This month my blog culminated a Blog Shootout for contractors. It was a month long event that was well sponsored by four manufacturers and attracted a small but pleasing variety of writers, from new blogs to some extremely polished and well promoted blogs. The event was interesting and exciting, as it was nice to see a bunch of bloggers from the finish trades converge upon one place with enthusiasm.
Bloggingpainters.com came to life when Chris Haught saw the enthusiasm for blogging, the fun of checking out each others content and the level of professional expertise that was shown. Chris wanted to create a venue where that type of exchange could continue to happen, and so this site came together rather quickly – as Chris is a bit of a tech nerd.
Up until about the middle of last year, I was not sold on blogging or social media. Chris was in pretty advanced stages of addiction probably 2 years prior to that, and I wasn’t seeing the need or purpose for putting energy into what I perceived to be bells and whistles. I already had a youtube channel that was lackluster, a linkedin page that wasn’t particularly impressive and no real concept of purpose in these marketing outlets.
I didn’t have my “lightbulb” moment until last August (2010), when for about the 20th time that year, an architect (in this case, but there had been just as many homeowners and designers) whose project we were going to be painting sent me an email with a request (from his client, the homeowner) about Benjamin Moore Natura. Alot of my business communication is conducted by email, because it is convenient for myself and my clients, and it creates a documented form of tracking projects and updates electronically. Plus, I can pull it all right up on my iphone no matter where I am. Anyways, as usual when consulted for product info, I had to wait until I got home that night, to send my opinion on Natura.
Because I am a professional writer, it has always been extremely helpful to me, and to my clients, to be able to share published content about products, especially in the specification stage of projects. And it finally became clear that I needed a format in which to archive, and even expand upon, my experience with products in real world situations. I can assure you that it puts customers at ease when you have a presentation of your knowledge that unmistakeably shows expertise, experience, passion and credibility. Don’t you want to see those qualities when you spend your own money on services? That has been part of the value to me in having original written and published content to share with others.
Does it convert directly to sales? Not likely. But that doesnt matter when half of the battle in selling your service lies in educating the customer. As part of the overall marketing package that helps me to position my company in its target demographic, this type of effort absolutely contributes to differentiating my company, and its generally higher prices, from the next schmoe who doesn’t even have a website.
So, guess what? Facebook has the same value. Do you know how often I am able to shoot a customer or potential customer a link to my facebook page showing progress pictures of a project that is remarkably similar to their own? Same with youtube videos, and the customer recommendations we archive on our linked in account. One of the coolest features is the ability to syndicate your blog to publish to pretty much anywhere you want to within your social media toolbox. Again, its not all about hoping perfect potential customers will show up and contact you. It can be much more proactive, but still subtle, even if only in the form of emailing an informative link to a customer to help them through the decision making process.
Is it worth the effort? I guess I would answer that with a series of questions:
– Have you ever wished as a paint contractor that our trade had a more professional image?
– Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to verbally educate a customer on why you are the best choice?
– Do you sometimes find yourself struggling to sell your service against significantly lower priced competition?
If you are a professional paint contractor, you likely answered yes to each of these questions. The overall answer to these questions, and all others that fall into this category, is called Content Marketing, and it goes way beyond having a keywordy “articles” page of recycled content with linked titles like “Why to Hire WILIMINGTON IDAHO PAINTERS for your House”.
Please, click on the content marketing link in the previous paragraph for a better understanding of what this stuff is all about. Read every link within the article. I would also strongly recommend that you read this.
Circling back to www.bloggingpainters.com and what Chris is doing with this site, its all about sharing information with each other to enhance the presentation of paint contracting businesses. To clearly put your company in front of customers in a way that will help them understand the difference between you and your local competition. How many paint contractors within 100 miles of you have a blog? Or even a website? Holy differentiation opportunity.
However, the one thing to avoid in all of this is setting up a blog or a facebook business page and letting them grow cobwebs. It would be better to have no online presence in these venues than to have inactive or poorly presented ones. That is my understanding of Chris’ mission with this website. Those of us who know her, know that she suffers from an almost all consuming infatuation/addiction/preoccupation with social media. And, I wouldn’t be blogging at all, and certainly wouldn’t be blogging very well, if Chris hadn’t guided me through the process of understanding how to do it.
I know she wants to do the same for other professionals who need it. And for those who don’t need much guidance, it is equally valuable to share tips, and maybe as a group give the industry a nudge in the professional direction we’d like to see it move. So, I’m pretty excited to watch this take shape. In any case, your professional presentation really should have a strong online presence. If you are going to do it, do it well and frequently. How well you present your business directly impacts the opportunity you have to educate people about your business, which in turn completely shapes the perception that people have of your business.