You’ve opened a bank account and chosen a name for your painting company. You have the materials and instruments needed to do a great job. Now, all you need is customers. Uh oh…maybe you should have thought of that first?
The most important part of any business is actually having customers. That seems obvious, but a startling number of people who start companies worry over relatively unimportant details (the color of their logo, whether to use Quickbooks or Peachtree for bookkeeping, etc.) while ignoring the most important aspect of future success: Having customers in the first place.
In many cases customers come from referrals or word of mouth. This type of networking is earned through high quality performance but it can often take a fair amount of time to build up goodwill with clients. And once again, how do you start with your first client? How do you attract the first customer to begin growing your business? Marketing and advertising strategies are as varied as there are colors in the spectrum. From global campaigns with television spots and trade shows to online advertising efforts that spend a few pennies to attract visitors to a website, there is a plan to fit most any budget in most any sector.
For a new paint company or even an established paint company with a limited advertising budget, there are thankfully a number of options that should get your business name in front of potential clients. Here are five cost effective ways to advertise your paint business:
1. Facebook Sponsored Listings of Google Pay Per Click – The reach of Facebook and the precision of Google Adsense make each an excellent choice for advertising on a budget. $100 can result in one thousand or more people being introduced to your brand and visiting your website. If your website is professional looking and prominently features your contact information, then that many impressions will often lead to at least a few qualified leads. And luckily, with the rise of free website services like FoundHere, it’s easy to have a great website on a small budget.
2. Groupon / Living Social / Amazon Local – Online group coupons have been scorching hot in recent years. The model works like this: vendors offer a substantial discount on services in exchange for a huge marketing blast to ready-made customers. Be cautious though, as it is very easy for your offering to be unprofitable for you. For example, if you normally paint a bedroom for $200, you might offer the service for 40% off through Groupon. Groupon will send out your offer to thousands or tens of thousands of potential customers. Each customer purchases the coupon for $120…but as much as HALF of that amount remains with Groupon. As a result, you are earning $60 for a service you normally charge $200 for, but you are spreading the word about your business. Only you can decide how much money you need to gross to make a job worthwhile, so my suggestion is that you be diligent and careful when planning your offer.
3. Donate Services to a local non-profit, school, or community organization – Donating your services to an organization or local group in exchange for a sign on premises while you are working can be the most cost effective advertising available anywhere. Aside from the tax deductions that come from donating time and materials for the job, patrons or members of the location will be exposed to not just your brand but also the quality of your work. Make sure that any signage includes an easy way to get in touch with you in the event of potential customer interest. Additionally, you should make sure you have a sign to display (with the client’s permission) during any job so that foot traffic or automobile traffic passing by will be exposed to your brand.
4. Utilize HomeAdvisor (formerly ServiceMagic) – HomeAdvisor is a lead generation service for companies that work to remodel houses. Your company creates a membership account and when someone requests work that matches your profile (i.e. interior painting) you receive an email with their contact information. These are known as “warm” leads, wherein the individual has a stated need for your service. As a result, lead generation like HomeAdvisor can be more expensive than the advertising types above. But the cost effectiveness of being matched with someone in need of your services is hard to overstate. However, move quickly to contact the prospect and schedule an estimate for the job; your competitors that use HomeAdvisor have likely been given the same lead and are calling on the prospect, as well.
5. Newspaper Classifieds – Weren’t expecting this one, were you? Newspaper classifieds are the forgotten ad medium amid the rise of the internet. Many newspapers’ classified advertising rates have fallen off a cliff in recent years. While circulations have declined as well, ad rates have decreased much faster. Your paint business may be able to place an advertisement in the classified section of a newspaper each week that costs the same or less as similar online advertising tools. The main difference is that many of your competitors have long since moved on from advertising in the newspaper. As a result, your business may be one of the few (or only!) paint businesses listed in the paper. An added tip: small community newspapers often attract readers that are passionate about the communities in which they live. Oftentimes those readers make a conscious decision to patronize locally owned businesses like yours.
Whether starting a new business or simply trying to add new customers to an existing business through new channels, advertising doesn’t have to break the bank to be effective. There are dozens of ways to get your brand in front of potential new customers. Keep in mind that advertising is an investment and like any investment, it takes at least a little money to make money. Once you have leads that convert to customers, make sure and do the best job possible to ensure they become a source of referrals and repeat business!