Principal – DW Creative Marketing
Dave Wieser is Principal of DW Creative Marketing, whose mission is to “Help the Doers create their legacy.” His career of 20+ years in the advertising and marketing industry has led to a wide range of experiential roles, including media selling, media buying/planning, marketing strategy, research, business intelligence and data analytics…
Why did you start a home services business? It’s a noble pursuit and many entrepreneurs take the plunge with feverish enthusiasm to serve their customer at a level unseen in their marketplace. But what happens after you’ve exhausted the friends and family pipeline, or your leads and revenue start to plateau?
We know that learning how to market your home services business can seem overwhelming and we’d like to share a few best principles in-home services marketing.
Introduction To Home Services Business Marketing
Marketing a home services business is no small feat. It requires curiosity, creativity, and a willingness to take risks in order to stand out from the competition.
While you may be quick to focus on digital and social media marketing, both of which absolutely have their place, we’ve seen outstanding success in lead generation from “traditional” methods such as TV, Radio, Outdoor, and Direct Mail. However, none of this really matters if your website doesn’t address the information in a voice that “speaks” to your target market.
Identifying Your Home Improvement Business Target Audience
“We want to be the Mercedes of HVAC companies” –
“We want to be the expert resource on fertilizer and seed for DIY’ers”
“Does this marketing reach Jim and Joan?”
These are all direct quotes from owners of companies that service homeowners on who they want to target.
What is a “market” in home services marketing?
This is critical – you need to understand markets, not demographics, when identifying target audiences. Although demographics often correlate, they should never be used to focus a marketing plan. Here are some examples of “markets” in a general sense:
- Single parents with young children
- First-time home buyers
- Families with pets
- Affluent Empty nesters
- Non Jerks – It’s true – one client will score clients on how they act on the phone and if they are rude or pushy, will politely say they are booked and refer to a competitor.
Here is a table of target markets we’ve heard from clients and the feasibility of that cohort being an actual “market.”
|Is It a Market?
|Broad or Focused
|Mercedes of HVAC
|Affluent Empty Nesters in X Country
|Young Duo Income Families with Kids Under 16
|Property Managers of Suburban HOA’s
|Married Couples 35-64 w/Income Greater than $75k
Developing An Effective Home Services Marketing Plan
You’ve identified a target market, now how do I reach them? Start by asking two questions:
- Where do they “hang out?”
- What media do they use throughout the day?
Where does my home services client “hang out?”
The “hang out,” part is relatively straightforward. Are they involved in the community? If so, what groups? Are there sponsorships, activation, or volunteer opportunities available? One client had great success connecting with prospective customers by handing out treats at a professional sporting event. Church, school activities, trade groups, and professional networking events are great ways to connect with prospective customers or referral partners.
What media do they use throughout the day?
This one is trickier. We tend to project our media habits onto our customer base, but that could lead to disaster. We’ve seen non-descript directories produce incredible results, and expensive TV campaigns fall flat.
Become media agnostic – you should not care what the media is, only if your target market consumes said media as a part of their routine. We commissioned a media usage study and you can get some high-level direction from the data, but again, do your own homework in your own market.
Yes, you should talk to colleagues in non-competiting markets, but take their advice with a grain of salt. Every market is different. There’s a lot of trial and error at this phase so track accordingly.
What about digital marketing for my home service business?
Your website is your best salesperson. Let me repeat – your website is your best salesperson. It never sleeps, takes a day off, or calls in sick.
Too often, clients jump to “social media” or “SEO” or “Pay per Click” – but their website is not ready for marketing, let along converting leads. Users get frustrated because they can’t find the information they’re looking for and leave.
What Information on My Home Service Website Do I Need to Include?
We’ve found that information on FIVE key topics should be addressed for the prospective customer:
- Price – Hands down the number one query with respect to your industry is “what is the price of X?” It’s happening now and someone is controlling that conversation. Are you? Yeah, get a “Free Quote” is the current standard in home services marketing. “Why would we show price?” is the common response. You don’t have to give an exact price, but people want an idea of the price before they waste their time to call, setup an appointment, rearrange their schedule, just to “learn” it’s out of their price range.
Address price on the website for all of your products/services now – Because if you don’t, what happens? Customers will leave….and will call your competition because they earned the trust of addressing price on their website. Or even better, if no one is addressing price, then you’ll earn the trust (and call) by talking about before any of your competitors. We address pricing for DW Creative here.
- Problems – Who is your product NOT a good fit for? Yeah, yeah, everyone is our customer. Get out of here – you know that’s not true, nor do you want it to be true wasting your time with customers who are not a good fit and will never buy. Talk about it on the website – you (and your sales staff) will be happy you did…
- Comparisons – You already know your customers are searching “Comparisons between X and Y” – Are you answering these questions on your website? If so, are they objective and unbiased? A real easy way to lose trust and a prospective customer is to trash the competition. Talk about the pros and cons of your product, and what customer is the best fit
- Best in Class/Reviews – Customers want objective information on different brands and manufacturers. If you represent multiple vendors, let them know which ones are recommended and why. An appliance dealer in the Northeast routinely puts out their “Most Serviced Brands” ranking that highlights to consumers which products breakdown or need servicing most often. Sure, this doesn’t make their vendor happy, but it also creates an incentive to improve their product.
Tracking Your Home Services Business Marketing
Tracking your marketing is essential to success. It’s the only way you can know if what you’re doing is working and how you can improve. Obviously, you should track the number of leads generated from each campaign, as well as their conversion rate. But this can also be misleading if this data is collected by the legacy tracking question, “Where did you hear about us?” It’s OK to ask this, but there is plenty of tracking technology available, both offline and offline, to further refine these metrics.
Three Key Tracking Metrics for Home Services Marketers
Advertising/Sales % – Let’s say you are a $5 million company and you spent $500K in promotion. Your Advertising/Sales % is 10%. It’s easy math and a valuable high-level view of how marketing is tracking with profitability. However, this number varies drastically; we’ve seen categories where if this number creeps over 7%, profitability is compromised. We’ve also seen businesses who make money at 30%. Run your numbers and define a target advertising/sales %.
Cost per New Appointment – How much will you spend to “get in the home” for a free estimate? Again, this number varies based on average sale, but we typically see this in the $200-$700 range for home services businesses with higher tickets. This is where you can start to drill down ROI by various advertising media.
Cost per New Customer/Sale – This is a great metric for subscription type services, because while this number may appear to be high, it should be analyzed through the lens of lifetime value for reoccurring service businesses. It’s also important for “one-time” purchases (ie, new roof, gutters, etc), but the lifetime value will come less into play.
Lifetime Value – While this is a great metric for valuation purposes, I don’t find it that useful because the lifetime “Cash Flow” isn’t going to be realized in the time period it’s need to cover the advertising expense.
Taking Your Home Services Business To The Next Level
We hope you’ve found this article useful and applicable. Following the steps previously discussed, from defining your target market to auditing the content on your website, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. But there’s always more…Like what about “The offer?” What moves the needle for advertising incentives? Financing? Discounts? Added Value? AHHHHHH……..!!!
We told you it wouldn’t be easy, but we’re here to help. Check back for our next article on “Home Services Promotions that Convert” and we’ll reveal data that shows what moves the needle…and what doesn’t.
Or if you’re ready to schedule a no-obligation 30-minute Zoom call to talk about marketing your home services company, you can book an appointment here.