Here in this guide, I’m going to break down a comprehensive marketing plan for small businesses in the home services industries.
All residential and commercial service-based businesses serving a local area will benefit from these location-based marketing strategies.
This isn’t going to transform your business overnight. Actually implementing a marketing strategy takes time, and deserves dedicated time devoted to it every week.
While this isn’t a marketing plan—that would involve the prioritization and execution of these strategies tailored specifically to your business—this list will give you a comprehensive look at what you need to be doing to market your business.
The Top 50 Things
The top 50 things your home services business should be doing to market itself can be broken down into 8 categories:
The foundation for your marketing plan is your website.
You need a functional, beautiful, and conversion-focused website.
Having a professional, visually appealing website builds trust in site visitors who click through to your site, and having a conversion-focused design increases your conversion rate (i.e. the percentage of site visitors who contact you).
SEO Website Structure
The website structure is important because it allows your website to properly communicate what you do to Google.
If Google finds your website clunky, hard to interpret, or confusing, then they won’t rank you as high in the search results.
Having a clearly defined purpose to your homepage, distinct service pages each targeting a different service, and multiple location pages for each area you serve goes a long way toward clearly showing your business to Google.
Properly SEO’d Service and Location Pages
Frequently, having separate service and location pages can help you to show up better in the search results.
For instance, you might be a well pump service, and your homepage would reflect that by targeting your main keyword phrase: well pump service.
However, if you also offer water treatment services, you will rank better for that secondary keyword by having a separate page dedicated to that service.
Additionally, if you want to rank in several different cities, it is a good idea to create a specific location page for each of the locations (e.g. Front Royal Well Pump Service, Warrenton Well Pump Service, etc.)
Small Business Schema Markup
Schema markup is code which you can put on your website in order to aid search engines in reading your website and showing it to users.
For instance, with schema markup, you can create a “rich snippet,” or an enhanced description of your website for Google to show in the search results.
This can help your listing stand out on the search engine results page (SERPs), leading to more site traffic.
#2 Local SEO
Google My Business (GMB)
Your Google My Business listing is by far the most important local SEO tactic you will employ.
Between 40-60% of all clicks on the first page of the search results go to the “local pack,” that is, the map and top three listings within it.
Google doesn’t list pages in the local pack—they list your GMB listing. You will want to have this, and have it filled out completely.
Posting on GMB
You can create posts on GMB, so people who view your business on Google Maps can see helpful and recent content from you. They will disappear after two weeks or so, so be sure to keep your posts up to date.
Photos / Videos on GMB
You should fill out all sections of the photos and videos: team members, offices, virtual tours, videos, etc. Additionally, you should geo-tag these images, that is—use this tool to mark these photos with your address (this helps reinforce Google’s connection of your business with your address and service areas).
Fleshing out Sections on GMB
There are sections on services, descriptions, hours, categories, etc. Fill them all out, and make sure your descriptions are SEO-optimized text!
Reviews on GMB
Make sure to send your Google review link around to clients and build your reviews. This is, firstly, a huge trust signal to users who will come across your profile, and secondarily, a huge trust signal to Google, who will be more likely to rank you higher in the search results.
Bing Places for Business
As the search engine with the second-largest market share, Bing is also an important place to list your small business.
Using their “Places For Business” directory, you can begin listing your business on Bing Maps and in their equivalent of the search results “Local Pack.”
Yext / other national directories
It’s important to be in other national directories, for several reasons.
Firstly, your site’s SEO is affected positively by having multiple citations / directories / backlinks listing your business name, physical address, and phone number. Building these profiles out can assist you in this.
Secondly, there are some national directories which people frequently search when looking for local business. Having your business present on there can help get you in front of them.
Note: If you’re looking for an easy way to manage creating and updating all of your directories at once, take a look at Yext. They are a premium software company which allows you to input your information into their system, and they create and update over 75 directory listings for you!
Chamber of Commerce / other local directories
Another important place you will want to list your business is in your local Chamber of Commerce directory.
