One of the most essential aspects to starting your own residential painting business or growing your commercial painting company is a solid marketing strategy. We use the latest marketing research to bring you this comprehensive guide to marketing your painting business that provides both online and offline strategies that small business owners should be using in their marketing campaigns.
While a certain amount of growth can come from word of mouth referrals based on quality work, it’s important not to underestimate the power of physical and digital marketing resources that can take your painting business to the next level.
Even if you already have too much work, this guide is your best friend. Here we provide enough insight into marketing to gain a strong foundation in the subject so that you can keep focusing on the day to day operations that make your clients homes shine. This guide does not include specific marketing templates, but does provide the steps for tactics like tutorials you can use to grow your marketing presence.
The basics: Treat every customer like family
Generating maximum revenue is not only about finding new customers, but making the most of the ones you already have or will have.
No client wants to feel like just another number to you, so it’s important to make the effort to develop strong relationships with your clients and to make sure they know that their business matters to you. This is true not only for doing the right thing as a business owner, especially a small business owner, but also ensures you are not missing out on the potential "Lifetime value" of your clients.
Let's look at a painting business that generated 50 new customers last year.
- The average spending per customer with the painting business was $2000 (some lots less and some lots more)
- The average customer will stay with you (since you are doing good work) for 5+ years (let's assume 5)
- The lifetime value of a customer (5 years x $2000/year) is $10,000 or future lifetime value (if have been with you for 1 year) is (4 years x $2000year) is $8,000
- Therefore 50 new customers are worth $500,000 in future income (50 customers x $10,000 future value)
Why do we start with this lesson? The reason is because it demonstrates not only the importance of closing that first job with a client, but how key customer relations are to your painting business longevity. You want to ensure that the same client will hire you for future painting projects, as well as repairs and maintenance. In today's competitive age, it is no longer just who is a skilled painter, but also who makes the customer feel like a priority.
Let's imagine the scenario in which you have 10 unhappy customers that you gave a full refund to on a $2,000 job because something went wrong. Assuming that 50% of those customers come back vs. 0% if you didn't give a refund you will make an incremental $20,000 than if you didn't make a refund (5 customers *$8,000 for 4 future years of work - 10 customers *$2,000 per job). Now, this advice is not to recommend that you must give full refunds to customers when something goes wrong, but it shows that the upfront cost in building a relationship can be worth it in the long run if you can afford the cash flow.
Before you can focus on growing your painting business, you must first have the foundation in place. You wouldn't try to paint over a crumbling surface. That's what it's like attempting to grow your business with designs you tried to draw yourself. Let's face it, 99% of us painters are great in the field and not in branding design.
Where to get started: branding and set up
The top 4 things you can do to build a reputable brand as a painting business are below. These actions cost relatively little compared to the benefit that they will bring. Note that this is with regards to marketing and not the foundations of getting the proper business licenses, forming an llc as part of a sole proprietorship or a corporation, setting up a business bank account, getting the right business insurance or even the right painting equipment, etc.
1. Get a professionally designed logo
A professionally designed logo adds a level of credibility and trust to your painting business and will help you achieve brand recognition, which will in turn help you get into more target markets.
- Use a service 99designs (a base package should cost ~$300) or a service like Fiverr to work with freelancers to develop a logo.
If you would prefer to work with a company rather than a freelancer, the ProPhone team is always ready to help as part of their custom design package.
2. Get a professional website
A website helps to build your online presence (we will cover this from a marketing standpoint below), but also makes your brand seem more reputable to customers. There are many reasons to have a custom website even if you have enough painting jobs already. Simply providing painting before and after photos can help potential clients feel confident in using your services. .
How to/ tools available:
- If you have a few hours to spend and are familiar with design, You can utilize tools like Wix or SquareSpace to try to make your own site- be prepared to spend several hours formatting the site and deciding on the content you'd like.
- If you want a website that is both affordable and unique, you can work with a service like ProSite by ProPhone to have a custom website designed within 1 day tailored to your business. This is a great middle ground option if you want a professionally designed site but don't want to spend several hundred to thousands of dollars on an individual developer
- Work with a full service marketing agency or individual freelance developer to make a highly customized website and to run all of your online advertising (at a much higher price point - several hundred to thousands of dollars a month)
3. Paint or wrap your vehicles
Vehicles can serve as a prime marketing asset and a form of “free” billboard! When your vehicle is parked at your customer's homes, it becomes instant advertising to neighbors or even just other homeowners driving on the highway. A simple magnetic sign of your painting business logo is the perfect solution if you cannot afford a full wrap.
