The old mentality of being a craftsman and letting your work speak for itself is still extremely important to being a modern remodeler, but the internet has shifted the dynamic. With such fierce competition and more sophisticated homeowners constantly researching the trades, it is important to leverage technology to earn more business.

There are many effective methods at your disposal. Of course, this is assuming your business is ready.

Here are some core guidelines to explore before hiring a marketing agency or investing time and advertising dollars. Just like a pre-construction checklist you consult before beginning a project, look at this list as a pre-marketing checklist prior to investing in your marketing strategy.

A Website That You’re Proud of

This doesn’t mean you need to have a website that has customized pop-ups or wins design awards. It simply means that to get started with a true marketing strategy, you should have a presentable, mobile-friendly website—and have adequate content on that site. Websites are never 100% complete, so you can always improve, but your website should be ready for traffic.

If you don’t feel your website compels users to select you, work with a designer or developer. Don’t jump into hiring a marketing company to then have them tell you the reason you aren’t getting leads is due to a poor website. I’ve seen this happen, and the process is backwards! You want your users to land on-site and have time to browse around, educate themselves on your process, and view your work to build initial trust. Ensure your potential clients can use your contact forms efficiently, find your contact information easily, and enjoy browsing your website.

Fill the Gap of Online & Offline Actions

Marketing companies can take you only so far in construction. Your field technicians and culture will be the other half bringing the true strategy all together. Naturally, many potential and current clients are office professionals or do not have mechanical skills; this is why they are hiring you. With that said, non-builders find the art of craftsmanship fascinating. The most effective online strategy will bring together your projects and use the internet as an extension of your work. Take photographs in the field that you can use to differentiate your blog or website.

Websites like Houzz are additional tools, but if you can show your current projects on your website, you will build higher trust. Your current clients will be flattered and feel pride at being a part of your community, and your website will serve as a guide for new customers to view your work without you putting in more hours once the feature goes live. You will be amazed how much response you will get in a campaign that includes real crews and knowledge straight from a contractor.

Efficient Sales Process or Team

If you are investing in nurturing your leads online, you are essentially paying for each lead you get. Ensure that at a minimum you have a salesperson or an estimator with sales experience who can be around to schedule bids and assist in the initial process of bringing clients on board. This is very important, because customers that come from online leads tend to be much more well versed in their research. Unfortunately, they are not equivalent to word of mouth as they have a bit more skepticism upfront.

The simple, surefire way to keep these potential customers is to put a little more effort upfront and not be too casual with the initial process. Being a general contractor, you are used to multi-tasking; that works for word of mouth, where leads tend to drip in at a slower pace, but you need to prepare for an influx of leads after hiring a professional company for lead generation.

Credible Reputation & Integrity

Poor business reviews require a different approach than other marketing efforts and will be best served by hiring a marketing firm that specializes in brand image. You should consider reputation management if you are suffering from a lower than average reputation online. These firms can help you prioritize positive reviews and inform you on how to engage with past clients who may not have been justified in leaving poor reviews.

If you overlook poor reviews online and think more marketing will solve the problem, you will more than likely exacerbate the fact that you have poor ratings. More customers will see your online presence due to your increased marketing and are likely to have a predetermined view of your business.

Just Start Now: Social Media

I always recommend to get the ball rolling with social media on your own. It takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t, and the process of attaining followers is best if grown organically. Pinterest and Facebook specifically can be great avenues to expand your quality of work. If you start publishing, some of the work will be done for you. You will log in to find your post has already been shared and liked. Social media is a big part of your customer-facing persona, so down the line you may want to seek the help of a professional social media specialist. But first, get started so you understand and can engage with the medium and so that professional has a foundation on which to build.

Patience & Budget

Good marketing takes time to perfect. You should be willing to commit over a six-month to year-long period and not get emotional if your investment doesn’t pay off right away. It will take time to grow. If you invest in online marketing, commit to it long term so you are around long enough to see a full ROI and the traction is not cut short. If it is rushed you likely will be forgoing the foundation your company needs to be successful.