There’s more to marketing a business that simply having a web site and if you’re serious about the business, then it’s a certain fact that the marketing is going to cost money. A lot of money.
When, along with my two business partners, I started Asbestoseal in 2013, I knew that I could get the company and our products well represented in the major search engines.
That was only the start though, so I am going to explain the other elements of our marketing strategy we have used since then to help spread the word, in order to provide you with an idea of the amount of thought and work involved.
1. Installation Contractors
Our first step was to get the product out to roofing contractors, so that’s who we initially aimed our web site at – contractors looking for a lucrative new income stream. Consequently, in the early days, the web site explained the benefits of becoming an approved installer.
We still follow this strategy, but on contractor-specific web pages. It works pretty well and we are currently running at least two approved contractor training days per month and tht’s set to increase.
The contractors spread the word about the products and for larger contracts, we provide sales support in the way of samples and sales presentations. Most contractors it seems, are not natural sales people, so it’s a win-win for all concerned, especially the clients, who are getting personal attention from the manufacturer.
2. Professional Bodies.
As part owner of a professional surveying practice, it was relatively easy for me to approach the professional body and offer them free training sessions based on roof-specific issues.
The training sessions are well attended because professionals have to maintain their standing by attending formally organised on-going training.
Each session involves diagnosing roof problems and then going through the various options. Roof coatings are not generally well-accepted, but when you have something that the clients of the surveyors want (i.e. a less expensive option than a new roof), then they sit up and take notice.
By not selling, we sell more, because these guys specify products in their day job. They become our biggest advocates, assuming we’ve done our job properly and we do this by providing strong sales materials to help them.
3. Independent Verification
This is the most difficult to achieve for any manufacturer and also the most expensive. We spent mid-five figures to gain approval from the UK’s leading independent testing and certification bodies and having spent the money 12 months ago, we are only just getting the certification following extensive and often frustrating testing procedure.
The return on the initial investment will take a while to recover, but the testing we have done is a “fitness for purpose” test that will provide us with significant market advantage, particularly with professional specifiers, which is who we are aiming at.
4. Trade Shows
I’m often told that the trade show is dead and buried. That’s not my belief nor is it my experience.
Trade shows, targeted at the most relevant audience can still be a worthwhile investment, but as with anything, relevance is absolutely key.
When we launched Asbestoseal, we did it a a specialist roofing exhibition, the only one of its type in the UK at the time.
It was worth it, as we managed to recruit a number of new installers (see 1. above) and it got our name in front of some useful contacts. That first show paid for itself within a month.
Since then, we’ve exhibited at the annual conference of a professional body and are doing so again this year. We’ve also already booked and pre-paid a roofing show for 2016.
5. Press Advertising
This remains the one area where I do not believe we can get value for money, so at present, we are engaging in a strategy of issuing press releases and measuring what comes from them – that will give us an idea of the reach and influence of certain trade magazines, though my feeling is that we won’t be doing much in the way of advertising for a long time.
6. Social Media
I’m not very sociable, so social media has been something of a problem for me to get my head around. Linkedin is proving to be of some value, but the jury’s still out. It’s not the platform that’s the problem, it’s my understanding of how to best utilise it.
Joining groups and using the platform correctly so as not to be accused of Spamming seems to be the way forward, but with so much noise, it’s a large investment of time for what seems to be little return at this stage, though I expect this to change for the better.