Tips to Boost Contractor Leads Using Twitter

Monica Brogan is Manager, Sales Support for CertainTeed Corporation

If you don’t have a Twitter account, stop what you’re doing, go to www.twitter.com, and create one.  Why?

According to the State of the Twittersphere report, each day five to 10 thousand new people join Twitter. Millions of users tweet daily. That’s a lot of opportunity!

For building professionals, this is another way to find customers, share information and best practices with other professionals, and expand your circle of influence.  It is just as important today to engage is social media as it is to a have website.  It is a part of doing business in the 21st century. I have included some examples of how Twitter can help you.  You can:

  • Create a “following” of people who are interested in what you are saying
  • Search for people who are searching for you.
    • Use the Twitter Search and enter phrases and keywords people would use to find you and your business.
    • Then, comment on their Tweets or send them an email when available. This will help you build a following quickly
  • Boost contractor leads and customers by staying in constant contact with your target audience.

Tips on the effective use of Tweets:

  • Post real-time updates so you can keep your followers informed.
  • Write strong Headlines – Short and Sweet – “What’s in this for me?”
  • Tweets with a link are more likely to be re-tweeted. 
  • Share how-to information, newsworthy events and tips, promotions.
  • Use the 90/10 rule.  90 percent of the time tweet useful information and resources, the remaining 10% tweet surveys and questions.
  • Day of the week and time of day matter – Monday to Wednesday were the days with the most re-tweets and tweets posted between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm had a higher volume of re-tweets.
  • Comment on blogs of your followers. They will likely follow you back and leave a comment for you.
  • Comment back as much as possible. This establishes a relationship and will lead to repeat visits.

In today’s world of social media marketing, Twitter should be one of the tools every contractor is using to build their business.  

If you are using Twitter as part of your sales strategy, I would love to hear how it is going.

JLC Live Residential Construction Show Stuns with Volume of Exhibitors and Attendees

Myron Ferguson clinic on drywall finishing

Why on a sunny, cool, dry, Rhode Island day would nearly 6,000 residential construction professionals from all over New England – and beyond – take a couple of days off, after the most brutal winter in New England history, to attend a trade show?

Why would manufacturers from all over the country flock to Providence, Rhode Island to exhibit at this trade event and why is there a higher demand for exhibit space at this show than the capacity to exhibit?

Why is this show one of the few trade events in the last three for four years to have growth as a problem?

Why? Because JLC Live, presented by The Journal of Light Construction, Remodeling, and Tools of the Trade magazines published by Hanley Wood delivers one of the highest trade show values – pound for pound, dollar for dollar – in the industry!

This show’s attendance increased by nearly 10 percent from 2010 to 2011 and the exhibitor participation increased by 15 percent.  This is extraordinary in a down economy!

Today, building technology is changing at a rapid rate. The beauty of JLC Live is the marriage of the practical side with the science/theory side attracting installers, applicators and remodelers who are eager not only to see the latest products but who want to see the science/theory and best practice applications in action by attending hands-on clinics.

Two examples of the show’s clinics supported by CertainTeed (both packed) were:

  • Drywall Trade Secrets – Gypsum drywall finishing clinic conducted by Myron Ferguson, Building Specialist, demonstrating best practices of drywall installation and finishing using a new gypsum product, AirRenew™ that removes volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from the air improving the indoor air quality.
  • Home Performance SolutionsBill Robinson, Building Specialist discussed the opportunities of bringing energy efficiency to older homes.  The retrofit market will continue to grow as homeowners seek to improve the efficiencies of their building envelop. It is expected that, over the coming years, the remodeling market will grow by an annual rate of 3.5 percent.

From CertainTeed’s perspective, the benefit of an event like this is that the attendees are so excited by what they see and learn they will leave the event and go out and buy building products.  The impact is that quick.  In this economy the construction industry is a highly competitive place. Contractors and remodelers knowing they need to differentiate themselves waste no time in adding new ‘tools’ to their toolbox.

At a time when we are not ‘out of the woods’ as an industry,  it is obvious that building professionals find this show a significant value proposition making it well worth their time and resources.

If you were at JLC Live, let me know what you thought of the event.

 

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

Get “Social” with Potential Customers

Matt Gibson

Social media provides the contractor of today with highly effective ways to increase name recognition and reach potential customers. Increasingly, consumers look to the internet not to the Yellow Pages to find solutions for their building and remodeling needs. For example, someone looking for a roofer is likely to do a Google or Bing search to find contractors in their area.  Contractors will want to make sure they are easily found by these search engines.  Company websites are still important to establish visibility on the web, but more and more consumers are using social media to share opinions and experiences – including pros and cons about vendors who are working on their homes.

When CertainTeed decided to engage in social media we were not sure if we could be successful but it has enabled us to engage in conversations and respond to the marketplace using vehicles that our customers and potential customers are using.

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow contractors to:

  • Establish an identity, talk about their services, gain fans, and increase name recognition. 
  • Status updates and tweets provide an opportunity to spread messages about recent projects, services, and offers. 
  • Profile pages give contractors a means of explaining what sets their business apart and allows people to endorse the company by becoming “Fans” or indicating that they “Like” the business. 

