As a marketing person in a labor-oriented field, one thing I’ve noticed in the last few years is the reputation we battle on a daily basis.
In Nebraska, where White Castle Roofing is based, we get some pretty extreme weather — and when the storms roll in, so do the unmarked roofing trucks with out-of-state license plates. Neighborhoods hit by hail become a who’s‑who of roofing company directories, with yard signs from dozens of different companies decorating lawns all over the city.
The fly-by-nights can be ruthless — purchasing phone lists and calling around the clock, or even going door to door, telling people about the horrible shape their roofs are in (when they may not even be that bad!). My parents, who live in a neighborhood that was recently hailed on but whose roof is still in great shape, actually even asked me for a yard sign to keep random people from ringing their doorbell when they babysit my infant nephew.
It’s one of the hardest things to see, not just as a marketer but also as a community member, when my neighbors have a yard sign from a company I’ve never heard of — because I know if something goes wrong with their roof, that company won’t be anywhere to be found, and my neighbors will end up forking over a load of cash to fix the problem.
When you hear story after story of door-knockers bothering people all the time, trespassers climbing up on roofs without the homeowner’s permission, and worst of all, shysters convincing vulnerable people to sign with them and taking their money before jetting out of town, it’s easy to paint the whole industry with a broad brush.
In the process, the honest companies — like ours, and like yours — are faced with the challenge of combatting those perceptions.
At the end of the day, the quality of your work is the most important part. But how can you position your company to be one that homeowners know they can trust? The key is showing your company’s unique personality. Here are a couple tips you can add to your marketing strategy.
Show Off Your Team
Your sales team member will, of course, be the primary contact that a homeowner works with when they contract with you. But throughout the course of that homeowner’s experience with your company, they’re likely to talk to other people, like the receptionist, the billing specialist, and the quality control inspector, just to name a few. You’ve hired awesome people to work for your company, and it’s a good thing to let their personalities shine too, whether they’re the first person the homeowner has interacted with, or the sixth. Customers respond much more kindly to real people than they do disembodied voices or entities on the other side of a screen. So make your team real to the customer!
One strategy we’ve had success with is creating a printed page with names and photos of the office team for customers when our salesmen go visit a roof for the first time. If the homeowner is there to meet with the salesman, he can run through it with them as part of their meeting. If the homeowner is not present, it can easily be left behind so that a) they know you’ve been to their roof and b) if they call the office, they have a face to put with the name and the voice on the other end of the phone line. Knowing it’s a real person, not just a disembodied voice, can feel more inviting to a customer, and make them less likely to lose their cool if you have to tell them something they don’t want to hear.
Make sure you take advantage of your website! Add a page with your staff listed, with names, roles, and photos — at minimum. Again, customers being able to see the person they’re talking to can personalize the experience — and the more information you can share about your team members, the more the customer can get to know them!
Along those lines, another strategy we’ve had some fun with is a biweekly #WeAreWhiteCastle feature on our social media. We’ve had staff members answering a short Q&A, which we then turn into a really simple blog post (just a quick paragraph, plus the questions and answers), and share that on our social media pages. It’s a really easy way to generate content, and not only do customers have a chance to get to know more about the people they’ll be working with, but your team also has a chance to share the spotlight a little bit. Our #WeAreWhiteCastle posts have been among the most-shared of any of our social media, giving us some extra reach while showing how important we think our team members are. It’s a win-win.
If bio profiles are too much work at the outset, CompanyCam can actually be a really great tool. It’s easy to get — and save — pictures of your team, not just your work! You can create a custom tag for team member photos to help you find them for easy social content creation, and show your customers a little of what goes on behind the scenes. A quick photo of Patti organizing a stack of insurance information, or of Dusty hard at work repairing a leak, or of the new computer screen setup in Jason’s work van can give a glimpse behind the curtain, putting a name and a face to the person doing the less-obvious tasks, in the office and in the field.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
This one is probably the biggest deal, not to mention the most effective point of this whole blog. If you take nothing else from it, take this: Don’t just say you’re a member of the community. Be one.
Word of mouth is still going to be one of the best ways to market your company, but you have to give people something to talk about. It’s one thing to have a company to recommend when your neighbor is looking for a roofer, but how can you generate that name recognition before the storm hits? When your sign is put up in someone’s yard, what will a passersby find when they Google you?
This is a big enough deal that you should absolutely set aside a portion of your yearly advertising budget for community investment. Find organizations and events that have a place in your team members’ hearts. Don’t try to measure it — the ROI on events like this isn’t always obvious — but be involved in your community because you are a member of the community and it matters to you. That will tell a story more than any 30-second commercial spot can.
You can use your social media or website to help tell this story, too. Maybe you give to a few local charities because it’s been meaningful to your life. Include a Community page on your website with who you help and why. Or maybe you do a pro-bono roof or roof repair because someone just genuinely needs a helping hand. (Don’t be the one to blow that horn, though; let the recipient do that.)
It may not pay off in the short-term, but those stories are what lasts much longer than your jingle or clever commercial. It’s what sets you apart from a company in it for a quick buck. Invest in your community, and it will invest back in you.
Hopefully these tips help you create a personality for your company. But that’s all they are — tips. You’ll want to develop your own voice, your own priorities, and your own strategy. In the process, you’ll have the chance to introduce yourself to your customers…digitally, and in real life.