What to do: Make sure to include
- Company name, phone number and website
- Company colors
- Something memorable that makes you stand out
Example wrap to not to pick as the company info is too small on the side of the truck.
4. Get swag (t-shirts) for your team
Who wouldn't want to look extra put together on the job? Providing t-shirts to your team will not only keep your crew happy, but provide additional “free” marketing for your business.
How to/ tools available:
- Use a custom merchandise company to get t-shirt or other products - SubEffects
Trusted physical marketing tactics
According to the Data & Marketing association, 56% of consumers trust print marketing more than other marketing mediums and according to Marketing Sherpa, 76% of people trust ads they receive in the mail. In an age of constant digital bombardment, consumers are just as irritated with scams as painting professionals are! Consumers tend to trust print ads since most scams are not through this medium. Thus, this section provides some good old fashioned tricks and tips to make the most out of physical marketing.
Additionally, the average individual is cluttered with about 121 emails per day, so standing out is much more attainable in physical form. As you might imagine, most people are not thinking about chipped trim, wall color schemes, or aging paint on a daily basis. Therefore, physical promotional content can help to remind them of the importance of taking care of these home assets.
Lawn Signs, Flyers and Door Hangers
What to do:
- Ensure your website URL and phone number are listed correctly (for Door Hangers you can put a QR code for your website)
- Ask your closest customers if they would be willing to put a sign in their yard (remember how much good client relationships matter!). You can offer a discount in exchange - ask enough and some will take you up on it!
- Create a marketing plan for your painting business to post the signs, flyers and door hangers. By making a schedule it will ensure that you maintain your physical presence on a daily basis.
The traditional route of direct main can be extremely effective if the marketing campaign is well thought out. A direct mail campaign can cost between 30 cents and $10 dollars per recipient and these costs can fluctuate depending on the medium, design costs, distribution, and so on. An example from Inkit, a direct mail campaign sending postcards to 1,000 recipients can cost about $1,150 ($1.15 per recipient).
What to do:
- Ensure that your graphic has a consumer benefit to drive interest (discounts!), have an illustration that allows the homeowners to quickly identify your product or service, and advertise a broad variety of offers.
- Make sure the timing of your campaign is set up to bring you maximum returns. Have you noticed that people often repaint in the summer? If so, think of sending out advertising materials in the late spring before the start of this season, but not too far in advance.
Tools to use:
- Hire a freelance designer on UpWork
- Use a free tool like Canva
- Use Every Door Direct Mail from USPS - USPS EDDM
- Use a full service tool like - postcardmania
Don’s shut the door on word of mouth and referral marketing
Word of mouth growth is not only "free" but also a sign that customers love your painting services. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people that they know. As proven by Referral Rock, more than 61% of consumers have referred a local business to another person. Don't let this incredible opportunity for growth pass you by. In order to make the most of local referrals, you must not only reach out to your existing customers, but make it easy for them to help you .
How you can get more referrals:
- Remember the power of a personal handwritten card and use the holidays or a change in seasons to reach out to your past customers and thank them.
- Start a referral program: offer clients a discounted service for each referral or give them a few of your painting business cards that they can hand out. It helps to offer your customers a referral benefit for them and the customer they refer (e.g., $50 off for the new customer and a $50 credit for the referring customer)
- Do some paint jobs for free to high value customers (e.g., local town organizations or associations) in hope that they promote your business to others.
- Stay on top of customer reviews in your google searches and follow best practices for getting customer reviews
- Check out solutions that help make keeping up with reviews easier and more efficient - Uppswell.com
- Be sure to share your painting website with your customers even if they didn't initially find your business from the website. A website is the easiest way that customers can share information about your business with someone they are referring to you.
Partnerships as a painting company
Many people skip over the power of partnerships for their painting businesses. There are plenty of other trades in the home service market that are not directly competitive with painting, but still have regular contact with homeowners. Regardless of market size, if you know other home service pros such as landscapers, cleaners, or plumbers, it doesn't hurt to give them your business card or ask if they can make introductions for you. You can also look for stores that have a physical location that can promote your professional painting services to homeowners (e.g., your local hardware store).
