A question that many business owners ask is “how do I grow my trades business?”
The key to growing any business online is marketing, and all successful companies use marketing whether they realise it or not. This could be through word of mouth, social media or promoting themselves through business directories. Essentially what you are doing is making sure that your business is in front of a prospective customer who needs your service.
In this article, we will discuss the main ways that trades businesses can grow their business online and the various marketing methods available to them. You don’t need to have a lot of experience in marketing to use these methods, and many of our customers started off growing their businesses without much marketing knowledge either.
View our video below to see how through digital marketing, Ideal Loft Ladders increased their business by 225% in only 18 months.
How do customers search online?
Typically when a customer wants to buy something, they go on Google and search for the services they need. Whether it is a plumber, electrician, builder or other trades business, the search usually begins on the internet using a website such as Google.com.
With a service based business, customers typically combine these terms with the location or place where they live. Your customers do this as they are looking for someone who is based nearby because they would like that person to travel to their home or place of work.
Think about what you would search if you are looking for a local business like a DIY store, would you search for “DIY stores” or would you search for “DIY stores in Kent”? Some people would even search for “DIY stores near me” if they are looking for a business local to them.
These words or terms that people use will be the keywords that you want your business to appear for on Google. If you search for “Builders in London” you get about 96,200,000 results. This will give you an idea of the number of people who have websites relevant to this search term.
What happens if you type in your service on Google? Do you get similar results? Do this now and see if you can identify some places where other builders are advertising their business.
To give you an overview of these sections and how people use them if you look at the top 4 searches, they have a green “Ad” symbol next to them. These companies are paying Google to run adverts for them.
You can find out more about advertising on Google further down this article.
The next section is Google maps listings, and these are businesses who have told Google their company name and which areas they cover. This is an excellent way to tell people about your opening hours, phone number, and if you have one, your business address.
To find out how to list your business on Google Maps, view this section of the article.
The next section is not an advert but the organic listings. This is a little more complicated, but they are businesses who are not running adverts on Google. In simple terms, these are businesses who have shown Google that they have a website relevant to that particular search term.
To read more about how you can make your website appear in the organic listings, read this section of this article.
A simple way to get more customers is to look at what your competitors are doing and mimic that behaviour. The rest of this article will look at these methods in more detail but as a starting point, look at what your biggest competitors are doing and think about how you can do this in a better way.
Local Business Directories
If you go back to Google and look at all of the listings, you may see that some of them are not for businesses, but for directories like MyBuilder.com, Rated People and Checkatrade. This will be an excellent place to advertise your business as many of your potential customers will be looking at these pages. These directories aren’t just for builders, but if you look on Google for your trades business, you may find some other pages which are more specific to your business.
We have made a list of directories which you can use as a starting point when marketing your trades business.
There are also many other directories which can be used by businesses in different industries.
- Apple Maps - https://appleid.apple.com/account#!&page=create
- Bing Maps - https://www.bing.com/maps?FORM=Z9LH3
- Yelp - https://www.yelp.co.uk/london
- Better Business Bureau - https://www.bbb.org/
- Yahoo local - https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local
Google My Business
Google My Business is a tool similar to local business directories that people use daily, likely without realising. The primary way people view these listings is on Google Maps, frequently if they are looking for something local like a plumber, electrician or nearby shop.
If you would like your business to be listed on Google Maps, the first thing you will need is a Google account. You can sign up for one through GMail or Gsuite, and this is also a great way to create a business email address if you haven’t got one. This means that people can email you at an email address such as email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have signed up for a Google account, visit https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en-GB and follow the main steps.
Once you have filled in your business details, Google will send a letter to your address to verify that the location is correct, you will then be able to view your business on Google Maps. As Google will need to send you a letter, make sure that the address is one where you can easily access the post and that the address is written down correctly.
If you haven’t yet decided your business hours or phone number, that can easily be changed once your listing has been verified.
All of the above methods are suitable for companies that haven’t got websites. While this is ideal if you are starting, a website gives people an excellent opportunity to tell them about a broader range of services that you offer. Websites are also a good place to display reviews, images from previous projects and the things which make your business stand out against your competition.
If you are a brand new business, it might be more cost effective to build a website yourself using a tool such as Wix or Squarespace. These self-build options are usually very cheap and good for businesses that are just starting out and therefore don’t want to have any upfront costs.
For businesses that have been trading for more than a year or two, it is usually a better idea to have a bespoke website as it will allow you to have a website which is more customisable to your business needs. You may also want a design or colour scheme, which is challenging to find on a self-build platform.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods, but for more information, watch the following video from our YouTube channel called “What are the Top 10 elements to make a website perform?“
If you need web design in Kent, get in touch with us to see how we can help provide you with a bespoke website.
Search Engine Optimisation
Once you have created your website, it is vital to consider how people will find your website on Google. As there are often hundreds of competitors in your industry, it is important to recognise that Google will consider a large list of factors in deciding which one is the most relevant. The most relevant website will be the one which is the top of Google or the first listing.
This is important because on average, 20.5% of people click on the first listing on Google. This is therefore crucial as if you get your business to the top of Google many people will visit your website this way, whether you are a plumber, electrician, gardener or builder.
Search engine optimisation can, however, be a more long term way of generating business online and often isn’t suitable for trades who are looking for immediate or quick results. Very competitive terms like “Boiler Repair London” may take even the best agency 12 months to get to the top of Google.
