Welcome our guest writer, Jon Mears, Sales and Key Account Manager at Andura Coatings and host of his own free advice website jmears.co.uk.
Jon will be offering practical sales and marketing advice designed specifically for painters and decorators.
Who is it for?
Time served decorators who run their own company but are looking to grow and become more profitable.
Anyone employed in the decorating trade who has ambition to one day run their own business.
College students and apprentices who want to supplement their practical training by also learning sales and marketing skills.
Click on the links below to read Jon’s latest helpful advice.
Click to open Advice: Photography for Decorators
I’m not going to try and pretend I’m a brilliant photographer, but it is something I enjoy, and it is something I think is criminally underappreciated by a lot of decorators.
Taking a bit of extra time to get some great photos that really show off your work seems like a no brainer for me.
To help, I’ve researched some of the best tips to help you take better quality photos of your work with nothing but your phone!
I’ve also used these tips on the smallest bedroom in my house so you can see how these techniques can be used in any space.
First up, let’s look at some initial photos I took and use them to get better at noticing common mistakes. In these photos the goal is to show off the wallpaper.
Here is the sort of photo you see all the time on Facebook and Instagram.
Yes, it shows the wallpaper, but it’s not a good photo. The issue highlighted here is the angle.
When taking a picture of a room like this, try shooting into the corner of the room. It will make the space look bigger and will create an effect where the eye gets drawn in.
This is a better attempt. The corner of the room is now pretty much in the centre of the frame.
The photo has also been taken from a lower vantage point. This is important when photographing interior rooms.
Try to take the photos from a mid-height. You’re aiming to get equal amounts of the ceiling and floor in the frame. Also, be sure to remember the height you take photos from as you want it to be the same for every shot. For most people it’ll usually be about waist height.
There is an issue with this picture though.
The bed is untidy.
Remember to take an extra couple of minutes to tidy up and make everything look neat before you start taking photos.
Ok, we’ve tidied up the bed and it is starting to look like a better photo.
The issue now is the window.
Don’t be tempted to draw the curtains and turn the light on.
We always want to use just natural light wherever possible.
Now, if you wanted to get clever you could use editing skills to sort the window issue out. This involves taking 3 photos from exactly the same position. One with low exposure, one mid and one high exposure. You then blend them together to get a nice image.
However, we’re trying to keep it simple here, so the best thing to do in my opinion is to start trying other angles.
A few quick shots to critique. This one has too much ceiling and no floor. The height of the shot is wrong.
This one is a bit better for height, but there is a charging cable hanging out under the bed.
Now we have found a better angle and a better height. Unfortunately, this photo is still not right.
It is often tempting to use a really wide angle, but you have to be careful not to abuse it.
Wide angles often distort the lines. You can see it slightly in this image. The walls and door frames don’t go straight up and down, they are on an angle.
Not to mention the wide angle has capture a load of clutter. Including a wash basket, I’d moved for my earlier photos.
Here we go! Much better!
The photo is angled at the corner of the room, the lighting is natural and consistent, there is no clutter, and everything is tidy. We also have a decent height for the shot (there are equal amounts of ceiling and floor in frame). Plus, the lines are straight, unlike the previous photo.
This is pretty good in my opinion. A lot better than our first attempt.
The final thing to do is compliment your photo with a more detailed and artsy picture. Use the same rules with lighting and keep the lines straight but try out some different angles to try and get something cool like this photo.
Let’s recap the tips you can start using:
Shoot into the corner of a room to make the space look bigger and to use the natural lines of the room to lead the eye into the centre of the shot.
Height is important. Take your shots from about mid-height. Try to capture equal amounts of ceiling and floor in the frame. Make sure all your images are from this height. Consistency is key. For most people the correct height will be around their belly button. So just remember that!
Tidy up! There is nothing worse than seeing charging cables hanging out or tools in the background. Imagine you’re trying to get the perfect image to go on the front cover of a magazine.
If possible, only use natural light. Turn off all other light sources. This will give you better colours and highlights.
Experiment with angles. Take a few shots from each corner of the room and see what looks best.
Don’t abuse the ‘wide angle’. These types of shots can look great, but they often distort the image and make the whole room look very odd.
Keep your lines straight. Use uprights and doors to ensure all lines in your image are straight. If you go to the camera settings on your phone you can turn on a grid. I’d recommend doing this as it helps you line everything up.
Photograph the room, not just your work. It’s tempting just to capture an image of your work, but photos need context. A picture of a feature wall taken from straight on very rarely makes a good photo. You need to imagine you are showing off the whole room. It’ll make the photo more interesting and more appealing to the eye.
Mix it up with close detail shots. Don’t be afraid to get a little artsy! Experiment with close ups on certain features.
Zoom with your feet. If you want to zoom in on a shot, try to avoid using the zoom function on the phone. It’s just not as good as actually walking forwards a few steps.
