Ten years ago, advertising your plastering services was simple. People actually read the parish or community newsletter and print media, in general, this was still a viable way of spreading the word. Having flyers printed and doing a door to door leaflet drop was a good way of drumming up trade in your local area, and it was even possible to pick up some sporadic work just through talking to other tradespeople in the pub. Having your contact details on your van was, and still is, a good way to attract attention and make sure people know that you are a plasterer, but with more and more clever names and personal number plates attracting the attention of the general public it is becoming harder to stand out among the noise.
Adverts and listings in the Yellow Pages were a must have for any business, and a decade ago people were still using these traditional listings directories to find plasterers and other tradespeople. Move to the present day, and it is all about your online presence. As people get busier and busier they expect to be able to find information anywhere and at any time; the thought of waiting until they get home to check the Yellow Pages is now unthinkably old fashioned – they want to be able to get that information on their smartphone on a train, or during a break at work.
Word of mouth is still a very reliable way of getting work, as you are trading on your reputation, but then it should be borne in mind that you are only as good as your last plastering job, so those that always do a good job, clean up after themselves and are polite to customers will do well from personal recommendations. Having said that, when a friend or relative recommends a plasterer the person looking to employ you will still want to check you out, so having a web presence, whether that is a website or a Facebook page, is incredibly important. These methods of advertising allow you to put up pictures of your latest and best plastering work, so potential customers can see what they will be getting, and you can also put up good customer feedback to reassure those browsing that your past clients are happy.
Sites like mybuilder.com, checkatrade and ratedpeople are worth checking out if word of mouth alone is not bringing enough business in. They are the modern-day equivalent of the community noticeboard. Of course, there are drawbacks and the site subscription fees can put some people off, as well as the amount of time you will inevitably spend bidding for plastering jobs that don’t result in actual work, although this is not too common. The plus sides to these sites are that, generally speaking, the people looking for a plasterer are already going down the path of employing someone, what is referred to in the marketing industry as a “warm lead”. This means that you won’t be wasting your time putting a quote together for someone who isn’t going to go ahead with the work. Yes, there is some competition with other plasterers in your area, but that would be the case even if the client was contacting individual plasterers directly. If you can spend less money on flyers and other advertising by using these sites, then the fees are worth it in the long run.
Broadly speaking, the way you advertise your plastering services has not changed a great deal, word of mouth and reputation is now moving to the online world of customer reviews and recommendations on trade sites and websites or social media pages have replaced flyers. It is as important now as it was ten or twenty years ago to have some sort of presence and get your name out there, it is just the method by which you do this which has changed.