Service contractors and HVAC firms may find little time to focus on marketing their businesses online. They’re busy managing technicians, conducting service calls and running their businesses. Their online marketing strategy — if they put much thought into it at all — is more often than not shortsighted and ignores simple tactics that can set them apart from thecompetition online.

In a recent post on Contracting Business, Joe Pulizzi explains three basic ways contractors miss the mark with their online marketing efforts. According to Pulizzi, contractors’ most common mistakes fall under three faulty assumptions:

Build a website and customers will come.

Pulizzi argues that contractors need to develop a plan to keep people coming back to their website once it’s up and running — and that plan should include a steady stream of engaging, meaningful content that gives people a reason to return. Says Pulizzi:

A website is NEVER complete. A website is your living storefront. In order to continue to draw people into that site, we need to put interesting things out on our storefront. This includes ongoing educational information for customers.

Instead of promoting yourself, give your customers what they want: relevant information they can use, not self-promotion.

A Facebook page is a panacea.

Similar to the first mistake, Pulizzi argues that contractors need a strategy to engage with customers on Facebook. They need to give customers a reason to ‘like” their page and a chance to find it in the first place. Tell your customers about the page, and have your technicians mention it on calls. Paste the URL on your vans and business cards. Include the address in your email signature.

Pulizzi’s advice for companies that don’t have a clear strategy for maintaining a Facebook page once created? Don’t bother.

Content has a short lifespan.

If you’ve gone to all the trouble to create content, don’t let the effort go to waste. Pulizzi advises contractors to be “thinking like an online publisher,” so do what your local newspaper would do: create compelling content, and then find ways to syndicate it. Include your content in e-newsletters, send it to your local paper and post it on all your social channels, including Twitter and Facebook.  The bottom line: Don’t let your website collect dust; keep it fresh because “a website, no matter how good it may feel to complete it, is never, ever done.”

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