Effective Marketing for the Home Services Industry

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Richard Featured on North Fulton Business Radio X

In this episode of North Fulton Business Radio, host John Ray spoke with Richard Blount of Four Winds Marketing. They discussed the importance of SEO and effective marketing for home service providers, focusing on the need for a professionally designed, functional website that caters to the end user and fosters immediate engagement. Richard highlighted how SEO involves technical, on-page, and off-page aspects, and he underlined the need to refresh a business’s look every four to five years to remain updated and relevant. Richard also shared success stories of businesses that experienced significant growth through his effective online marketing strategies.

[00:00:58] John Ray: I want to welcome Richard Blount. Richard is with Four Winds Marketing Agency, Richard, Welcome.
[00:01:23] Richard Blount: Thank you. Good to be here.
[00:01:24] John Ray: Yeah. Great to have you here. Let’s talk about you and your firm. How’re you serving folks out there?
[00:01:29] Richard Blount: We are a full-service online marketing agency providing websites, SEO, social media, all that fun stuff for promoting businesses. We mainly focus on home service, companies and just help them grow. That’s our favorite thing to do.
[00:01:51] John Ray: And let’s, for those that don’t know, I’m sure most people do, but let’s define home services specifically.
[00:01:58] Richard Blount: That covers anything from roofing to landscaping. So HVAC, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, all that kind of stuff. Just about anybody that pulls up in with a truck in front of a home and is going inside or outside to work, right?
[00:02:15] John Ray: Yeah. Yeah. Got it. Let’s talk about a little bit about your backstory and what your journey has been and how you got into marketing.

Richard's Journey Into Marketing

[00:02:25] Richard Blount: That’s a pretty loaded question. It was definitely not a straight line. I’ve been drawing since I was five. And then but my mom said I should be an artist when I grew up, but I wanted to be rich.
[00:02:39] Richard Blount: I didn’t want to be a poor, starving artist. And so I ended up heading more toward got a job at Disney working in finance, worked my way up. And I was the only one on a team of 70 people that had Happy Meal toys all over his cubicle. Had posters up, and if a report needed to look pretty, give it to Richard, that’s what he does.
[00:03:04] Richard Blount: And so I was involved in a lot of creative things throughout my entire life. And then, finally left Disney, and, in my early thirties and got on with an ad agency down just outside of Orlando. And worked my way up art director and then moved around a little bit. Ended up in a.
[00:03:25] Richard Blount: And it’s a great place. With paper there, they had an internal agency and where we were servicing all their clients doing print online, digital websites, all that kind of stuff. And we were rocking it. It was a lot of fun. And I won awards and got recognized. But, newspaper industry started to Take a dive.
[00:03:49] Richard Blount: And I was doing a lot of freelance and then just got a vision for starting the company in 2015 and launched it January 1st, 2016.

Richard’s Unique Blend of Finance and Marketing

[00:04:00] John Ray: That’s terrific. Now you’re unusual. You in a good way because not many people have a success in the finance side of business and then make this shift over to marketing.
[00:04:16] John Ray: So what did, what does that say about you and your talents? And I guess what is that background in finance? How does that help you with your clients today?
[00:04:27] Richard Blount: I found that to be very helpful, especially when it comes to doing SEO work and and just running a business in and of itself because I’m used to spreadsheets.
[00:04:39] Richard Blount: I can look at numbers and yeah, I loved math as a kid. I did well in math and science and art, those were my go to places. And so I just worked in that that realm, for me, it was just natural just to do the finance thing and it’s all tracking and and all that.
[00:04:59] Richard Blount: And so it transfers over very well, especially trying to run your own business, cause you got to switch hats a lot. And so being able to stay profitable with your own business and then with SEO, it’s very much math based and creative based. You’ve got to have both mindsets in order to try to.
[00:05:19] Richard Blount: work the algorithm sorry, the algorithms that that Google uses and just to track your numbers, your conversion rates, your impressions. I could get into a lot of technical stuff right there, but it really helps. Yeah.
[00:05:32] John Ray: That makes a lot of sense. And algorithms come out of math.
[00:05:36] John Ray: Yeah. And. Google is full of data people.

