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Your Next Client Is Shopping Online

Picture of Doug CarltonDecorative concrete contractors, heck, construction people everywhere are starting to feel as lonely as Maytag repairman as of late. Just as I was wrapping up this article, the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values reported news that all contractors already knew — the housing market is in double-dip mode. The good news for you, my friend, is that your business may have the upper hand in finding new projects, at least if you’re willing to step up to online marketing.

The way this decorative concrete contractor sees it, the only way to land more projects is to increase your number of strong leads. Let’s take a look at exactly how you can add more solid leads immediately.

Chuck Taylor is a lot like many other decorative contractors, except that he has a few more jobs lined up. His company, Procrete, out of Billings, Mont., has been around the decorative industry since 2004 and does not advertise in the local phone book. He is using no big billboard advertising along I-90, no local television ads, not even ads on local radio. Did I mention that Chuck’s company receives most leads from online with a closing ratio around 80 percent? How is he doing this, you may be asking

Chuck said the last two years have been tougher for landing new work than the housing boom years. The one source of new work that has kept him going, he says, is a tiny small online ad at ConcreteNetwork.com.

Here is how he said it works. A customer in his area checks out Concrete Network’s website. Customers are able to narrow contractor choices down by using a zip code to search for decorative contractors’ contact info registered on the website. Chuck said most leads are strong and pinpointed to the decorative type he specializes in. Concrete Network, like other similar ventures, charges a flat monthly fee for this service regardless of the results.

Thanks, Chuck, for sharing a proven source of solid leads. For more information, contact ConcreteNetwork.com — or a similar site, such as ConcreteIdeas.com.

Free online listings
The guys at “The Concrete Show,” the TV show formerly known as “Concrete Nation,” realize times are tight. They also run the new website Findaconcretecontractor.com, and if a free listing on that site for a few months sounds good, be sure to check it out soon. “The Concrete Show” is currently shooting in San Antonio, Texas, and they want to combine exposure for the show with exposure for your business. Viewers of “The Concrete Show” with interest in decorative concrete will be directed to find local contractors registered on Findaconcretecontractor.com. Few things have been as beneficial to the decorative concrete industry as home improvement television. This site, like the others, has the potential to provide plenty of online exposure for your business.

Internet marketing in-house
You may be a more hands-on type or be just a little limited on advertising funds. If so, we have a recommendation for you as well. I won’t claim to understand search engines, contextual advertising or web analytics, but what I do know is that nearly every business can take advantage of online advertising by way of “pay-per-click” options.

Here is how pay-per-click work: A prospective customer in your area types “decorative concrete” into a search engine and your website appears in the results or is given priority. Advertisers can bid on keyword phrases relevant to the decorative concrete industry such as “concrete polishing,” “concrete staining,” “counters” and “stamping.” When a local customer requests online information regarding selected keywords your company name and link appear. You pay according to how many “clicks,” customers who click on your link to learn more from you, come your way.

For more info just search for “pay-per-click” online and pick from a vast selection of options.

No one likes to be surprised with a larger bill at month’s end than they expected. All the online marketing sources described in this article allow a contractor to know exactly what he or she will be paying each month. Pay-per-click advertising may be the best option for those on really tight budgets, but a combination of online sources provides the best opportunity to cover your decorative concrete market. Most contractors are regional, and the Internet market is a growing source for solid, informed regional leads.

Doug Carlton operates Carlton Concrete Inc. in Visalia, Calif. He can be reached at carltondoug@comcast.net.

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