It’s not about if you become a digital entrepreneur, but when. And if when is not anytime soon, your business will eventually disappear from the public eye.
This is the reality that many businesses faced a decade ago, and digital imperatives are rapidly catching up with the construction world – even earthmoving and heavy/road contractors with a small customer base.
A “digital entrepreneur,” according to Brett Sutherlin, is one who uses all available technology, especially technology that allows you to reach more customers, better partner with suppliers, and recruit a skilled workforce of first order. Technologies such as GPS, BIM and telematics are also important, but their value and necessity depend on the work you do. Not everyone needs GPS machine control. But the technology you need to market your business is important for all types of entrepreneurs.
Sutherlin is the founder and CEO of Lead Revenue, a website and digital services company, and founder and president of fusionZONE Automotive. He has helped dozens of automotive and industrial customers, contractors and dealerships up their digital game. We asked him how contactors can get started and master this new area of digital marketing.
“It’s about exposure, it’s about being found,” says Sutherlin. “Ninety-nine percent of our efforts are aimed at getting found, first and foremost, on Google. If you’re not there and you can’t be found, that’s one of the main reasons for which you lack customers.
1. Start with Google
Sutherlin highly recommends Google My Business, a free app that helps businesses and organizations manage their online presence in the Google ecosystem, including search and Maps. With it, you can help customers find your business, tell them your story, and edit your business information. You can also read and respond to customer reviews and post photos that show off what you do.
When your Google My Business pages and social media are set up correctly and you regularly feed new content to your website, you will start to see results. “Content is king with Google, it’s the key to really showing up and improving relevance,” says Sutherlin.
When you create social media content and posts, you improve your relevance score with Google and actually help your business get found on Google. “All of this is the first step. Without traffic, there’s nothing else,” says Sutherlin.
Brett Sutherlin2. Educate customers
A big part of marketing is educating customers, Sutherlin says. For a paving company, this education could take the form of web posts that show customers how to winterize pavement, how to create a paving budget, or what to expect when the paving crew arrives.
“That’s what’s going to differentiate you from guys who are constantly trying to sell hard,” Sutherlin says. “Once people read your blog posts, they’re more than likely to dive in and read more than one.”
“You want to provide a wealth of information to the customer, first and foremost, to put them at ease,” says Sutherlin. “Be that knowledge base where people go, to learn. Once that happens, they will dive into your website, review all the products and services you offer, and ultimately convert into a customer.
3. Low cost advertising
Google AdWords and Facebook are two great ways to target specific customers and get your message out there, says Sutherlin. Google AdWords is a paid online advertising platform that allows advertisers to display their ads on Google’s search engine results page. Facebook retargeting shows your ads to people who already know your business through Facebook or Instagram.
“It’s great to find customers on Google and then retarget with social media because once they see your name five or 10 times, they’ll remember it instead of just seeing it once. on Google,” says Sutherlin. “It’s the one-two punch I love using. And it’s bringing great results to our clients.
Neither platform is particularly expensive. In fact, $5 a day can be enough to get your business message out in front of potential customers, Sutherlin says. “Facebook is paid. If you don’t have a budget, you’ll probably only reach 1% of your audience. But even a small budget will generate big results because the ads are targeted to a very specific, local audience, not broadcast around the world.
4. Recruit via social networks
Almost all entrepreneurs struggle to find qualified employees. Many entrepreneurs rely on word of mouth, asking employees to spread the word, but you won’t find a bigger or better word of mouth network than your social media presence.
“Recruiting today is an extension of your marketing,” says Sutherlin. “You want to show how satisfied your current employees are within your company and spread it on social media. Post something like five facts about why you’d want to work for ABC Company, then link to employee reviews of company culture.
Brett Sutherlin5. The importance of photos
Photos and videos play an important role in Google finding your information. In addition to scanning your text, Google bots read the metadata behind your photos and improve your search engine rankings accordingly. And, says Sutherlin, don’t forget that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world.
“Research has shown that if you have more than 100 photos on your Google My Business listing, your calls will increase by 500% and your website visits will increase by more than 1,000%,” says Sutherlin. “So photos and videos are important and shouldn’t be overlooked.”
The research cited by Sutherlin was carried out by the company Brightlocal and can be found here: https://www.brightlocal.com/research/google-my-business-insights-study/
Brett Sutherlin6. Don’t set it and forget it
While much of the functionality of any website is automated, making your digital outreach work for you still takes a lot of work.
“You need a writer who can come up with new content daily and tackle the job weekly,” says Sutherlin. “A lot of hours go into it. I think it would be a full-time job to have a writer on staff to do what’s necessary to be in the center of Google’s eyes.
And once your website and ad serving programs are up and running, you need to compile data and measure results, says Sutherlin.
Track things like incoming calls, directions requests, form submissions, information requests, number of times an article or blog is read, time spent on site. A good website will give you all of these metrics and from these you can gauge what works and what doesn’t.
Brett SutherlinAdapt or die
Over the past decade, car dealerships that haven’t embraced digital marketing, that have stuck with old-fashioned newspaper ads, have disappeared,” says Sutherlin. “I think that’s going to happen in the construction industry,” he says. “From a digital perspective, construction is about a decade behind most companies. But while 96% of people start their search online, entrepreneurs will need to have a digital presence there to grow. »
If you’re looking for examples of construction contractors going digital, take a look at the links below for some of the sites Sutherlin’s company has developed for contractor clients: