Aug 14 , 2018
Pros are always asking me for the best way to advertise their handyman business.
There are at least a hundred different ways to attract customers for your home service business, and I’ve tested a lot of them.
But my answer is always the same regardless if they offer small home repairs or custom remodels. Basically I tell them something like this…
Online marketing has worked the best for me and my clients. That means building a decent website, optimizing it for SEO, and then focusing on getting reviews on other platforms like Yelp or Google My Business.
There are a lot of reasons this works best which I won’t get into here.
But here’s what I rarely have the time or motivation to explain.
This online marketing strategy is just a tactic – and without at least a surface level understanding of marketing principles it doesn’t matter what marketing tactic you use, it probably won’t work very well.
Because if you don’t know how to sell yourself to customers, the tactic you use to get their attention won’t matter.
Attention is only worthwhile if you can convert that attention into a customer.
Even if you do everything right from SEO to getting online reviews, you could be making one or two mistakes that repel your ideal customers and attract customers who are only looking for cheap labor.
And the same is true with any marketing method you may be using.
Tactics vs. Principles, And Why Most People Suck at Marketing
Tactic – an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end.
Principle – a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
Most businesses are focused on marketing tactics, totally forgetting about principles. And I get it. It seems like the quickest way to business success. Just find out what’s working for others right now and do the exact same thing. Skip all the hard work and go straight to the good stuff.
And there is some value to this because certain tactics yield much better results than others. For example, twenty-five years ago advertising in the local newspaper was a great way to grow your business. Now it’s rarely worth doing. That tactic has lost it’s effectiveness.
The effectiveness of any given marketing tactic will change over time, so it is nice to know what is working right now.
But the principles of attracting customers NEVER change.
And not only that, but marketing principles are what make the difference between your phone blowing up with eager customers or staring at an empty schedule.
Here’s an example…
Let’s say we are both posting ads on Craigslist for our handyman businesses. I’ve been in business for ten years and I know EXACTLY what to say to get people to hire me.
You, on the other hand, are going to have my two year old son write your Craigslist ad.
Who do you think will get more customers?
This is an extreme example, but I think it illustrates the point pretty well…
The content of your ads is equally, if not more, important than the advertising method that you are using.
But, let’s go a step further because marketing isn’t just about writing good ads. Everything you do in your business is marketing – from how you dress to what you drive and whether or not you decided to wear deodorant today.
It all matters. And it all depends on one single marketing principle…
The Mother of All Marketing Principles – Understand Your Customer
Many unsuccessful businesses are unsuccessful because they simply don’t understand their customers. Those business owners make assumptions about what their customers want based on their own mindset and beliefs. They assume everybody thinks just like they do. They are very often wrong.
Successful business owners on the other hand take the time to learn about their customers – with an understanding that everybody has a different world view. They know everyone places different levels of value on different things.
Some customers want the best prices and they’ll drive 30 miles to save $5 on shampoo. Walmart markets heavily to these budget-minded customers.
Some customers value convenience over everything else and will pay $20 to save five minutes looking for a parking spot. That’s why valet parking exists.
Some people cringe at the idea of paying a plumber $200 to fix a toilet. Others happily hand their money over with a big fat smile and a sense of relief.
You get the point. Everyone is different. Everyone considers different factors when deciding who to hire or what to buy.
And when you actually understand your customers’ unique needs and interests, everything gets easier. Not only can you write better ads that grab their attention and get them to call you, you can provide the exact type of service they want.
If you’re a plumber and know your customers tend to value social status over saving a buck, you’ll know to sell them premium plumbing fixtures.
If your customers are super busy and barely have enough time to even dial their phones to call a handyman, then you know convenience is important to them and you’ll focus on making everything easier for them – even if it means charging higher rates.
And you’ll know to mention these things in your advertising!
This is so important that I could talk about it for hours and give a thousand examples. The sad thing is that many still wouldn’t internalize how important this is and they’ll continue to wonder why other businesses are so busy and they are scraping around for low quality leads.
Does this all sound like common sense? It should. Principles always sound like common sense once you learn them because they are fundamental truths.
But knowing what to do is different than actually doing it. So the real question is…
How Well Do You Understand Your Customers?
If you’re about to say…”I have so many different kinds of customers and they want all kinds of different things” then there’s your problem.
Stop trying to work for everybody.
When it comes to marketing it’s always more effective to target one specific type of customer per ad.
If you’re about to say…”I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I understand my customers. I just need to learn how to reach them.” Then it’s time to focus on some new tactics.
But the truth is that we could all get to know our customers better. Even as I’m writing this I realize I have a lot to learn.
The good news is that you don’t have to be perfect with this stuff to get results. Usually the practice of just trying to empathize with your customers is enough to generate useful marketing insights that you can use to fill your schedule.
So, before you start even thinking about what tactic to use, start with the basics.
Who exactly are you trying to reach?
What do they value?
How can you help them get more of what they want?
Build a foundation for your business and marketing efforts by taking the time to get to know the people you’re trying serve. Talk to them. Ask them questions, and really listen to them without applying your own world view to everything they say. You’ll be amazed at what you learn and the possibilities that open up for your business.