Your patrons are as much a part of your marketing team as your marketing director.

By Monica Pitts

Your logo and website build recognition, but they won’t sell your product or service for you. People make buying decisions based on the way you do business, not on your pretty logo. Your ability to effectively communicate with your prospects and customers directly influences their happiness with the end product. You’ve heard people complain about restaurants – how the food is great but the service is terrible. The disappointment in the restaurant’s process then becomes the marketing message other people are hearing.

So how in residential paving can we adjust our communication and marketing to exceed customer expectations and send a clear message of excellence to our audience?

1. Invest in technology.
I’m talking about technology geared to make your process run smoother and add convenience for your customers. We live in an era of software services, and odds are there’s one out there that will help solve your customer service issues.

Online Estimator
Oftentimes what people need most to make a buying decision is a price. Give potential customers the ability to go to your website and fill in the blanks so they can get a number on their own. Plus, you can ask them for their email address and boom: instant lead generator. Give them something they want, and, in return, you get what you need: more people to talk to. I realize no price quote is 100% accurate without having details of the project; it does, however, give prospects a place to start.
We create quotes using FormidablePro, and there are several other great services out there to help you easily integrate online quotes, like Configure One and ConvertCalculator.

Online Bill Pay
If you don’t require people to pay you on the spot, adding online bill pay to your website is a huge step in the right direction to dissolve accounts receivable pile up and provide convenience to your customers. Services like Stripe and PayPal are great for this.

Text Alerts
Text updates help keep customers informed and comfortable throughout the process. People complain excessively about contractors showing up late or not arriving at all. Use texts to confirm appointments, let customers know when you’re on your way, and follow up with any additional information they need to know after the service is complete. Try a service like SimpleTexting to send your customers messages automatically.

2. Deliver social proof.
Consumers will often turn to each other when faced with a buying decision. 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses according to a 2018 survey by BrightLocal. Marketers use the term “social proof” to refer to any feedback that your customers provide that is publicly visible. This includes testimonials, reviews and case studies.

Reviews & Testimonials
Ask your favorite customers for testimonials and put them on your website. Heck, you can slather ‘em all over your marketing. Allow people to give reviews wherever it’s most comfortable for them – Facebook and Google will be the most common. Send customers an email at the time in your process when they’re happiest with your service with a link directing them to Facebook or Google to leave their review.

Case Studies & Photos
Don’t just tell customers you do awesome work, show them. Add case studies to your website. You can call them projects, completed work, or portfolio – whatever floats your boat. They show potential customers how you tackle a challenge. Customers with the same problem can see you’re qualified, and the decision will be a no-brainer. Plus, case studies naturally drive traffic to your site. If you can’t set aside the time to write case studies, at the very least, keep a regularly updated photo gallery paired with testimonials for more impact.

3. Jump start word of mouth.
According to Invespcro, word of mouth accounts for about 13% of all consumer sales. When your neighbors are getting a service you know you need as well, the first thing you do is ask your neighbor who they hired. A wise contractor might purchase some insurance on that word of mouth marketing by investing in yard signs and door hangers. These can be effective on their own, but when targeted around a service site, customers get familiar with your company AND they get to see the quality of service, pushing them closer to you when they need a new driveway.

4. Make each client feel important.
Providing service after the sale is even more important than your sales meeting. This is when you cement the awesomeness of your company with your customer. You don’t have to buy customers a huge gift, just make them feel important. Let them know that even though they job is done, they’re still worth your time.

Thank You Cards
You get bonus points if your thank you cards are printed with your company branding. Try to send them within a month of completing the project and don’t be afraid to add personal touches. Extra bonus points for having the whole crew sign it.

Checking After Project Completion
You can check in by phone, email, or even by text. If they have a complaint, don’t freak out – this is a golden opportunity to resolve the issue, and believe it or not, the customer will think even more of you for being willing to make things right. According to CBS News, a customer who experiences a resolution is more likely to return or recommend you than someone who doesn’t experience a service issue.

Takeaway: Meet them where they are.
Really consider the expectations of your prospects and customers, and figure out ways you can meet them where they are. Give them the evidence they need to make their buying decision, then blow them out of the water with your awesome customer service and great communication to turn these prospects into promoters.

Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.