Edit all your photos! Before you post a photo, just take a couple of minutes to tweak the basics. Brightness, contrast, saturation etc. There are loads of free apps you can do this on, and it makes a big difference. So, make sure you do it.
Clean your lens! Please give the back of your phone a wipe before taking photos. Not doing that can ruin all the hard work above!
Finally, let’s compare our original shot against our final shots. Hopefully, you agree they are much better and if I were to show them to a customer, I know which ones are more likely to give them confidence in my skills and make me look better.
Oh, and one more thing.
Connect with me!I’m more than happy to share your posts and give you a boost!
Click to open Advice: Marketing Tips for Trades People
Know your ideal customer. Sounds simple, but in order to put together an effective marketing strategy you need to know who you are trying to get the attention of. For example, you are unlikely to get the attention of a big commercial company by putting a flyer up in the local cafe. Think about who you are targeting and focus on them. Tailor your advertising for the type of client you want. If you go for a generic ‘catch all’ approach you are less likely to get anything.
Ask every customer how they heard about you. This is easily forgotten. I’m as guilty as the next person for it. But you need to find out where people are hearing about you and asking every existing customer is the most effective way. Once you have this information you can review and refine your marketing strategy. For example, if you pay to be in the local paper every month but after 6 months find out nobody actually contacted you because of it then you can move that money to something that is working and giving you a better return on investment.
Be approachable. Like it or not, people are nervous of approaching small companies and trades people. They may have never hired a tradesperson before, they may have had a bad experience in the past, and they may just not like picking up the phone and calling someone! To combat this, everything about your company needs to look clean, professional and credible. Simple things like having a website go a long way. It stops you looking like a fly by night company. Also, make sure you have a friendly picture of yourself or your team on the front page of your website and social media profiles. This simple trick makes people far more likely to pick up the phone and call you as they feel like they already know you a little bit.
Be the specialist. You have an incredible amount of knowledge on your chosen topic. Time to start sharing some of it on social media. Show people what you’ve been doing recently, the systems you employ and more importantly, why you are doing it like this. Social media is a great tool for you to educate potential customers on the value of your profession. Start showing people little tips and tricks and offer to answer people’s questions on your trade. It won’t take long for you to become the go to person in your area for your specific trade. Before you know it, every time a conversation starts about your trade in a pub or supermarket, someone will turn around and say…’you should look at Dave the decorators social media’ I friends with him on Facebook and he is a real specialist and I’m sure he can help you.
Actively ask for referrals. Most people will agree that word of mouth and referrals are usually the best leads you can get. You close more of them, and they are very cheap. So make sure you make it a process that you do on every job. Ask the customer if they know anyone else interested in using your product or service. You can choose to incentivise them with discounts if you like, or perhaps just drop round a bottle of wine if their referral leads to some work.
Bonus tip: Build your brand. Always remember that quality costs less. In the long run! Building your brand/company on quality will lead to more work.
I’ll give you an example of the power of a good brand.
Say you want to buy a car. You are looking at two identical cars, one is made in Germany and one is made in China. Without me telling you the manufacturer or the price, I’m pretty certain you’ve already decided that the German car is better. Why is this? You associate Germany with precision, reliability and all the things you’d want in a car.
German car manufacturers are so well branded and focused on quality that even though most of us know very little about the workings of the internal combustion engine we are happy to spend more money on a German car than a Chinese one.
Make your brand associated with quality and you’ll have customers willing to pay more and even wait longer for your services.
Oh, and one more thing.
Connect with me!I’m more than happy to share your posts and give you a boost!
One of the biggest and fastest growing social media platforms at the moment is Instagram.
Now owned by Facebook, expect this platform to keep growing and adding all the highly targeted advertising capabilities that its parent company is renowned for.
One of the reasons I believe Instagram is so successful is that it has developed a different culture to other platforms.
I often talk about posting ‘native’ content. What I mean about this is what you post should fit within the aesthetic and culture of the platform.
For example, on Facebook, it is not uncommon to see long text-based rants.
On LinkedIn, you’re more likely to see thoughtful business articles.
Instagram however seems to have a more relaxed feel. It’s more arty. It’s more about showing the world what you are about and getting people to understand your ‘brand’
Why is this important?
Well, it means you will find a lot of people on Instagram who do not regularly use other platforms.
This means Instagram absolutely must be a part of your marketing strategy!
There is not a lot of room on Instagram to put lots of text info, so you must make every word count!
Getting your profile right is key. First things first, make sure your profile is public. You can’t attract customers if you are invisible. You’ll be public as standard, but it’s worth double checking in your settings.
Now, starting from the top get yourself a decent quality picture…of yourself!
As with any social media platform, people like to know who they are dealing with.
If you are really camera shy, or a larger company with lots of employees then use a high-quality image of your company logo.
Next is your name. Simple right?
Well, here is where you make the most of your space. You get 30 characters for your name, try and use them. You’ll notice I’ve put Jon Mears – Sales & Marketing. You might put your name + Painting & Decorating. Or some other key words.