Some chambers have a website which allows you to list your business and receive reviews from customers, while others simply allow you to list your business
Either way, this is an important place to be.
Industry Niche Directories
Industry-specific, niche directories are important for your business as well.
These are places where individuals go when they are specifically looking for either your type of business, or your type of service.
Some of these are paid directory listings, meaning you will have to determine the value of paying for the listing, but I’ve given a brief overview of several with my thoughts on them in general.
The bottom line is this: there are very few instances where I would suggest advertising on any of these platforms for home services businesses.
Each platform will prioritize those who pay them the most money in order to get their listing “featured,” and the bulk of organic search traffic goes through Google or search engines anyway.
These listings are more important for their SEO value.
Home Advisor is potentially a good place to be, although my usual recommendation is not to advertise on this platform. Many people who use Home Advisor are using it to contact the top several companies for quotes, and you end up paying $35-$40 / lead for low-quality leads.
Houzz is a great directory to be listed in, as they are specifically a home services directory. I would suggest the same thing here as I did with Home Advisor: don’t advertise, just create a listing to gain a backlink and get your business in their directory.
Same! Don’t advertise! Thankfully, this is a free listing, as opposed to Home Advisor.
If you don’t create a listing, frequently Yelp will create one for you. If that’s the case, then you can simply “claim” the listing. Either way, stay away from spending money on advertising on this platform.
The Blue Book
There are several more “niche” directories, for handyman services, roofers, tree services, etc. which I did not list here. Click here to see the master list of online business directories!
Reviews are a great trust signal for both Google and the end user viewing your business online, and it’s something you can work on easily! You don’t need to be a tech wizard in order to cultivate good reviews.
Your Google My Business profile is the most important place you will get reviews. While the proximity of your business’ physical address to the person searching is the most important factor in showing up in the local pack, reviews are the most important way you stand out to Google and to the end user. If they’re comparing several companies in the local pack, having a higher review average and a higher number of reviews helps you to stand out.
Note: Check out Grade.us. Using this service, you can type in your business name and zip code, and they will give you the review link which you can then send to clients. It will automatically open up to the review box to make the process much easier for your clients.
While much less important for search, having a 5-star review is incredibly important for building trust between you and the end user.
Any Other Sites?
Maybe–I actually would double down on GMB and Facebook reviews; this third spot is more open for a potential niche site which matters to your business in particular: Houzz, Yelp, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
While much more complex than gathering reviews, building partnerships in your local service areas with businesses which offer complementary services to you is incredibly important.
For instance, a landscape architect might be well-served to build a partnership with a landscaping company.
If someone comes to the landscaper looking for a design, he or she is passed to the architect, and the architect always has that landscaper physically do the work which he designs.
Another relationship which might be useful is identifying the type of industry professionals who can help your business.
For instance, here at Enable, we have a client who specializes in well pumps and water treatment systems. He loves to get “pre-buy” well inspection requests from realtors because it’s a very simple job, and he gets to put his company sticker on the unit he’s inspecting.
The homeowner is going to call him when they have a problem for the next 20 years because of that sticker. Thus, his relationships with realtors are a partnership he is looking to improve in his service areas.
This involves targeting realtors with a Facebook ad, cultivating an email list of realtors in his service areas, or simply going to meet as many as he can.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process by which you get your website ranked high in the search results for phrases which your customers are using to find services which you offer.
There’s a lot you can do with Local SEO, but there are also activities which you can perform for SEO which are not necessarily related to your local area. Here’s an overview:
Content is literally anything you produce. But there are different purposes behind each.
You can create long, informational blog posts on topics related to your industry in order to
1) Get people to your website, and
2) Show people you’re an expert once they’re there. From an SEO perspective, you want to find a topic which is being searched with some frequency, so you can capture a larger amount of traffic with a well-written blog post.
Take a look at this example: Minick Law created a blog post called “What to Wear To Court,” which gets over 7,000 views a month! They found a keyword / topic which was being searched frequently, and then created an ultimate guide answering the question.
