategy for trade businesses

In my own trade business, DR. DRiP Plumbing, we’ve applied the following three-stage marketing strategy, designed to attract, deliver and retain customers in the competitive trade marketplace.

Win customers without a massive marketing budget.

This model highlights marketing activity examples across the three stages, which we refer to as Pre-love (attract), Present-love (deliver) and Post-love (retain).  The aim is to activate a combination of all three to maximise your marketing.

Pre-love stage

The best marketing in the world will fall flat if your business’s website is outdated from a design, content, architecture and conversion perspective. This is your trade business’s shop front. First impressions count! In most cases, we suggest you lean on professionals – a web developer, a designer and a copywriter – to work with you on your website.

Some businesses refer to their use of AroFlo field service and job management software on their websites, to show prospects they’re running an efficient, well-managed operation – and that they’re tech savvy.

Present-love stage

There are many ways the functionality of AroFlo can help support your marketing efforts, particularly in the Present-Love stage – the stage that focuses on increasing the amount a customer spends at each job by delivering an exceptional customer experience.

We use this technology at DR. DRiP Plumbing. AroFlo’s advanced SMS Alert Software allows us to send automated text messages to customers when our technicians are on the way, which contributes to the important marketing process of building trust and loyalty.

Prior to setting up this system, our technician would call the customer 30 minutes before their arrival. What we found was, few customers would pick up because they didn’t recognise the phone number. Now, the SMS alert gives customers a helpful heads up, before the technician puts in the call. This has increased the pick up rate by close to 90%!

Another function we take advantage of in the Present-love stage is the ability to easily send automated emails with downloadable PDFs, such as invoices and safety inspection reports. Again, your customers will appreciate a streamlined experience with you.

Post-love stage

If your target customer spends time online, you can’t go past an e-newsletter.

In your newsletter, consider including information about:

  • Your business. Keep your stakeholders informed
  • New technologies and tools you’re using
  • Accomplishments, such awards and news features
  • New products and services you’re offering
  • Features and benefits of a particular product
  • Special discounts and offers
  • Employee of the month
  • Topical news, such as the addition of a new puppy or eventful jobs.

Whichever activities you choose in each stage, always remember, marketing should be impactful and measurable. It is also a process that requires fine-tuning to optimise success. Having a set-and-forget approach to marketing is never going to cut it.

Marketing your trade business will change constantly. Google algorithms change, new competitors will enter the market, customer expectations evolve – there is no room for complacency if you are motivated to stay top of mind for your customers and prospects.

Last but not least …

Marketing can seem complicated, which is why many trade business owners end up making the mistake of being ad hoc about it. When you break it down, marketing is really about communicating with your target customers at the right time, in the right way. This will differ, depending on where you’re located and the type of trade business you’re in.

Above all else, your marketing efforts need to be persuasive. Be clear on what your customers want to know, not what you want to say. When you approach your marketing strategy from this position, the rest will fall into place.

Author – Angela Smith

Angela Smith is co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, winner of the Educational Services category at the 2018 Australian Small Business Champion Awards. Together with husband, Andy, she’s been responsible for helping shape thousands of successful trade businesses through Lifestyle Tradie’s tried-and-tested learning model.

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