I saw three absolutely great ads for painting yesterday from Seattle based, Shearer Painting.
Do you know what I love about these ads?
One room for about $600. Proudly advertised boldly up front and center. I can only guess at how many paint contractors are seeing this ad and seething as they think "How can this company advertise to paint a room for $600?"
Owned and operated by John Shearer, Shearer Painting was established in 1990. Seattle is a couple hours south of Vancouver but the two cities are pretty similar in size, taxes, cost of living and climate. The biggest difference between our cities is probably only the border. Generally we are dealing with similar demographics. The cost for us to paint a room, using quality products is pretty close to John's advertised price.
I have absolutely no doubt that throughout Seattle there are plenty of guys offering to paint three rooms for $300, just like there is all over Vancouver. There is probably even a guy advertising it on benches at bus stops just, like there is in my own neighbourhood.
How does John do it?
Confidently. He knows that his customer is willing to pay for his level of service.
You get that confidence from knowing who you are and not straying from that identity. Establishing yourself as a quality first painting company and knowing that there is no way you can paint three rooms for $300 and maintain a high standard is part of it.
The other part is knowing who your customer is. You need to be doing what you can to not have the wrong kind of business knocking on your door. You identify and target the customer that is looking for quality when hiring a paint contractor.
I recently wrote a piece on what I learned in the first year of launching a website and one of the biggest lessons was learning to use our website to qualify the right and disqualify wrong customers.
In the first of the three ads, check out that living room. It's a beautifully, well appointed room and the picture is a high quality photo. The paints shown in the ad are top of the line products by Benjamin Moore. Everything in the ad, including the price and the tag line is qualifying John's customer.
Compare that to this photo.
I am not saying that this is a bad photo (well actually it is, but moving on). What I am saying is that you could never use a photo like this to attract a customer to pay $600 to paint a room, no matter what you wrote on the ad.
John has done a great job on his website and through his use of social media to build his brand and identify his customer. His website is full of photos and videos of the type of houses and projects they specialize in. It helps a customer decide, before they ever pick up the phone for an estimate, if Shearer is the type of company they want to hire.
At the same time he is qualifying his customer, he is subtly disqualifying his non-customer. That is equally as important. Why would a business want to spend the time and effort to do an estimate, when there is little or no chance that customer will hire them?
I absolutely disagree with the notion of having the phone ring is better than it not ringing. That only works if it is ringing with the right customer on the other end.
I recently posted the following photo on my Warline Facebook page showing the prep involved in a repaint job we are working on. It's part of educating our customers on how we are different and what they can expect when they hire Warline.
Nobody that sees this photo would think we could do this amount of work for $300.
I see it all the time on forums like Paint Talk. "How do you compete against so and so?" In the Southern US, its usually contractors posting complaints about illegal immigrant workers under cutting and working for dirt cheap. Every city has their own unique demographic of workers that will underbid and perform sub-par work at a fraction of the price to do a job properly. Seattle and Vancouver are no different.
My answer to the question of how do we compete?
Someone else can have that business.
If you think maybe Shearer Painting doesn't get a lot of calls by only focusing on this type of work? You would be very wrong. John posted these three ads on FaceBook asking to help him choose which one to use for Angie's List Honor Roll. Their business made Angie's List top 1% for outstanding reviews and recommendations. Last year they did over 600 estimates.
So kudos to John and Shearer Painting for their success on making it to Angie's List Honor Roll. Great job and great ads.