The reason you do this is because when people search ‘Painting and decorating’ you’ll come higher in the search. It’s all about key words!
Further down you have your main bio and the ONLY place you can put a link!
Like most social media platforms, Instagram don’t like you leaving. So, they don’t let you post links which could take their customers away to other sites.
Use the bio and link wisely.
Put key words in your bio, perhaps a list of services you offer and don’t be afraid to change the link from time to time.
You can’t put links in a standard post. They don’t work. That’s why every celebrity post says, ‘link in bio!’
For me, I put a direct link to my latest blog.
You might choose to put a link to your website homepage, or maybe a link to a case study of your latest work. Or an offer you might have going on.
NB: I am aware that you can add links to your Instagram stories, but this is only for people who are verified and have 10,000+ followers. So, I’m not going to dive into this right now.
What to post:
In my opinion, Instagram is an absolute dream for decorators. As every time you finish a job you have a beautiful looking project to photograph and post.
Honestly, if I could design a social media platform myself to show off a decorator’s work, it would probably be very similar to Instagram!
With this in mind, content should not be a problem for you.
However, remember to mix it up with some selfies and ‘behind the scenes’ pictures. Even some satisfying cutting in shots or slow removal of masking tape. People love all those ‘oddly satisfying’ videos.
The best thing you can do for your posts on Instagram however, is learn how to take decent photos!
Honestly, the amount of brilliant decorating I see that is let down by awful photography is astounding. 5 days painting and decorating ruined with a 1 second photograph.
It is not that difficult.
Get on to Youtube and watch just one tutorial on how to take better photos with your smartphone. It’ll take you 10 minutes but will increase your chances of getting more business for the rest of your career.
Even just basic things like clearing up the empty wagon wheel wrappers off the floor before you take the picture will make a big difference!
Next, download a third party photo editing app. I use ‘Snapseed’. It’s free and gives you a lot more options that the in app editing you get with Instagram.
5 minutes tweaking colours and brightness etc can go a long way on Instagram. Remember you are trying to stop people from scrolling, so you need your photos to pop!
Snapseed app looks like this:
There are hundreds of free editing apps available, so whatever smartphone you have, get on the app store and find one you like.
Standard posts? Or stories?
Use both. Personally, I like to use the stories for fun and ‘raw’ videos, as they disappear after 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry about something silly staying on your profile for ages. For a decorator this might be you walking around site explaining what is going on.
Then I’ll use standard posts for the aesthetically pleasing images.
Feel free to mix it up though.
On Instagram there is an unbelievably useful function for finding customers.
Click on the little magnifying glass at the bottom, click in the search box, then top right you will see ‘places’
From here you can click ‘nearby’ places or type in a town or city.
When you do this, every photo uploaded to Instagram in that area comes up.
So, you can literally scroll through and find people in any area you want and start engaging with them!
If you’re a decorator and want to connect with people in your hometown, this is an unbelievably useful way to find them.
Just start clicking on images, leaving thoughtful comments and hitting that follow button!
Do this day in day out and before you know it, you’ll have a legion of followers in your local area who know who you are and what you do!
I can’t labour this point enough!
If you are a decorator or tradesmen looking to connect with people in your area, this is possibly the best way to do it.
It’s free and you can do it from your sofa! It only requires dedicating 15-30 minutes a day to do it.
Other quick tips on growing your audience:
Link up with local businesses. Like me, you probably have a local coffee shop that has thousands of local followers on Instagram. Reach out to them and try and work together. Help promote their business and they will help promote you.
Hashtags. You can search by hashtags on Instagram, so think what your customers might be looking for and start using those hashtags on your posts. For example, #interiordesign #designinspiration etc
Quality over quantity. Instagram’s algorithm puts posts from people you ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on at the top of your feed. If you post 5 boring adverts about your business in a row, nobody will click ‘like’ on your posts and the algorithm will then put you further down everyone’s timeline. So, make sure when you do post it is good quality and offers value to your audience. You want them to click ‘like’ or leave a comment.
Engage, engage, engage. I say this every time I write an article on social media, and it is because it is crucial to organic growth. Like I mentioned earlier, start commenting on posts more often. Most people only get a couple of comments on any given post, so they best way to stand out is to put something thoughtful in their comments. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build familiarity. Which leads me neatly on to my next point…
Once you have built familiarity with your audience, you can go for the kill.
The most successful way I found to do this is by direct messaging.
It is slow and boring, but it is effective.
Every now and then. Maybe once a month, or once every couple of months, reach out to your followers individually in a private message and give them an offer. No obligation quote, or 10% discount if you quote INSTA10 when you call. Something simple like that.
Make that offer to the thousand followers you have carefully built up in your area and you are all but guaranteed to find someone interested.
Next, I want to discuss is the ‘insights’ that Instagram offer.