The Importance of SEO and Website Functionality

[00:05:40] Richard Blount: Yeah. Yeah. And you start to see patterns. And so we could do a lot of testing as far as so it’s a wonderful mix between the psychology of people who are searching the internet and the math that Google is using to try to serve up the correct information that people are searching for.
[00:05:59] Richard Blount: And so just, We do A/B testing on different things. So just changing the color of something, the image the layout a little bit and have a big impact on that. So I think just being able to go back and study the numbers and look at how things are working and looking at the trends really helps a lot and is a lot more interesting than finance.
[00:06:22] Richard Blount: Finance was okay, but it was. There was a reason why I had posters up and I started a newsletter within the company. Really? Yeah. And then, cause I would write, I would do illustrations for it and stuff like that. And cause I was always about all is all about fostering a team and bringing people together.
[00:06:40] Richard Blount: That was my thing that I enjoyed doing.
[00:06:42] John Ray: That’s pretty cool. Yeah. And I can see how, when There are probably a few people down the hall or around the corner or what have you. When they needed a little more fun in their day, they came to see you, right?
[00:06:53] Richard Blount: Oh, yeah.
[00:06:57] Richard Blount: And if they didn’t, I would stop by and see them. . , that’s right.
[00:07:02] John Ray: The holdouts you would go find. I love it. I would, I love it. Richard Pilot is with us folks. He is the CEO of his own firm. Four wins. Marketing. So you’ve decided to form your own firm along the way, and why the focus on home services for you?
[00:07:19] Richard Blount: A couple of reasons. The first house I built was built in 1940 so it needed work. , I was horrible at doing the work myself, so I was constantly reaching out to electricians, plumbers, and roofers because the things I would try to do myself. I failed miserably and
[00:07:38] John Ray: I identify with that.
[00:07:39] Richard Blount: Yeah.
[00:07:40] Richard Blount: I really grew to respect what they do and I really appreciated honest home service providers, because there are a lot of ones out there that don’t put out good work, but there are ones that do a good work and I respect them. And then actually the second house I built was in, I bought was built in the forties.
[00:08:02] Richard Blount: My third house was built in the fifties, and then when we moved up here to Atlanta, this house was built in 1970. And my wife was like, this is an old house. I’m like, what? It’s new to me. This is fantastic.
[00:08:16] John Ray: It’s 30 years newer than the ones you're usually used to.
[00:08:19] Richard Blount: Exactly. Yeah. And yeah, we’ve I’ve always dealt with
[00:08:23] Richard Blount: window people, garage people, roofers. And so I watched their marketing. I watch, I look at their websites. I look at what they’re doing to reach out to people and it’s all stuff I can identify with. And I, again, I respect it. And As I, in the agencies that I worked in, they cater to everybody from termite people to security people, from dentists to lawyers.
[00:08:51] Richard Blount: You name it. We did a website or advertising forum. And so when I started the company, that was my, I just kept the same mindset, but it naturally just worked out that around 20 to 40 percent of my clients ended up being in the home service industry. Anyway, either contractor contractors or HVAC people, stuff like that.
[00:09:14] Richard Blount: And and those are the ones I had the most success with as far as uh, building out their websites, their online marketing, doing their their SEO and even social media. things like that. There are a lot of fun and I like working with people who do a good job because I like to do a good job for them and so that’s we’re starting to you know zero in on that and focus on that industry specifically and instead of trying to cater to everyone I’m gonna just go ahead and focus on the industries I respect and with the ones that I have the best So I can show them, what we can do.
[00:09:54] John Ray: Yeah. That, that, that makes sense. You said something there that I’m curious about, and I would imagine a lot of home services people are too, those contractors out there that they are honest. And there’s a lot of them out there that, that. Yeah. They’re, they are, they’re honest.

