Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?

As marketing professionals who have worked in the roofing industry for more years than we like to admit, we are very aware of the challenge that contractors have in developing and implementing successful marketing programs. With the flurry of lead generation companies popping up seemingly every day, and the SEO companies who promise first page of Google results, how can you decide what to spend money on and how do you know what will work? 

It’s very tempting to fall victim to “spray and pray” marketing, where you throw some money to a bunch of different things, spray some marketing ads or mailers out there and pray that it works and the phone rings. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Success comes from having a plan in place that supports your business goals and provides consistent activities and messaging. 

We know that marketing for roofing contractors can be confusing, frustrating and elusive. Most roofing contractors are craftsmen and women who have started businesses by understanding and excelling at roofing, waterproofing and building envelope technology. They are not marketing professionals, so it is hard to change gears and figure out how to sell or promote their services while also running operations, estimating, sales and the business overall. A good marketing plan helps drive marketing without having to worry all the time.

Taking the time up front to strategize and plan on how to market your business successfully enables you to move on to other challenges of the day, week or month. A good plan can be the template for what needs to happen daily, weekly and monthly to keep marketing on task. It also eliminates daily questions or sales calls for additional marketing initiatives. By creating and sticking to a yearly plan, you are simplifying the day-to-day decisions that can stymie progress.

Fewer approvals and more action reduce the stress put on decision makers and puts the action into the hands of the marketing professionals. Whether it is a person in the office, an agency or a marketing coordinator implementing the marketing plan, by being prepared ahead of time you will reduce the stress of making reactive decisions or, worse, doing nothing due to lack of time and/or planning.

A good marketing plan will also save you money. Without a plan it is easy to say yes to that advertising salesperson from the local media or free coupon website; or that great new advertising concept for ad words or events that is purchased mid-year without planning or research. It can cost the company in lost time, low productivity and extra expense when you do not budget in advance. When you formulate a plan and establish a budget, you can still move money around if necessary, but there is a set allocation to work within.

Timing is important. Look at starting your yearly marketing plan in the fall if possible. It should be a planned exercise to review the past year and look at the upcoming year. Reviewing statistics, campaigns and lead/close ratio is important before starting on the tactical plans for advertising, PR and direct marketing. By organizing budgeting meetings or even off-site working retreats with your leadership team (ideally comprised of leadership from sales, operations, accounting and marketing), you can take the time to review past performance while setting new goals that reflect growth. By being conscious of past performance, you will set the stage for developing strong marketing programs for the next year.

Establish Your Goals

In fact, you should not even start looking at a marketing plan until you have your goals set. What are the company’s plans for growth next year? Will there be new services or products? Will there be any changes in overall company mission? Marketing supports the goals of the company and supports the sales team in attaining the revenue and profitability goals that make a company successful. If you do not have strong goals and plans, then marketing will most likely flounder.

Regarding sales, it is critical that marketing works hand-in-hand with sales. The marketing plan needs to reflect the goals of the sales team so that the marketing activities are nurturing and delivering the right types of leads for sales success. If the goal is to grow metal roofing but marketing is delivering asphalt shingle leads that are not upgradable, both teams will fail. 

By understanding the types of customers the sales team is looking for and the products and services they will be selling, a marketing plan can be created that will result in success for all departments as well as for the company.

By creating a marketing plan for your roofing business, you are taking the time to determine the ideal customer for your business and how you will attract, convert, close and delight that customer. A good marketing plan that is well thought out will address every stage of the sales and marketing process and detail how you will retain the attention of past customers while also gaining ongoing referrals.

So, let’s get back to that original question: how will you know where you should be spending your marketing dollars? Well, it depends. That’s the reason developing your marketing plan is so important. During the process you will have identified your goals and ideal customers. If your business goal is to focus on commercial roof restorations, then you want to invest dollars where your customers can be reached. You might consider joining your local chapter of a building owner or facility manager’s group, or implement an advertising program on LinkedIn that targets specific job titles in your area. 

On the other hand, if your business goal is to focus on residential roof replacements, you might consider a digital advertising program that is geofenced to target neighborhoods with homes that are 20 years or older and will soon need a new roof. The strategies that you use to reach your customers really depend on what you have determined in your marketing plan.

Your marketing plan serves as a guide for your business. It spells out your company’s positioning statement, the markets you will serve, your yearly goals, your brand promise, the tasks and timelines as well as the tools and technology needed to achieve your goals. It will also help you determine budget and resources needed to implement the tasks, campaigns and initiatives detailed in the plan. 

About the authors: Heidi J. Ellsworth and Karen L. Edwards specialize in the roofing industry, helping contractors, manufacturers and associations achieve their marketing, branding and sales goals. They have authored two books: “Sales and Marketing for Roofing Contractors” and “Building a Marketing Plan for Roofing Contractors.” Both are available in the NRCA Bookstore and on Amazon. 

Nothing Boosts Lead Generation Like a Strong SEO Plan and Solid Rankings

What better way to attract potential customers for your roofing business than to rank at the top of Google, Bing and Yahoo for your products and services! Ranking organically in “search” is the ultimate form of inbound lead generation.

However, common laments heard in business circles are that SEO, or search engine optimization, is dead, it no longer works or it just costs too much to get results. All three statements couldn’t be further from the truth. Business people know that paid ads are a quick way to show up at the top of the search engine results pages, which are commonly called SERPs. But research shows that most savvy searchers bypass these paid ads at the top and opt to click on the first few organic results.

Many so-called SEO experts have given up on the tried-and-true SEO tactics in favor of other avenues, like social media, to direct relevant traffic. Although social media has its place in an online marketing strategy, nothing truly helps boost lead generation like a strong SEO plan and solid rankings. Every business needs to take advantage of the potential results SEO may achieve by doing what it takes to compete and start collecting that low-hanging fruit of new customers on the web.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of websites are created every single year, making it more difficult to rank well—in the top 10 spots on page one of a SERP. Getting those coveted, top spots on search engines for related searches may seem inaccessible, but there are some SEO strategies that can help.

Because the original algorithms to rank websites on SERPs was easily manipulated, constant changes were made to increase the complexity of the algorithms and weed out SPAM websites that deliver little to no value to users. The constant evolution of these algorithms has made it a real necessity for every business to have a serious, ongoing SEO strategy. As business owners, we all know that worthy achievements rarely come without deliberate and concerted efforts. The good news is there are some basic on-page SEO tactics that can deliver real results in today’s competitive internet landscape.

Focus Keywords

The foundation of ranking well with a website should center around a list of words or phrases that are targeted. These keywords should be relevant to the business, brand or service. It helps to have a specific keyword or phrase in mind for each and every web page that is created. For instance, a roofing company may have a separate page for “roof repairs”, “new roof” and “replacement roof”. By focusing the keywords in each page around each specific topic, the chances of ranking for searches that include those words increases.

Be sure to include information about your service area, naming the towns in which you work. The keywords or phrases that are targeted will ultimately determine the focus of the content, meta tags and the entire architecture of a website. Start with the keywords you hope to rank for and build content around them.

Instead of trying to rank for generic terms, like “roofer” or “roofing”, which have lots of competition, try ranking for long-tail keyword phrases, like “new roof in Stockbridge Massachusetts” or “roofing repair contractor near Chicago” for more achievable results. Long-tail keyword phrases should be highly valued because they give businesses a better chance at reaching customers that are close to the point-of-purchase. Being more specific with keyword phrases will yield less competition and higher results for the pages. Remember, potential customers who use these more specific terms in their search are more likely to convert into paying customers.

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