Are You Running Your Business or is Your Business Running You?

The Importance of Online Word Of Mouth for Contractors

by Janet Blake, FastenMaster Communications Manager

My brother Scott is a carpenter who works on many types of remodeling and deck building projects. Recently, we talked about his marketing efforts (or lack of) for finding work.

Scott doesn't have a website, doesn't advertise and has absolutely no use for social media. All of his jobs come exclusively through word-of-mouth recommendations. As a marketer in this industry, I had to ask: “Why don't you have a website when so many people are looking online for the type of services you offer?” His response: “I have more jobs than I can keep up with."

Wow. That stopped me in my tracks. Here I am praising online media and my own brother says he's doing just fine without it. I've been revisiting this conversation for several days and now understand that Scott's not running a business, his business is running him.

What's the difference? Simply put, you are either working from one job to the next crossing your fingers you will be able to retire some day or you have the goal of building a solid business to secure your future. My brother is lucky. His wife has a lucrative career, health insurance and a nice 401k. He has no worries when it comes to retirement. When he wants to go on vacation or take a break, he is free to close up shop and go. Obtaining work through word of mouth recommendations works just fine for him.

Don't get me wrong, word of mouth is an incredibly effective means of marketing for all businesses, but it's a slow process. Online word of mouth is faster and goes out to a much larger audience.

When I was looking to have our backyard landscaped, I asked my Facebook friends if they could recommend someone. Within minutes, one friend sent us the name of a landscape architect company, including a link to their website and Facebook page. I was able to look at images of their work, view testimonials from their customers and obtain contact information. They were standing with us discussing our backyard 3 days later. Online word-of-mouth is fast!

Some remodelers and deck builders who look to build their businesses recognize the importance of having an online presence but many still do not. (I discuss the benefits of having a website here and recently shared advice on creating a Facebook page here.)

Word-of-mouth combined with online marketing work together to increase the quality and quantity of your job leads. It is crucial for you to embrace online media (website, social media channels) if you want to stay competitive and build your business.

Scott can pick and choose what projects he takes on but the opposite side to that is that he isn't aware of numerous opportunities that exist online. Remember, 87% of consumers find local businesses through online search.

Even if you are flat out booked for the next year, there are better projects or specific types of projects you may have missed out on because a potential customer couldn't find information about your business online. And if past customers are talking about your business online, you aren't participating in the conversation.

So, if you are looking to build your business, what's stopping you from joining the online community? Do want to join but don't know where to start?

Tell us about what's holding you back from creating an online presence for your business.

July 25, 2014 by Janet Blake (comments: 1)

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Comment by mike |

this is very true. many contractors do not take the time to plan for the future or prepare for that "rainy day". This gives a different perspective of our industry that we must become efficient at.

Reply by Janet Blake

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike. I know it can seem overwhelming to embrace online media but it's crucial for anyone wanting to build their businesses. I hope the article was helpful!