Everybody knows the usual methods of boosting a business, from advertising on the radio to handing out business cards.
But what about some out-of-the-box ideas that you haven't tried yet? Here are seven ways you may be able to boost your trade business with a little creative thinking.
By starting a referral programme, you offer other tradespeople and those in the industry some form of benefit for sending a paying customer your way.
It could be a set fee, a percentage of the project work, referring your customers on in return or something else. Whatever it is, it should be enough to ensure those contacts start sending you new projects, and it should help to bring in more income for your company.
You can also try a referral service with your satisfied customers and give them a benefit if they send a paying customer to you. This can help to amplify the power of word of mouth as happy customers may be more willing and active in passing on your details.
Social media contests are a fun way for people to get involved with a company, and when the prize is good enough, you'll find plenty of people are willing to take part.
If you're a painter, you could run a contest for an image of a lounge that most needs a makeover. The winner might get your work hours to do the job for free, or another prize such as a gift card or dining voucher. Simply ask your followers to post a photo on their social media page and tag your business account to enter. When it's so easy to take part and the prize is so worthwhile, you should get plenty of interest in the competition.
Ideally, so many people will see your business name, that the cost of the prize is well worth the investment. You can also use an entry process that asks entrants to pass on their details, so you can contact the non-winners later too and perhaps offer them a smaller voucher towards their project to get them started.
Is there a place where a lot of your clients go in your area?
Perhaps there is a local sports field, a popular pub or a weekend farmers' market where many of those who live in this area frequent. Once you've tracked down a few prime spots, find ways to place your ads there – it might be on the noticeboard, a sports sign next to the ground, on coasters or getting involved with the local quiz night. Often these are very low cost options and just need a bit of thought about the right places to find your customers. Experiment with some and see which provide you with the best leads, then try to find other groups or locations like those.
Advertising outside the project you are working on is an oldie but a goodie and one that many do but not necessarily for every job. Each time you take on a large project, ask your client if they would accept a small billboard outside their home in exchange for a discount on services.
You might be able to put a sign on their fence saying 'This home currently under renovation by your business name' or something to that effect. This way, you're showing others in the same area that one of their neighbours has decided to hire you, and therefore that you might be a good option for their next renovation as well. Keep it simple and add your contact details and basic services, then take the signage with you and use again at the next project. Remember Resene can help provide the signage for this.
If most of your work is shorter duration, consider using a pavement sign with your details to let others in the street know you are working in the area. Combine it with a flyer drop – a great way to get some fresh air over a lunch break.
Parking your sign-written van outside the property is also a good way to be noticed and will help keep the property owner's drive clear for their own vehicles.
Is there a gap in the market you can see yourself filling? Perhaps there is a need for someone who is especially good at painting high-stud interior ceilings or someone who specialises in using technical paints.
Make a list of things you do, or could, specialise in and then use those to promote your services. There may be customers out there looking for those skills in particular, and by marketing yourself to them you'll be able to tick those boxes and pick up new projects.
Don't forget about simple ideas you can do in the real world.
For example, a pack of chalk and a busy sidewalk can be a deceptively simple way to get a short message out there. Whether it's a Twitter handle, a hashtag specific to your business or a website address with a clever drawing of your services, it might be all it takes to get someone to get in touch.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are really the best. Leave behind a list of the colour palette details with your card and any workmanship warranty attached for the property owner to keep as a record of the project. Not only does it give them a quick reference to the project but they will also have your details handy to contact you later for the next project.
The customer relationship doesn't need to stop when the job is done.
There is scope for more work down the track. Keep in touch with clients with useful advice and information. You may even be able to give them a taste of other projects, which may give them ideas for their own projects. That might even be just once a quarter or perhaps a few months prior to your quieter season so you can have work lined up to keep you busy.
The Resene Trade Blog
Information of interest for professional painters