Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Social media marketing has changed (Part 2)

Canadian Contractor

Filling the funnel, finessing the timing, and delivering the message on target

When Tom Cumming, president of Severn Woods Construction Inc., realized he needed an improved strategy for his company’s social media marketing, he had specific objectives in mind. Those objectives included being consistent, focused and disciplined. As outlined in Part 1 of this series, Cumming hired the expertise of Toronto- based consultancy The Marketing Garage because he recognized that he couldn’t do the job properly in-house.

Filling the top of the funnel
How would Cumming’s consistent, focused and disciplined strategy appear in actual practice? Bob Nunn, co-founder of The Marketing Garage, explains. “Tom is referring to the principle of always filling the top of the funnel. What that means is, you need to get found, you need fame, and you need fans — fame, found and fans. Fame is at the top of the funnel. Fame means, ‘I’ve heard of you but I may not have a need for you right now.’ The next level is, ‘I am now looking for a contractor.’ Fans are those who have used you, liked your service, and perhaps have given you a good review. You always need to keep the top part of the funnel going.”

Fame, found and fans… all without spam. That’s the goal of a solid social media strategy

Fame, found and fans… without spam
Cumming had another objective. “One of the things Tom said to us right out of the gate was that he wanted fame without spam.” Although many find that easier said than done, it requires the tactical Geo-Targeting of prospective clients, not simply bombarding social platforms with post after post. (see Part One of this series)

What makes your business rock?
There are several studies recommending how to post —how many times each week, how times each day, and what hours of each day in order to maximize the response from each of the most popular social media platforms. Nunn doesn’t pay much heed. In fact, he believes the number of posts doesn’t matter anymore — even once a week might be fine. “What’s more important is the message. This is where advertising gets old school — Make sure you are saying something that differentiates you. Ask yourself, ‘What makes my business so special?’”


One of Nunn’s first tasks was to help Cumming determine those points of differentiation. “One message with Tom that really resonates is that people want a home that looks good now and will look good 20 years from now,” Nunn says. “Of course, there are different contractors for different types of projects, but what makes Tom different is that he really sweats the details, he really cares about the quality. We based messages around that and found it really worked. That started to make his brand a little bit different. One line we like to use is, ‘We worry about the finish from the start.’”

“Different businesses have different propositions,” continues Nunn.  “For example, consider a painting company whose main message is that they will paint the interior of your home in one day. It’s not that they’re going to give you the highest quality job you ever seen, but they’ll give you the best paint job that can be done in one day.”

Professional interior or exterior photography is a worthwhile investment for contractors, says marketing expert Bob Nunn

Professional photos are worth their weight in gold
What is noticeable about Severn Woods’ posts are two things. First, they always feature professional photography of the interiors and exteriors. Second, each post points out something specific in that photo, a detail that Cumming likely obsessed over during the project. To get to that point, Nunn does something unusual. “We go with Tom and the photographer for the photo shoots. We will say to Tom, ‘Tell us something about this room.’ Tom will say, ‘We did this here, and we did that there.’  Then we have the photographer take a picture.”

Unfortunately, not all contractors are willing to make the investment in high quality professional photos. That hurts them in the long run when it comes to creating high quality, attention-grabbing posts. (It also hurts when a magazine writer calls, expressing interest in featuring their latest build or renovation. A project without professional photography often loses consideration over one that does.) “It makes sense to use good photos on a coffee table site like Instagram,” says Nunn. “Professional photographs are a pretty good idea for everybody.”

The personal touch is part of the image
Content does not always have to be all about business, however. “It’s important to have a personal/business mix with platforms like Facebook and Instagram as opposed to, for example, LinkedIn which is more a business connection media,” says Nunn. “It’s important to show that you are a real person, that you have a dog, and that you like yoga. People want to know the person behind the business. They identify with the person, they buy into the story. However, you can do too much of that, as Tom did when we started. We said, ‘You’ve got to balance this. Let them understand a bit about you and your crew, and how your life business interaction works, but we will get more traction if we show the actual buildings.’”

What day, what time, and how often?
Beyond the message and the Geo-Targeting of the market, there is the question of which days are best to post. “People go through a rhythm,” Nunn explains. “Earlier in the week, we go through work emails, clearing them out. Later in the week, we all tend to look at more social stuff — we relax, we’re more open, more likely to look at some fun stuff.” This would suggest more posts in the second half of the week.

What about the ideal time of day to post? That’s a matter of who one is attempting to reach. “When the target is the head of household or the stay-at-home mother looking to do a renovation, the time of day impacts reach,” continues Nunn. “You can imagine they’re trying to get the kids off to school, getting the day going for the family. After around 10 in the morning they start going on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. That’s why 10am until 2pm works well. Even late at night can work.”

Quantifiable results
Measuring the result of all these efforts is critical and usually requires a special ‘landing page’ to receive all the incoming responses and hits from social media. That’s really the only way to measure effectiveness, and to fine-tune the timing and placement. In conclusion, Nunn says, “Everyone will say they want more leads from social media, but you have to know which messages are effective in terms of engagement.”

Whether you decide to make social media marketing a DIY project, use a bright young in-house employee, or work with a professional consultant as Tom Cumming did, without a plan and a strategy, your social media posts could be more white noise than effective messaging.

Did you miss Part One of this series?
CLICK HERE to catch up!

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