A typical contractor often has a tough time coming up with marketing ideas. Most contractors are too busy running their business and servicing customers to think about marketing. Marketing is one of those things that you don’t realize you need until your well begins to run dry. The best time to think about marketing is when you don’t need it.

Here are our best ways for contractors to start some marketing in ways they haven’t thought much about before.

1. Give-aways and contests

Giveaways are a great contractor marketing tactic because they take a low amount of capital and have a high ROI (return on investment). Here’s our guide to business giveaways.

2. Local business card shares and local partners

Many local businesses with waiting areas have places other local businesses can place business cards. Non-competitive businesses are a great partner (i.e., you do bathroom remodeling, partner with a roofer or landscaper). Also, gym’s typically have a business card share. Have your employees be on the lookout for these and ask them to place your cards if they find a place. It works out for everyone!

3. Team up with another business

Share advertising costs with another company in the same market. Sharing costs makes high-quality printing and larger ads affordable. Even when you are doing online marketing, you can have a joint banner with a landing page that directs people to either type of business.

4. Customer referral program

Contractor referral programs leverage your existing customers to get new customers. Here are some resources to help you get started:

5. Foster reviews

Customers don’t typically don’t make it a point to go and give you a review online. In extreme cases (extremely good and extremely bad) customers will go out of their way to give you a review, it’s the run of the mill happy customers you want to try to have them review you. Here are some tips to help separate you from other contractors:

  • Ask them, in a professional way
  • Remind them you are on social media and or review sites
  • Encourage a review on Google Plus (formerly Google Places) because it will show up in your Google search listings and create a great first impression for prospects looking for opinions.

Here are review sites that you can look at and choose the one that best suits your brand:

  • Facebook
  • YellowPages
  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • BBB

6. Local community involvement

Getting involved in the local community is a great way to get your name and face out there. Not everyone is looking for your services today, but by being involved you can be in their context once they are looking. Here are some ideas:

  • Meetup is a great way to find local communities for contractors. All of the meetups happen offline and locally, so get involved.
  • Local associations and citizen groups: help out
  • Schools, PTAs: show your support for your community

7. Contractor online community involvement

Online communities can help drive business to your website

  • Helps potential customers get to know you and your style
  • Give you a place to showcase your expertise, where people are looking for it
  • Linkedin
  • QA sites: Quora, Yahoo Answers
  • Find forums and discussions. Reddit (sub-reddits for contractors.
  • Answer questions on the DIY forums

8. Social media

I’ve sure you’ve heard about it before, but yes, social media is something you should be involved in. It does take work, but the ROI isn’t there for all types of businesses.

  • It’s great for products that have mass consumer appeal
  • Facebook makes sense if your appeal is to the consumer

9. Email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your existing customers. It’s one of the best ways you stay in a customer’s context. Here are some of our best tips:

  • Think before you email: Is the content right for my audience? Is it compelling? Do they care? Once you start sending irrelevant content, you could lose your audience.
  • Be contextual: Send content that touches on some relevance to your customers. Close to the holidays? Send something related.
  • Don’t send for the sake of sending: If you don’t have something relevant to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Combine some other marketing ideas in this article like adding your contests and customer referral program links to the footer of your emails.

10. Customer service

Customer service is your most important way to get more business, whether your business depends on recurring customers or new customers coming in the door.

  • Even if you yourself are not the most personable or can provide the best customer experience, you can surround yourself with people that are: your front office staff, your billing people, and more.
  • Automation is great but it can’t beat a personal touch.
  • Here’s our guide on relationship marketing to help you with your customer service.