When someone indicates that they “Like” a certain business on Facebook, for example, it appears on their profile page.  Anyone who has access to that page sees the name of the business.  “Friends” or “Fans” of a business are making a public declaration of support and respect for that business and the services they provide.

Posting videos to You Tube can give the recognition of a television commercial.  Contractors can easily upload their own videos, which can be e-mailed or shared on social media sites.    Video cameras such as Flip give great resolution and high quality sound for an extremely reasonable price.  Videos provide an opportunity to show services, successes, and distinctions in a variety of ways.  A contractor can post satisfied client interviews, before and after shots of jobs, product cleaning and care instructions, minor repair advice, step-by-step guides of what to expect in the remodeling process, how to assess damage caused by hailstorms, and more.

It is easier than ever for a contractor to engage with potential customers in a medium that they prefer. Utilizing social media tools sets a contractor apart from his peers and gives the exposure necessary to compete in today’s business world.

Matt Gibson is Manager, Contractor Programs for CertainTeed Siding Products Group

Knock, Knock – It’s Google – Contractors Need to Answer

Matt Gibson

As I work with contractors across the country, I am continually surprised at how many of them are not actively engaged with online marketing tools. 

As social media gains a foothold with audiences of all ages, building professionals who are not marketing through a website,  or social networking page (such as Facebook), or posting videos of completed projects on YouTube, or posting articles and comments on a blog could be missing out on potential leads. The internet can be a significant, cost-effective lead generator that cannot be ignored by building professionals.

While direct mail and advertisements in local publications still have value, it is now becoming mandatory to have a website.  When a trusted referral is not available, consumers are now embracing the internet for research, and as consumers continue to expand their internet use the need to be accessible to them through multiple online avenues will become increasingly important.

Wayne Hollier from Hollier’s Home Improvement, one of our CertainTeed 5-Star Contractors, recently decided that he needed to have a website but wasn’t sure how to begin.  I connected him to a program called WebCheck™ that we offer to our credentialed contractor. WebCheck provides assistance in setting up a new website and, once completed, is easy for the contractor to take over, maintain and update. Wayne needed to provide specific information to set-up the basic framework but by utilizing this program his website was crafted to include keywords for search engine optimization of his website.  This added visibility has been a positive factor in expanding his lead generation efforts.

There are many tools available that are very user friendly to help you create a simple but effective website.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach a new audience for your services; make an online presence for your business a priority in your marketing plan.

Matt Gibson is Manager, Contractor Programs for CertainTeed Siding Products Group

EPA Lead-Safe Program Takes Effect – Contractors Beware

Matt Gibson

While attending a proDialog contractor focus group in Denver earlier this year, the contractors were in heavy discussions about the new EPA Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP) and the certification program which takes effect April 22.  I had first heard of the issue 6 months earlier and had dismissed it, thinking that it did not apply to the type of work that our contractors perform.  The excitement of the attendees at the Denver proDialog meeting prompted me to revisit the policy and enroll in a local training class for contractors to learn lead-safe work practices.  The class experience and the implications for the renovation industry were eye-opening, to say the least.

Beginning April 22, when a contractor is quoting work to be performed on homes, child care facilities and schools built prior to 1978, they are required to test the work surfaces for lead paint.  If testing shows the presence of lead paint, an informational brochure entitled Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools outlining the practices and procedures required during the work needs to be provided to the property owners to review and sign before the work can begin.  Currently the homeowner can potentially opt out of the required work practices if they meet certain conditions. There are very stringent requirements in the policy that outline practices to be taken before, during and after work is to be performed. These requirements apply to both interior and exterior projects, and can significantly increase the labor and material costs of a project.

Over the last three months, I have seen an increase in the awareness level regarding this issue, but there are still many contractors and installers who may be at risk because of lack of awareness. This is a mandatory policy affecting contractors performing renovation work on homes built prior to 1978. Contractors and remodelers need to be aware of this policy because it may pose adverse health risks to the contractor and building occupants and the penalties for non-compliance can be costly to both the company and the individual performing the contracting work, and can include jail time.

For some contractors they see this as a way to get out ahead of their competition by signing-up early but for others, they prefer to take a “wait and see” attitude.  One contractor in Colorado who is very well versed in this policy said he planned to avoid contracting jobs on homes built prior to 1978 for at least six months after the policy goes into effect to see what types of legal actions arise.

This policy has really hit home with our siding contractors because it directly affects work with replacement windows. While both interior and exterior work have square footage minimums that need to be met prior to implementing the procedures, all window replacement work undertaken requires compliance with this policy. While our industry as a whole has suffered in the last few years, the Energy Tax Credit has been critical in driving the sale of replacement of windows to improve energy efficiency.  The contractors I have spoken with recently agreed the impact of this policy will increase the prices charged for replacement window installation, potentially by as much as 30 percent.

While we applaud the efforts that the EPA has made in writing this policy, we encourage them to continue to evaluate and refine it further. Many industry experts that I have spoken with agree that there are elements of the policy that are inconsistent or unclear and could use further clarification.

As a building materials manufacturer, we urge building professionals to understand and comply with this new ruling.  We will be following this issue so watch for future posts.

Matt Gibson is Manager, Contractor Programs for CertainTeed Siding Products Group