Many small contracting business owners try to capture the attention of ‘everyone’ when they market their services. But no matter how attractive a larger market might sound, it rarely pays off.
There are thousands of ways to make your business stand out, but there isn’t a single solution. Some businesses try to target specific ideal customer models or use unique value propositions in order to make their services appear more valuable than what their competition offers.
What we want to show you today is a different kind of specialization. You’ve probably noticed the rise of boutique-style businesses on the market, and you may even have worked with one in order to build your website or develop your marketing campaign. The idea behind a boutique business is that it offers a vertical service set to a specific customer demographic, and markets itself as a specialized ‘full service’ company.
As a contractor, you’re in the unique position to capture this marketing angle for your customer base and turn it from a primarily-online approach into one that’s customized for your local demographics. In this article, we’re going to show you what the benefits of boutique marketing are, and how you can use them to get an edge over the competition.
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Specialization Signals Expertise
By the dictionary, a boutique business is one that specializes in a specific and unique product and markets it through a constructed aesthetic to select clientele. In plain language, a boutique business is a business ran by specialists for clients with specific needs.
When a customer seeks out a specialist, it’s with the understanding that the specialist’s narrow focus is the result of dedicated practice and experience. If you run a remodeling business and you specialize in patios and nothing but patios, your narrow focus signals to potential customers that you’re a patio expert.
The difference between an individual specialist and a boutique patio remodeling company is the scale. Where a patio specialist typically consults and applies their expertise to one portion of a larger project, a boutique patio business handles everything related to creating patios. They design, fabricate, and install specialized patios for their clientele.
The number of services a boutique business offers is quite diverse, but all of those services are geared toward one thing: creating awesome patios. They could easily do other things, and probably have a skill set appropriate for other kinds of remodeling jobs, but by focusing all of their efforts into one specialized service package, they can target higher-paying customers and larger contracts.
In simple terms, depth sells. By focusing on a vertical market where you can leverage specialized experience, you can gain the attention of customers who are willing to pay a premium to have everything taken care of in one place.
Boutique Content Marketing Attracts Diverse Audiences
Boutique businesses don’t just sell products or services; they sell the lifestyle their customers desire. This puts them in a position to catch the attention of more than just their target demographics; it also attracts customers who aspire to join their customer demographics.
Many businesses are afraid that if they aim too high or focus on a narrow set of customers, they’ll incur a high opportunity cost by missing out on a larger audience. But when you look at the content marketing employed by businesses with narrow demographics you’ll find that they attract a wide variety of potential customers that they can tap into at their leisure.
Instead of marketing your services, focus on marketing your results. Show customers your flagship projects and the value you provide as a ‘white glove’ service business. Present yourself as the luxury they deserve, and you’ll attract customers that are much more likely to engage with your brand and promote your content.
Boutique Businesses Earn Stronger Referrals
Current market predictions show that the luxury construction and remodeling market is growing quickly, creating a unique opportunity for small-to-medium-scale businesses looking to pivot into a more profitable strategy. By positioning your company as one that offers a boutique service — one that is more refined, more exclusive, and more desirable than other services — to a specific market, you can capitalize on that growth. But in order to do that, you need a reputation.
Most boutique companies focus on how their vertical approach adds a human element; when customers see your business as human, they are much more likely to recommend them to friends or family. By positioning your business as one that solves specific problems, the referrals you’ll receive will be similarly specific.
Customers feel more comfortable when they know the business they’re referred to has specific experience with their situation. While overall number of customers you have may be lower the customer quality will be higher, which leads to more consistent and reliable business. Being recommended as affordable or ‘friendly’ is significantly less valuable than being recommended for your expertise, and it will show in your conversion rates.
Specialized Services Are Easier To Market
Ranking highly for specific search terms is significantly easier than ranking highly for generic terms. Targeting specific customers is easier than trying to sell to everyone within your demographics. You can focus on the specific problems that you solve, and face less competition online.
Try experimenting with a keyword planner to find the Google search volume of generalized keywords and specific keywords, and look at the search results. If you’re trying to rank highly on basic terms like ‘bathroom remodeler’ or ‘electrician’ you’ll find that there’s fierce competition. The top search rankings are often dominated by national companies, and the costs of ads based around those terms are through the roof!
When you try to solve a problem that everyone has, you have to beat everyone who is trying to fix it. By taking the boutique angle and focusing on moderate-volume keywords with a relatively low advertising cost you can attract higher-quality customers without breaking the bank. Why compete with everyone when you don’t have to?
Let’s flip things around and pretend we’re a customer for a moment. Imagine you’re renovating a historic building, and you need to bring in a contractor. The building is a registered landmark, and you need to make sure the people you bring in know what they’re doing.
What would be easier, trying to find a general contractor who might know what you need, or finding a contractor who specializes in exactly your problem? There are thousands of results for ‘general contractor’ and very few general contractors will have information about historic restorations on their websites. They may have expensive websites and years of experience, but they don’t specialize in your problem. Meanwhile, the companies that do specialize in this are on the front page of google with websites that are a decade old.
Chances are, you’d contact the specialized company instead of the generalist with the fancy website. Why? Because you know the specialist has the specific experience you need.
Boutique Marketing Isn’t For Everyone, But It Might Help You
By specializing, you can out-maneuver your competition and move into a market position with lower marketing costs and a higher margin. Specialists have higher inbound rates, because they command portions of the market with highly engaged customers instead of high-competition markets where customers are more likely to compare prices and accept the lowest bid.
Can every business market itself as a boutique business? Of course not. Depending on the competition you face in your market sector and the demographics you work with, you may benefit more from a generalized approach. But if you’re in a position where you can leverage specialization and expertise to access better clientele, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t consider the benefits that specialization can provide you.
If you want to improve the quality of leads, specialize. Leverage your experience and your position in the market to develop a unique service that your competitors can’t match, and gain access to demographics who are willing to pay more, provide better referrals, and who cost less to market to. Specialization isn’t the only marketing method, but for many businesses it’s an effective one.