The Impact of Professionalism in Marketing

[00:10:13] John Ray: They do great work. They. Tell clients things that cost them money sometimes because they’re honest. How do you communicate that in your marketing effectively?
[00:10:25] Richard Blount: Oh, about about them being honest and
[00:10:28] John Ray: being, because everybody says they’re honest and trustworthy, right? And that’s almost a cliche in some of this marketing that home services folks do. The ones that really How do they, though, have that philosophy of way of doing business? How do they communicate that effectively in their marketing?
[00:10:45] Richard Blount: Well, a lot of it shows in the quality of the marketing itself.
[00:10:51] Richard Blount: When it’s a subtle thing to see graphics and messaging that come across from a professional standpoint versus, somebody who’s not in, in the industry, there are really cliche kind of things that people will say, but then there is the more, I don’t know how to say it. Just there, there’s a, an essence in doing the marketing itself, just in the graphic work in the messaging and the, even the colors that are used.
[00:11:29] Richard Blount: tHere’s a lot of things that play subconsciously into the viewer’s mind when they’re looking at something, either if it’s a website, there are so many times people will try to put up a very simple website that doesn’t offer a lot of functionality and it’s just a postcard on the screen is basically all it is.
[00:11:52] Richard Blount: Whereas with a professional. So what we try to do is go, all right, look, let’s cater to the end user and give them an option to do an online booking to do an instant chat and to engage with you quickly where, and we can set it up so that you get texts or the the company gets texts so they can engage immediately with the viewer.
[00:12:18] Richard Blount: So like
[00:12:19] John Ray: through the chat feature, you mentioned
[00:12:21] Richard Blount: through the chat.
[00:12:22] John Ray: Oh, wow. Okay.
[00:12:23] Richard Blount: So
[00:12:23] Richard Blount: it’ll go straight from the chat to a text to the owner. Oh, wow. So that way the owner gets a text going, Hey, you’ve got a chat going on with your website and they can respond immediately. Oh, that’s great. And it keeps somebody from going on to the next person.
[00:12:39] Richard Blount: So as opposed to just having. Something on the website that says, Hey, I’m legit. Go check it out. As opposed to something that shows up on a website. That’s got my history to it and has functionality to it where people will actually stay on the page I guess if somebody’s on there for a second and a half.
[00:13:00] Richard Blount: Which is a lot of times average. It doesn’t sound
[00:13:04] John Ray: Okay, let’s just stop right there. Yeah a second and a half. That’s the average
[00:13:09] Richard Blount: Yeah, really one to two seconds is where somebody will be on a page and it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of time But you can get a gist of something We get it just instantly because of visuals.
[00:13:21] Richard Blount: And so by adding the functionality and doing providing more content, getting them to stay on there for four to five seconds to a minute then at that point, if you’ve got them engaged, they’re either texting or booking an online appointment or something like that. So at that point.
[00:13:41] Richard Blount: They’re invested. Sure. And they’ve spent a minute on your website. Yeah, that’s huge.
[00:13:45] John Ray: Wow. This is fascinating to me. And I’m sure a lot of business owners out there just shaking their heads at this, right? But that makes sense. If someone, if the average time on a website is one to two seconds, people are, they want an instant impression.
[00:14:03] John Ray: And that’s where the quality of the graphics, the art, the colors, everything you mentioned that’s where that comes into play.
[00:14:12] Richard Blount: Exactly. Okay. All that comes in because there’s a psychology to all of that. Sure. Because there’s. One or two things that people are looking for immediately. They’re looking for, what you do, where you’re at and how to contact you because they know they’re not going to get a price off of your website.
[00:14:30] Richard Blount: They need to like engage with you and they want to do it. Like 80 percent of people want to do it through a text. And if you have that feature on your website where they can chat and turn that right into a text. Then you’ve got them. Yeah. Yeah. You’re going to schedule an appointment, a phone call, and from there, your sales team takes it on.
[00:14:49] John Ray: Well,
[00:14:49] John Ray: and that feature among others, I’m sure you could talk about. Really reveals professionalism and that’s really what you’re talking about when you’re talking about features that show that you, that illustrate your trustworthiness. Exactly. That, that when you have a feature like that, as opposed to the last three websites that they checked that don’t.
[00:15:14] John Ray: You instantly differentiate yourself.
[00:15:16] Richard Blount: Yeah. Through the website you want there’s a lot of. pRofessionalism that goes into that. You want somebody to put that together who has a history of doing that. And so there’s just a lot of background work and a lot of stuff that comes in there.
[00:15:32] Richard Blount: It’s the whole thing where I think everybody’s heard the story where. There’s a boiler that’s not working in somebody’s basement, and they call somebody, they come in, they can’t figure out how to fix it. They call somebody else, they can’t fix it either. They call a third person, he walks him, takes a look around, waits a second, he takes out, he pulls out a hammer, hits it on the side, and then…
[00:15:58] Richard Blount: Boom. It’s running fine. He says, all right, that’ll be 1, 000. Like, how’s that 1, 000? You’re only there for a minute. aNybody could have hit that with a hammer. Yeah. But did you know where to hit it? Yeah. So that’s what we’re dealing with a lot of times, it’s hard to explain how I know where to hit the hammer where, but that’s how it works in, in, since I’ve been doing this since.
[00:16:22] Richard Blount: I think I started doing graphic design in the eighties and then built my first website in 1995. And I’ve been watching how SEO works ever since, that just analyzing how it all works. So I’ve got at this point, 25 plus years doing this. And so much of it has become almost instinct. And somebody asked me one time years ago, where do you get your inspiration?
[00:16:48] Richard Blount: And I said, I get it from everywhere, every magazine, every billboard, every television ad, every, radio ad every email I get and a website I visit. There’s so much I soak in from that. And there are I used to keep files of all this kind of stuff, an inspiration file. So that when I needed to create something, because we used to work with so many different types of businesses, then I would just go to my inspiration file and just start going through that and then find yeah, and this is what inspired me to go in that direction or the other direction, something like that.