YouTube videos / instructional videos
Another type of content is video content. If you are good on camera, and have visual information you want to share, then starting a YouTube channel might be the way to go. Another option is to Facebook live stream tips or day to day thoughts to your followers.
Note: You can SEO-optimize your YouTube videos too! For a fuller explanation of that, click here.
Local Press Mentions
Getting local press to mention your business is good for many reasons, not the least of which is SEO.
While getting mentioned in the press is good for word of mouth marketing, getting a backlink from the local newspaper, chamber of commerce, local schools, etc. is good for SEO because of the physical proximity of those organizations to yours.
As you know, not all backlinks are created equal, and Google loves to see websites which are from your local area sending backlinks your way.
How do you get local press mentions? There are tons of ways you can go about doing it, but an easy one would be to build a scholarship campaign for local high school students, or host an event at a local coffee shop where you teach homeowners how to solve a simple problem related to your business (i.e. an electrician could give a 30 minute presentation on “Electrical Dangers in the Home”).
Note: If you do that, be sure to take the necessary steps to protect yourself legally. You wouldn’t want someone to blame you for being hurt after listening to your presentation.
Sponsorships / Scholarships
As already mentioned, sponsorships and scholarships are great ways to help people and causes in your local area, as well as help with your overall SEO and marketing goals.
You can sponsor a race, sponsor a festival, offer a college or trades scholarship to qualifying high school students, etc.
Once you advertise that on your website, other websites will link to your campaign page on your website, which helps your SEO!
Another great way to help your SEO is to produce content.
Whether it is videos, blog posts, or another medium, putting helpful, informative content on your website and allowing it to properly be categorized by Google will help you to rank in the search engines.
First, check out this handy guide I wrote: Finding Where Your Customers Are.
By setting up a Google Ads account, you are able to show up for particular keyword phrases above the organic search results.
Keep in mind that only about 8-12% of all search traffic clicks on these ads, but nevertheless, these can be very effective when set up and managed properly.
Local Pack Ads
You are able to show up in the local pack with advertising! This is a top 10 highest ROI tip right here, so this is a perfect tip to begin implementing immediately.
All you need to do is connect your Google Ads account to your Google My Business listing(s).
Retargeting ads allow you to send Facebook ads to everyone who visits particular pages on your website for a period of time afterwards.
For instance, if you’re a landscaper, and someone visits your snow removal page, you can set up retargeting ads to send him or her a snow removal ad for the next week!
Microtargeting ads are killer.
You can target a specific geographic location (even just one building; or just one room in one building).
This is incredibly helpful to businesses who canvass neighborhoods while completing jobs there.
If you’re a roofing company fixing some storm damage in a neighborhood, microtargeting ads allow you to show a Facebook ad to just the neighborhood you’re operating in.
This allows you to be incredibly specific with your ad, and use photos or videos of local landmarks they would recognize and get some new jobs in that neighborhood.
Find a topic which people are searching related to your industry, and write 500 words on it. It’s pretty simple.
If you want to collect contact info (especially email addresses), then you will want to create a “Tripwire,” or a downloadable PDF which is so enticing that people are willing to give you their email address for it. An example might be: “Top 3 Plumbing Mistakes that Are Costing You Hundreds Per Year.”
Get some local press! Host an event, sponsor a race, etc. Get your name in the local arena.
News Articles / interviews
Is there a local paper? Get interviewed as an expert on some local story.
Find a story which you have some expertise in, and reach out to the reporter who wrote the story offering some thoughts on the matter. If you’re quoted as a businessman / expert in your industry, that can only be a good mention!
Guest speaker at industry events
Is someone hosting an event in your industry? Are you headed to the Tree Care Industry Association conference?
Submit yourself as a speaker or guest panelist on some issue, and make sure to share all press mentions of your billing!
While expensive, having a professional branding video pays off.
When it comes to building trust with potential clients, a video that is well-made, that showcases your services and message well is invaluable. While this can be expensive up front, it is worth it in the long run.
Creating videos on each service you provide is even better.
Again, a high-quality video is an investment (you don’t want a poor quality video made by your brother-in-law), but so worth it in the end.
