January the first brought not only a new year but a new decade and we are off to the races once again. In the digital age when everyone is addicted to their phones and buyer trends are always changing, adaptation is a necessity. Many small business owners wear multiple hats which include the marketing strategy and execution. Our good friend Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” 

It turns out this quote may never have left the lips of the famed theoretical physicist. It may more appropriately be attributed to novelist Rita Mae Brown. Whether it came from an electric haired scientist or a character in a fiction novel from the late 1930’s doesn’t really matter. In the fight for survival in business, if we simply repeat what we did last year we will only accelerate our demise. 

Digital marketing is confusing for many, including the pros. What makes for a viral hit is hard to pin down and yet we know that it is important to explore these advertising platforms if we want to grow our businesses. We reached out to four digital marketing professionals to ask their input on what small to medium sized businesses can do to become better sowers of seeds in the digital soil. 

We all want to reap those bountiful harvests so I hope this exercise will be of value to your efforts in the coming year. While there is no secret sauce or magic bullet for digital marketing we know that we need to be intentional if we want to make progress in the proces. Please note that this article is not an endorsement for any of these providers.

digital marketing investments

Question 1

The DYOJO: Everyone knows the term optimized, can you break down what that means in 3 sentences or less?

Top Floor Digital (Greg Power): In terms of SEO, optimized means that the content you publish can be found by search engines and be read by users. When referencing search engines, this means that the technical aspect of your website is crawlable by Google’s spider, and can be shown via a relevant search term. Content that is optimized for people is exactly how it sounds, easy to read and worth sharing to others.

Restoration Digital Marketing (Jeff Carrier): Optimized is when you construct/format your website to allow Google to easily crawl, index, and understand all the content on your website.

Dahl Integration Marketing (Eric Dahl): The process of enhancing a marketing campaign so it produces the best results possible.

Ironclad Restoration Marketing (Benjamin Ricciardi): To consistently improve the desired result you are looking for. Whether it is getting someone to follow your brand on social media or calling you about possibly using your restoration services as a result of finding your website on Google. For example, improving the graphics on a social media post, writing blogs on your website consistently or getting your customers to leave positive reviews on your Google My Business page.

Question 2

The DYOJO: Which is more common in online branding - not spending enough or spending too much in the wrong areas?

Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Not spending enough. Every year there is more and more competition online. There is more noise online than ever before and it's just going to get noisier, whether it's text messages, email, social media, Youtube videos, etc. You want to make sure you are positioning your brand in front of the people that need your services, in right channels, consistently! For example, you spend $100 on Google Ads, you don't get any calls and you give up thinking this doesn't work. That is not nearly enough of an ad spend to get enough feedback to see what is working or not.

Top Floor Digital: My self included, people spend far too much time drilling down on the wrong areas. It is easy to get lost in the weeds trying to come up with the perfect logo for your website, too much time spent on choosing a perfect font, etc..The same could be said about not spending enough time as well though, as branding for your business shouldn't be an after-thought. 

Restoration Digital Marketing: Spending too much in the wrong areas. One unique thing with RDM is that we actually run and operate a restoration company in North Carolina. The reason we started RDM was that we had prior experience working with other third-party vendors that charged too much for the job and trying to sell services we didn't need. Luckily I had a degree in Marketing and knew which services we needed. Now at RDM, working with other restoration companies, I constantly speak with companies that are spending in areas they shouldn't be because a previous marketing company sold them on an idea.

Dahl Integration Marketing: Spending too much in the wrong areas. Specifically, awareness campaigns that don’t generate measurable results.

Question 3

The DYOJO: Who do you see as a key target audience online that contractors are not focusing on?

Dahl Integration Marketing: I’d say a lot of contractors aren’t strategically retargeting the traffic to their website and landing pages, which is the warmest and highest converting traffic.

Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Search engines, especially Google. For example, think about the buyer’s journey for someone that has water damage in their home. One of the first things they are going to do is pick up their phone or go to their desktop computer, then do a Google search for "water damage restoration company in (city, state)". If your website hasn't been optimized for the search engines so that you are on the 1st page of Google for those qualified keywords then you lost to your competition who is on the 1st page of Google.

Top Floor Digital: The number one demographic that I see contractors neglecting to optimize their online presence for are those in their backyard. People have an odd rationale to target those who don't live and work anywhere near their home base. Google is on record in saying that businesses who optimize to those closest to them will reap the rewards faster than targeting people 100 miles away. The name is the game here is "keyword relevancy".

Restoration Digital Marketing: Most contractors actually know their target audience. Whether that's residential homeowners or commercial properties. The issue I typically see is how you try and communicate with Google on what you want to show up for (rank) and what homeowners actually type in. For example, homeowners don't use the word 'remediation' or 'mitigation'. Yet on restoration contractors' websites and main tags/signals to Google are 'mold remediation' not 'mold removal' or 'water mitigation' instead of 'water damage restoration'. 

