The Power of Building a Brand Online
Golden Group founder & CEO Greta Bajrami shares her thoughts in this interview with Contractor Dynamics on how to create a powerful online brand, informed by 12+ years in the roofing industry.
A different roofing company.
When I started Golden Group Roofing, I was truly a rootless entrepreneur. As a young immigrant who made her own way in America, I didn’t have a large network of family and friends or a legacy reputation to get the word out about my business. Like most businesses starting up, I didn’t have the budget for billboards or local advertising right away, so I decided on a different direction…to build an online brand.
Right From the Beginning, We Created a Different Kind of Brand.
I started as a young college professional, looking for a job during a recession. After scouring the job listings, I applied for a Roofing Foreman position. The truth was, I had no roofing experience. But I knew I could successfully execute the core aspects of the foreman position: organize projects, manage a crew, solve unexpected problems, and keep customers happy.
Imagine the hiring manager’s surprise when a young immigrant woman dressed in a formal business suit applied for the traditional tradesman job!
I was given the job on the spot. Hungry to learn, I threw myself into all the training materials I could find. I contacted manufacturers and vendors, and took it upon myself to learn everything there was to know about roofing. If I was going to do this job, I was going to do it right.
It wasn’t long before I realized that the roofing industry hadn’t changed in decades. Having finished my degree in business, I made it my mission to bring strategic planning and out-of-the- box thinking to deliver the ultimate in roofing quality and customer satisfaction.
I Was New to Roofing, but Not To Putting the Customer First
My very first role model as a professional was my mother, who was the chief ER surgeon when we lived in Albania. Her work was never about a fancy paycheck… it was always about saving the life of each patient. She never left her ER shift until she had exhausted every imaginable option to give the patients the best results possible.
From her, I learned to focus on the end result for your customer instead of the sale itself. I learned to do whatever it takes to make your customers happy. At Golden Group Roofing, it’s never about the project, it’s always about the customer experience.
Changing the Way the Industry Does Roofing… And Marketing
I had already taken my business degree and applied the high level strategies to streamline the business operations in a way that no one else in the industry was doing. We changed the way we created estimates and proposals. We implemented cutting edge technologies to provide better service and reduce costs for the customer. We invested in training and certifications so that our employees became year-round fully trained professionals.
But we couldn’t help our customers if they didn’t know who we were! And that’s where our online marketing came in.
Instead of focusing on traditional marketing methods like trade shows, billboards, print advertisements or even door to door canvassing, we became highly focused on “getting found” on the web – other words, showing up as one of the first results when homeowners searched for roof contractors and roof repair on the internet. Gone are the days of the yellow pages – it’s all about showing up online.
We invested in a marketing team to continually generate and publish valuable content to our website and social media. Part of our brand identity was to educate the customers with full transparency, helping them make decisions with the best information, and relieving the anxiety of the unknown – especially with such a big ticket item like a new roof.
We published educational content on roof maintenance, roof repairs, cost estimators, ice dams, how to finance a new roof, and how to compare roof estimates. We would rather fully educate the customers and let them make the best decision…even if the solution wasn’t always us.
Then we took our brand to social media, connecting with our future customers on a personal level – they see us working, getting involved in the community, and having fun. We are real people that truly care about our community, and we aren’t afraid to show it.
Not everyone in my industry agreed with showing up online like we did. It “just wasn’t the way things were done.” Most other construction companies showed up online strictly to place advertisements. But our customers don’t want to be sold to! They want to make good, educated decisions about one of the biggest assets of their lives.
We continued to grow our following with our excellent customer service, stellar roofing skills, and our growing online presence. As we built our brand, we attracted like-minded employees and customers alike.
As our online brand grew stronger, we drew in the right kind of employees who wanted to make things better, to constantly improve. Our team members became invested in the future success of the company, and wanted to be a part of something special.
No Matter What Your Industry, You Can Make Your Online Brand Work For You
Just like any major strategy in your business, building your online brand is an investment you make in yourselves over the long term. It takes time to grow your following and to rise in the search engine ranks.
Use your story to differentiate your brand. You may never reach everyone, but by building a strong brand online, you’ll attract the right kind of customers.
If you want to grow your business, you’ll need to step out of being a business operator, and step into the role of CEO. Build a team of people who both fit your brand and complement your skills. It may be a financial investment, but one that you need to make to take your business to the next level of revenue.
Use your website and your social media channels to connect and grow your fan base. This takes time! Be strategic about your messaging and be willing to put in the work. What worked for me was setting aside at least 5 hours a week to engage with your future fans in various ways. Success doesn’t come overnight, but you’ll start to see the compounding effects of showing up every day.
You know your business best. And as you think about how to deliver an even better product or service, also think about how you can continually educate your customers, your followers, and your community through your online brand.
I’m glad I didn’t listen to the “old school” people in my industry. I’m glad I didn’t listen to people who told me “that’s not how we do things.” I stayed focused on the innovations and changes that I could bring to the industry.
And in staying true to my brand, and sharing our value with our customers and our community, we have grown bigger than I could have ever dreamed. And you can too. Listen to your instinct and see where it takes you.