The Importance of Regularly Updating Your Website and Logo

[00:17:26] John Ray: How often does a home services company need to refresh their look, whether it’s their logo, website, what have you? I asked that question because a lot of them, um, I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, but this is my perception. They get to a point where, they’ve got a pretty good call, pretty good business.

[00:17:49] John Ray: They’ve got established. Calling patterns based on their reviews and referrals and all that kind of thing, right? And they let the website slide, and they, maybe the logos a little dated or what have you. So how often should that refresh occur?

[00:18:05] Richard Blount: From what I’ve seen in the industry, every.

[00:18:07] Richard Blount: Four to five years, I would go in and refresh because styles are constantly changing. And people can can tell. When a website looks 10 years old or older, there’s functionality, there’s graphics, there’s messaging, there’s layouts, there’s all these different things. And then the website itself is actually getting faster.

[00:18:33] Richard Blount: So different hosting providers are speeding up or the software that they run helps speed things up. And so the websites need to stay up with that as well. So there’s a lot of. Back end stuff. It’s like a car. You’ve got to constantly take it in and get it tuned up or and fixed up or whatever on a regular basis.

[00:18:52] Richard Blount: But I would say what I’ve seen every four to five years you may have to go in and retool the website. I’m not saying that you need to replace it. If a company has been a business, I would say five to 10 years or more. They definitely don’t want to replace their website because their website already has a lot of history with Google.

[00:19:15] Richard Blount: And if you create a new website, then you’re breaking all those old links and creating new ones. And Google looks at it as though you’re starting fresh. In those cases, there’s retooling that can be done to a website to make it more modern and all that without breaking all those links and all that history with Google.