Question 4 

The DYOJO: With all your experience, both in the industry and with digital marketing, what is one thing that business owners should A) stop doing and B) they should start doing to elevate their online presence?

Restoration Digital Marketing: A) If a restoration company is either paying someone or having someone in-house writing a blog, I would stop. People think just writing a blog is helpful, which it can be if you know what you're doing and you have a strategy for the topics. But all you're doing is writing additional content on water, fire, mold that might be taking away from your other money pages. I have seen certain blogs outrank for an internal money page (water damage restoration) because of duplicate content. 

B) Not enough restoration companies are utilizing the power of their email list. Most restoration companies have a great list of previous customers, potential customers they market to (plumbers, agents, etc.), and RDM or someone else can always help you increase your email list. Newsletters allow you to reach thousands of people at the click of a button for practically free. Way under-utilized. Not only that you can run smart marketing campaigns for your salespeople to assist them in their job.

Dahl Integration Marketing: A) Stop being platform dependent and instead focus on building up your own platform that you control. 

B) Start focusing on building an email list and an audience for your own platform. In most cases that’s your blog.

Ironclad Restoration Marketing: A) They should stop being "Reactive" and be more "Proactive" when it comes to marketing their business. Unfortunately a lot of businesses wait until they have no leads coming in, then make knee-jerk decisions on their marketing decisions to try to get leads, whether it's throwing hundreds of dollars at Google Ads or Facebook to fix the problem. Its kind of like trying to lose 25 pounds for your wedding 2 weeks before the wedding day.

B) What they should do to elevate their presence is first set your goals, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Then put together action plans to hit those goals from their website, paid ads, email marketing, social media, video marketing, etc. If you don't have expertise any of these channels focus on one channel first, my suggestion would be your website. Understand what a good website that is built for conversions, SEO, blogging, etc. If you don't have the time to do this then hire an agency or someone to do this for you.

Top Floor Digital: There is a time and a place for face to face marketing, but with every market being saturated with competition, business owners need to get creative with their marketing. One item that contractors should consider halting is paying for leads through third party lead generation sites. These sites have an incredible amount of downsides such as incorrect NAP (Name address and phone number) submissions to random websites. This is a terrible thing for ongoing SEO efforts as it tells the search engines that your listing data is not accurate. Instead, property restoration professionals should be focusing on publishing content that is relevant and helpful in their industry on a consistent basis.

Question 5 

The DYOJO: Many small business owners don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend so marketing becomes one of those lesser funded resources. If a contractor had less than $500 a month to spend on digital marketing, how would you recommend they spend it?

Top Floor Digital: I would recommended that they reach out to a local SEO specialist to begin re optimizing their on-page and off-page SEO efforts. At that price point, one could expect to receive 1-2 targeted pages or blog posts per month. Over time this has long lasting results.

Restoration Digital Marketing:With small budgets, I would focus solely on SEO. You might have to break it up where you can't accomplish everything in a month. But a good plan might look like this;

  • Month 1 - Fix technical items on the website to send right signals to Google
  • Month 2 - Update GMB map section and fill out online web directories
  • Month 3 - Acquire backlinks to your website
  • Month 4+ - Write new content on the website to target specific city + service (Water Damage New York)
  • Keep repeating 1-4

Dahl Integration Marketing: I would recommend lead generation with that $500 on a platform like Google, Facebook or YouTube. I show my clients how to create Lead Attractors, irresistible free offers, that solve your prospect’s biggest challenge. You’d then advertise that lead attractor and generate leads. Then you’d follow up via phone/email to initiate the sales process. Remember, for your advertising to be successful you need to have a proven sales process. Without that you’ll end up most likely losing money.

Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Google Ads. However, they would get a better ROI on SEO but it's typically more than $500/month if you go with any agency that knows how to get results. 

Question 6

The DYOJO: What aspect of online branding do you specialize in that is most applicable to property restoration contractors?

Ironclad Restoration Marketing: SEO, website design, paid ads (Google ads, Facebook/Instagram Ads), video marketing and email marketing.  

Top Floor Digital: Being that I am still active in the industry, my local SEO service would be hands down the best service that restoration contractors could utilize. This would allow property managers or adjusters in the area that are in a pinch to do a quick Google search of the area and BOOM, there's another client. 

Restoration Digital Marketing: Online search. All restoration contractors see it more and more, homeowners are going online to find a company and do their own research on reputable companies. Insurance companies are also referring less and less. In order to capture online leads you have to show up on the search engines (Advertising or Organic) when a homeowner is looking for your service. One reason these searches are so important is that the potential customer through the online search is really low on the sales funnel. These people are ready to buy. They need fire damage restoration, thus why they are searching for it. Versus creating awareness ads on Facebook, people aren't looking for your service yet, you're just trying to be recognizable for when they do go search for fire/water services.

Dahl Integration Marketing: Branding is a byproduct of successful advertising and marketing. Not the other way around. The focus should always be the bottom-line. I specialize in taking a business from 0 to scale. I’ve worked with small businesses all the way up to 100 Million businesses.