When we look perform search engine optimisation for a trade business, we often look for a mixture of different keywords, some that are quick to rank for, some that take a little longer and then some which are very competitive. This allows our clients to get some results quickly and then even better results in 6-12 months.
For businesses that are looking for more quick results, paid advertising is often a perfect option. You can set up adverts very quickly, usually in a matter of hours if you have already got a website.
If you are looking to advertise online, there are many options, but as 86% of people use Google, it is the place that many people choose to promote their business. To create a Google Ads account visit https://ads.google.com/intl/en_uk/start/. Signing up is free, and you can even get a £75 voucher to start your advertising campaign.
If you do decide to employ an agency for these services, ensure you choose a Google Partner Agency like ourselves as the staff will have gone through training with Google. This will avoid you using a company who don't have knowledge in the area of running adverts effectively and therefore might not get you the best results for your money.
Google Partner agencies also have to manage a minimum amount of spend, so it is a great way of ensuring that the company has many customers who trust them with their marketing spend.
Text Based Adverts on Google
There are many different types of adverts that people can set up, but one of the most simple are text-based adverts, which can be seen below.
There are a few essential things to remember when setting up your Google Ads campaign:
- You will only spend an amount you are comfortable with; this is because you will set a monthly spend limit. As a starting point, many of our clients spend between £500-£750 per month and then increase it at a later date once they have got some enquiries.
- Your adverts will only be shown in the locations you choose, that is why as a local tradesperson you will need to consider how far you are willing to travel to visit a customer.
- You will need to add “negative keywords” to ensure that your adverts do not show up for things which are not relevant to your business. This prevents you from spending money advertising for services you do not offer.
This section only applies to businesses that are offering a supply only model or online shop. But for an electrician selling parts online or a shop that sells boilers, it can be a great option.
If you are not selling products online, it might be worthwhile to skip this section by clicking here.
Here are some of the Google Shopping adverts that we have set up for a canvas photography manufacturer.
To set up Google Shopping, you need a Google Ads account and a Google Merchant Centre account. Both of these are free and you can sign up to a Google Merchant account here: https://www.google.com/retail/solutions/merchant-center/
It can be quite complicated for businesses to set up an e-commerce store, but once a campaign is set up, it can be a very effective way of getting people to buy your products.
To make it easier for businesses to set up e-commerce campaigns, we have created the following two videos which you can watch below:
Retargeting adverts are another service that Google offers, and you have likely seen them before. If you have visited a company like Amazon and do not make a purchase, retargeting ads may appear showing you the product that you had previously looked at before.
These adverts are not just suitable for online shops and can be a good option for a range of business owners who want to attract people who have previously visited their website but did not make an enquiry.
To set up a retargeting campaign, you can follow the same process when you created an account to set up your text-based adverts. You can also use the same £75 discount code on your retargeting adverts if you have not used up your voucher.
A recent retargeting advert for Ideal Loft Ladders was seen 33,120 times over a 30 day period, and one of their retargeting adverts can be seen below.
YouTube advertising can be used similarly to show people who have visited your website videos to promote your company. Although video can be quite expensive, companies such as ourselves offer video packages from £166 per month plus VAT. This means that for a trade business who doesn’t want to pay a high upfront cost, they can still promote their business on YouTube and show customer reviews or the key benefits or their business.
YouTube adverts can appear in many formats, whether that be short videos at the start of a video which you can skip or slightly longer videos at the middle or end of the website. Generally speaking, if you have a longer video it is better to put your video at the middle of a video as this statistically gets better results.
To set up a YouTube advert, this can be done through Google Ads, and you have a range of payment options whether that be paying per view (each time someone watches the video), or you can pay each time someone clicks on your website. When we run YouTube adverts, we often choose to set up campaigns with a cost-per-click model to avoid the campaign budget being spent on viewers who have the video running in the background and are not watching it.
The below slide from Wordstream shows highlights from a recent Google event outlining the added effect YouTube adverts can have on businesses such as trades when combined with other marketing methods.
One of the last marketing methods that we have not yet discussed in this article is social media. Social media, when combined with other marketing methods, can be a very cheap way of reaching customers online.
Facebook is one of the most popular social media pages for trades businesses as a wide variety of people use it. Try and think about the age range of your ideal customer and which social media platforms they use, if they are older, will they use Facebook? If they are younger, are they using platforms like Instagram?
While social media is good; we do not advise it be used as a stand-alone method of marketing your trades business. This is because you need to get your business in front of customers who are searching at the point when they want something. If you use social media, we would advise combining it with another method like search engine optimisation or paid advertising to ensure that your business is also in front of people when they search for a business online.
Think about how what would be more effective; a) seeing a company on Facebook or b) seeing a company on Facebook, YouTube and Google search?
Summary of the Best Marketing Methods for Trades
While we recommend a range of marketing methods for businesses, and whether a client is looking for short or long term marketing results it is vital to consider which strategy will get the best results and how those results can be measured. If you are using multiple different marketing methods for your trades business, how will you know which one is generating the best results? And, how can you measure those results to ensure that month on month they are improving?
When running a marketing campaign for a trades business, we always ensure that we monitor the results internally regularly and report back to the client monthly detailing where the results are coming from and the improvements we will make for next month. This ensures that advertising money is spent effectively, and the client always gets good value for money.
We hope you have found this article useful, and if you are a trades business looking to grow and get more enquiries, get in touch to see how we can build a marketing strategy for you.