How to Reduce Advertising Costs and Grow Influence by Creating a Personal Brand for Your Remodeling Business (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Your PPC (pay per click) budget is a run-away freight train, yet the number of quality leads you’re closing is heading south.
Home shows used to be a lead-gen superstar. Now you’re faced with empty aisles and lucky if you can get 20% of the leads for your bathroom or kitchen remodeling business scheduled for an appointment.
Coupon magazine are packed with competitors (and their brother – and their brother’s brother who owns a pizza shop) trying to low-ball each other with ‘blow-out’ specials and ‘buy one get one free’ deals.
You’re scratching your head and asking, “How can I stand out in this cluttered market and find exclusive leads?”
Wouldn’t it be nice instead to find leads who were drooling to work with you before you (or your sales rep or design consultant) even knocks on the door? Does this sound like an impossible dream? Well, it’s not.
Instead of ‘begging’ prospects (through expensive advertising) to please, please, please allow one of your sales team to give a free estimate or design consult, wouldn’t it be fantastic if your best prospects sought you out? They were eager to work with you because of your expertise, personality and authenticity. Even though you’re not the biggest company (or the biggest spender) they want to hire YOU! How cool would that be?
Does this sound like a fantasy world?
Well – I’m here to tell you this is not only possible, but if you read Part 1 of this series on personal branding for a remodeling contractor, you’ll find 7 reasons you NEED to do this right now to kick start your business.
In this (the second part of the 2-part series), we’ll look at 7 ‘how to’ steps to make personal branding work for you and your business. You’ll gain practical ideas from two ‘uber-successful’ (they’re too successful to be hired to drive you around though – ha! ha!) construction entrepreneurs, one personal image and branding expert and I’ll throw in a few tips as well. This article will help cut advertising spending, grow exclusive leads and increase closing percentages and margins.
Let’s check out the 7 steps.
Step #1 – Roll out the acronyms. Get clear about your T.I.P. (Targeted Ideal Prospects) and your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition)
Personal branding IS NOT about YOU! I’ll bet you’re saying, “What?” right now.
On the contrary, personal branding begins and ends with identifying the people you (uniquely) serve and who provide the best (and most profitable jobs) for you and your business. Not sure how to get your arms around who(m) this is? Ask these questions to understand who your T.I.P.’s (Targeted Ideal Prospects) are:
- Question 1) What job type and job size gives you and your business the best return on your time?
- Question 2) What do people look like who are buying the jobs you’ve identified in question 1? What’s their income, age, number of kids? Where do they live?
- Question 3) What problem(s) do you solve for those people?
These questions help you ‘niche-down’ to find the prospects who you’re most successful serving. But I’ll give you one warning about this exercise. Don’t niche down too far and make your market so small you won’t be successful. For example, if your T.I.P. is accessible bathrooms for veterans who live in Cleveland Heights Ohio (a small suburb in Cleveland) your opportunities will be so limited you won’t be able to make money.
While being clear about T.I.P.’s is critical, the essence of your personal brand is determining how you uniquely help them (your U.S.P. – Unique Selling Proposition). Do the following to get clear what your U.S.P. is:
- Write down (and ask others) your top skills, knowledge and expertise.
- If you’re involved with design, think what makes your kitchen and bath designs more functional and fashionable than the competition.
- Why do your projects last longer than others?
- How do you (and your team) provide a memorable experience?
- What problems have you solved through the ‘School of Hard Remodeling Knocks’ which save customers time, money and hassles?
- What are the benefits to working specifically with you?
- How do you connect with prospects, employees and trade partners which makes them laugh, learn and love to work with you?
Your U.S.P. is at the core of your personal brand. First, you need to identify it (even if humility is practically your middle name). Below, we’ll explore ways to use your personal brand to improve your market position and profitability.
Step #2 – Don’t create a ‘persona.’ Do, however, present the best version of you.
You know a fake a mile away (kind of like this slick guy below!).
If you try being something you’re not, you’ll end up being a cheap imitation.
When it comes to presenting your personal brand you first need to become comfortable with …. YOU…and the goods and bads which come with you!
As Dave Cooper, a successful modular home builder and video host of his ‘Modular Minute’ series told me, “Mike, I needed to get over my fear of messing up while filming. In reality, what I’ve learned is people want authenticity. They want real. It’s OK to not be some ultra-polished persona. I can be me – warts and all.”
Although being authentic is step 1 in building lasting connections and a growing personal brand, image and branding expert Danielle Turcola of Professionalism International also chimed in and said, “Mike, authenticity is huge, but construction and remodeling professionals also need to realize they also need to be …. professional. I don’t want advice from a sloppy, bad-smelling contractor giving me an estimate or design consultation. A professional contractor doesn’t need to be Matthew McConaughey (although it wouldn’t hurt). However, they should be well-groomed and organized to grow a personal brand and influence others to buy.”
