Sometimes, content marketing can be as simple as telling the truth — especially when your audience suspects that everyone else is lying. And there’s no better example than the home services sector. Whether the unsavory reputation is deserved or not, many homeowners expect that home service contractors — HVAC, plumbers, painters, roofers, etc. — will take every advantage of a customer’s lack of knowledge.
After all, homeowners are in a vulnerable position when it comes to hiring home service providers, since many of them don’t know the first thing about how the work is done. To make matters worse, they’re often in the middle of a crisis, such as a flooded basement or a heater that chose to go on the blink right when a Nor’easter is bearing down.
As a contractor or home service provider, your most valuable asset is trust. And content marketing is a great way to earn it.
Build trust by letting your content tell your stories
If you’ve been in the business long enough, you’ve undoubtedly heard your share of whoppers told by your less scrupulous brethren. Framing those lies and misdeeds as “Once there was this guy…” stories takes advantage of the fact that storytelling has been one of the most powerful means of communication since time began (Have you heard the one about the wooly mammoth that got away?).
Your stories are a gold mine. Trust me on this — I worked as a Graceland (you know, Elvis?) tour guide all through high school and college, and I still get a lot of mileage out of those stories (and that was almost 30 years ago!). Some of my favorites:
- One of the last items on display was the costume Elvis wore in his last concert. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times tourists asked, “Is that the costume Elvis was buried in?”
- At the foot of that costume was a photo of Elvis and his dad on stage during his last concert. People always wanted to know if the picture was taken before or after his father died.
- Elvis’s plane had a small indentation in the ceiling. People always wanted to know if it was a sunroom.
- Elvis’s aunt lived there while tours were going on, and tourists were always clamoring about, “Where’s the aunt?” She typically stayed out of sight, but she did have to take her Pomeranian, Edmund, out to do his business. Except for when she didn’t — and Edmund took care of it on his own. I was working in the Jungle Room one time when somebody noticed a tiny pile of poop in a corner. They wanted to know if the poop was “original” — as in whether it had been there since Elvis died. I kid you not.
OK..so there’s no lesson buried in my Graceland stories, other than the fact that we all have a tendency to leave our common sense at home when we’re on vacation. But my point is that you can use your stories to educate your audience on some of the things other contractors have tried to pull off on unsuspecting homeowners, and you can do it through laughter rather than negativity and finger-pointing. Your readers will remember it better than if you had just given them a list of “5 lies roofers tell,” and they’ll be far less likely to feel like you’re talking down to them.
Share your knowledge
Customers don’t have to know how to do the job themselves; they’ll be way ahead of the crowd if they just know what questions to ask — and what the answers should be. Here are a few examples:
- The basic components of a roofing system and why each matters
- The different grades or quality levels available for each and which is best for different situations
- Which roofing components should be replaced in different situations and which have another 10 years in them
- What needs to be repaired before painting begins and which are unnecessary add-ons
- The differences between various types of paint and how to choose the one that’s best for you
- Whether you can choose a custom color and things to think about if you do (such as having the formula on hand in case you ever need more paint)
- How soon you should expect to have to repaint
- The various components of a plumbing system and what each does
- Which parts wear out together and should be replaced together, and which can be reused
- High-end vs. low-end parts and why it matters
Teach them what to listen for when a contractor is making their pitch
Empower your audience to take action by giving them a checklist of questions to ask contractors they’re vetting — as well as the answers that should send them running for the doors. Just like telling stories about the crazy things some of your fellow contractors have done, giving homeowners an actionable checklist tells them that you know what it feels like to be in their shoes and that you’ve got their back (even if no one else does!).
I’m not suggesting that you bad-mouth your competitors (please don’t do that). I’m simply pointing out that your most valuable assets when it comes to building trust are your knowledge and your experience (in other words, your stories). Use content marketing to give homeowners a basic level of knowledge, to teach them what to look for in a competitor, and reassure them through your stories that you know what it feels like to be in their shoes.