Firstly, to see these you need to make sure you are registered as a business account. This is free and takes 2 seconds.
Go to settings – account – switch to business account
Now you can click the 3 little lines on your profile page, and you’ll see an option for ‘insights’. Click and you’ll see the below:
Now you can easily view some key details about your audience.
Why do you need this?
Well, if your stats looked like mine, but your target customers are retired women who live in Banbury, then you could quickly establish that not many of my followers fit this description.
Therefore, I would need to alter the type of posts I’m putting out and change who I am engaging with, in order to attract more of my ‘ideal customers’
The vanity trap:
Finally, I just want to say, don’t fall into the vanity trap. Millions of likes and followers are not the point on here, or any other social media platform for that matter.
So, don’t get tempted to pay for likes or followers. (Yes, you can buy likes and followers off the internet!)
Think of it this way…
If you can find just 50 good quality followers that are willing to spend an average of £1,000 on your services per year (That could also be a £5,000 project every 5 years = £1,000 per year average spend).
That would give you £50,000 revenue per year.
Pretty decent from just 50 customers! The key is quality, not quantity.
Conclusion and key points:
Instagram is a potential gold mine for decorators and other trades.
Quality photos are essential. Download an editing app and learn some basic photography skills from Youtube.
Use the functionality of Instagram to find potential customers near you.
Engage, engage, engage.
Use ‘insights’ to keep an eye on what sort of following you are building, so you can tweak your strategy as you go along.
For me, Twitter has been one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever used in sales and marketing and it can be for you too.
The freedom Twitter allows is unlike any other.
For example, unlike Instagram, you can post links on Twitter.
Unlike Facebook, you can add/follow anyone you like on Twitter, you don’t need to already know them.
And unlike LinkedIn, you can add seemingly as many people as you like in one sitting without consequences such as having your account blocked.
Having these tools all on one platform is very useful for growing and audience and then creating business.
This article will outline a few of the tips and techniques I’ve used to build brand awareness and turn that into revenue.
Understanding the culture of Twitter
If you have read any of my previous articles on social media platforms, you’ll know that I believe the foundations of being successful on any platform is to understand its culture and unwritten laws/customs.
Twitter has traditionally been a place to find the news and latest information on events. The term ‘live tweeting’ came from this culture.
‘Live tweeting’ for those who don’t know, is when someone will tweet information about an event or situation such as a football match or news conference as it unfolds. Usually these are accompanied by hashtags, which other people will use to tweet their viewpoint on the situation and to make it easier for other people to see all the tweets on this topic in one place.
It is also a place where people go to have fun. For every serious tweet there is usually a joke, funny video or meme to break it up.
It is important you understand the culture of twitter, in order to make sure your message is delivered in the way that people want to receive it.
As with all social media, people do not log in to Twitter to look at adverts. They want to catch up on the latest developments in whatever/whoever interests them and usually have a bit of fun too.
Therefore, the rules of engagement for Twitter are to make sure your posts are either informative or entertaining. Preferably both!
Building a following
As I mentioned earlier, Twitter doesn’t seem to put a limit on how many people you can connect with in a day, so you can get some serious work done very quickly.
However, just because you can add thousands of people, doesn’t mean you should!
The first thing to do is establish what sort of person you are looking to connect with, and then start doing the following.
Find someone your target customer is likely to already follow:
As a decorator, you may decide that your ideal customer probably has a couple of children at the local school. Or they like to drink at a certain pub or coffee shop in your area. Or they are part of the tennis club.
With this in mind, it is likely that they follow the local school on twitter, or the coffee shop or the tennis club.
So, all you have to do now is go on to the school, pub or tennis club Twitter account, click on the list of people who follow them and start following all of their followers! Easy!
If you want to find people in your area who have a child at the local private school, you can guarantee you’ll find a few hundred on the school twitter account!
Establish the hashtags they may use:
The other way to find people is to use the search function for the hashtags your potential customers might be using. For example, try where you live for example #oxford or #Stoke. Wherever you may be. Try to make it specific. Small villages could yield great results.
Getting them to follow you back
Of course, it’s all well and good finding and following loads of people, but you also want them to follow you back, so that when you send out a tweet, they are more likely to see it.
Think of the reasons someone might follow someone else. It usually boils down to the following 3 things:
They already know the person in real life
They think their tweets are informative and useful
They think their tweets are entertaining
With number 1 out of the way for us, we need to work on options 2 and 3.
There are a number of ways to do this, but for me, the following are the best techniques I’ve used.
Pinned tweet and profile:
When someone gets followed, they are likely to have a quick glance at your bio / profile and your pinned tweet. So, you must make sure these parts of your profile suggest you are worth following.
Use a nice picture of yourself smiling! (People are more likely to follow a person than a faceless company)
Have a short bio that says what you do and where you do it.
Make sure your pinned tweet is either informative or entertaining.
Be human! (Yes, it’s good to be clean and professional, but people want to connect with humans, not companies and robots)
Next, you need to start engaging on a regular basis.
