Joseph Hughes is the owner of Contractor Dynamics, a revered marketing training company within the roofing industry.
Raised in the Jersey Shore, Hughes won’t draw comparisons to the cast of characters seen on the hit TV show that has the same name as his hometown, but he is proud of where he grew up.
“We were a couple miles from the beach, but I am a Jersey guy,” he says.
As a kid, Hughes regularly competed with his sister for athletic superiority, instilling in him a fierce mentality that would translate well to his later pursuits.
“My sister and I both played basketball, and we took it very seriously,” Hughes notes.
“We played every day in the driveway, and it got to the point where we would turn on the lights at night so we could keep playing.”
After high school, Hughes ventured north to Beantown and enrolled at Boston College.
He says pursuing higher education was considered the natural next step in the Hughes household, and four years later, he had earned a degree in business.
Right after graduation, Hughes began working in the financial services industry, but for a guy who grew up working in the family construction business, a career devoted to the financial sector didn’t feel like a viable long-term fit.
For context, his family owns Hughes Marine Firms, which provides deck barges, crane barges, hopper barges, and marine equipment to customers.
“The company was founded in 1894, and it’s still going strong after 128 years in business,” Hughes mentions.
“I worked for the family business during the summers away from school, and so construction was always in my blood, and then when I figured out that I didn’t want to work for Corporate America anymore, I joined the family business in New Jersey. It was there that I learned a lot about small businesses.”
Hughes spent the better part of the next seven years learning all he could about the family operation, but by 2012, the allure of entrepreneurship and running his own business became too much to ignore.
“I had that itch to go out and create something of my own,” says Hughes, who around that time saw that small business owners, specifically contractors, weren’t doing much to market themselves on social media.
This led to him walking away from the security of his 9-5 job in order to start the aforementioned Contractor Dynamics, which focuses on helping business owners in the construction industry market themselves online.
These days, a business not using social media to market to prospective clients would be considered foolish, but back when Hughes founded Contractor Dynamics, social media was still an untapped source of free marketing.
“When I started Contractor Dynamics, I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy, but I knew that if I could get companies to apply some basic marketing strategies, it would make a big difference in their business, and in their lives,” Hughes explains.
As social media evolved, Hughes’ vision for what construction companies could become was arguably prophetic, and for the first five years that they were in business, Contractor Dynamics helped contractors in several trades gain traction online.
But in 2018, Hughes took another quantum leap, turning down business from different trades so that Contractor Dynamics could focus exclusively on working with contractors in the roofing industry.
“That decision was based on the relationships we had,” Hughes says.
“We had a few roofing clients, and they introduced us to other clients. I got on stage at a couple of events, and from there it snowballed, so we decided to go all in with roofing.”
Despite its obvious benefits, many roofing contractors in 2022 still don’t see the advantage to marketing their companies online.
Hughes sympathizes with the roofers who claim they don’t need to market or brand themselves online because their companies generate business through word-of-mouth and/or door-knocking.
At the same time, Hughes is quick to point out that as society and technology continue to evolve, roofing companies would be remiss not to invest in an online presence.
“People do business with people that they know, like, and trust,” Hughes says.
“But people can’t like you or trust you until they know who you are and what you do, and that’s why social media is so powerful.”
To clarify, Hughes isn’t asking his clients to produce viral TikTok videos, or YouTube content that will garner thousands of views.
Instead, Hughes and his team impress upon clients the value of becoming “five-mile famous,” where a roofing contractor develops a brand so recognizable that local homeowners will automatically think of their company when the time comes for a roof replacement.
“Social media is a great way to build connections at scale,” Hughes says.
“Instead of going door-to-door or cold calling people, you can create leverage online and get a lot of people interested in what you do.”
Since social media can be free, it makes sense for a roofing contractor to devote a couple minutes each day to posting content on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Yet, a percentage of roofers aren’t intrigued by the prospect of getting in front of a camera, or employing a strategy that likely won’t yield immediate results.
For those roofing contractors, they would rather invest money in lead generation services or Facebook ads, then wait for their phone to ring in perpetuity.
Unfortunately, this tactic rarely is effective.
For starters, paid ads are much more expensive than creating a short video on an iPhone, but even more damning is the fact that running Facebook ads simply isn’t how modern consumers do business.
“When was the last time you heard of someone scrolling through Facebook, and because of a single ad they saw, they spent $20,000 on a roof?” Hughes rhetorically asks.
“The answer is never because people do not buy like that. People want to see a brand over and over again, and where a lot of roofers run into trouble is they have this misconception that if they roll out one ad, their phone will ring off the hook. But again, that’s just not how people buy.”
To combat the temptation to invest in quick-fix marketing strategies, Hughes recommends producing consistent content that isn’t directly aimed at selling.
“With content creation, it’s not about hunting for people who are ready to buy today. It’s about planting seeds so that you can farm your market consistently. Yes, that does take a little bit of time, but the long-term results can be incredible,” Hughes explains.
While creating organic content is key, it is also wise to supplement those efforts with Facebook ads, albeit on a smaller, less aggressive scale than what a hasty roofing contractor might otherwise do.
“Here in 2022, we are training our clients on the value and importance of uploading organic content every day, and although sometimes organic posts don’t get a ton of reach, we also advise clients to boost their content with paid ads and brand awareness campaigns,” says Hughes, who adds that for as little as $5 per day, roofing contractors can eventually make inroads with their target audience.
“This strategy works because you’re not spending a ton of money on those campaigns, but you’re putting some dollars behind your content so that you can reach more people than just your few followers.”
For roofing contractors who are apprehensive about diving into the universe of online branding and marketing, there are steps that they can take today, without feeling like they must mimic an influencer or pander to the camera.
“Do this: take the marketing machine that you have in your pocket [your phone], record a quick video letting people know who you are, what you do, what kinds of problems you solve, and what your unique value is, and then share that on all your social media platforms,” Hughes advises.
“You might only get one person who views your video, but they might need a roof, or they might know someone who needs a roof.”
Don’t know what to make a video about?
Luckily, with roofing contractors, there is always something to broadcast.
“The cool thing about roofing contractors is that they are already out there in the field, doing inspections, getting estimates, and replacing roofs, so all you have to do is document what you’re doing and share that with your market. You don’t need to hire a videographer or a marketing agency,” Hughes explains.
As is the case in any business, the roofing industry is constantly evolving.
Ten years ago, outside of Hughes and Contractor Dynamics, very few roofers were marketing themselves on social media.
Which is to say, it’s incumbent on roofing contractors to incorporate video content into their marketing strategy, but Hughes says roofers would also be wise to streamline other areas of their operations so that it’s easy for customers to do business with them.
“For a roofing company, that can be as simple as answering your phone or having a contact form on your website that doesn’t take twelve minutes to fill out,” Hughes says.
“You could even go a step further and give people the chance to go on your website and get a quote without having to talk to anyone. It depends on how advanced you are as a roofing company, but simple things like follow-ups via text message are extremely effective.”
In essence, Hughes wants roofers to think beyond the technical aspects of roof installations, and embrace the technology available today so they can stand out in their market.
“There are apps that allow us to track our dinner on our phones, so if I’m a roofing contractor, how many points of contact can I give the homeowner, because the more informed they are, the more comfortable they are,” says Hughes.
“And the more comfortable they are, the more they are likely to feel like they had a good experience, and that will also pay tremendous dividends for your roofing company.” QS
Today’s post is sponsored by Business411!
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