Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, home shows and renovation trade shows were a valuable marketing tool for home services companies. They were attended by tens of thousands of homeowners. Setting up a booth at a show was a great way for companies to get in front of potential customers.
When COVID-19 arrived in Canada, it wasn’t long before the spring home shows were canceled. Many contractors scaled back their services to meet public health guidelines and to stay afloat. Others chose to close and hunker down for the storm ahead. Homeowners and potential customers started using new methods to search and hire home services companies, especially those considered an essential service throughout the pandemic.
If home shows were your number one method of attracting new business, what is your plan operating without them? As a digital marketing company, RenovationFind has some advice. First, let’s look at some statistics.
Home show ROI pre-COVID-19
RenovationFind is usually one of the marketing partners for the big home shows in Western Canada. We set up a booth, speak with homeowners, and help connect them with RenovationFind Certified home services and renovation companies. With these shows being so well-attended in the past, we speak with a lot of homeowners wanting to renovate.
We sent out a survey to homeowners in Western Canada asking where they found contractors for home projects?
Rated from the most popular search method to the least, 25.7% of homeowners surveyed said that home shows were their number one choice for finding contractors for home projects. That means that pre-COVID, the ROI for attending a home show was high for contractors and industry-related companies.
With home shows gone, where will that 25.7% of homeowners go to find your home services business?
Third-Party Certifications & Accreditations
Over 71% of consumers look for a third-party seal of approval.
Homeowners are turning to the internet to find contractors for home projects
Even though we are in the early stages of the economic relaunch, with each province experiencing a slightly different timeline, homeowners are still using the internet as the primary way to find home services companies. People are practicing social distancing, are working from home, or at home with kids due to school and childcare facility closures. They are using the web now more than ever.
We have seen an incredible surge of web traffic to RenovationFind.com since the pandemic hit. Our web traffic grew 59% from February 2020 to May 2020.
These statistics have shown us the massive shift from the way homeowners were finding trusted contractors. From home shows, to using trusted online sources like RenovationFind.com.
Homeowners continue to do their research before hiring home contractors
Home shows provided a unique opportunity for homeowners to do practical research on potential contractors for their home projects. What better way to learn about a company than actually meeting the people behind it, and seeing first hand their services and product offerings.
Keep in mind that this face-to-face research was done in addition to online research. Searching for companies online, checking reviews, asking for references, and other background checks should always have been part of the process. For many, it was.
RenovationFind makes it easy for homeowners to do that kind of research. All the companies on our directory have been pre-screened by a third-party organization. We have already made sure the companies have proper licensing and insurance, clean legal and financial history, WCB coverage, and we monitor customer reviews. Once a company passes the check, they become RenovationFind Certified and are given a listing on the website.
When a homeowner sees they are on the site, they know that most of the research work has been done for them. Having all of the trades and contractors they need, vetted and certified, on one website has provided a useful tool for homeowners seeking services throughout the pandemic. As things open up, we believe this trend will continue. This is because large-scale events like home shows will not be in the picture for quite some time. Also, people might feel uncertain about attending them.
What if home shows operate again?
Large events like home shows are not included in the earlier or even middle stages of relaunch strategies. For some provinces, they will be the last thing to resume. Even then, they will not be the same. There will be public health restrictions that will diminish the kind of ROI home services companies might have experienced in the past.
For example, there will be a restriction on patrons allowed into the space at one time to ensure social distancing. That means fewer people in front of your booth. There will also be strict hand sanitizing and potential mask-wearing requirements. Taking these extra steps just to attend a home show might be too inconvenient for regular patrons and they might not attend. For others, they might feel too scared or nervous to attend such a large event, even if it is included in the latest phase of a relaunch.
Home shows operating in the ‘new normal’, whatever that might mean in the future, will not be as lucrative as they were before COVID-19. We don’t know what the future holds, so it’s hard to know if the ROI of a home show will be the same as it was before the public health crisis.
Today’s Consumers are Digital.
Did you know Google released a stat indicating users check out 10.4 sources before purchase.
Boosting your online marketing efforts
Long before the decline of home show ROI, we already knew that most people do research online before purchasing something. Prior to the pandemic, marketers depended on word-of-mouth marketing, home show exposure, and other in-person meetings in addition to online marketing. Without those things, we can adjust to meet consumers where they are at – and that is online.
Review your marketing budget
Home shows are expensive, and it’s likely your booth at multiple home and renovation shows took up a large chunk of your marketing budget. According to this marketing spend decision report, companies allocated nearly half of their budgets on trade shows. That is a huge amount of the budget.
It’s possible some of that marketing money has gone to other things to help keep your business afloat during the darkest days of the pandemic. If you’re in good financial shape and are able to do so, the funds you have allocated for home shows can now go to more effective online marketing channels.
Where should I spend money on marketing?
Enhancing your website, investing in search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and digital paid-advertising are all effective ways to market your home services business in the new normal.
Improve your website
If your website is dated or not functioning properly, now is a great time to update it. Users who visit your site should see a professional, modern web design that is easy to navigate. Once they find you online, make sure you’re making a good first impression.
Search engine optimization
If you have the financial resources, hiring a third-party SEO company can help improve search results for your company. By working with keywords and phrases, you can increase your domain authority so you get more leads to your website.
Social media marketing
With more people social distancing and isolating at home, they are spending more time than ever on their social media channels. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn could provide great opportunities for your company to get in front of those users. Plus, being active on social media will boost your SEO.
Creating your own unique content gives you a tool to connect with potential customers. Use your own blog to provide news, positive stories, how-to articles, and other pieces of content your target audience will find helpful. Then blast those pieces out on social media and through email marketing campaigns.
Social media and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
Online advertising can be very effective in reaching a specific target audience and increasing web traffic. Whether you’re using Google Adwords or paying for Facebook advertising, you will get clear analytics on custom behaviour, click-throughs, and your online reach. This is also something a third-party company can help you with if data and analytics are not your thing.
If you have a contact list that is compliant with the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, you should be utilizing it. Use a user-friendly online mass mailing tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact. These tools allow you to design beautiful emails using a drag-and-drop editor. They also offer free accounts but will have restrictions on the number of contacts you have and emails you send.
Coming out of COVID-19
Right now, businesses are trying to market in times of uncertainty. Business owners are uncertain, and customers are uncertain too. People and businesses are doing their best with the advice provided by health officials, but even that advice seems to change often and with little notice. While every individual has a different tolerance to risk and concern, it is still important to keep your marketing going with that in mind.
Having a crisis recovery plan can help your business emerge more successfully post-COVID-19. If you have already been implementing an emergency response plan for business continuity during the crisis, you’re ahead of the game. Just remember that your marketing strategy needs to adjust to being part of that plan.
Don’t allocate your marketing budget to things you used to, because those things are different now. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It could mean reaching more customers online and gaining new business in this new normal.
Things will get better. Jurisdictions are starting to open for business during various stages of the relaunch. Things will slowly get easier for home services businesses to operate. While that might mean operating within specific health and safety guidelines, we are hopeful that it will still mean businesses can thrive and attract new customers.
RenovationFind can help
RenovationFind spends a lot of time promoting our clients online. Companies get more than just a RenovationFind Certified rating and directory listing. They benefit from a range of online marketing channels. Online blogs, email marketing campaigns, banner ads, social media marketing, online advertising, and SEO strategies all come into play to help boost domain authority to our site, and to our client profiles.
Learn how we can help.
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