In today’s digital age, the Yellow Pages have long since yellowed, permanently replaced by the Internet as the primary source to find a contractor.
For those in the home professional industry, promoting one’s business with traditional advertising techniques no longer cuts it, particularly if you are looking for long-term success. But how do professionals get to the top of the Google search funnel without paying expensive SEO fees? How does one set their business apart in a trade that millions of others across the nation and around the world do as well?
Many professionals have turned to content marketing as a new avenue to connect with their customers. By providing valuable information and advice to consumers, professionals can more effectively connect with pre-existing and potential clients.
The benefits to content marketing over traditional advertising are endless, but the major advantage is cost: While advertising is expensive, content marketing is essentially free. Furthermore, with the saturation of pop-up ads, advertising has become disruptive and annoying to consumers, while on the other hand, content marketing is always appreciated and helpful.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, advertising does not help a business’ Google ranking, whereas content marketing does improve Google ranking.
According to Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading global public relations firms, 81% of consumers’ perceptions are influenced by search. Writing and sharing informative and non-promotional information across various platforms has now become a key recipe to success, especially in terms of improving search and connecting with a new audience.
One such platform that has become a leading driver for industry professionals, including those in the flooring business is, Hometalk. As the largest home and garden information hub on the web, Hometalk embraces the content marketing model by offering home improvement professionals free publishing tools to reach its highly targeted audience. Posting projects, advice and tips on Home-talk serves as a new referral stream and launch pad to greater content marketing success for forward-thinking businesses.
For example, Dean Howell, president of MODA Floors & Interiors in Atlanta, shared his company’s experience and success with Hometalk: “We joined in October 2011 and hosted an informational meeting for our contractors to learn more about the social media platform. There are so many sizes, shapes, colors and textures of flooring available today. Exploring the wealth of flooring photos and information on our Home-talk profile as well as those of similar companies and design firms helps educate our clients before they visit our showrooms. It also provides an excellent opportunity for us to showcase some of our recent projects.” (Editor’s note: Floor Trendsprofiled Howell and his company in the December 2013 issue in the “Let’s TalkFloor” section.)
Recognizing a void in the digital home space, combined with a recession economy that forced people to make more cautious decisions, Hometalk was created in 2011. Right from its start, the site struck a chord with consumers looking for authentic, practical and useful solutions for their homes. Today, it is the largest user-generated information hub online for homeowners and professionals: At press time Hometalk boasted over six million monthly visits, with a steady growth rate of 30% in membership each month.
For homeowners, the site serves as both a search engine and a forum to share credible information, tested advice and innovative projects with other experienced homeowners.
Professionals, including everyone from specialty flooring stores to installers, use Hometalk’s transparent platform to showcase their expertise by posting tips and projects for the site’s members and to connect with potential clientele.
Now the go-to home destination, Hometalk combines the three winning content marketing formulas that are most important to help your business grow: It allows for sharing pictures of your work and telling stories behind them, answering consumers’ questions, and offering helpful tips and advice for completing home projects successfully. Users can obtain useful, targeted information from professionals through Hometalk’s easy-to-use search filters and sizeable contractor directory. It also allows for real-time and on-the-go communication between homeowners and pros through both its iPhone app and popular mobile site.
Connecting with the highly interactive community of more than six million users could be the untapped resource to turn your expertise into sales. Being an active member of Hometalk can also boost your online and social presence, as the site has become the global leader in the digital home and garden sector in terms of traffic received from social sources.
Whether you are a contractor, retailer or other professional in the flooring industry, Hometalk offers a unique opportunity to connect with new customers in your area. Local flooring businesses across the nation, such as MODA Floors have utilized the site’s features.
From another standpoint, Hometalk serves as an outlet for users to provide positive reviews on your business. One such success story includes a post by Julie Fiato, blogger for RedheadCanDecorate.com, which endorsed Mr. Sandless’ floor refinishing products. The review led to 41,494 views on Hometalk and thousands of shares on Facebook and Pinterest. Seeing the communal, consumer-based environment of the site, Fiato turned to Hometalk to inspire thousands of people to invest in the Mr. Sandless flooring products.
Jessica Rosado, executive assistant at Mr. Sandless, was thrilled the company’s customers are engaging on Hometalk, and said “Mr. Sandless, celebrating our 10 year anniversary, refinishes wood floors without sanding. Our truly remarkable service has its skeptics, of course. The posts with pictures and comments on Hometalk from our customers have turned the skeptics into believers. They see the job from a customer’s standpoint instead of the business. When we noticed our customers were interacting and sharing on Hometalk we had to join the discussion.”
These are just two of the thousands of business success stories Hometalk has administered since its launch. Retailers, contractors, installers, designers and more can join for free by visiting hometalk.com.
Miriam Illions is the co-founder and director of community development for Hometalk, the largest home and garden social network. Since its launch in 2011, she has taken the Hometalk website and built it into a bustling online community where homeowners and professionals around the world share ideas, advice and experiences, and answer questions. As the main developer of all marketing, social media and community development for Hometalk Illions has increased visits to the site to over 400 million, while cultivating and growing Hometalk’s social presence, positioning it among the highest engaged home and garden social channels on the web. For more information, contact her at (212) 710-1063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.