Leave thoughtful comments on people’s posts.
Search the hashtags they might use and start conversations with people.
Like and retweet their posts!
Do this consistently and people will start to become familiar with you and your brand. They are then far more likely to follow and engage with you.
My next tip on how to get people to follow you is the classic competition. You know what I mean.
‘Retweet and like to enter’
All you have to do is give away a paint brush or tin of paint and you’ll get engagement like nothing else.
Just because you’re not a big company doesn’t mean you can’t do this. So, make sure you do one every now and then to get a boost of new followers.
Post regular content
Along with regular engagement, you also need to put content on your own timeline/feed.
Fortunately, on Twitter this is easier than most other social networks.
As I mentioned, Twitter is traditionally about current events.
So, remember you don’t have to constantly ‘create’ you can simply ‘document’.
There are loads of options on twitter, you can use text, photos, GIFs, videos and live streams. Try to use a healthy mix of all of them.
NB: If you want to know what the Twitter algorithm prefers here is the order from least likely to get promoted, to most likely to get promoted!
Text only (Least likely to be promoted by Twitter)
Live stream (Most likely to be promoted by Twitter)
No surprises there I’m sure!
Document your day using the different types of media.
On a morning walk with the dog? Take a picture and post it with the caption ‘Morning’
Using your new dustless sander? Do a short video.
See something funny? Retweet it.
Now, personally I very rarely use hashtags, but when you are starting from scratch, they can be very useful to reach new audiences.
Firstly, don’t overuse them. 1 or 2 per tweet maximum. You have limited characters on Tweets. Don’t waste them with pointless hashtags. Use them for great content!
Only use relevant or trending hashtags.
The only time I tend to use hashtags in my tweets is to engage in conversations with whatever is trending on twitter at the time.
Using the ‘trending’ section for inspiration on content is great by the way, so make sure you try and check it out at least once a day.
See what’s trending, and then try and put your spin on it.
If anything is going to help you go viral and gain loads of followers and exposure, it is this!
Turning followers into business:
Now you have a following, you are consistently creating great content and you are engaging with people you can start to turn it into business.
You should already have your company details and website on your profile, so if you’re doing it right, people will already be finding their way to your website and making enquiries.
In addition to this, I like to use the one in four rule.
This means for every four posts you create, 3 should offer value (informative or entertaining) and one can be an advert for your business and services.
Keep an eye on your follower count, if you tend to lose followers after posting and advert, you may need to restrict yourself to advertising your business less frequently.
Maybe advertise on one in five posts, or even one in six.
Another very useful way to generate business is to send direct messages to your followers.
There are some unwritten rules to direct messaging:
Don’t do it immediately after connecting with someone.
Don’t do it too frequently. Once every couple of months is plenty.
Do personalise the message
Do make sure it’s a very good offer. Something they can’t refuse!
The last point is probably the most important.
If you are going to slide into someone’s DM’s, you better have something bloody good to say.
This usually means an offer of some sort. For a decorator, it could be a discount code for your services that is exclusive to your Twitter followers. 10% off in June or something like that.
I’m afraid a ‘free no obligation quote’ is not going to cut it here! Save that for one of your ‘one in four’ tweets.
Enjoy it and use it as a learning tool
Twitter is a great social platform. Some of the funniest, most artistic, and intelligent people are on there.
You can use it to connect with just about anyone, from friends, to family, to sports heroes and music stars.
So as great as it is for building your business, remember to enjoy the platform too.
Let me know your tips and techniques in the comments so we can share our knowledge with the community!
First of all, let’s answer a few common questions:
Can decorators really generate business from LinkedIn? – Yes. Anyone can.
Do you need to pay for a premium account to get business? – No.
Can I use LinkedIn to replace my other marketing efforts? – No. Your marketing should be varied and wide ranging. LinkedIn should just be a part of it.
Isn’t LinkedIn just for corporate / professional types? – No, LinkedIn is for everyone. There are over 500 million users on LinkedIn, and it is growing fast, so whatever you do for a living, you’ll be able to find value from LinkedIn.
The basics of LinkedIn and social media as a whole.
LinkedIn is a social network geared towards business networking.
The first important point I’ll make and something most people forget is that although it is geared towards professionals and business, it is still a ‘social’ network.
Why is this important?
Well, it means you need to treat it like a social environment. Not just a place to advertise you and your business.
I like to think of social media as a massive pub/bar.
When you arrive at a pub, you don’t walk straight in and start shouting, ‘Hello I’m Jon Mears, please buy my paint!’
If you did, nobody would engage with you (trust me!)
Think about it…
What’s the first thing a friend says to you when you arrive in a pub? Hello mate, how are you? Can I get you drink?
This is the basic premise of social networks. Change your way of thinking from what can I get out of it, to what can I learn and what can I offer people.
What happens when your mate buys you a drink? You have this overwhelming drive to buy them a drink in return.