[00:19:37] Richard Blount: But with a company that is, say a company is like 5 years old or whatever, or even if they are 10 years old, But they’re not doing the kind of business that they want to be doing if they’re, they haven’t broken, say 200 or 500, 000 a year yet, or they’re in that range, then at that point a lot of times what I’ll do is I’ll look at how their Google ranking is and, a lot of research can be done.

[00:20:05] Richard Blount: And if we need to, it’s a, you’re fine to go ahead and, it. Build a new website and start from scratch and get that going. A lot of times it depends on the age of the company. And how, how busy they are. How many, clients that they have going and all that kind of stuff. And then even if they do, there’s still social media and Google ads and things like that could be done to help.

[00:20:32] Richard Blount: Boost that kind of stuff. But as far as their logo goes, that can always be updated. Shoot, Google has changed their logo. I lost track of how many times. It’s got to be well over 2000 times since they launched in 95, 96. Yeah. And AT& T, although they changed theirs, they modified it a little bit here and there.

[00:20:55] Richard Blount: So there’s, as far as changing the logo, people will have this idea that it’s taboo to change it. I’m like, no, you can always refresh it and, bring it up to, more current standards and there’s techniques and way to do it, that it makes sense. And same with messaging colors and stuff like that.

[00:21:13] Richard Blount: And actually it can be a good way to relaunch your company. So if you’ve been around for say five or 10 years. And you’re at a point where it’s just like you and two other guys, maybe got two trucks or three trucks or whatever, and you have aspirations of 10 trucks, then going through a rebranding can be a really good thing because it’s a relaunch and it’s a great way to foster up new press releases.

[00:21:40] Richard Blount: And do grand openings and all that kind of stuff. So there’s just a lot of things that can be done.

The Mystery of SEO Explained

[00:21:45] John Ray: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. SEO search engine optimization. Yeah, this is where you were talking about how. iT can be a mystery around what the right color is and all that.

[00:21:58] John Ray: Now we’re really getting the mysteries, right? SEO. And I, I think the average home services entrepreneur, they know they need to be found on web search, but they don’t know all the, what goes into that, right? And it’s hard to judge effectiveness, right? So what advice do you give them on that?

[00:22:23] Richard Blount: That’s a SEO is a big one. Yeah. Cause I’ve seen it change from the beginning. Google constantly updates its algorithm and and they fine tune it and they will even work to hone it in on specific industries. They’ve done updates that really hit the financial industry earlier this year. And but if the SEO is done, then a website can survive an update by Google because there’s there’s white hat, black hat, gray hat, methodologies and white hat is, I just think about, think of it like in the old Westerns, the guy with the white hat did everything the way it was supposed to be done. The guy with the black hat.

[00:23:10] Richard Blount: He was always the outlaw, and sooner or later, the outlaw got caught, thrown in jail. So that’s what I would see happening. Or worse. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And Google provides Google Analytics. It’s a free tool that anybody can create an account with. And then hook that up to their website and it will show them the amount of traffic, the amount of where it’s coming from and how they’re showing up.

[00:23:38] Richard Blount: And then there’s another one that Google has called Google Search Console. And that will show people How many people clicked on it, what pages they clicked on and all that kind of stuff. So those are free. Google offers that for everybody. And for all our clients, what we do is we hook into their account or create an account for them.

[00:23:58] Richard Blount: Cause a lot of people don’t even want to mess with it, but we will set that up and we run reports to show them and the reports can be quite daunting. There’s a lot of information in there, but there’s key areas that we look at. I won’t get into all the technical stuff, but that will show us the results.

[00:24:19] Richard Blount: But with SEO, there are actually three pillars of SEO. There’s the technical SEO, which has to do with the The technical part of the website running fast, the the layout and things like that. That’s all the technical stuff. The meta tags and meta description, all the things that Google looks at.