Step #3 – Know (and learn) enough to have a POV
You can’t become a trusted advisor (and dare I say ‘personal brand others count on’) until you’ve seen (and learned through) stupid installation mistakes, bad products and infuriating kitchen and bath designs which make you want to scream. It takes becoming an ‘industry geek’ and learning (not only through your own trial and error), but also from reading, watching and hearing what the ‘top industry dogs’ can teach you.
As an influential personal brand you don’t want to ‘go postal’ and gripe about mistakes and problems you see in kitchen and bath remodeling jobs.
No, an influential personal brand not only knows the problems (and solutions), but they’re confident enough to have a POV and communicate this value to help their Targeted Ideal Prospects.
As you’ll see in step 4, they use a number of digital platforms to communicate this value.
Step #4 – Pick your platform. Educate and elevate
I wish my Dad (who came to this country from Sicily as a 17-year-old with little more than desire to learn and the clothes on his back) was alive today. Although his only ‘formal’ degree was a G.E.D. he earned while serving in the Army, he loved to learn (I’m sure this is one reason he grew a successful commercial construction company with virtually zero startup capital – or money as they would have called it in those days).
If he was alive today (Dad died at the age of 59, before the Internet and cell phones were a ‘pigment’ of anyone’s imagination) he would be all-over the Free education available to anyone with a digital connection and a desire to grow.
In today’s world (vs. the world my Dad knew before his passing) you don’t have to own a TV or radio station or be a book publisher to educate and elevate your target audience anymore. We live in the age of the democratization of information.
Anyone can grow their influence if they have the chutzpah and discipline to learn and consistently use a platform to communicate their message.
Let’s take Devon Tilly, President of Mountain View Window and Door for example. Devon started his podcast 5 years ago to grow influence with contractors and architects (the Targeted Ideal Prospects for Devon’s business). In Devon’s words this mission has evolved into his goal of ‘connecting technology (his podcast) to handshakes (connecting people in the industry to one another). Today he’s become the ‘global megaphone’ on The Art of Construction which has a subscriber list of 350,000 people.
Dave Cooper (mentioned earlier) has in the past 3 years watched his ‘One Minute Video’ series not only grow his business but help launch a speaking and consulting ‘side-hustle’ to teach others to use video to grow. This business is called Dave Cooper Live.
In my own example, what started 9 years ago as a single blog post my digital marketing agency convinced me to write has mushroomed into 4 blogs including my most popular ones, News from The Block and Professionally Organized which are visited by 100,000 and 25,000 people per month.
Your influence (and leads) can and will grow if you pick a platform (podcasts, videos and blogging are 3 popular options) and stay consistent developing (and distributing) content.
Step #5 – Don’t drive traffic to a crappy web site
The good news about growing influence through content is you can drive (for FREE – now that’s a magic word!) traffic to your digital platforms. And in most people’s case, the web site is their most important digital asset.
However, if your web site is bad then all your efforts to build a ‘tribe, traffic and influence will be wasted.’ You’ll repel people faster than a plate of bacon at a vegan restaurant.
If you’re unsure how to grade your web site (and what you can do to make it better), read the 3 ‘tell-tale’ signs your web site is ‘long-in-the-tooth’ below:
- Reason 1 your web site is long-in-the-tooth – Your pictures are as current as Aunt Mable’s living room – Contrary to what many think you and I aren’t in the kitchen and bathroom remodeling business. We’re in the INSPIRATION BUSINESS. People buy bathrooms and kitchens to enjoy a better, easier and more beautiful life. They buy to realize the inspired life they’re seeking. Your beautiful (or ugly, if they’re outdated) website pictures will either attract visitors to learn more or repel them to ‘run, run as fast they can’ from your site. Ask, do my pictures represent the style and quality of work my Targeted Ideal Prospects want today? For example, in our wall panel business – we show images of contemporary bathrooms (like you’ll see below) which we believe appeal to our T.I.P.’s who want a low-maintenance lifestyle.
- Reason #2 your web site is long-in-the-tooth – You don’t have product, service or landing pages which go with your content – Even if I don’t know you, I’m guessing you and I have one thing in common. We’re time starved. We’d like more than 24-7. We hate to be frustrated and have our time wasted by others. So when you write a blog post, speak on a podcast or shoot a video with wonderful content, and then send this traffic to a ‘general web page’ which has nothing to do with the content, you’ve ‘succeeded’ (sarcasm intended) in getting your website visitor mad. You’re wasting their time. Drive traffic to a relevant product, service or landing page which relates to the content. Period.