The same goes for LinkedIn.
If you give people value, they will find a way to return the favour.
First things first.
Work out who you are trying to reach on this platform.
If you are going to build an effective strategy you need to be clear on who you are trying to catch the attention of. Develop an idea of who this person is. What is their job title? What sort of company do they work for? What sort of things are they interested in? Are you looking for companies who you can subcontract for? Or are you looking for high end professionals that enjoy golf and own several rental properties?
Make sure you are clear on this because everything you do from now on is going to be geared towards finding them, getting their attention and giving them value.
How to set up your profile:
Whilst getting your profile right is important and needs to be done, I don’t think it’s worth obsessing over. There are far more valuable things you can do on LinkedIn that I will talk about later in this article.
That said, there are a few key things to be aware of. Here’s my profile as an example:
To get anywhere on LinkedIn you must complete all the basics to a decent standard. This means a good headshot photo (not a company logo), a banner image (this can be a logo!), a headline and a completed ‘about’ section.
You also need to make sure all your contact details are available on here. This includes website address, email and phone number.
You don’t get a lot of room on your headline and people rarely expand the ‘About’ section, so you have to make it count.
Don’t waste this space with corporate rubbish such as ‘I’m motivated and driven individual who likes working alone and as part of a team’
Use this space to show people how you and your company help your customers. Explain the problems that you solve.
‘Sell the problem you solve. Not the product’
Also, make sure you write it in the first person. Don’t be that guy who has a profile written in the third person. It just makes everyone cringe.
Further down on the profile page you’ll find the CV section. Yes, it’s worth filling it in. But you don’t need to waste too much time on it. It’ll likely only ever get a glance from customers. Nobody is really bothered that you got a C in GCSE Religious studies.
Something that is important though is the activity section. Here’s mine:
When someone clicks into your activity section, they can see comments you’ve made, articles you’ve written and all of your posts. This leads me on to the next important section.
Only 4% of LinkedIn users regularly post on the platform. Which is why I said obsessing over your profile is not all that important.
If you want to stand out on LinkedIn, start putting up content.
It’ll put you ahead of 96% of all users!
How do you do this?
There are 2 ways to put up content. Firstly, you can create it yourself in the form of posts and articles. Secondly, you can engage with other people’s content.
I suggest you do both.
Often people will say ‘I’m not that creative. I can’t think of content to put up every day’
To overcome this, you need to change your mindset. Stop thinking ‘create’ start thinking ‘document’.
Documenting is far easier than creating.
If you’re a decorator, post about what you’re doing each day. Show people what it’s like. Educate people on why you use certain processes, why you use certain paints and primers. As long as you’re working, you’ll never run out of things to document. Plus, you’ll always have before and after photos to put up and inspire people!
On top of documenting, you also need to engage with people.
This means, reading their posts, then putting thoughtful comments on there and asking questions.
For 99.9% of us, (myself included) we don’t get many comments on our posts. So, do you know what this means? When I get a positive comment, I love it.
…and more importantly, I will remember who made that comment.
I’ll tell you something. I don’t always read all of my emails, but I do read all the comments on my posts. So, if you want to get the attention of someone, this is a great way!
This leads me on to one of the best things you can use LinkedIn for…
One of the keys to sales is building familiarity. In most modern businesses, decorating included, you can’t just pick up the phone and get someone to spend money with you straight away. What you can do is build familiarity so that when a potential customer comes into the buying window (i.e they want to hire a decorator) you are top of mind and they contact you first.
By consistently appearing on people’s timeline and in their comments, people will start to become familiar with you. With this familiarity comes a feeling of trust.
If you have built an online presence as a quality decorator, who really is an expert on all things painting and decorating and you have shared lots of information to back this up, when people need a decorator, they are going to think of you first. Better still, if anyone in your network has a friend that needs a decorator, they are going to recommend and tag you. Why? Because you are the expert in your field, and you are top of mind.
Here’s the tough bit. The reason why only 4% of people post and the other 96% of people don’t is because people give up too quickly.
To find success on LinkedIn, you must be consistent, and you must persevere.
We’ve all dabbled with posting on social media in one way or another. Some people post once, get no engagement, and give up.
Some people post a few times and give up.
Some last a few months before giving up.
If you want to know why certain people are doing well on LinkedIn and social media in general. It’s because they work hard at it and they didn’t give up when it felt like nobody was reading their posts.
They post daily. They engage with comments daily.
And they do this consistently for long periods of time. I’m not talking weeks or months. I’m talking years.
Sure, some people (you included) might find success quite quickly. It might only take a few weeks or a month for things to get going. The key is not to get disheartened if it doesn’t.
I’ve mentioned this a few times during this article, so I think I should be clear on what ‘value’ actually means.
When you post anything on social media. Think about it from the other person’s perspective.
‘What are they getting out of this post?’
‘What value is this bringing to people?’