[00:24:40] Richard Blount: Then there’s the on page SEO, which are all the things that are done to build out the website. So that it is more effective and will capture or, Capture is not the right word, but will attract more keywords. And then there’s off page SEO. And that’s to deal with other areas on the web that point back to your website.

[00:25:04] John Ray: Wow.

[00:25:06] John Ray: A good reason to have a, Authority here, folks, Richard Blount, Four Winds Marketing. Wow. That’s pretty that gets deep fast.

[00:25:15] Richard Blount: It does get deep fast. Yeah. I’m trying to keep it short and sweet. Yeah.

[00:25:19] John Ray: Yeah. But what, here’s what I’m hearing out of this is that, you’ve got a background, in finance, it’s not just the numbers and you learn in finance that just cause you can measure it doesn’t mean it’s important.

[00:25:33] John Ray: Correct.

[00:25:37] John Ray: And you bring that background to it, right? You can help a business owners know what’s important. And in that daunting report and winnow it down to something that’s simple and easy to understand.
[00:25:48] Richard Blount: Exactly. I try to give them that and then I will look at the secondary stuff that is a little bit in the minutiae.
[00:25:56] Richard Blount: Yeah. But I know it can have an underlining effect and help me increase their search engine results. Yeah.

Success Stories from Four Winds Marketing

[00:26:02] John Ray: Terrific. I want to get to success stories here, Richard, as we come to a close. You’ve been at this for a while, worked with a lot of different home services professionals. Give us a success story or two to help illustrate the great work you do.
[00:26:19] Richard Blount: We did we were working with one electrician company and within three years we got them to a point where I remember my numbers because there’s quite a few their paid traffic increased 470%. Their organic traffic increased 810%. And what the difference between paid and organic is basically the ads that were being run for them increased how many people were coming to their website as and then working with the SEO alongside of that.
[00:26:55] Richard Blount: iNcrease it over 800 percent in the course of three years as a result. They increased from about, I think they had five or six people working at that time. Now they’ve got over 16 people working and the owner no longer has to work out in the field. He’s no longer in a truck, actually working the jobs.
[00:27:12] Richard Blount: He’s overseeing everybody at that point. Wow.
[00:27:15] John Ray: And then that’s a great place to be. Yeah.
[00:27:18] Richard Blount: Yeah. It’s either that or there was a one HVAC supplier. And, we worked with. And, yeah, we increased their traffic over 600 percent their monthly visitors rose 714 percent in the course of four years. Their visibility grew to a point.
[00:27:38] Richard Blount: Where we had an increase of their keywords by 875%. So keywords are, when you type in something in Google to look for something, that is a keyword. And the more keywords that you capture the more visibility you have. And they grew to a point where they were able to sell their company to a national company.
[00:27:58] Richard Blount: And so the owner was able to sell it for big bucks and retire. And
[00:28:02] John Ray: wow, lots of value there.
[00:28:04] Richard Blount: Yeah. So I, those are the things I like working towards.
[00:28:07] John Ray: Yeah. Wow. That’s fantastic. Richard Blount. Folks with Four Winds Marketing Richard, that’s that’s a great way to end this and I, I want to get to the most important question that people have, I’m sure right at this point, which is how they can get in touch with you.
[00:28:25] Richard Blount: Through our website, that’s our best bet. Of course. Yeah. That’s a four winds marketing dot us or United States. Or any spell out four wins F O U R W I N D S. Marketing. us
[00:28:39] John Ray: Terrific. RiChard Blount with Four Winds Marketing richard such great work and we’re excited to be able to highlight you and share your story and keep up that great work.
[00:28:51] John Ray: We appreciate you.
[00:28:52] Richard Blount: Thanks, john. I appreciated being here. Enjoyed talking to you. It was an honor.
[00:28:55] John Ray: Yeah, thank you so much. I appreciate that.

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