The State of Contractor Marketing in 2024

Just as seasonality is predictable, so are trends and cycles within the home services industries. Let’s say you own an HVAC business and had a record year for installs and replacements. You’ll likely see a similar pattern in about 10-20 years, depending on your geographic location, when those systems are due for replacement. But what happens when installs and replacements hit an industry low for the year like in 2023? That may mean that come 2038, install and replacement sales won’t be as high either. 

Planning is Critical to Your Business Success

As the industry, economy and customers’ spending habits change each year, your marketing strategies should as well. Hopefully you’re tracking your results so you know which channels are most effective for your business, but it’s critical that you continue to assess and plan in order to adapt your strategy for a changing market. Profitable business owners use data to determine where it actually makes sense to spend valuable marketing dollars, rather than where they think it does. 

The past 4 years have been full of white water, bringing record sales and revenue followed by a sharp decline on installs and replacement due to supply chain issues and increased costs in a down economy. But 2024 doesn’t have to be unpredictable. If we look at past cycles, we can identify some of the most important things you should be thinking about for operating a profitable home services business this year. 

What You Should Be Thinking About in 2024

  • Prepare for a 20% down market (specifically on install and replacement) and have a game plan in place. Many customers will opt for repairs vs costly replacements, even with more promotions and financing options available to consumers today. 

  • Have a precision Tune-Up (PTU) marketing plan. This is how you get your techs in the door and retain existing customers. Make sure your team promotes your club agreements and its value, especially if customers opt for repairs instead of replacement. 

  • Share your 2024 goals with your marketing partner. No one knows your business better than you do, and the best way for your marketing provider to help you reach your goals is to understand what those are in the first place. Align your expectations with which marketing strategies make sense for your goals and budget, and how you’ll track success throughout the year. 

  • Have a strategy for acquisition tuck-ins. Too few contractors consider this strategy as an integral part of their annual plan. Many home services businesses are feeling the burn right now, particularly smaller operators with 1-2 trucks, so write letters, schedule lunches, do your homework and start making introductions to businesses that have potential to be a good tuck-in opportunity.

  • Don’t neglect your internal marketing. What’s the point of generating leads if your team can’t convert them? Train your team on your marketing plan, current promotions, and set accountability goals accordingly for things like club agreement renewals.

Top Marketing Strategies to Consider in 2024

Just as the home services industry is changing, so is the world of marketing. Strategies that contractors relied on for strong lead generation and market domination a few years ago may no longer cut it or garner the same results. Here are strategies you should be thinking about this year:

  • SEO alone won’t cut it anymore. SEO is passive channel marketing and simply worrying about your website rankings to get in front of potential customers isn’t enough. And with modern search engines customizing the search experience of each user, even emulating “rankings” in organic search requires specialized software to be accurate.  In the most simple terms, customers expect you to be where they are, and focusing on omni-channel marketing ensures that your marketing messages are in all the right places at all the right times when customers are looking for the products and services you offer. To learn more about omni-channel marketing strategy, download our free whitepaper.
  • Have a mobile-first website. Nearly 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices so making your website fast and user friendly on a mobile device is critical. A bad mobile experience will cause customers to visit your site and bounce if they can’t easily navigate your mobile site to find what they’re looking for and contact your business. Check out our blog post for more tips on how a better website helps customers find your business.

  • Incorporate traditional marketing into your plan. We may live in a bustling digital age but don’t forget that traditional marketing strategies such as direct mail, billboards and radio ads still have merit if managed well. These allow you to be hyper local, increase brand recognition and engage with key demographics within your market. Be sure to connect your attribution/tracking systems to offline traditional marketing campaigns in order to measure success through tracking numbers, dedicated landing pages or QR codes. 

  • Always be creating content. Stock images can be impersonal and aren’t representative of your brand. In addition, search engines are ignoring stock images as they provide little to no SEO value. When we say “always be creating content”, we mean take photos, create videos - anything that can personalize your brand and brand experience. Gone are the days where you “need” professional image/video content. While professionally created content is great and can be very effective, customers want to see you as people running a business in their community - real photos of your staff in action, with customers and working as a team. This “real” content has a much better emotional impact on your prospects/customers and will be geo-tagged effectively. And of course, your content should always align with your brand image, be tagged effectively for local SEO value and be consistent across all channels from your trucks to your website to your social media presence. 

  • Reduce fraudulent clicks. If you’re running paid ads on platforms like Google Ads or Facebook, having a strategy for managing bot activity will help mitigate malicious bot traffic and click fraud which can negatively impact customer experiences and waste your advertising dollars. 

  • Don’t be afraid to tap into AI. Using marketing strategies powered by AI technology are one way to access opportunities for audience growth and conversion while learning more about potential audiences in your service area to provide higher caliber leads. Most native software platforms are leaning into offering AI enhancements to their service. Explore these opportunities thoroughly to ensure that you are taking advantage. 

  • Reporting Reporting Reporting. And very closely related to Attribution Attribution Attribution. How do you know what’s a success or failure if you’re not tracking and attributing leads to specific channels? When possible, our ServiceTitan Certified staff can help sync up your marketing tracking to ServiceTitan jobs data to gain insight into what is working and what needs improvement. And if not ServiceTitan, integrate your marketing data to one of the other great Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) systems to enhance your reporting capabilities, better understand your customers’ journeys, and more accurately track your Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). Return on Investment (ROI) is the holy grail of attribution and reporting. While ROI is a calculation based on the profitability of each job, ROAS is a reflection of revenue generated for each lead/job and informs your marketing channel strategy by identifying which channels have low ROAS and need improvements while leaning into successful channels with positive ROAS with additional resources.

2024 will not be without its challenges but having a pulse on industry and marketing trends will help you better plan and navigate the ups and downs of the current market. If you’re worried that you are not set up for the down market in 2024 and want to plan your marketing strategies for long term success, we would love to chat with you. Book a Discovery Call today and we’ll review and assess your business growth goals, omni-channel marketing strategy and marketing channel execution approach. We’ll provide you with a proposal of solutions to help meet your goals in 2024.