For me, this can be boiled down to 2 things. Everything you post should be either:
Informative or entertaining.
If it isn’t then don’t expect it to get anyone’s attention.
Quick tips on what not to post:
Customer feedback. I’m sorry to say, but nobody really cares that Mrs Jones was really pleased with the wallpaper in her downstairs loo. Put it on your website in the testimonial section, yes. But don’t bore people with it on social media. People will scroll right past.
Any ‘me, me, me’ posts. Avoid boasting at all costs. (We are all guilty of it, myself included, but let’s try not to do it anymore. Nobody gets any value from it)
Long cliché stories about how you met a homeless person and gave them a chance and now they are your best employee blah blah blah. There are loads of these things on LinkedIn, 99% of them are made up and nobody likes them anymore.
Building your connections
Growing your connections on LinkedIn is actually pretty easy in comparison to other social networks.
First, you can start by syncing your email / phone and connecting to all of your friends and existing business contacts.
Next, you can search for people by things such as job title or company name.
Also, the ‘people you may know’ is very intuitive and often comes up with great suggestions.
You can also follow companies. As a decorator, this could give you a head start on your competition. Say you want to get more work on new builds. You can easily go and follow companies like Taylor Wimpey, Redrow etc and as soon as they post about new contract opportunities, you’ll be the first to know!
To build your connections organically, I would not just follow the advice above, but I would post regularly and comment on discussions relevant to your trade. This will get people to come to you!
Also, set aside time every day to send 10-15 connection requests to people you want in your network. You can do this by searching for job titles / companies or from going through the ‘people you may know section’ Remember, LinkedIn is not like facebook, you don’t have to personally know someone as a friend to connect with them. If you think you can bring them value, then send them a connection request.
NB: If you want to improve the chances of them accepting your connection request, personalise the connection message. Tell them why you want to connect and how you think you could bring value to them. Without giving them a sales pitch!
It won’t take long to build up a good sized network this way.
Important: Don’t try to connect with 100’s of people at once and make sure to periodically check if people haven’t accepted your connection request. If they haven’t accepted within a week or so, then withdraw the request. You can do this as per below screenshot: My network -> Manage invitations -> Sent
It is important you do this because if too many people decline your invitation all at once you could end up in…
Yes, this is a real thing. Essentially LinkedIn jail restricts you from using your account to its full potential and if you ignore the warnings you can be massively restricted and locked out of your account.
The function of LinkedIn jail is to stop people from spamming others. So, avoiding it is pretty easy. You just need to be sensible.
Don’t go from sending 0 connection requests a day to sending 100’s a day and don’t start sending 100’s of people sales pitches via the messaging app!
Give more than you ask. As a rule, I would give value on 3 out of every 4 posts. You can ask for business on the other 1 out of 4.
Reply to every comment. If someone has gone to the effort of commenting on your post, don’t ignore it. As a minimum you need to say thank you. Until you’re getting thousands of comments on every post, there is no excuse for this. Every time you do it’s a little boost for your post. Why spend all that time creating a post only to not follow up on it!?
Bonus tip: The LinkedIn algorithm loves comments of 4 words or more. So, if you want to boost posts and get more attention, start commenting 4 words or more wherever you can.
Use LinkedIn as a place to learn, not just a place to find business. There are a lotof very clever people on LinkedIn and there is a lot of free information that can help your business. Make sure you use it as a tool for learning too.
Don’t worry about posting ‘too much’. Sometimes people will worry about posting too much and that it might annoy people. The cold hard truth is that unfortunately most of your posts don’t get seen by everyone who is connected to you. If you post 10 times in a day, the average connection might only see a couple of them. The only people who see everything you post are you and possibly a couple of die-hard fans. And for them, there is no such thing as you posting ‘too much’.
LinkedIn is not a replacement for cold calling, email prospecting or any other sort of marketing. It is something you should do alongside your existing activity.
Don’t send a sales pitch via messenger as soon as someone connects with you. Believe me, as a salesman, it pains me to say this, but nobody wants to be pitched straight away. Even if it is a ‘business’ network. Once you’ve connected, give it some time before you message them directly. Be sure to engage with some of their posts first. Remember, the pub analogy. You don’t pitch someone as soon as you meet them. Buy them a (metaphorical) drink first.
Remember your website should be the central hub to all your social media. LinkedIn is a great place to make connections, and then pull them into your website and then convert into business.
Don’t get hung up on views and likes. Sure, it’s nice to get thousands of views and likes, but that is not what matters. A post with 10 views and 5 comments is better than a post with a thousand views and no comments. Likes and views don’t start business conversations, comments do!
In addition, remember you don’t need millions of people to see your posts, you only need a few. You just need to make sure those ‘few’ are relevant to you and your business.
Measure your progress. LinkedIn has this awesome feature called the social selling index (SSI). Which looks like this:
Social Selling Index
Use this to see where you are now and track your progress as you start being more active.
