How to Build a Marketing Machine
If you’re going to grow your trade business properly (and profitably) you’re going to need a Marketing Machine — a machine that generates a steady flow of good leads.
Without a proper marketing machine, your business can scrape by on a trickle of leads, you can lurch from feast to famine and back again, you lack power in negotiations (because you need that job) and your confidence is low. You can feel stuck, frustrated and at the mercy of the market.
With a decent marketing machine, you have a steady flow of enquiries which means business and growth are steady, your confidence is high so you can invest in your business and you’re strong in negotiations (because you can afford to walk away). You’ve built a foundation for sustainable growth.
A Marketing Machine = A Marketing Plan + Implementation.
To build your trade-specific Marketing Plan, you first need to do your groundwork, get clear on what you do, who you do it for and why you’re good (and how you can demonstrate this).
Once you’ve done this, you choose your marketing building blocks and you have your marketing
Let me explain. If your customers are homeowners, you need to market to them in a very different way to if they are builders. And if you want to have homeowners and builders as your target market, you need to do both types of marketing.
The building blocks for a tradie marketing plan are:
- Find Me Marketing — a good, clear website, + a Facebook Page + SEO or Google AdWords (or both) (Digital marketing).
[This is what you need for those homeowners].
- Site—specific marketing — site signage, vehicle signage, uniforms
[Make the most of your team’s physical presence out in the world]
- Interrupt Marketing — advertising — Facebook ads, Instagram ads (Social Media Marketing), newspaper ads, radio ads, fliers, telemarketing — interrupt people with your marketing.
[Good for when you can stimulate demand]
- Relationship Marketing — building relationships with people to generate repeat work.
[Good for those builders, commercial and small business customers, real estates and property managers, architects ….]
- Referral Marketing — actively asking your customers to refer their friends.
[It’s word-of-mouth but you’re taking control]
So to build your marketing plan, you choose your Marketing building blocks (with my help), you prioritise, you get stuck in and you measure to make sure you keep going and to check what’s effective.
Marketing drives sales, which drives work for your team to do.
SALES (How to Increase Sales)
Building a Sales Machine is the answer to the question of ‘How to increase sales?’
Your Marketing Machine produces a flow of leads and your Sales Machine converts them into won jobs.
If you do it the old way — provide a quote when people ask but not much else —— your customers will be very focused on price and your margins will be skinny; you’ll waste lots of time doing lots of quotes you don’t win; it will be hard for your customers to compare apples to apples; you’ll feel weak and you’ll feel at the mercy of someone else.
Do it right — Focus on value.
Have a clear process, qualify out and your customers will focus more on the value you give them and less on price and your margins will be fatter; you’ll win more jobs with less wasted quoting; your customers will have an easier time choosing; you’ll feel more like a business person and you’ll have a predictable flow of jobs.
So how do you increase sales?
You got clear on your value when you did your marketing groundwork and you need to communicate that value at every step of your sales process — from first contact, at your site visit and when you present your proposal:
- You need to design your sales process. It will be different depending on what you chose as your target market.
- You need to qualify out early. Identify those unlikely to buy and invest your sales time elsewhere.
- You need to ask people to decide (close the sale) and follow up (and track your quotes).
- And you need to set your pricing so it gives you fair and sustainable margins, is right for your position in your market and defendable in negotiations.
Be disciplined and professional with sales, just like with your trade.
Your sales machine should be structured and systematic, you should be prepared and consistent.
Sales is not a black art, nor mysterious. Follow the process, ask questions, explain your value and defend your price.
A solid sales machine brings profitable work for your team to do.
Building an Operations Machine is about building a business that does the work rather than the work getting done with your direct involvement.
There’s only so much work you can do, or supervise, only so many job sites you can visit — you can’t scale unless you build this machine.
If you don’t build it:
- You’re stuck, needed all the time, jobs wait on you.
- You’re busy ALL THE TIME.
- Your people don’t work like you do – quality and speed suffer when you’re not there.
- You’re restricting your business, holding it back.
If you build an Operations Machine properly, you can be extracted from the guts, quality stays high, margins stay where they should be, so does your reputation and you can build the beautiful business.
This is about systems and project management and technology.
A system is how you have other people doing a job or a task the right way — your way or your business’s way.’
- You write down how you want it done (the procedure or the system).
- You train your people in this right way.
- You have an accountability tool (think checklists)
- And you delegate and hold people accountable
You do this for every process in your business whether it’s digging a hole, pouring a slab or replacing a tap washer.
Project Management and Job Management
Jobs are small, projects are bigger and they need more managing. There are software tools to help you do both – cloud-based systems like Servicem8, Tradify, Fergus, Ascora, Aro flo, BuildXact and Buildertrend.
You should use one. They take time to learn but your jobs and projects will run better.
If you have projects, project management is an important discipline. Not just managing the work and materials and trades but the project itself.
You need to set a clear scope, have a variation control process, document a project plan, have a sign-off process and a defects resolution process.
It’s about putting systems in place to control the work and the customers so jobs (and projects) get done on time and on budget and profitably.
A strong operations machine delivers high quality, profitable work with your having to be so involved.
Xero is a favorite cloud-based accounting system, for example.
If you don’t build a slick Back Office Machine, you can wade through lots of paper, manage separate systems, be non-compliant and you can be driving blind. Your back office can really hold your business back.
Build the machine, on the other hand, and your data is safe in the cloud, your systems (financial systems like Xero and your job management systems) are linked, you get paid on time, manage cash well, understand your numbers – costs and profitability – and meet your compliance obligations.
Your back office supports your growing business.
You need to set up your bookkeeping system (Xero, Quickbooks, or MYOB) properly so it reflects how you do business, maintain it regularly and know how to use it so it’s a positive business tool – it’s not just for doing your BAS and tax.
You need to understand your financial markers – your costs (your true costs of employment, for example), your margins, your overheads.
You need to raise invoices and collect money and pay everyone who needs paying, manage cash flow, accrue for Tax and BAS and Super.
You need to keep a lid on your compliance obligations.
And you need to set this up so someone else does all the legwork — you should focus on other parts of your business.
There are people better at this than you, people who like this work (really, there are!)
Your back office should support and enable you, not drag you down.
A trade business or a building business is a people business. Your people go out and do work and that’s how you provide your service and make money.
It’s also how you grow and scale – by employing more people.
So you need to look after those people if you want to get the most out of them.
We split “your people” into 2 – you and your team.
If you stay in the guts of it and try to keep your finger in every pie, you’ll be a bottleneck, be busy, work long hours and never get away.
If you extract yourself and work on your business, building systems, hiring people, leading people, and building and running those machines, you can scale, you can work less (because other people do more) and you can enjoy your business.
You’ll work on your time management and prioritisation, on letting go and delegating (properly, so you get the right results), on learning the business and leadership skills, the negotiating skills, so you get more confident as a leader and as a business person.
You’re important – we’ll make you as effective as possible and remove you from as much as possible at the same time. You’ll transition into being a business manager.
You depend on your team for your success. If they work well, your business will work well. If they don’t, it won’t.
It’s your responsibility to help and support your team so they can perform well.
If you don’t invest in your team, they don’t work like you would, aren’t loyal to you; you have an antagonistic boss/worker relationship and you aren’t really a team.
If you invest properly, they work harder (because they want to), they care more, are more loyal and try harder to do what is right.
You build a team that’s an asset — driving your business forward.
- You need to lead them (it’s an active process), manage them (communicate, guide, give feedback).
- You need to hire with care (and structure), fine judiciously.
- You need to build a culture that supports them and encourages them to support each other and the business in return.
Look after your people, and they’ll look after your business.