Home service referrals:
The list goes on, but think if you know anyone in: pest control, home inspection companies, plumbers, electricians, pool companies, garden shops, fence installation business owners, HVAC professionals, hardware stores, real estate agents or community organizers, etc. offer these partners a referral credit if they are willing to pass along a good word about your business. If you can vouch for the partners credibility then you can also refer them to others. This is another example of the benefits of having a website to make your painting business information readily available for referrals.
Online Marketing Tactics
Online marketing can at times seem like a complicated maze of information, it is essential in today's world and there are plenty of easy steps to take that can really boost your business.
The following overview is meant to get you started, but does not go into advanced strategies for online marketing. It also does not go into the depth on the topic of marketing on social media platforms, but it is recommended that you build a regular presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other places that homeowners and businesses search for information about painting services.
Of course, we couldn't help but include a classic marketing meme:
Generating Organic Traffic
Organic traffic is the customer attention that your business gains without paid promotions. There are a few things you can do to start for free.
What to do:
Create a professional website!
- According to a Stanford University study, 75% of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website
- Have a contact us form or action button to make it easy for customers to reach you. It is best to have a button that allows customers to reach you from their computer or their phone. If you make it too difficult to reach you from a computer, customers may move on.
- Avoid the word "submit" on a form as it sends the wrong message subliminally. Try to emphasize what a prospective client is getting when they click the button, like "Get my free estimate" or "get in touch" or "send us a text"
- To learn more about creating a website and the essential elements of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) check out this post on how to make your business show up on Google
Tools to create a website:
- You can try to create your own website utilizing tools like Wix or SquareSpace, but be prepared to spend several hours learning the functions of the platform and deciding on the formatting and content you'd like.
- Work with a service like ProSite by ProPhone to have a custom website designed within 1 day tailored to your business. This is a great middle ground option if you don't want to make the site but do not want to spend several hundred to thousands of dollars on an individual developer
You will need to make sure the following information is up to date
- Your actual business name for your google business listing
- Address (Google will verify it and this process can take a few weeks)
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Category of your business
Create a profile page on Yelp
- Similar to google you will need to ensure your proper business information is listed
- There is an option to pay Yelp for certain profile features and advertising, but simply having a free profile is better than nothing
- You will need a personal Facebook profile to start from which you can create a business facebook page under the create tag on the home page
- Make sure to input your business details, upload a profile and cover photo (best if these are real and not stock images), update your 'about' section, and include an online booking CTA to collect potential client leads
- The CTA will be possible by "Adding Button" on your home page and the best option is to use "Book with us" or "Message Us"
Paid traffic generation
If you have already utilized the free options for growth and still want to further increase your traffic, paid marketing is a good idea as long as you are aware of the ROI (Return on Investment) for your online marketing campaigns. It's best to start with a small budget and experiment to see if the investment is worthwhile for your painting business, as costs can add up quickly if you're not careful.
What to do:
- Google Local Service Ads appear above organic search results and even Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Local Services ads are only available for certain regions in the U.S. and Canada. To check if your region is eligible, visit the Google LSA signup page.
- With Google Local Service Ads you pay per lead, not per click (CPC) like you would if you were bidding on keywords. You won't pay whenever someone clicks on your ad in search results like you would with Google Ads. You only pay when you have a legitimate phone call from a qualified lead.
- Google Guarantee - this is like a signature of confidence from google that provides customers a money back guarantee up to $2,000 if they aren't happy with the quality of work.
- The cost per lead from google service ads can range from $5-$100+ but on average should be around $20
- You can advertise to specific demographics within specific geographies with Facebook.
- To create a Facebook ad, you will first have to have your Facebook business page set up and then go to Facebook Ads Manager to create your campaign.
- An overview of how to create Facebook ads can be found here
What about lead generation services
Given the intense feeling over lead generation services, there is not a recommendation for or against using some of the online lead generation tools. However, if you choose to use a lead generation tool, make sure you treat each phone bill like a $50-$150 bill because that's what some leads can cost. You are best equipped to use a lead generation service if you have capacity to readily address incoming calls and can be quickly responsive to close the deals.
What if I have more questions about online marketing!?
Whether it's general questions about online marketing for painting businesses or any of the topics mentioned above, the ProPhone team is ready to assist you at 857-856-6777. You can also check out additional blogs on this topic here.