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5 Ways Digital Marketing Can Help General Contractors During Economic Uncertainty

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General contracting is a tough business, nobody can say otherwise.  On top of all the other challenges faced by small businesses, you also have to contend with industry-specific hurdles like a massive labor shortage, rapidly evolving technology, and complex safety regulations. Despite all this, for the last few years business has probably been good for your company as the strong economy created reliable demand for your services. We’re now facing unprecedented economic uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and while that’s always scary, it’s important to keep a clear head.

Ideally, your company has already invested in digital marketing. If not, then you need to start now. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. With less money in the economy, there’s fewer potential clients, which means more competition. And chances are, your competitors aren’t doing this.

While we don’t yet know how the economy will react in the long term to the COVID crisis, we have a pretty good idea of what happens if it deepens into a recession.  According to U.S. census data, during the 2008 recession public construction and home improvements stayed relatively steady, but private construction (particularly of new homes) and public educational expansion plummeted. Common sense tells us less spending means more competition for the money that remains, and that’s where digital marketing comes in – separate yourself from your competition.

When a potential client is in search for a reliable company to work with, chances are they will go online looking for someone to do their new project. At this moment, having a strong digital marketing presence is key. Something as small as a sleek website can be the deciding factor when it comes to getting a new job or not. Ensuring your digital marketing is up to date and running effectively will help you grab those competitive clients.

2. Different times call for different measures, such as investments that keep on giving.

Business has been great for the past 5+ years. Chances are if you do good work int he community, your schedule has been filled, and filled with the type of work that you want to be doing – kitchen & bathroom renovations. However, chances are times are going to be different in followup to this current pandemic and economic downturn. 

Considering these times will be different, that will call for different measures and for you to start investing into other business areas to drive top of the funnel activity, that will result in the work you want. Everyone will be competing over fewer clients. Before this current landscape, there were such a large supply of potential clients, that all you had to do is great work. Now, you’re going to need to effectively show off your great work to the community, and how are you going to do that? Through digital marketing.

We have great news that comes with this, though – this investment will grow!

3. Digital marketing can keep you afloat during the downtime, and help you emerge strong for the boom times.

Most general contractors are small businesses, and small businesses are hugely vulnerable to economic downturn. In the years following 2008, 25% of construction workers lost their jobs and the number of firms on the Inc. 5000 list collapsed from 548 to below 150. However, those firms that weathered the storm were growing at an average rate of 403% by 2014, and by last year 69% of firms were reporting labor shortages.

How can you keep your head above water now, and thrive during recovery? Digital marketing. Invest into your social media, create an effective website, begin exploring the idea of Google Advertising, and make sure you’re being found within the appropriate search engines. Just by bringing in clients now that can keep your doors open through hard times, digital marketing is a key investment for your firm. But it does better than that, because when people start spending again you have a mature platform to offer them services. And it’s not just clients you need to attract at that point…

4. Attract skilled labor, and hold onto what you have.

One problem many contractors ran into during the last recovery was that having laid off huge numbers of staff in the recession, they were then unable to fill holes as they opened up later. Competition for skilled labor will only be fiercer in the next recovery, as older workers continue to retire and younger workers trickle in too slow to replace them. Having an established digital marketing campaign is a great way to bring in new talent, as name recognition brings them to your site to look for openings. And name recognition doesn’t just matter to prospective employees;

5. Drive Top of Funnel activity and increase conversions.

One of the most important aspects to any business is to drive top of the funnel activity and ensure your business is generating enough leads to keep everyone busy. This is no different for contractors. When times start to get tougher and peoples budgets begin to shrink, driving that top of the funnel activity becomes more and more challenging. Undoubtedly you will exhaust every possible avenue, but you need to 100% make sure that your digital marketing it set up. Your website should be bringing in potential clients for you too close.

One of the encouraging aspects of all of this is an increased conversion. There will simply be less tire kickers. The people that you do turn into leads, will be much more serious than what you’re probably seeing now. Your website and overall digital marketing efforts are the tip of the spear in making sure you can keep your guys busy

Conclusion

While in many cases an economic downturn makes it harder to market, here contractors actually have an easier time. How? With less tire kickers, you get increased conversions per dollar spent. Fewer people just poking around means more bang for your buck as you only get genuinely interested inquiries.

Economic uncertainty is scary, and recessions are scarier. But tough times make for great opportunities, if you’re prepared to take advantage of them. A well-prepared firm that can weather the storm is ideally placed to boom during the recovery and competition decreases and money returns. Make no mistake though, now is the time to prepare. Digital marketing is a critical investment for uncertainty and tough times, not just an excess expense to be trimmed at the first sign of trouble. Invest in your firm’s future now, and reap the rewards in all seasons.

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