Break out of the negative contractor stereotype for under $1,000

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Matt Handal
Matt Handal

proposal development secrets coverEditor’s note:  I almost never publish guest posts offered to me by others. This is because these are generally self-serving initiatives; the poster (or assigned agency/writer) has one objective: Inserting links to improve the search engine status of the person providing the content.

Matt Handal is doing just that. He has been reporting to me on his search engine optimization initiatives and experiments, discovering some intriguing and potentially very powerful results. This blog posting is part of his experiment. Sure, the content is useful, so it is okay for me to publish it. However, the story behind the scenes is this is actually part of a SEO test, which I can also monitor.

Construction contractors have a reputation. They are uneducated and untrustworthy. 

You might be a Rhodes Scholar or Eagle Scout. But whenever you meet a new client, you have to overcome that stereotype. 

The big contractors have a solution to this. They have marketing departments that shape their image.

But what if you could overcome this perception without the cost of a full-time marketing staff? What if you could do it for under $1,000?

Here’s the plan:

Use The Fifth Grader Test

Don’t give anyone anything that looks it could have been written by a fifth grader.

I once had a contractor give me a proposal that actually said, “Bild 1 klosit.” Forgive me, but I’m not going to take that guy seriously. 

Use spellcheck and/or Grammarly, hire a one-time proofreader on Fiverr, or do whatever it takes to make sure what you hand to a client couldn’t have been written by a fifth grader.

Format your proposals as a letter. Learn how to do this at businessletter.co

Time For A More Professional Looking Website

Get a professional looking website. It’s cheap as hell. Get a web-hosting plan and domain from one of the inexpensive service providers. These include Bluehost and Hostgator.

Download or buy a professional-looking WordPress template. There are a variety of inexpensive options. If you don’t know where to start, email Mark Buckshon.

Get someone on Fiverr to create a logo and some graphics. Hire someone on Elance or Odesk to write the text. 

Call some old clients and ask them to email you a testimonial. 

If you want to get fancy, hire a local photographer through Facebook to take photos of you doing work for one of your clients (make sure your client is in the shot and looks happy). Get a shot of you explaining something to him/her.

Now hire someone on Elance to put this all together and install a WordPress site on your account. Tell them you’ll need a homepage, a list of services, a testimonial page, and a contact form.

Note: Be careful to ensure that the images you use are your own or are properly licensed. If you don’t know what that means, consider a service such as Istockphoto.com. You don’t want to get a lawyer’s letter demanding lots of money because you decided to use images that you didn’t have the rights to use.

If Mark and I can do this, so can you. It’s not like we are in Mensa. We’re normal people just like you. (Matt’s note: Mark is pretty savvy with this outsourcing stuff. I’m sure he can help you if you email him.)

Revamp Your Calling Card

Get someone on Fiverr to create a business card that has the same look as your new website. 

Then find a cheap business card service. Don’t get glossy cards!

Show Your Weakness

Nobody wants to show weakness. We want to show people only how great we are. But offering up a weakness is the quickest way to build trust. 

Tell clients about a weakness, then follow it up with you biggest strength. For example, Avis says they’re #2 in car rentals…but they try harder. That ad sold a lot of car rentals.

These tactics will help you overcome the perception of the uneducated and untrustworthy contractor. And you can get all this done easily for under $1,000.

Matt Handal provides marketing strategies that actually work at www.helpeverybodyeveryday.com. He is the author of Proposal Development Secrets, contributing editor of SMPS Marketer, and co-author of the Marketing Handbook for the Design & Construction Professional. 

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