Bernie Heer, who purchased the Closing Success System from Mike Jeffries (you can see the continuing advertisements for this excellent service for residential contractors on my blog), has suggested five effective business development techniques for residential contractors. With some modification, these can also work for contractors, sub-trades and professional services serving the ICI market.
However, having just returned from a Google expense-paid summit to San Francisco/Mountain View, I chuckled a bit when I read his introductory explanation:
The reason these strategies aren’t used by more trade contractors is that they require hustle . . . and that’s a dirty word these days.
You see, everyone wants their ideal customers to show up automatically. I had the same foolish notion when I started my first business… so I understand. I truly don’t believe you can build the business of your dreams by letting Google steer people to your website, so I’m offering you five ways to get new clients the “old-school” way.
Then Heer shares his first idea:
Strategy #1 – Answer people’s questions
This is a great strategy for this time of year. On a Saturday morning, set up table at a local garden center – one that caters to the kind of clients you’d like to have – and draw up a sign that says, “Ask the Builder Your Questions.” (Or “Ask the Painter…Roofer… Landscaper… etc”)
This is an easy way for people to approach you without the fear that you’re going to try to sell them on a big job.
Sheesh, I inadvertently followed this strategy — with Google — receiving within a year my reward: Moderator (Top Contributor) status on the search engine company’s help forums and an invitation to join a worldwide community of about 500 people with (legally valid) insider status at the multi-billion dollar corporation. So, yes, helpfully answering questions without expectation of immediate reward really works. (And so can effective search engine optimization and with care and planning, paid Google advertising, despite Heer’s initial assertion.)
How about the other four strategies?
I’ll let you read them directly, but to summarize, they are:
Strategy #2 – Jumpstart your referrals
Strategy #3 – Write a consumer education article
Strategy #4 – Start your own roundtable group
Strategy #5 – Develop a leave-behind package
The great thing about all of Heer’s strategies is they don’t require much, if any cash investment. They also put you in command of the marketing and business development process, instead of leaving it to chance, whim, or the actions/decisions of others.
And they can be universally applied, again based on your market. Systematically introducing just a few of these approaches should fuel your business with enough leads to remain viable even under the most challenging conditions.