If the past years are any indication, roofing contractors will face a number of major challenges as 2022 unfolds. But one they may not be thinking about – until it may be too late in the (political) “season” –is how to effectively use marketing dollars to reach and engage customers being bombarded by election-time messaging.
The explosive popularity and rapidly-changing dynamics of the digital marketplace doesn’t help, and creates marketing challenges specifically for roofing contractors in 2022 because they’ll have to operate in a space saturated with political ads.
More people than ever before voted in the 2020 general election, and the hype, controversy and raw nerves felt on all sides of the political spectrum in its wake are fueling high interest in the 2022 mid-terms. States like California, which reportedly already has $525 million booked in political ads, are driving the marketplace. Other states like Ohio aren’t be far behind, and hotly-contested races in states with major media markets like Georgia and Pennsylvania are also sure to drive interest. Most experts predict the election marketplace will churn through anywhere between $7-10 billion by November.
While it may be market specific and dependent on the strength of the campaigns in their service areas, it usually means roofers can expect higher costs for advertising in both traditional and digital platforms. Anna Anderson, CEO of Art Unlimited, recently told RC that not enough roofing contractors she works with are asking that question.
“When you look at the election cycle, a media agency is securing ad space months in advance, and this last-minute, 12-week push prior to the vote,” she said in her “Dear Anna” podcast with RC. “You really need to understand right now, what are the marketing channels that are going to drive ROI for your business. Define them … and if you’re planning in advance you’ll probably not have as high a marketing spend as you would if you’re buying in the moment.”
Pre-buying media and locking in spots is also an opportunity most smaller businesses overlook. It can be especially effective in voting districts where contested primaries may dominate local marketing well into the summer months – the roofer’s sweet spot. Anderson also warns that certain areas with the most-contested races not only are more likely to already have high interest in ad spots, but anticipate a final push often fueled by out-of-state campaigns and political movements.
While radio and TV seem to be the dominant targets of ad buyers (50-60%) during any election year, streaming services, social media and independent news and information outlets are also getting more involved. By being strategic and looking at different channels, contractors can keep costs consistent, especially when they digitally pre-buy marketing components.
Customers are driving the shifts in marketing to focus on more organic or local information sources. But innovative companies are paving the roadmap with tools that spur and measure engagement. Dave Beiler, vice president of sales and marketing at Equipter, said it’s important to look at the feedback companies are getting from their media spends. And it’s important to look at what their customers are saying, as well as where they’re saying it. The preferred platform is where contractors will likely achieve additional interactions and nurture prospects.
“Now more than ever, we need to be listening to our customers, because you know, identifying the changes that are happening and listening to them is how we are adapting to where they're at,” he explained.
Technology has to be part of the solution. Heavy saturation of political print mailers in most markets easily wear property owners out, so roofers operating in that space successfully in summers past may not see the same results in 2022.
Sam Beiler, who used to work alongside his brother, Dave, on the rooftop and at Equipter, said the marketplace is expanding rapidly this year. He’s CEO and co-founder of Boostpoint, which helps contractors find customers and employees with hyper-targeted social media ads and automated text messaging programs.
Texting has the capabilities to offer everything that email does, but perhaps even in “more” real-time. Tasks such as signing contracts and sending links to homeowners with videos to their property inspections is becoming more common, as are video connections – largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam said.
“It’s interesting to see what’s sticking in the long-term that contractors can really take advantage of,” he said. “There’s so much more we can do with our devices now.”
According to a survey of 1,700 homeowners conducted by Modernize Home Services, 46% said they prefer to communicate with home service professionals via text message, while another 46% prefer email. Only 8% want to speak on the phone.
Mobile use and consumption of social media is a big component of that market. Sam said that despite the rebranding of Facebook to Meta and other changes, the traditional platforms are still where the most effective messaging occurs.
“The biggest platforms are still going to be there, and it's not like they're taking those away or like making huge changes within the next year or two,” he said. “I still feel like a heavy strategy on those core platforms should be what companies build on.”
The growth and power of TikTok is also something to watch, even if roofers are only beginning to experiment with the quick-video platform.
“In terms of marketing strategy, I would say 2022 is not a year when contractors should try to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I feel some people will try to move ahead a little bit too quickly, and it can sometimes bite you.”
It’s a wiser bet for roofers to start strategizing a strong community campaign and leverage referral strategies, Anderson said.
“Never let up on your brand, regardless of what’s happening throughout the region that you serve,” Anderson said.