Can anyone recommend techniques for effective marketing to tradies?
Looking at doing some tailored marketing towards Tradies for my virtual PA services. Any low cost ideas? I think I need to go 'old school' with a bit of offline marketing as SEO and social media isn't right for this target. I've joined some local networking groups to get the word out there and have designed some pricing packages specific for this niche that I am ready to go to market with.
Despite what the SEO people say, and based on gut feel rather than fact, I tend to agree with you that large parts of this market may be behind the curve in openness to 'digital' generally. Then again, if you're trying to be a virtual assistant via online, those laggers may be quite resistant to your service offering anyway! My online approach would be to tackle them where they are being most driven to online, so where they are competing on quote sites and where they are buying supplies online.
Some ideas would be:
1. If you're getting leads from a directory or Yellow pages or something, do a small test of email versus snail mail. At least 100 of each though. Then decide which, if either, work for you.
2. If you google 'tradesman quote' or something like it, you'll get a load of sites like servicecentral / 1300alltrades / find-a-plumber / etc. Try contacting them and see if they'll give you access to their database, either directly or through them. They might want to charge or they might be willing to do it on a cost per acquisition basis If you can set it up so what they are sending is a 'special offer just for members of xyz site' then you can sell it to them as a benefit for their customers and building their profile. Or maybe you can put an ad on the bottom of every 'request for quote' notification email they send out for a month or so?
3. Try the same thing any association for a specific trade. You may find you need to have some clients in the trade to get any traction though. Or try someone who is selling to tradespeople already and offer them a cut. Bunnings and other hardware stores, air conditioning suppliers, white goods spare parts suppliers...
4. I'm not an expert, but I understand tradies often contract and subcontract, so should have good networks with others across various trades. If / once you have a few clients, a referral programme could work really well (eg 'for every new customer you refer to me who signs up, I'll give you two hours free')
5. Also as soon as you can, get a couple of tradie recommendations / testimonials so they can see that others like them are using you and finding value.
Well, we know their pain: It's time, team and money! But seriously, one of my clients recently grabbed the builders directory, had a few people on Elance extract the email addresses and sent off an email announcing new building service he has.
It was remarkably successful. The thing is, while it wasn't VA type services it was something that saved builders a lot of time. They are all scrambling around, trying to invoice and get money from customers, trying to keep their staff going or get new staff, while quoting and keeping their 'funnel' filled.
But I'm sure you know this and hence the market for your business. You really have to speak their language and sound like you know their business which is true of any market you're going for, I guess. And lastly, anything you can do to ease the burden on the wife/husband/partner of said Tradie will win you a lot of bonus points!
I haven't directly answered your question but I hope it helps.
I've had a lot of success using gold old-fashioned snail mail.
Use a hand written envelope so it looks personal.
Don't try and sell them anything.
Offer free information that touches on some of their pain points, as Tim Greig says - time or money.
Direct them to a special page in your website where they can get useful free information , in return for their email.
The follow up regularly. It works!
No one wants to be sold....they want to build relationships of trust before they buy.
Hope this helps!
Where do most tradies go at least once a week? To a hardware store. Why not get in front of them in store or online. Offer information right there in a flyer - 10 top tax deductions for tradies etc. - link back to your website (QR code is great here ) with even more tips - acquire their email and send out a tip a month? You will need to contact the stores but pick a franchise and see how you go.
Just a thought.
True - Time, team and money are a challenge. But isn't this everyone's challenge nowadays?
To say that "SEO and social media isn't right for this target" **may** be true today (though I would tend to disagree), but it certainly isn't for tomorrow. Depending on plans, a bit of SEO/social work now (perhaps bundled with other channels) could pay off big time tomorrow.. which could be only one month away...!
But no matter what you do, remember that ppl doing the real work and bringing in real money are time-poor, in all industries.
I think using SEO would probably be one of the best areas to target tradies looking for specific keywords around accounting help, book keeping help tradies, persona assistant, call taking ect.
I have worked on a few construction SEO projects in the past, the volume is their it is just about making sure you have leads which are qualified.
You could also look at websites like Service Seeking and Gimme Quotes to help promote your service as these sites do have many tradies on the website posting jobs. So naturally you can try to target this market.
Bridget’s answers are spot on. Marketing to tradies is about marketing where they are at, such as in local papers or magazines because chances are, they are advertising there too. They will definitely see you. Try direct marketing with letter drop boxes to local tradies or posting snail mails to businesses you are targeting. Getting a shortlist of addresses are easy with online listings. You can find pretty much anyone nowadays. I’d also add that tradies with bigger businesses tend to have websites and Facebook or Instagram profiles too, they are also learning online marketing for tradies, so do not discount the power of online marketing. It can be effective with the right approach and messaging, if they are your target market.
Tradies are on their phones all day long. Whether it is answering phone calls, booking a sub contractor, finding prices on materials and all the rest. So concentrating SEO efforts (or Adwords) on local geographical specific mobile search means you aren't wasting time and money.
I think Bridget's answer sounds like some smart thinking. I worked in a "tradie" environment for a year in a small country town (great experience). I wasn't in marketing & comms yet then, but I actually am thinking about bringing our marketing services to that segment and I think what Bridget said sounded pretty spot on. I would like to reiterate about the importance of targeting your audience. As a first step of your marketing, don't forget to get very specific with who you're targeting. What age of tradies? Single or married? Etc. Then that may lead to its own insights about what mediums to use. Also, I think the idea of referrals' is really congruent with they operate already, so I'd also recommend exploring that option. In any case, I think I would just start informally running past your ideas to people from your your target market, and listening to what their opinions are. Good luck!
How about being a guest blogger for the tradie websites that are mentioned above.
Articles like Top 10 Time Saving Tips for Tradies doing their own paperwork.... (be sure to put out sourcing to a VA in it! :-)
Are you OK in a public seminar environment? Try getting public speaking gigs with the master builders association etc. I am sure they would be happy to promote and host a 3hr workshop like this if it is going to help their members.
If you have capital, I would be sending out this article or a newsletter with similar articles via snail mail to them all, on a regular basis, if its schmicko and compelling enough they will read it.
I believe the best way of marketing for tradies would be using online marketing tools such as emails, social media. I think these would be most effective.
My advice is:
- get clear on the type of tradies you want to target, and really understand their pain points e.g. time, money, hate admin and paperwork, etc. Get really specific about their demographics and psychographics.
- snail mail works a treat, emails can get lost in inboxes. Don't sell them anything but give them something for free, maybe a free 20 min consult to get them on the phone or get them to your website to download your free PDF which is about 'how to fix <insert a tradie problem> in 5 easy steps.
- access tradie databases or local tradie listings e.g. people above have given you some great ideas
- go to events and network with them. Go to the events you know that they will attend and talk about how you have helped other tradies fix <insert problem>
- think about how you might follow up e.g. a phone call two weeks after the letter