Creating and sending a monthly newsletter is another great way to share tips with your existing customer base or those people who download your Tripwires.
Highlight new products, safety concerns, or upkeep and maintenance they can do during that time of year!
Tracking your leads is important.
So important, in fact, that if you’re not doing this, then the other things will matter less across the board.
If you don’t know with exact, mathematical precision where each lead is coming from, then you will never be able to recreate any success you have.
While it may seem like an unnecessary expense up front, I assure you it is not.
ou’ll never actually be able to accurately measure your marketing team either if you can’t see which efforts are productive and which ones aren’t! For all parties involved, Track. Your. Leads.
There are really three places you get leads which you need to track:
- Website Phone Calls
- Website Contact Form Submissions
- Directory Phone Calls (mostly Google)
Phone Calls from website – $30.00
You need to be tracking phone calls from your website. By utilizing a service like CallRail (about $30.00 / month), you can get a complete list of everyone who clicks the buttons on your website to call your business. This avenue accounts for about 20-25% of all leads (at least for our clients in the home services industry).
Phone Calls from GMB – Free
Using Google My Business “Insights” tool, you can see how many people called you each month from your listing. This means they didn’t click through to your website, but just called you from the search results page. Depending on your industry, this might be a very low number or a very high number, but nevertheless, keep tabs on this number.
Phone Calls from other directory listings – $80.00
Using a service like ReachLocal, you can see if / how many leads come from other directory listings. This is the only place I would say cutting corners is allowed as you’re growing your business, as most leads do not come through these channels.
Contact Form Submissions from website – Free
If you’re on wordpress, then using the Caldera Forms Plugin you can track how many people submit their contact information through your website contact forms. This is very simple, but useful for keeping track of which pages people typically convert on, and for calculating the conversion rate of your website (total number of site visitors ÷ number of conversions).
As discussed, partnerships can be an incredibly fruitful source of leads, referrals, and business drivers. Here are some questions which are helpful in finding and building good business partnerships:
- What other services do my clients typically ask me about that I don’t offer?
A landscape architect designs pools, so a pool service company might look to partner with a local landscape architect.
- Where do I get most of my referrals?
If I am a remodeler, and I get most of my referrals from a general contractor, then it might be a good idea to cultivate relationships with multiple GC’s.
- Who offers these services in my local area who I would be happy to refer?
Do I already know them? Should I compile a list from Google searches myself? Should I pay someone $9 / hour to compile the list for me?
- Who would be happy to refer me?
Happy previous clients? Friends who also own businesses?
- What events / organizations do these other business owners attend / are a part of?
Is there a Business Network International (BNI) near me? Is there a Chamber of Commerce meeting? Is there a local business owner’s group?
Top 10 ROI-Focused Things
So the above list is comprehensive, and that’s good. But what if you only have 5 hours a week to spend on marketing? Or what if you’re just starting out? You need to see serious and immediate return on investment.
Cultivating a well-written, informative blog or filming Facebook live streams to give advice to your followers about your service are great things to do—however, they also take some time to begin paying off.
Thus, I’ve created this top 10 ROI-focused activity list for you so you can focus on the activities which are easy to justify.
Still a primary ranking factor in Google’s eyes. Build your website’s backlink profile, and you won’t be disappointed. Now, what you can do is focus on quality backlinks versus quantity. For instance, garnering backlinks from other websites in your industry, websites which have a high domain authority, or who are in your local area are more valuable than other backlinks, because they show that other respected or local websites think you’re respected or local as well.
- Google Local Pack Ads
Getting into the Local Pack is key. That’s where 40% of clicks go to! Set up a Google Ads account and link it to your Google My Business listing, and you can start showing ads here.
- Facebook Retargeting Ads
By retargeting people who have visited certain pages on your website, you can stay top of mind, ask for referrals, get their contact info, and more for up to 30 days after they’ve visited your website! The key is being very specific with these: people who visit your pricing page should receive an ad tailored to answer questions they might have.
