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For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Jonathan Keim, Founder of Top Roof Marketing, a full-service marketing firm established in Columbus, Ohio. In the interview, Jonathan Keim discusses effective digital marketing strategies for roofing contractors. He emphasizes the importance of content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and leveraging data analytics to drive business growth. Keim also highlights the significance of collaboration, utilizing social media platforms, and delivering exceptional customer experiences to thrive in the competitive roofing market.
Data analytics provide valuable insights into customer behavior, allowing roofing contractors to optimize their marketing strategies for better results.
Hey. Hi everyone. This is Ranmay here on your show E-Coffee with Experts. Today we have Jonathan who is the founder of Top Roof Marketing Agency, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in roofing contractors. Welcome, Jonathan.
Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this.
Pleasure is all ours, and I’m sure our audience are gonna benefit a lot in terms of what they are going to hear from you, your insights, right? And Jonathan, before we move forward, I request you to introduce yourself, your agency, and what you do, and we’ll take it forward from there.
Absolutely. So about 10 years ago, we introduced ourselves as experts in commercial roofing. Of course, many commercial roofers also do residential, and of course, we’ve got an arm for that as well. But by being the first agency specifically focused on such a niche sector we’ve been able to compile some really helpful data.
Of course, it also makes it easier for us to sell our services. For anybody out there, looking to have that upshot, being hyper-specialized can help a great deal, especially in today’s world where everybody’s looking for an expert, not just someone with general experience.
Today’s the day of specialists, so talking about that what led you to specialize in marketing for the roofing industry and, what are the advantages and disa disadvantages, if any? Sure. While dealing with this industry?
The funny thing is the way I got into it was my uncle wanted to expand from doing general construction to getting in the commercial roofing side, hoping that, he could do that full-time. And I turned him down because I wasn’t interested in working with local businesses. If you go to my LinkedIn profile, you see I work with lots of publicly traded companies doing a lot on the corporate side things with investments, it seemed like a step backward to me, but my uncle was part of a very large network and explained that all I need to do is show that my strategies work better with him, and then we can duplicate those strategies across the entire network. And that sold me. Cause it’s always frustrating to do research that nobody wants to pay for. But of course, doing proper due diligence before doing a big mailer campaign or, building a massive website and doing lots of SEOs for multiple years or months without really knowing if those are the right strategies, can be frightening. I got drug in kicking and screaming. I didn’t wanna be another marketing person sending out spam emails or hiring a telemarketing team to bring in business. But by being part of that network, we’ve been able to very quickly grow our clientele and then also become those commercial roofing experts that we wanted to be original.
That’s a fantastic story. Talking about campaigns you must have done, I don’t know how many, right? So how do you ensure that your marketing campaigns for roofing contractors are aligned with their overall business goals? And, how do you at the end of the measure, the impact of your campaigns on their bottom line?
Yeah, so the first thing we always ask is what are your goals? There are lots of different marketing approaches. For instance, direct mail, door knocking and telemarketing can produce leads very quickly compared to, say, SEO, where you’re putting out all this blog content or finding other ways to rank higher in Google for more keywords, but it’s not immediate.
Of course, SEO can lead to a lower cost per call because you’re building a snowball. From month to month, you’re building up more keywords. I call them fishing lawyers, more fishing lawyers get more fish. So that’s a better long-term strategy, but not everybody wants to wait for as long as they need to wait.
Return a good investment return on that. As far as tracking things, we call and ask. How many phone calls did you receive from your mailer or, website submissions? We also asked if there was rain that can skew the results. We don’t just call the track to make them feel good.
We’re using dozens of different direct mail designs and we need to know which ones are working the best, it’s gonna be more repair and maintenance versus say, full roof restoration. On the SEO side, we’ll send monthly reports of traffic and how that’s building up. We’ll also manually check how many keywords are on the first page of Google periodically. And send that out as an Excel spreadsheet so you can easily copy and paste and yeah, see that they are ranking for hundreds of keywords.
And then you did mention emails, right? What is the role of what role does direct mail play in your B2B strategy for roofing contractors?
And, how do you ensure that your campaigns are both effective and cost-efficient at the same time?
So the biggest thing is to fully maximize how targeted you can go with it. A simple one is specific areas. Oftentimes we get calls when there’s a hailstorm. With direct mail, you can hit.
Very specific areas, unlike with ads. Another thing would be the type of business. So with that, we’ve got more than 25 different exclusions where we’re taking out government buildings that typically do public bids. We take out chain stores. They usually have preferred vendor lists. They’ll never respond to direct mail.
So instead of sending direct mail to these places, or say a multi-tenant building where. You’re sending 10 mailers to the same building, but nobody owns it or even makes the decisions on how to take care of roofing problems. No, we’ll just do a wider Radius. You can also do an estimated building size.
There are all kinds of different ways you can be more targeted. We might even try a new thing where we go after particular industries and create mailers just for that industry, and then just show that we understand, if you have a food processing plant, how important it’s that no water gets into the building or that there’s no mold.
Some roofing issues don’t show up for a while. Yeah.
