Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Proudly Advertising That You Are Not Cheap

I saw three absolutely great ads for painting yesterday from Seattle based, Shearer Painting.
Do you know what I love about these ads?

The price.

One room for about $600. Proudly advertised boldly up front and center. I can only guess at how many paint contractors are seeing this ad and seething as they think “How can this company advertise to paint a room for $600?”

Owned and operated by John Shearer, Shearer Painting was established in 1990. Seattle is a couple hours south of Vancouver, BC but the two cities are pretty similar in size, taxes, cost of living and climate. The biggest difference between our cities is probably only the border. Generally we are dealing with similar demographics. The cost for us to paint a room using quality products, is pretty close to John’s advertised price.

I have absolutely no doubt that throughout Seattle there are plenty of guys offering to paint three rooms for $300, just like there is all over Vancouver. There is probably even a guy advertising it on benches at bus stops, just like there is in my own neighbourhood.

How does John do it?

Confidently. Because he knows his customers are willing to pay for his work.

You get that confidence from knowing who you are and not straying from that identity. Establishing yourself as a quality first painting company and knowing that there is no way you can paint three rooms for $300 and maintain a high standard is part of it.

The other part is knowing who your customer is. You need to be doing what you can to not have the wrong kind of business knocking on your door. You identify and target the customer that is looking for quality when hiring a paint contractor.

I recently wrote a piece on what I learned in the first year of launching a website and one of the biggest lessons for me was learning to use my website to qualify the right and disqualify the wrong customers.

In the first of the three ads, check out that living room. It is a beautifully, well appointed room and the picture is a high quality photo. The paints shown in the ad are top of the line products by Benjamin Moore. Everything in the ad, including the price and the tag line is qualifying John’s customer.

Compare that to this photo.

I am not saying that this is a bad photo (well actually it is, but moving on). What I am saying is that you could never use a photo like this to attract a customer to pay $600 to paint a room.

John has done a great job on his website and through his use of social media to build his brand and identify his customer. His website is full of photos and videos of the type of houses and projects they specialize in. It helps a customer decide, before they ever pick up the phone and call for an estimate, if Shearer is the type of company they want to hire.

At the same time he is qualifying his customer, he is subtly disqualifying his non-customer. That is equally as important. Why would you want them to call for an estimate and waste your time, when there is little or no chance they will hire you?

I absolutely disagree with the notion of having the phone ring is better than it not ringing. That only works if it is ringing with the right customer on the other end.

I recently posted the following photo on my Warline Facebook page showing the prep involved in a repaint job we are working on. It’s part of educating customers on how we are different and what they can expect when they hire us.

Nobody that sees this photo would think we could do this amount of work for $300.

I see it all the time on forums like Paint Talk. “How do you compete against so and so?” In the Southern US, its usually contractors posting complaints about illegal immigrant workers under cutting and working for dirt cheap. Every city has their own unique demographic of workers that will underbid and perform sub-par work at a fraction of the price to do a job properly. Seattle and Vancouver are no different.

My answer to the question of how do you compete?


“We don’t”.

Someone else can have that business.

Thinking maybe Shearer Painting doesn’t get a lot of calls by focusing on this type of work? You would be very wrong. John posted these three ads on FaceBook asking to help him choose which one to use for Angie’s List Honor Roll. Their business made Angie’s List top 1% for outstanding reviews and recommendations. Last year they did over 600 estimates.

So kudos to John and Shearer Painting for their success on making it to Angie’s List Honor Roll. Great job and great ads.

9 thoughts on “Proudly Advertising That You Are Not Cheap

  1. If it works where you are that’s great, most top quality contractors here are fighting just to break even and stay in business. Location location location like they say in real estate. Getting the customer to understand what value you are giving them fore there hard earned dollar as opposed to a $99 dollar a room guy is the trick.

    One of the most successful and profitable contractors I know who at this moment is sitting by his pool in Ft Myers Fl had a slogan for years…..Nobody bests our prices Nobody!!! When I asked him about it he said, it gets my phone to ring and gives me a chance to sell the customer.. He was a great salesman and had one of the best proposals I’ve ever seeen but without that phone call theres no work.

    Great article once again BP

    1. Hi Nick,

      Good points. In a highly competitive market or a major slowdown, your advertising would need to change to reflect those conditions. It might not be price that makes you stand apart from your competition but you will still need to highlight something that makes your company unique.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I don’t think there’s a lot of people that can afford the luxary of paying $600 per room to paint. It’s like you can buy a really nice diamond for $1000, or one that is 5% better for $10000. Top quality will always be top quality – and if you can market that and make it work for you that’s great – but just realize that not everyone needs the quality or can afford/wants the price. Your post on your company’s facebook page struck me as a bit arrogant even if that wasn’t the intent.

    1. Hi Sam,

      I agree that some customers will find paying $600 to paint a room expensive and there are lots of painters out there that will do a job for much cheaper. But the customer that Shearer is looking for (and Warline too) is the customer that is willing to pay the proper price to do a top quality job.

      The difference between a $99 dollar paint job and a $600 paint job is considerably more than 5%, just like the difference between a $1,000 diamond and a $10,000 one is considerable. Some might not notice the difference, but others most certainly will appreciate the sparkle and flawlessness of the better stone.

      As far as coming across as arrogant, while that wasn’t my intention, I can see how you could interpret it that way. We are confident in what sets us apart from our competition and proud to be a quality first painting company. I think as long as a company doesn’t let their confidence and pride allow them to become lazy, it is a great attitude for a company and it’s employees to embrace.

      Thanks for stopping by Blogging Painters.

  3. My buddy is a great painting contractor but has very little marketing knowledge. He seems to be struggling wondering where his next job will come from. I do alot of marketing and truly believe that without good marketing any business can only be average at best.

    I loved your piece about shearerpainting. It was right on. I would rather have my phone ringing with clients who are buyers not shoppers. Lowering prices might get the phone to ring however there is no real profit in it unless you are a high volume discount business. My buddy is high end and puts so much effort into his work. He must convey this in his advertisements without turning people away. I would rather sell one good painting job with a good profit margin than 5 jobs where you are only paying the help and your paint expenses.

    If you could suggest any other resources we would much appreciate it. Keep up the good ideas. And dont listen to people who say that the world cannot afford to pay for quality work. Our job is to get the world to understnd the difference between a quality job and a cheapo job. You wouldnt pick your brain surgeon because he was the cheapest would you?

    1. Thanks for such great comments Dr. T. Your buddy is lucky to have a friend with great marketing experience. I use my website as my key advertising tool to qualify my customers. Hopefully your buddy is doing the same.

      Keep checking back at Blogging Painters. We are constantly adding new articles and help for painters.

  4. Heidi, thanks for stopping by our shop in Seattle last week. It was nice to talk shop with you and Warren..I now know what “splash and dash” and “strata” mean. Thanks for the historic color charts for Vancouver.


  5. Heidi,

    Way to hold your own and back it up! I’m with John, the right customers are out there. If your customers aren’t willing to pay for premium service, then you might not have the right customers- or you just don’t operate in that realm. Doesn’t make you a bad painter by any means, it’s just a different market with vastly different ideals and expectations.


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