- Facebook Microtargeting Ads (depending on the service)
When you’re on a local job, it can be a great idea to let the neighbors know! Not only by seeing your truck drive by, not only with yard signs, not only with door hangers; but with Facebook ads too! You can target a specific neighborhood with a message handcrafted for only those 20 houses—with that level of specifics, you can easily improve your conversion rates, and reduce the travel time between jobs.
- SEO-optimized site (designed for mobile, SEO site structure, etc.)
If you don’t have a website that is designed for mobile phones and is properly structured to communicate your business to Google, then you’re hamstringing your other marketing efforts. You need to have a place to send people to who are interested in your services.
- SEO-optimized pages (on-page SEO, keyword focus, interlinking, etc.)
Want to show up in the search results for three different services, and in three different locations? Try this strategy: build a service page for each of your services, and a location page for each of your locations. You’ll maximize your chances of ranking for each if you devote a page entirely to each service or location.
- Reviews (on GMB, Facebook, and maybe one other)
If you’re not getting reviews, then it’s only a matter of time before you drop out of the Local Pack. Business owners are recognizing the importance of reviews at a very quick rate, and you need to stay ahead of the curve.
Tip: Systematize this process. Create a great email template, including the link to your Google profile, and send it without fail!
- GMB (photos, posting, fleshing out, etc.)
Pay attention to your Google listing. Keep it updated with posts (with seasonal tips, meet the team, local projects, new sales or discounts, etc.), keep your categories updated, flesh out the descriptions of each of your services, respond to reviews, and pay attention to holiday hours. This is your most important marketing tool online, and you can’t afford to neglect it.
- Schema Markup
Ever Googled a recipe and seen a photo show up next to the search result? That’s scheme markup. Use that code to communicate the important things about your page to Google (so they don’t get confused when they crawl your page). Think of scheme markup as the Cliff’s Notes of your page.
- Partnership Creation (e.g. through compiling a list of potential partners for the client, creating a niche Facebook ad, etc.)
There is no simple way to create these partnerships, so here are three: (1) create a Facebook ad targeting the type of business owner you want to partner with (2) create an email list by hand and email them all, or (3) reach out to each one individually with an “info kit,” a letter, business card, description of what services you provide which could help them, etc.
Top 6 Ideal Activities
This list is for those of you who have been marketing for a while, and want to add massive value to your customers. These are not necessarily going to give you huge ROI right away, and might take some time to even get the hang of implementing and doing on an ongoing basis.
Nevertheless, these are killer marketing techniques:
- YouTube Channel with tips / advice
This is a great way to 1) help your customers by showing them how to take care of their equipment or explain the repairs and upkeep they should be performing on their home. Plus, you can share these videos on social media, and embed them on your website and in your blog posts. Google loves to rank pages with video content on them higher than pages without video. It’s good for so many reasons. Downsides: You need to be comfortable on camera, or hire someone who is.
- Active social media presence (with tips / advice, personality-based)
Like all social media, the usefulness of this activity is how well you use it. Having a killer social media presence takes a lot of effort, requires live video use, and tons of activity, but the difference in a dead social media page and a live one is huge for your business.
- Professional branding video
Again, this is expensive up front. However, the upside to having a professionally-produced branding video sets you apart from your competition. You can use the video in retargeting ads, on your website, and on your social media platforms.
- Guest speaking / hosting local events (like “How to fix a lawnmower”-type things at Lowes or something)
- Creating a “gateway service” (i.e. tree services provide tree trimming twice a year for a monthly fee in their program, they become the go-to tree service provider)
- Creating a “monthly program” (i.e. tree services provide tree trimming twice a year for a monthly fee in their program, Allclaims Pro provides a twice-yearly property inspection & claims advice before / after a storm for a monthly fee, etc.)
Whew! That took a long time to put together. Hope you found it helpful! If you have any questions feel free to drop them into the comments, below.
William is Director of Marketing at Enable. William is passionate about sales and marketing, and is always looking for more efficient ways to do both. When he’s not creating new content for Enable, you can find him spending time with his family and friends.