Talking about personalization that we do across other industries how do you feel a personalization factor factors into the success of a direct mail campaign? How important do you feel is that part?
I think it’s really important particularly to make the people feel safe and comfortable before calling. I always tell our contractors, It’s all about peace of mind. That’s what will get people to call. You don’t want, a lot of flash. You’re not trying to out-flash other people. What you really wanna do is show how you’re genuine. For instance, the photos you use could have, a wrapped truck with your logo on it or having, your logo stitched on your shirt. All those different things or, even just including a personalized letter from the roofing company owner with a blue ink signature.
All those things can go a long way in building that trust and that, really goes back to, being personalized. They don’t feel like it’s just full of stock photos and a quick ad.
Yeah. Showing genuine photos help go, goes a lot. It goes a long way in terms of helping your business rather than, taking them off Google or from the internet and just posting it there.
Yeah. Makes sense. And what creative tactics have you seen working the best when using direct mail to target customers and prospects in this particular industry?
Yeah, so the biggest game changer for us, and this would work for anybody doing direct mail put it in the minds of the recipient that they can hold onto the flyer. I never even thought of that myself until I went to a convention and a gentleman was telling me about this story where a flyer that was dropped off through door knocking was put in a roofing folder and when the new building owner looked through the maintenance files and building files, trying to figure out who did that roof, they found his flyer and called him seven years later. So between that. Okay. Some other stories where we would hear, people calling, multiple months after the mailer. That’s not very common. Most calls will come in the first two weeks. That’s generally when we stop calling and asking, how successful the campaign was. Cause you pretty much know if it went well or not at that point.
Yeah. But by just putting like a little badge on there, save this flyer for up to $500 off. That puts the thought in their mind, they could hold onto it, and it also becomes, basically a $500 piece of paper, not just a piece of trash if they’re thinking about getting done.
Yeah. And then that’s client retention right there.
These are like repeat customers. So superb. And, talking about email is one channel. And what role do you feel social media play in your marketing strategy for roofing contractors in particular? And how important is this to target the audience over social media forums?
Yeah, when it comes to the commercial side I’ll get into residential here in a bit, but social media just doesn’t have the targeting capabilities needed. For instance, if you type in the business owner, great. How many business owners work out of their houses these days? How many multi-level marketing people call themselves independent business owners?
You don’t put it in your Facebook profile, that you own a commercial building of more than 10,000 square feet. So yeah. We see social media for this site to be more about verifying expertise. So when the building owner gets your flyer they might type your company’s name in Google. If not that day, when they get the flyer, then at least before they sign the contract, give a down payment.
But usually, Facebook is the second result, or it’ll be LinkedIn or some other social network right underneath your company’s website when they use Google to search for your company’s name. So when they click on say, Facebook, it needs to show recent projects, have good reviews, or at the very least some inspection photos of jobs around in the area. For those on the residential side, you can target a particular area. Typically you gotta have other types of advertising going on at the same time, unless it’s, a hailstorm or something. That might make more sense to quickly spin up an ad even if you haven’t been doing billboards and have lots of yard signs out. But those are just some general thoughts. Yeah.
Great. And in talking about reviews, what role do you feel customer reviews and testimonials playing marketing for, roofing contractors and how do you go about, getting the reviews of the customers to leave feedback if they’re happy with the service? And then how does it play a role in your future marketing efforts?
I’ve been a big advocate of reviews. Just a short story. So 14 years ago when I moved out from my parents I was looking up reviews on everything. As simple as a mop and okay. Often it would lead to, finding a better way of doing things. I found this cool mop that, you know, late with the floor, and you could just take off, the Terry cloth and wash it, put on a new one. I’ve always taken reviews probably too seriously, but, in today’s world, everybody’s looking up reviews before making a purchase, and sure.
As I mentioned before, peace of mind is what sells. So whether it’s reviews or some the other things that we’re talking about, here on, on this interview it should all be about giving them more peace of mind. And of course, getting reviews on places like Google My Business, so when they type in, yeah. Business name, it shows, right there how many reviews you have. Yeah, of course, we do provide the review links our clients can just use our sample message to copy and paste and send it to a bunch of satisfied clients, or they, use some other solutions. But we do encourage them to make sure that it’s on a third-party site like Google, Facebook, Manta, or Yelp.
So that way it’s just more verifiable. If you put it on your website you can post whatever you want there. But also with these third-party sites, you can click on the profile, who left the review, maybe see some other reviews left and see if it’s credible, or if it feels like maybe they were just paid to put it up there.
And then do you use any software to track the reviews and help them get more reviews and any software or SaaS product that you are using regularly?
No, not so much. It’s been more of like the personal side, like where they can use the link and email it to their satisfied customers.
We know there’s a lot of great solutions out there. Usually, we focus most of the marketing dollars on making more connections and then we use things we probably could do more on that side, to be honest. And of course, when people ask, we do have, different people that we can refer to, but that’s not.
We haven’t built our software. Focused too much on that side. Okay.
And then talking about building a brand identity because you deal with a lot of B2B segments. So wherein your overall brand value or brand positioning plays a very important role. How does this branding strategy of yours how do you go about it and how does this contribute to the overall success of your client’s business?
