Know How To Get What You Need
Courtesy of: Western Roofing Magazine, Heidi Ellsworth
(Editor's Note: Heidi J. Ellsworth, a graduate of the University of Portland, has been
working in the roofing industry since 1993. Having held positions with EagleView®
Technology Corporation, Carlisle Construction Materials, Eco-Star™, and Malarkey
Roofing Products®, Ellsworth is now the founder of the roofing-focused marketing
firm, HJE Consulting Group.)
At the end of every summer there is that one morning when you can smell fall in the air. It can be a sad moment that heralds the end of a summer of roofing success. For me, it also signifies budget time. Fall is the time to begin preparing for the new year. As a roofing contractor, there are many things that you should be doing to prepare.
The first is to make sure that you review your current year-to-date financials. How have you done with marketing this year? Are you over or under budget? Do you have a budget? Tracking dollars that are spent on marketing is very important.
Let’s start with those who may not have a marketing budget. As we move towards the new year, it is important to identify what has been spent on marketing to help build a new year budget. This is going to include everything you do to brand and market your company to the public. Categories may include: printing and collateral production, for items such as truck magnets, door hangers, etc.; memberships for associations and civic groups; home shows, such as exhibit space and graphics production; subscriptions for email software and other services; freelancers for website creation/maintenance, graphic design, and writing; technology costs for websites, social media, and customer relationship management; and digital and traditional advertising, such as ad words, television, and radio. Once you have looked at the past, take the time to look at the future. Gather your leadership team and talk about the new year and what you hope to accomplish. By reviewing future goals, you can start creating an overall budget to support those plans.
As the marketing budget comes together, there may be an overall concern on how you are going to make this work. There are many ways to creatively fund your marketing budget for overall success. Right now, as you are working on your marketing budget, so are your manufacturers and distributors. They are looking at certified contractor programs, reward programs, and business building opportunities. Fall is the best time to get with them to sign up for next year’s promotions.
If you are already signed up, do not forget to take advantage of your year-end rewards. Every major manufacturer has programs for business building support but many do not ask for it or follow-up with the paperwork. It is worth the time to look at what type of marketing tools and services are provided. In fact, it is not just at the end of the year when these are available. Your marketing budget can be supplemented all year long by using manufacturer services, discounts, and opportunities.
Talk to your suppliers about cooperative advertising programs that will contribute dollars toward marketing initiatives that include their logo. There are different guidelines for what is covered and there might be reporting required, but this is free marketing money. In many cooperative programs, contractors earn dollars based on material purchases or warranties sold. These same programs will often see those dollars expire at the end of the year.
There are also manufacturers that will design and provide co-branded materials for you to use in presentations and marketing efforts. They may offer technology to support your needs, including search engine optimization services, website support, sales apps, and much more. All you need to do is ask your sales representative and they can give you details of their program.
Finally, be sure to look to all your local vendors for the best value, which is not necessarily always the best price. Marketing and advertising can be expensive, but there are many ways to supplement what you are doing with value ads. Value ads include free extras that can help promote your message and brand further than traditional advertising. An example would be if you advertise with TV or radio, they might also be able to do video production, events, and sponsorships. They should also have an active web and social media presence where they can highlight your company. Look at what other advertisers are doing and ask for the same.
Budgeting is critical for marketing success. Take the time to think about what you want and how you are going to accomplish it. I find that working on a marketing plan first, setting goals, and really determining the brand and culture of your company makes the budgeting process much easier. So, take the time now to look back at the year and forward to 2018. Working with your leadership team, mentors, and advisors to develop a strong marketing plan and budget now will mean additional success in the year to come.