- Reason#3 your web site is long-in-the-tooth – You don’t have a CTA (call to action) which motivates people to continue to learn from you and join your tribe – If your web site is like most remodelers you have the ‘proverbial’ Free Estimate or Free Design Consultation button to get leads. While this is good (and important) what’s happening with the other 98% of visitors to your site who ARE NOT ready for a free design consultation? They’re in the research phase. They’re kicking the digital tires (and might be for a few more years before they have the money to do their dream kitchen or bath). After they’re done reading your page(s) they’ll click off and may NEVER return again. This DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT be the case. What you need is another CTA (call to action) or ‘lead magnet’ as some people call them. Perhaps it’s a download (in exchange for their email) of a Free guide to save money on a bathroom remodel. Perhaps it’s tips to get rid of grout in a bathroom (if you sell grout free shower and bathroom products). The lead magnet below (where it says to REQUEST FREE SAMPLES NOW) has helped our business build an email distribution list (which we use to send helpful remodeling articles) of 23,541 people (and counting). Who doesn’t like a free sample? Please don’t let prospects slip out of your digital hands. Add lead magnets. Build your email list.
Step #6 – Distribute the daylights out of your content
In a perfect world, you’d create the perfect social media post seen by all the perfect T.I.P.’s who absolutely love it. They’d share the post so often it goes viral. You’re generating more leads than you could have imagined.
The likelihood of this happening is similar to hitting the lottery or getting hit by lightning (twice). It ain’t happenin’!
Just like you need a disciplined and consistent process to write the content, you need a disciplined and consistent process to distribute the content to the social media platforms. Don’t expect one social media post will rock your business world. Distribute your message multiple times on the platform(s) of choice of your T.I.P.’s.
For Devon Tilly – whose is focused on high-end residential and commercial window projects influenced by contractors and architects, his social media platform of choice is LinkedIn.
For our business, we look to grow consumer awareness of grout free laminate shower wall panels and use Pinterest as our primary retail content distribution platform of choice. To show bathroom and kitchen backsplash panels to potential nationwide installing dealers and multi-unit bathroom buyers we rely on LinkedIn to get our message out to the business to business audience.
The bottom line is creating content only starts the battle. Distributing the daylights out of this content is where you ‘win the war.’
Step #7 – ‘Volunteer’ for extra credit
Getting known, and gaining influence is a process, not an event.
You can’t wait for ‘opportunity to knock on your door.’ You’ve got to ‘look for doors of opportunity’ and let people know you can help.
For example, Devon told me if he had to do it all over again before he started his own podcast, he would strategically contact other podcasters and offer his expertise to add value to subscribers on their shows. As Devon said, it would have grown his network AND allowed him to learn more about podcasting.
To grow my personal brand (and network) I’ve used writing for national trade publications in the home organization and kitchen and bathroom remodeling industries. I’ve had multiple articles in Cabinets and Organized Storage and have 2 articles ‘in the cue’ for Kitchen and Bath Business.
Speaking at conferences and events is another fabulous way to grow your brand and influence (even if doing this makes you want to wet your pants!).
If growing a personal brand sounds like a lot of work, I won’t lie and tell you it’s not.
However, if you want to get exclusive leads where your prospects already know, like, trust and want to work with you (without getting 6,000 estimates and blowing a bunch of money on expensive advertising) – the long road to personal branding is worth the price (of your effort) – IMHO.
Connecting with me or one of the personal brand building experts in this article
If you’d like to talk about personal branding or are looking for a speaker for your next event (on topics like digital branding or personal branding), call 888-467-7488 and ask for Mike.
Learn how to use videos to grow your personal brand (and business) by contacting Dave Cooper of Connecticut Valley Homes through LinkedIn.
See how to go from ‘invisible to influential’ and get the ‘no-nonsense’ advice on personal image I’ve come to love from my friend Danielle Turcola and call 216-926-3699.
Finally learn about podcasting or very-cool looking windows call Devon Tilly at 303-649-2217.
If you’d like to improve your bathroom remodeling or new home offerings with simple to install, sharp-looking tub and shower wall surround panels and become a shower wall panel dealer (hey- I’ve got to plug my business sometime – after all my kids’ education bills need to be paid!) call 888-467-7488 and ask for Mike (or that wacky dude who writes those articles).
I’m looking forward to getting to know you and helping in any way I can.
Connect on LinkedIn at Mike Foti on LinkedIn
Tags: branding for a remodeling business, how to build a personal brand, non-traditional marketing building business, non-traditional marketing remodeling, personal branding, personal branding for a building business, personal branding home builder, personal branding home building business, personal branding remodeling