Victor Smolyanov, owner of Victors Roofing in Canton, Mich., prefaced his presentation by stating he is “not a marketing expert,” but his track record shows otherwise.

Victors Roofing serves clients in the greater Detroit market. In 2019, the residential roofing contractor had around 2,000 projects as of September, up from 1,400 in the previous year. Smolyanov said he has experienced success like this by taking gambles on different marketing approaches, and encouraged his fellow contractors to do the same.

For instance, in August 2013, his company spent $12,000 on utilizing Angie’s List and saw great returns.

“By 2014, our sales were $1.8 million dollars, out of that $1.8 million, $1.1 million was from Angie’s List,” he said.

But Angie’s List wasn’t a silver bullet, he said, meaning diversification is essential to marketing growth. Smolyanov said relying on one source is risky, so focus on marketing in multiple channels. As an example, his business has roughly 20 different marketing resources.

“I knew that if Angie’s List would change their rating system or algorithm…we would be in deep crap,” he said.

This strategy also includes managing online reviews. Yelp is a pain point for many roofing contractors, as one bad review can lead to a ruined reputation. Smolyanov said over the past four years he has seen $3.3 million in sales directly tied to Yelp, and it’s because he took that gamble and invested some money into it.

“Absolutely try opportunities before your competition,” he said. “When you guys have opportunities, if it feels right, try it, because that might be the next platform that might take you to the next level.”

With the prevalence of online reviews and social media, Smolyanov warned against neglecting more traditional means, including radio, print and TV ads. He said it takes an average of six to eight “touches” to generate a sales lead, so every avenue counts.

“It’s very rare that one resource is performing by itself. It’s usually being fed by other things,” he said.

Smolyanov said a company’s image should also not be neglected. He suggested investing into the company’s image by having professional photographers and videographers put together materials of staff, location and other facets of the business.

“It speaks volumes to your professionalism, and speaks volumes that you care about what you look like, and the customer can actually 100 percent see that,” he said.

Given all of the options available for marketing, having a realistic budget is just as critical as the marketing plan. Smolyanov said contractors need to keep in mind items like client gifts in addition to advertisements and digital channels. His company sets aside 10 percent of its sales goal to invest into its marketing.

While Smolyanov admitted he isn’t a marketing expert, he knows one when he sees one. He recommended that contractors hire a marketing expert or consultant, saying his decision to do so has been pivotal in his company’s growth.

“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you,” Smolyanov said. “Even if you have to pay a little extra to work with them, 100 percent don’t do this by yourself.”