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How Much Should a Painting Contractor Spend on Web Services?
As a painting contractor, how much should you spend on web services? I think the first thing we need to get clear on is the definition of web services. Often what people mean is generating online leads through some method, and you’ve really got two options. Number one, you can buy leads from an online lead service like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor. They’re the same company now. Houzz, Thumbtack, Networks, there’s a whole list of them and there are new ones coming up all the time. Or you can invest in your own digital real estate. For the sake of our conversation today, I’m going to talk about investing in your own digital real estate and infrastructure.
On this other side, not only are you creating online competitors for yourself. All of those organizations rank so well because so many painting contractors have basically paid them to build very powerful websites. And you’re often inviting your competition to come in and bid against you. And that there’s no equity that get between you and the clients. There is no control over the pricing. And once you quit spending, the leads quit coming in and you have no residual impact. When you invest in your own digital real estate, you’re building something that you own, something that you could sell if you wanted to sell your painting business and something that will continue to generate leads over and over and over again, even if you reduce your budget.
So what type of web properties or marketing assets are we talking about? So let’s break it up into a few categories.
Number one is obviously your website. Number two, your social media platforms. And number three, what I would refer to as outbound communication to your in house list of past clients, unconverted leads, commercial prospects, and commercial clients.
So the first thing, when it comes to your website, it really depends on where you’re situated now, how is it ranking, and where do you want it to be? Is it being found? Are you in the right market? If you’re trying to compete in a large metro market, it may mean that you have to significantly invest in more content, in backlinks, in citations, in social signals. In order to rank, you have to get reviews on your Google My Business page and other platforms, and it may mean that that type of full-on assault in a major metro area is not really what you’re looking for. And in most cases we find painting contractors, that’s not a good fit for them.
Instead, you may look at a smaller budget in a suburban area where there’s not a lot of competition, where you can quickly gain Ascension because it is far better to 50%, 30% of every lead coming into a suburban market than it is to have 0%, but be on page three in a major metro. It’s about lead generation and cost per lead and sale. A secondary approach, if you’re stuck in that major metro market, maybe to go after long-tail keywords for specialized services. That’s another approach that you can typically do with a smaller budget. There’s improving your online presence and reputation, and that’s really driven product merely by what we’re going to move into next, and that’s outbound communication.
Most painting contractors have a large list of past clients that they rarely ever communicate with. If they do, they’re sending them a barrage of emails and occasionally text messages about offers and deals and color of the month and paint, paint, paint, and that doesn’t work. If you sign up for services like Signposts and others that really just treat your clients like a human ATM machine, that’s not a good place to spend your money. Instead, an online newsletter that actually gives value and builds a personal connection is a lot more powerful. And not only will you find that your clients feel like they know I can trust you and continue to purchase, but they’ll refer you to their friends and relatives. Text messaging is increasingly becoming an essential platform as email becomes weaker and weaker because of the abundance of messages going into that platform. And we will move now into talking about social media platforms.
While social signals aren’t as important for SEO as they used to be, it’s still a place where, if you use Facebook custom audiences, if you build a good audience of subscribers, followers, or likes, that you can get your information out to those individuals. However, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are increasingly making it pay to play, which means you’re going to have to invest a larger budget. There are two ways to look at this. You can look at it from an objective standpoint, in which case I want to rank my website. I want to do an essential amount of spend. I want to invest in outbound communication to my list, and then let a provider bring back a proposal based upon your objectives. Or another way is to say, “What we can really afford or what I feel like I can afford in my painting business is $500 a month. Why don’t you look at what I’m doing now and make recommendations that will get me the highest return on investment in the shortest amount of time?”
The other final thing I want to leave you with when it comes to investing in web services is this, it’s not really a cost center. You put money into a marketing mechanism and that will generate a certain number of leads, and those leads, based upon your closing rate, will generate a certain number of sales, and based upon your average transaction size and your gross profits, will kick off a certain amount of revenue. What you need to always think about is if I put this money in, how much it’s going to come out? And if I increase my budget, will it increase my leads? Will it grow my painting business? It’s not a fixed expense for insurance or a lease on a building. Marketing generates leads that close and turn into revenue. And when the numbers work for the cost of sale, you really just want to scale it. And that just means putting money back in there and watching it grow.
Need Help Putting This All Together?
If you need help with figuring out how to put together your web services strategy, that’s all we do here at the Academy for Professional Painting Contractors. John in my office exclusively builds websites and other outbound digital marketing resources for painting contractors, we specialize in this niche and we know what works, and we simplify things because we know you’re busy and you need to get back to running your business. So I hope that helps you clarify a little bit about where to invest and how to invest, and maybe even where to avoid investing because I really would recommend that you build your own digital real estate because you control it and you own it, and there’s not a lot of uncertainty there, at least not comparative to the other platforms.
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Jim and Lorraine
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