Question 7

The DYOJO: Anything else you would tell this audience about digital marketing?  

Dahl Integration Marketing: Digital marketing will feed your business leads and sales but it’s not the business. You have to have strong systems, processes and team members to be successful at a sustainable level.

Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Consistency is key! Just like your health, you can't eat a salad and just go to the gym once and think you are going to be in great shape forever. And always keep this quote in mind from Henry Ford – “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping  your watch to save time.”

Top Floor Digital: The key is to publish content that people care about. If you are an insurance repairs contractor, then start writing articles and creating web pages about dry out techniques and emergency repairs best practices. This is the only way to become relevant and approachable in the digital landscape. 

Restoration Digital Marketing: I work with a lot of companies that have been burned by digital marketing agencies, and restoration owners believe that SEO is a mythical thing that doesn't exist. I've even written multiple articles on R&R that helps restoration owners ask the right questions before they hire a digital marketing agency. The truth is SEO does work, and your agency you work with should have call tracking set up so you can (fairly) easily track your ROI on the campaign. Every restoration owner wants to increase sales - but if you're not getting at least 10-15% of your sales from online, then you're missing out on a big piece of the pie in your market, and the opportunity to diversify your sales.

Our thanks to our panel guests for taking the time to share their experiences and expertise with these digital marketing tools. At a minimum, most business owners know, you should be utilizing the free platforms that are most commonly used by your potential clients. Marketing in the digital age is about getting your products and services on the screens of your target market. If you need some help reach out to your industry peers through platforms such as R&R, conference or professionals such as the ones we featured in this article. 

Additional information on these digital marketing companies:  

Jeff Carrier - Restoration Digital Marketing

  • Where is your main base of operations - Asheville, NC
  • Up to three areas of specialty (your three keywords) that are relevant to property restoration - SEO, Website Design for Restoration & Cleaning Companies
  • What is your ideal client, who do you want to work with and what is the area you enjoy helping them gain ground - Anyone not currently ranking in Google, preferably a restoration company that has been around for a little and built a business in the local community just doesn't rank well. You can make super-fast ground with these types of restoration companies, it's great to see them climb the ranks.
  • Do you offer an introduction to your services - ie a free consultation and/or a discount for new clients - We complete a complimentary website review and analysis of restoration companies existing website/review of their SEO from the company they are currently paying. Keyword ranking reports and more are included.
  • Website - www.restorationdigitalmarketing.com 
  • Email - contact@restorationdigitalmarketing.com 
  • Articles you have written and/or published that feature your approach to digital marketing? 1) What to Know about SEO (featured in RIA), 2) Ranking Factors, 3) Questions to Ask a Digital Marketing Firm (featured in R&R) 

Eric Dahl - Dahl Integration Marketing 

  • Where is your main base of operations - Oregon
  • Up to three areas of specialty (your three keywords) that are relevant to property restoration - Lead generation, sales and hiring systems
  • What is your ideal client, who do you want to work with and what is the area you enjoy helping them gain ground - I work with small business owners that want businesses that can grow and run without them.
  • Do you offer an introduction to your services - ie a free consultation and/or a discount for new clients - Yes. I offer a Free Independent Business Consultation Call for qualified business owners.
  • Website - www.independentbusinessbuilder.com/case-study
  • Email - Eric@dahlim.com
  • Articles you have written and/or published that feature your approach to digital marketing? Check out my blog for a wealth of information on business growth.

Benjamin Ricciardi - Ironclad Restoration Marketing

  • Where is your main base of operations -  West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Up to three areas of specialty (your three keywords) that are relevant to property restoration - We specialize in Digital Marketing for Restoration Businesses including SEO, PPC, Web Design and more
  • What is your ideal client, who do you want to work with and what is the area you enjoy helping them gain ground - Our ideal client is any Restoration Contractor anywhere in the US that wants to get more sales and leads from the internet.
  • Do you offer an introduction to your services - ie a free consultation and/or a discount for new clients - We can offer a free video website analysis for anyone mentioning #intentionalrestorer and 20% off web design services
  • Website - www.ironcladrestorationmarketing.com 
  • Email - ben.r@ironcladrestorationmarketing.com
  • Articles you have written and/or published that feature your approach to digital marketing? We are currently in the process of developing a few digital marketing webinars and we have a blog

Greg Power - Top Floor Digital 

  • Where is your main base of operations - Tacoma, WA 
  • Up to three areas of specialty (your three keywords) that are relevant to property restoration - Digital marketing, website design and SEO
  • What is your ideal client, who do you want to work with and what is the area you enjoy helping them gain ground - We strive to optimize local business' online efforts by way of building solid websites and employing SEO.
  • Do you offer an introduction to your services - ie a free consultation and/or a discount for new clients - Free consultation and 10% discount when clients use the code #intentionalrestorer
  • Website - https://topfloordigital.com/
  • Email - greg.topfloordigital@gmail.com
  • Articles you have written and/or published that feature your approach to digital marketing? Check out our blog.