In the July 2009 edition of Phc News, Dan Holohan made some good points about the quality of Web sites contractors use, and makes a great argument about the need for content on these sites. You see it all the time – service company Web sites making no attempt to engage their readers. Many contractors believe that aspect of their business is either not worth their time, or not worth the money to do right. He asks,
How many times have you rolled your eyes and looked down on the low-bidder when it comes to the heating business? That bum who doesn’t have the right tools, or the proper insurance, or even a decent truck. That stinker who tracks in mud and is doing his on-the-job learning on every job. You can’t stand that guy, right? So why look for that guy when it comes to building a Web site? Why buy on price alone? Or try to do it yourself. Is Web design your specialty?
WOW. You said a mouthful, Dan. Truth be told, in our business you see that quite a bit. The logic says ‘keep the price down,’ but the way to keep the cost down isn’t to present yourself sub-standard. You’re a contractor. You want a fair price for a quality job. You do what you do because you’re good at it. When it comes to your advertising, the same thing applies. Throwing foolish money away on flash and hype isn’t the answer, either. Quality doesn’t mean gaudy, it means pleasing and fully functional.
The online atmosphere is saturated. Engaging your customer is absolutely the most important thing a service and contracting business can do besides providing quality workmanship. While many feel that updating posts and answering questions is ‘giving away the farm,’ the opposite is true. Your business won’t be hurt because you’ve empowered your readers with inside information. Your business will be hurt by ignoring the fact that the answers are being provided by everyone else already, and if you’re not involved, your credibility is affected.
What qualifies as content?
It may surprise you to know that content is many things, not just updated posts. Keeping your posts updated at least once a week is important for several reasons, one being the ability it has to be fed into an email subscription newsletter as-is. Using an email follow up campaign like AWeber allows your reader to opt-in and opt-out, and allows you to track the types of information that your readers enjoy the most. Providing newsletters to your readers brings your post right into their inbox, and isn’t spam because they first request it, and then have the ability to get out whenever they want.
Another reason blog updates are important is because news changes often, and your readers need to know it. When you respond to your reader’s comments, you engage them, and possibly you hand-feed them an answer that brings them right into your gates. If problems exist in your company response, a blogging platform allows you a way to remedy the situation. No matter how much you don’t want to know what’s lacking in your business, it’s always better to address issues head on, and you’ll be the better for it. Blogs are not the only source of content, however, and you may enjoy using these types of updates:
FAQ’s – Answering or posing a question is helpful dialog, and very good updated content when used regularly.
Pictures – Before and Afters, and new products.
Video -That’s right, you don’t have to write your blog post. For around $40 USD you can get a video camera that sits right on your computer. If you spend two minutes discussing an industry issue, new product or service, that video can get uploaded to YouTube as well as your site. That’s a great link.
Service industry professionals and contractors should make the most out of their online presence. Putting the customer’s needs on the forefront of new material draws powerful benefits now and down the road.