Tips for Advertising When You Have a Small Budget
RCS Influencer Heidi Ellsworth says you need to start now!
There are many ways to look at advertising for roofing companies that are on a small budget. In fact, today there are many ways to get in front of customers in an economical way that were not there even ten years ago. With the internet and social media, it has opened the market place for creative marketing for all sizes of companies.
But, before you dive into figuring out new ways of advertising it is important to take the time to develop a budget. That means taking the time to review your current year to date financials. How have you done with marketing this past year? Are you over or under budget? Do you have a budget? Tracking dollars that are spent on marketing is very important. Having a budget makes that tracking process much easier.
Let’s start with those who may not have a marketing budget. As we move towards the new year it is important to identify what has been spent on marketing to help build a new year budget. This is going to include everything you do to brand and market your company to the public. Categories may include:
- Printing and collateral production (for truck magnets, door hangers, etc.)
- Memberships (associations and civic groups)
- Home shows (exhibit space and graphics production)
- Subscriptions (email software, services)
- Freelancers (website creation/maintenance, graphic design, writing)
- Technology costs (website, social media, CRM)
- Digital and traditional advertising (ad words, TV, radio)
There may be additional categories that fit your business so take the time to pull together everything you have spent that helps you communicate with your customers. As the marketing budget comes together, there is usually an overall concern on how are we going to make this work. There are many ways to creatively fund your marketing budget for overall success. Right now, as you are working on your marketing budget, so are your manufacturers and distributors. They are looking at certified contractor programs, reward programs and business building opportunities.
If you are already signed up as a certified contractor with your favorite manufacturers and distributors, do not forget to take advantage of your year end rewards. As I have worked with contractors and manufacturers in the past, I have seen where thousands of dollars have been left on the table by roofing contractors. Every major manufacturer has programs for business building support but many do not ask for it or follow-up with the paperwork. It is worth the time to look at what type of marketing tools and services are provided. In fact, it is not just at the end of the year when these are available. Your marketing budget can be supplemented all year long by using manufacturer services, discounts and opportunities.
Talk to your suppliers about cooperative advertising (coop) programs that will contribute dollars toward marketing initiatives that include their logo. There are different guidelines for what is covered and there might be reporting required but this is free marketing money! In many coop programs, contractors earn dollars based on material purchases or warranties sold. These same programs will often see those dollars expire at the end of the year. Don’t be one of the contractors that leaves dollars sitting on the table.
There are also manufacturers that will design and provide co-branded materials for you to use in presentations and marketing efforts. They may offer technology to support your needs including SEO services, website support, sales apps and much more. All you need to do is ask your sales representative and they can give you details of their program.
Finally, be sure to look to all your local vendors for the best value. Notice I did not say best price. Marketing and advertising can be expensive but there are many ways to supplement what you are doing with “value ads”. Value ads include free extras that can help promote your message and brand further than traditional advertising. An example would be if you advertise with TV or radio, what else can they do besides the ads? Ask about video production, events and sponsorships. They should also have an active web and social media presence where they can highlight your company. Look at what other advertisers are doing and ask for the same.
Budgeting is critical for marketing success. Through the budgeting process, you can really take the time to think about what you want and how you are going to accomplish it. I find that working on a marketing plan first, setting goals and really determining the brand and culture of your company makes the budgeting process much easier. So, take the time now to look back at the year and forward to 2018. Working with your leadership team, mentors and advisors to develop a strong marketing plan and budget now will mean additional success in the year to come no matter the size of your company.
Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.