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Contractors need to focus on advertising and branding

May 7, 2014
Everything, today, revolves around name recognition, or branding as it is called.  Having the right exposure to the right audience is the goal.  As far as branding is concerned, beyond a catchy name or logo, it is good to have a hook.  

Wow! The year is almost half gone! Time flies. We’ve been talking about tightening up your business by doing things a little differently than you’ve done them before. From some of my mail, I think some of you have been able to capitalize on the suggestions in a good way.

An area that always needs attention is advertising, and the new catch phrase, “branding.”  As we move forward in the 21st Century, it is quite evident that this business climate is not “your father’s business model” any longer.

Advances in the areas of electronic media, computers and the advent of the Internet have impacted almost every aspect of our culture and society both here and around the globe.

Whereas the parochial approach to neighborhood businesses used to depend on word of mouth, “Yellow Pages” ads and ads in local Pennysaver type publications, today it is much more likely that people will go to the Internet looking for you. Larger commercial operations, too, are more than ever putting themselves on-line and using the Internet for both prospecting and attracting businesses to them.

Everything, today, revolves around name recognition, or branding as it is called. Branding is easy to recognize, but not so easy to achieve. Today, almost everyone in the country knows Roto-Rooter, but how many of us recognize the local shop that is competing with the national brand? Branding is the method by which local businesses can compete with the larger national franchises, both on the Internet and on local media outlets. 

First, and foremost, anyone in business today, who wants to be successful, must learn to be computer savvy to some degree. When my five- and six-year-old grandchildren are able to boot up a computer, search the web and actually work on line, there is no reason that an intelligent adult businessperson can’t do the same.

Understanding how to use the Internet is critical to any company that desires a presence in those arenas, and that wants to be successful in today’s economy. 

Looking at the vast information pools that are available to anyone with an Internet connection, it should be obvious that, in order to reach your customer base, you need to be on the web. Knowing how to achieve proper “positioning” on the various search engines, where to put your information, so that it is easy to access by the people you want to access it, where you are seen and how often you are seen, are the things that you must take into account when planning an on line presence.  

You can, of course, plan your own advertising campaigns; buy so many megabytes or gigabytes of space on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN or all of the above. If you are computer literate enough, you can develop and promote your own web pages, and even start a blog with helpful tips and advice if that is your desire.

As with all things, though, the need for expertise in Internet advertising, branding and marketing, has spawned a cottage industry of companies whose sole goal is to get you in front of the people you want to reach.

It doesn’t matter if you are a local service company or a small, medium or large commercial/industrial shop. Having the right exposure to the right audience is the goal. The professional web-media companies out there can work to get and keep your firm in a prominent position on the search engines and drive business to your company through your website. They have prices for any budget and you can expand your program as you improve your sales.

Remember, too, that your competition is doing the same thing. It’s a number game and constantly changes. To stay on top for name recognition you must be fluid in your program and be able to adapt to new market conditions quickly and decisively.

That’s where hiring a professional media company pays off. They track your sites, “hits” and positioning and make adjustments accordingly. If done correctly, the work is almost seamless and your company enjoys the benefits of increased visibility, name recognition and business through the door.

As far as branding is concerned, beyond a catchy name or logo, it is good to have a hook.  Do you do something really well? Better than your competition? Do you have a proprietary system or method for performing certain work? If you answered yes to either question, you have a hook. Leverage it. Your hook doesn’t even have to be a specific thing either. It can be service or customer care that you choose to highlight.

As an example, in the Phoenix area there are many, many auto dealerships. They are all trying to get your attention. How to distinguish your company from the others? Tex Earnhardt did it sitting atop a Brahma bull.  For more than 60 years, Earnhardt has been selling cars and trucks by telling people that they can get a square deal at his dealerships… “and that ain’t no bull!” That catchphrase, along with the visual of Tex atop the bull, made Earnhardt the No. 1 car dealer in the Phoenix area, and nationally, more than a few times. Think about it.

The Brooklyn, N.Y.-born author is a retired third generation master plumber. He founded Sunflower Plumbing & Heating in Shirley, N.Y., in 1975 and A Professional Commercial Plumbing Inc. in Phoenix in 1980. He holds residential, commercial, industrial and solar plumbing licenses and is certified in welding, clean rooms, polypropylene gas fusion and medical gas piping. He can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author

Al Schwartz | Founder

The Brooklyn, N.Y.-born author is a retired third generation master plumber. He founded Sunflower Plumbing & Heating in Shirley, N.Y., in 1975 and A Professional Commercial Plumbing Inc. in Phoenix in 1980. He holds residential, commercial, industrial and solar plumbing licenses and is certified in welding, clean rooms, polypropylene gas fusion and medical gas piping.

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