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Tip O’Neill, the former Speaker of the House under Ronald Reagan's administration, is often credited with the now-common saying, “all politics is local.” And for all of the small- to medium-size construction businesses that make up the vast majority of the construction industry, all construction is local, too.

Aside from the material supplier (and perhaps architects and engineers) geographic expansion in the construction business is exceedingly difficult. The difficulty goes beyond licensing restrictions; it lies in the nature of the work itself. Simply put, it’s hard to be on more than one jobsite at a time.

Financial success for many construction companies will depend greatly on how well they market themselves in their own local markets. Following are a few ways contractors can successfully market themselves.

Local Search

When it comes to internet search, Google is the place to be. The same is true for local search. That’s why it’s imperative for every business owner to make sure their free Google business listing is accurate and up to date. If a contractor hasn’t looked at their Google business listing in a while, it might be time to make sure that it’s updated.

Contractors that have yet to set up their own Google business listing should do so immediately by going to www.google.com/business to take care of this crucial step. (Google even provides free telephone support.)

Reviews

Review sites, led by category behemoth Yelp, are inherently controversial (just ask a restaurateur how they feel about Yelp). However, review sites are still an important aspect of a construction business’ overall marketing effort. Getting a Yelp listing is the easy part and can be done by visiting biz.yelp.com to claim a company’s listing.

Next, the challenge becomes getting the most value from the Yelp listing, which requires positive customer reviews. The easiest way to get these reviews is simply by asking customers. In fact, politely asking for Yelp reviews from every customer should be standard operating procedure.

It’s worth noting that most of the activity on Yelp and other review sites will come from homeowners and other consumers with predominantly residential projects. This make sense, as most commercial contractors don’t typically ask their large corporate customers for Yelp reviews. However, for the contractors out there that do some residential work in addition to any commercial work, managing the business’ Yelp listing is a must.

Referral Sites

Just like Yelp and other review sites, the most common referral sites have a decidedly residential bent as well. While there are quite a few websites that fall into this category (including Thumbtack, Houzz, Porch and HomeAdvisor), the biggest of the bunch is probably Angie’s List. All of these sites make it relatively easy for business owners to register for a basic account (mostly for free), and they all offer various premium services to help business owners promote their businesses.

One referral site that does have more to offer for commercial contractors is The Blue Book. A free listing is available by going to www.thebluebook.com/request-free-listing.html. However, The Blue Book is more than just a referral site, as it also has information on projects, industry data and advertising services available for various fees.

Last but not least, it’s also a good idea to join a trade organization, especially for those that concentrate on larger projects in the commercial and public markets. One of the best collections for these trade organizations can be found by following this link.

This is the third article in a four-part series on Marketing Your Construction Business. Click here to read part one on leveraging Google and here to read part two on marketing basics.

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