Derek Brown is the co-founder of Pronto Marketing, a Bangkok-based web and marketing company that helps over 1,400 small businesses around the world manage their online presence.
We recently asked Derek about his advice for contractors looking to create the perfect website to highlight their skills and training. Here’s what he shared:
Tell us about the mission behind Pronto Marketing. What do you specialize in?
Pronto was built around one very simple idea: Small businesses struggle with marketing execution. We wanted to build a company focused on execution – not telling them what to do, not tools that they might be able to use – but simply to do the work, so they can focus on what matters: their business and customers.
We specialize in execution and ongoing management of core digital marketing- websites, advertising, content development, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media and more. Everything we offer is a program we execute for our customers.
How do you help those in the industrial space with their marketing efforts?
We take care of core aspects of their marketing and offer services to do more when they are ready. The owner or manager of a machine shop or landscaping company or a lawyer all have limited time and focus on what they are really good at. This means in most cases marketing gets done “tomorrow”. We do it “today” for them.
Specifically, for the industrial we’ve tried to take time, work with experts in the segment and really know and understand their business and sales cycle. The fundamentals of a website and sales funnel might be similar across business segments, but there are important differences we need to address.
We’ve also built out a marketing resource specifically for industrial companies at: industrial.prontomarketing.com to give some context and understanding to how they need to address growing their business and how online figures into that. We don’t expect our clients to follow us blindly and want to make education and sharing part of what we do.
What are some of the specific marketing challenges facing small business owners in the industry and manufacturing sectors?
Deep content is one. This is a highly technical segment and specific buyer personas need specific content, and specific points in the sales cycle. Getting all of this together, having it well presented and organized is a tall order – but essential to do well.
And to beat a dead horse, again, their biggest marketing challenge is time. They are busy running and growing their business. Putting on the marketeer hat is always going to be put off and put off. Effective marketing is doing. As they say; Strategy without execution is hallucination. There’s a lot to do, it’s got to get done and every small business owner needs to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really have the time and expertise – or do they need help getting things done?
What are some of the most common mistakes you see these businesses making? What advice do you find yourself repeating over and over?
Doing something is better than doing nothing. It’s easy to take a “boil the ocean” approach to marketing. Thinking until it all gets right, better to do nothing. Wrong. Do something, but it in smart sequence. Get your website right before you invest in AdWords, for instance.
Specifically to websites, our mantra is “A Website is Never Done”. A business is not static, so don’t expect a website to be. Waiting to launch a new, badly needed, website until you get some new machine that will provide a new capability, or wait for a new certification, or wait until you hire someone new, or whatever is just putting off what needs to be done now. Just get it done right as a foundation they can build on is critical, not “finishing it.”
How should these businesses approach creating their online presence? How should the web strategy of industry, contracting and manufacturing look different from other types of businesses?
For the industrial segment they do have their specific certifications that should be highlighted. For your people and your company. This is a segment with a high degree of specialization in both skills and requirements – this info needs to be part of a website as the core foundation of online marketing.
Also, key machinery and equipment. For a dentist you really don’t care what brand of drill they use, but these details can be very important in the manufacturing space. So lots of technical details are good – not on the home page, but as an accessible resource.
Lastly, all of this needs to be part of an up-to-date, professional, well organized website. I list this last, but it should be done first.
What should these businesses be doing to highlight their expertise on their sites? What should they be doing to set themselves apart from competitors in their online marketing?
At the top of the list I’ll put an “easy to say, hard to do” item: Case Studies. They don’t have to be super expensive projects, but they do take some work and some expense assuming you’re going to outsource some part of it. But really nothing brings together your capabilities, solutions, customer segments, real world testimonials, and facts and figures like a good case study. They can be as simple as a blog post, do a full-on PDF document. But the essentials of telling the story of a real customer’s problem or need and how you solved it is powerful.
What are the most important marketing tools and methods small business owners need to be aware of today?
In the most general sense some sort of CRM (customer relationship management) be that a full-fledged CRM system or a spreadsheet. But you have to know what’s driving your leads and which of those leads are converting to have any idea if your marketing investment is paying off. You also are wasting marketing money if you don’t have a good follow-up system in place. There are plenty of options, at all price points. No excuse to have something in place.
Content. Content makes your website worth visiting. Content helps prospects move down the sales funnel, content drives SEO, content positions you as an expert. The importance can’t be overstated. And no matter how much you outsource content development it does start with the business because they know their business and customers. They know intuitively the stories they need to tell.
Lastly, get a decent website. Everything is going to spin around that, link to it and build on that foundation. Maybe a website is old school today, but it’s the essential building block to marketing – offline and online.
And I know I’m preaching to the choir here but … referrals and word-of-mouth. This is always going to be your top source of new leads and customers. However, don’t be passive about this. Most likely the first thing a referral is going to do is visit your website. You should be ready for them, because the best referral is always a click away from goodbye. So this is a basic, but there are lots of things you can do, such as retargeting, that will improve the conversion rates on your referral and word-of-mouth leads.
What marketing trends and innovations should small business owners in industry/manufacturing be following right now? Why?
Well to bring this full circle, I could list a bunch of trends, but the reality is the small business owner in industrial/manufacturing or any other industry doesn’t have the time to be following marketing trends. If they don’t have the dedicated internal resources to help, they need outside help. I’m around digital marketing all day everyday, for Pronto and for over 1,500 clients, but there’s no way that I stay up to date on things like how changes to Google’s search algorithms and policy impact SEO strategies, or the different ways you might execute retargeting campaigns; web, email, social media and more and so on. I understand these at a high-level but I rely on my experts and people I trust. I have a business to run.
That being said, this might not quite be under the category of “trends and innovations” but taking the time to understand their customer journey, and make sure their marketing is working at all stages is really key. To know your buyer personas, and what their customer journey looks like. This is your marketing plan – there are lots of tools to do this; offline and online, but structure your thinking about this journey, and how your marketing helps leads turn into prospects into customers.
Now that you know how to manage your marketing, start investing in your career. Take our Construction Supervisor License classes for free.