Yeah, so in a general sense, obviously we make sure that when we’re doing their mailer or their website or their brochure, even their business card, maybe they’re doing a trade show display. They’ve got all kinds of cool ideas there. Even light boxes that light up, almost look like eight-foot by eight-foot TV screens and we’ll make sure that all flows well together. But I think the more important side is the local branding, and we’re limited on that side because we service the entire US and some of Canada from here in Ohio. We don’t know which billboards would be best with the right kind of traffic going by or, what local trade shows would be full of the right building owners or maintenance managers if they’re on the commercial side or even on the residential end of things. There are lots of home and garden shows, but looking at websites isn’t gonna tell us which ones are the best with lots of traffic going through. We do think it’s really important that building owners and homeowners in the area are branded well. We want our clients to be well-recognized in the area. And that increases the feeling of security and just overall peace of mind.
Great. Great. And, talking about this particular industry what are some of the major, misconceptions about commercial roofing that you have encountered so far in your career while doing marketing for them and, how do you address this information or probably, wrong information through your campaigns?
Yeah, I would say the biggest thing. Warranties. There’s been just so many different products and roofing systems introduced over the last 10 to 15 years and pretty much all of them come with multi-year warranties. If you’ve ever seen the deck, that five-year warranty stain doesn’t mean much.
The warranty backing it up. What we’ve done to address it is we’ve done a unique mailer campaign talking about how one of our clients will even address the warranties, even if it’s not under their company name or the roofing system that they use. They’ll come up with a way to go in and help just to build the relationship.
Cuz usually a lot of these. Failed roofs particularly roof coatings. It’s just a section. You just have to find that protrusion or that seam or curb that you know is causing an issue. Mainly what we’ve been doing up until this point is pairing up warranties with maintenance plans.
And it can be done very well, with a direct mailer or landing page on a website. But for any building owner that has gone through the process of trying to collect on a warranty, they know that the contractor and manufacturer aren’t going to want a warranty, an expensive roof without ongoing inspections and maintenance. So by having a small yearly fee to come in just once a year, maybe twice a year to inspect. And maintain the roof, like clearing out the leaves from the gutters or just doing some minor work. The contractor can make more money, obviously very consistent money. It’s a really good recurring revenue strategy. Absolutely. The building owner can feel more secure, and of course, the roof will last much longer. So it’s a win and win and also does wonders for building up relationships because building owners, and other building owners, and it doesn’t take long to get a bunch of referrals when you show up. On a bunch of roofs, year after year and just instill that. Yeah, steady confidence only showing up regularly can provide.
Absolutely. As we discussed earlier, physical touch points if it’s happening regularly, and kind of, provide a lot of comfort, to your clients.
And then getting reviews is not that big a challenge, right? If you’re showing up like you mentioned regularly, so Yeah. And then plus your product. Your end product, which is being used also, the, the life of that product is getting extended because of the regular, service and all that. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense there.
And then Jonathan, before I let you go, I need to, ask you about this burning topic of, AI content. What is your take on that, chat, GPT, and AI content overall? How do you take this into your stride?
Yeah, so I think it can be a great research tool. I know that some of the marketing agencies out there are using it to create content, whether blogs or even web pages. We don’t do any of that. I’m not saying that we never would, but I stray towards, always having something custom-built. We know that our websites show up better because we don’t use templates. Having things that are custom-built will always stand out to algorithms because if anybody can create a hundred blogs in less than an hour with chat GPT, then you’re gonna have all this bluff content.
That may or may not be good, but I’m sure that as the algorithms improved, if, identify what could be AI content, we’ll end up ranking better. I guess that’s where I would probably start with it. But I do like it as a research tool. For instance, with podcasts, it can be great, what kind of questions should I ask?
Yeah, it’s amazing what chat GPT can come up with. True.
True. Yeah. But, the other, I was having this discussion with one of my clients, it can never be a final product come what? I, some sort of human intervention at some point is required to give it that finesse, which probably is required before you publish it online. If it is your product, it’s the content that you’re writing about it. There are limitations to it, but yeah. One should know how to use it to get more efficiency. Maybe that is how probably that is where we are right now and everyone would have their go at it yeah. Superb. So, Jonathan, it was, lovely speaking with you, understanding your thought process, and understanding the insights about, the roofing industry overall. And I’m sure our audiences would’ve benefited a lot from it, so thank you so much for taking out time for this. And before we wrap up, I requested to let our audiences know if required. How do they reach out to you?
Yeah, so the best way is just to go to top roof marketing.com. You probably wouldn’t be speaking to me. We have a sizable team here. Just added a couple more team members. I think we’re up to about 12. While I founded the company, I do have some other things I’m involved with. Of course, I’m sure I do look over, the content. I just looked over two websites today before they got sent out to our clients. So you know that expertise is there. And we would love to hear from you, even if it’s just to discuss some ideas. There are so many different ideas we’ve seen, we’ve worked with over 300 different roofing contractors throughout the country.
That’s superb. Thank you, Jonathan, once again for taking the time for this podcast. It was an honor hosting you. Thank you.
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