Promoting a trade business offline

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Advertising and marketing aren’t just about social media; there are plenty of other ways to get the word out about your business in more traditional ways...

Think local

  • If you work in a trade, the chances are you’d prefer to work close to home, so local promotion is a no-brainer.
  • Advertising and marketing don’t have to be complicated. All you want is local people (as far as you’re willing to travel) to know that you exist.
  • You want to build awareness, so when a customer is ready for a new roof or some plumbing done, you’re the first person who pops into their head.
  • The more of presence you have in the places you want to work, the better

What do I need?

  • Developing a brand will help you stand you out and help customers recognise and remember you.
  • Think about the different things that make up brands people trust. For example, Nike. They have a name people know, a logo (the tick) and a slogan (Just Do It). You don’t need all of these, but they’ll help you be more recognisable.
  • Whatever materials you produce you want to project a professional image with some of these elements, let people know what services you offer and how they can contact you. Be consistent with the design and words, so people always connect you with what they’re seeing and reading.
  • There are plenty of free logo websites and apps like Canva that take the legwork out of design. And if you need more help, ask trade friends how they put together their marketing stuff.

Where can I advertise?

  • Start with the basics. Print some leaflets at home (or use a local firm or online printer like Vistaprint) and hand them out in places you find lots of local people, like shopping centres.
  • Handing flyers out face to face can feel scary, but it’s a good way to show your pride in your company. It’s a great chance to explain what you do, chat with your local audience and build relationships.
  • Try local leafleting around where you work or in your neighbourhood. Take a bit of time to think about what makes you unique and how you can show that off.
  • You can also put cards up in newsagents and on noticeboards.
  • If you’ve got a van, make sure it’s sign-written as it’s the best travelling ad you can get.
  • Use your network. Let your friends and family know you’re open for business and exactly what you do. Don’t forget other contractors and tradespeople too; they can be sources of ongoing leads and work.
  • Advertising in local newspapers, free magazines and business booklets can help you reach a wider audience. Make sure you know what you’re buying, so you don’t end committing to adverts for years.
  • Could you sponsor a local sports team or event where your customers might hang out? If you’ve got kids at a local school, ask if you can put leaflets in their bags or sponsor one of their teams.
  • Spotted other tradespeople with signs up? You could put flags or boards outside where you’re working, banners on your scaffolds or pop-ups at events. Create an eye-catching advert with clear contact details.

Ask new customers where they heard about you so you can track where your best leads come from. And pop them on a spreadsheet, so you know what’s working hardest for you.

Growing your business