It is important to advertise your business effectively, to let potential customers know who you are, where you are and what you can do for them.
An entry in local print directories can be an effective way of advertising your business. However, many of your competitors will have done the same. Some firms spend a lot of money on large, eye-catching display advertisements, using names like "000123AAA Fencing Services" to try and ensure that their advertisement appears first in the classification.
You will have to decide whether to compete head on with these firms, or to look for a different way of attracting customers. You could, for example, focus on your own 'unique selling point' (USP) in your advertising material. This might be "30 years experience" or "Family run firm".
Be aware that although print directories can still be a very useful means of advertising, people are using them less and less, often turning instead to the web for information, customer reviews and contact details.
Using the web
A good business website and/or blog are very valuable marketing tools. Make sure it's easy to use, accurate, informative and up to date.
There are various online business directories too, some of which are free to advertise in and some of which charge businesses (perhaps for an enhanced listing). Trade associations like the Association of Fencing Industries (AFI) often have searchable member's directories on their websites too.
Think about other ways of marketing your services to the online community. You could consider using social media and specialist forums to get your name known and publicise things like special offers and so on. And you could use job tendering websites like Mybuilder.com to find jobs and pitch for work.
Other ways of advertising and marketing
Think about other ways of promoting your business. For example, you could distribute a brochure, paper flyer, plastic card or sticker with your business name and telephone number on it as part of a mail-shot that you do. You might also consider:
- advertising in the local newspaper
- advertising in trade magazines aimed at businesses like building contractors, farmers and event organisers
- joining a reputable trade association. The Fencing Contractors Association, for example, promotes and markets its members' businesses and has a database of member contractors
- networking with local architects, property developers and builders. Some of these might use your services on a regular basis. Others might be prepared to pass on the name of your business to potential clients
- contacting the people responsible for estate management in organisations like the local authority, the National Trust and so on with the aim of getting onto their 'approved supplier' list
Try to tell people as many of the good things about your business as possible in your advertisements, particularly things that distinguish your business from its competitors.
Remember that your vehicle can be a very effective means of advertising if you have it sign-written and keep it clean and presentable. You might consider having a large sign made that you can display outside places where you are working - but make sure that your customer has no objections before putting it up. If you hire out temporary fencing you could include your business name and contact details on your hire equipment.
Word of mouth
Word of mouth recommendations are very valuable to your business. Everyone has heard horror stories about 'cowboy' tradesmen who bodge jobs and swindle their customers - and they want to be sure that you're not going to do the same to them. You will have to earn your reputation through good, reliable workmanship - but even small things like politeness and considerateness can pay big dividends. Make sure that any staff you employ are good ambassadors for your business too. You want to be sure that if a neighbour of a site where you were working approached one of your staff with a sales enquiry they would be dealt with politely and helpfully.