Facebook is the Goliath of social media. If you want to know where the vast majority of your customers hang out for a couple of hours a day, then look no further. They are on Facebook.
Of course, the tricky bit is not finding where they are. The tricky bit is getting their attention and ultimately their business.
I will mention now, as I do in all my social media based blogs that Facebook or any other social platform should not be your sole focus for marketing. It should be part of a larger strategy where you incorporate all sorts of methods and use multiple platforms.
Before we start, you should all make sure you have the following:
A business page
A clear call to action on that business page. For example, call us, email us or visit our website
A description of the services you offer
Video or images of some of your RECENT work
At least one reasonably interesting case study, testimonial or article about your work.
Now let’s move on to the more interesting stuff!
Keep it native
What does this mean? Well, think of it like this. Every social media platform has its own style and culture. Whilst Facebook is probably one of the most versatile platforms (we’ll talk more about that later), it still has its own identity.
People act a certain way on Facebook, that they perhaps wouldn’t on LinkedIn or Twitter.
The idea of ‘keeping it native’ is to interact with people in the way that they want to be interacted with.
The basic premise behind this is that nobody goes on social media to look at adverts. They go on social media to be social. To have a little bit of fun and maybe see something cool.
Keep a professional image but engage like a human who understands the culture of the platform.
Nobody likes talking to a faceless corporation. People want to feel like they know you and your company like a friend.
Authenticity and congruency are key to being successful on social media. This may sound complicated, but it boils down to the simple phrase ‘just be yourself’
If you’re funny, be funny.
If you’re serious, be serious.
Boring? Be boring!
There is nothing worse than seeing a miserable old bloke on social media trying to make a bouncy high energy video like a teenager because he thinks that’s how you have to do things.
If you’re a miserable old bloke. Act like a miserable old bloke. To be honest, most people would probably find it quite funny watching you being grumpy.
The other reason to be yourself is because if you pretend to be something you are not, you will almost certainly run out of ideas for content. Which brings me neatly on to my next subject…
Facebook is a noisy place. If you want to be seen, you have to get out there on a regular basis! One of the keys to this is:
Document, don’t create.
People often struggle to think of ideas for content and say things like ‘I couldn’t post 3 times a day. I could never think of that much content’
Well, once you are acting like your true and authentic self you don’t have to ‘create’ content all the time. You can literally just ‘document’ your daily life.
Go behind the scenes
One of the best things you can do now you’re ‘documenting’ is to go behind the scenes. People love to peek behind the curtain and to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Show people what you do.
Use your posts to not only show off your work, but also to educate potential customers on the skills involved.
To do this, use the full versatility of Facebook!
As I mentioned earlier, Facebook is one of the most versatile platforms available. There are very few restrictions on the types of media you can share. Try to use all of them!
Text posts, photographs, video and live streams. Use them all to make sure you reach every type of person.
Engage, engage, engage
One sure fire way to get noticed on Facebook or any other social platform is to engage. A LOT!
Every day you should be aiming to engage with 50-100 posts across social media.
This means, liking the post and taking time to put a thoughtful and positive comment on it. Remember, it’s not uncommon for people to get hundreds of likes on a post. But it is rare for people to get lots of comments. So, if you consistently keep popping up in peoples posts with thoughtful and helpful comments, you are going to be remembered and you are going to stand out.
Ok, finally here are some quick ideas I’ve compiled to help your grow your network and reach more potential customers:
Reach out to other local trades and ask them to do the following: Go on to your business page, go to the community section and click to invite all their contacts to like your page. Then offer to reciprocate. This can hugely increase the reach your posts will have.
Ask friends a family to do the above too!
Run a competition with a prize of your choosing, where to enter people must share and comment on one of your posts or invite all their friends to like your page. This could reach an untold amount of people!
Join local Facebook groups and comment in them regularly.
Join trade groups, not just for decorators, but other allied trades such as plasterers.
Offer a Q & A service for anyone looking for advice on painting and decorating.
Give free advice and tips on your trade. Show them your tricks of the trade when you’re on a job.
Post good quality photos of your work. If you don’t know how to take photographs very well or edit them. Get on to Youtube and spend half an hour watching tutorials. That’s all it takes, and it’ll make a huge difference.
Don’t be afraid to recycle content. If you had a successful post 6 months ago and you have loads of new connections now, repost it. Or if you’ve written a blog post, take key points out of it and post those bits separately further down the line.
Can you partner with local businesses or influencers? Does your local coffee shop have thousands of followers? See if you can partner up to boost each other on social media. Or offer them discounted rates for any decorating they might need, if they post your details and work to all their socials.
Set up a group on Facebook. Make a local group where people can come and discuss painting and decorating or ask you questions. Whatever it might be. It’s worth a go.
Use Facebook to learn. Don’t forget in amongst all the noise and memes there is some really valuable insights to be found. Whatever the topic, you will be able to learn on Facebook. So, make sure you take time to do this too.