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Marketing Strategies to Scale Up and Build Your Painting Business Empire

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

There is a recurring question often asked by contractors and business owners alike, "How much should I spend on marketing my business?"

Understanding the answer to this question is paramount to scaling and growing a painting contracting business successfully. But the answer might surprise you. In this article, we delve into the complex realm of marketing for painting contractors and discuss strategies and tactics that can help propel your business to new heights.

1. Building an Empire, Not Just a Job

Building a formidable empire in the contracting business necessitates a radical shift in mindset, especially for sole proprietors. It is about transcending beyond the daily hustle and grind aimed merely at survival or the bare satisfaction of making a living. This is a journey that is far more intricate, more substantial, and more rewarding than merely maintaining a high-stress job that essentially teeters on the brink of financial instability. It is about rising above the traditional norms and aspirations that are deeply ingrained in the contracting industry and embarking on a journey to build a contracting empire that would stand the test of time. This monumental shift in mindset is a prerequisite for achieving extraordinary success.

The vision of building a contracting empire significantly surpasses the concept of managing a small team of helpers or earning a decent annual income. It compels us to envision a contracting enterprise that is continually expanding and evolving. It demands us to think about increasing the scale of operations, exploring new markets, diversifying into new service areas, and consistently improving the quality of services. This vision necessitates a relentless pursuit of excellence, an unwavering commitment to growth, and a profound understanding of the dynamics of the contracting industry. It is a vision that fuels passion, fosters innovation, encourages risk-taking, and fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement. The journey towards building an empire in the contracting industry, thus, is not a straightforward path, but rather a complex, challenging, yet deeply rewarding process that requires strategic foresight, tactical acumen, and an unyielding will to succeed.

Indeed, the journey towards building a contracting empire is not merely about putting in more hours of work or exerting more physical effort. It is a journey that calls for the development and execution of a strategic roadmap for growth. The traditional concept of a 'job', often derogatorily referred to as 'just over broke', signifies a mindset of merely earning enough to scrape by. This mindset is not only limiting but also counterproductive to the objective of building a contracting empire. An empire-building mindset, on the other hand, fosters a culture of strategic thinking, systematic planning, and efficient execution. It prioritizes value creation over short-term profit maximization, long-term sustainability over temporary success, and customer satisfaction over transactional relationships.

The process of scaling up a contracting business, therefore, requires more than just hard work and perseverance. It requires a deep-seated understanding of the market dynamics, customer needs and preferences, and the competitive landscape. It calls for the formulation of effective business strategies that leverage the unique strengths of the organization and effectively counter the challenges posed by competitors. It demands the efficient allocation of resources, the continuous upgrade of skills and competencies, and the implementation of robust systems and processes. The road to empire-building in the contracting industry is, thus, paved with strategic decisions, innovative practices, and consistent performance.

In essence, the journey toward building an empire in the contracting industry is a transformative process that requires a significant shift in mindset, the development of a compelling vision, and the adoption of a strategic approach to business growth. It is a journey that requires us to rise above the ordinary, challenge the status quo, and relentlessly strive for excellence. The transformation from a sole proprietor to an empire builder is indeed a challenging journey, but it is a journey that promises immense rewards, unparalleled satisfaction, and lasting success. With an empire-focused mindset, a clear vision, and a robust strategy, the dream of building a contracting empire can indeed become a reality.

2. From Tactics to Strategy: The Marketing Approach

Transitioning from tactics to strategy in marketing a business signals a profound shift from a narrow, isolated focus to a broad, integrated perspective. This shift is critical for businesses that want to move beyond ad hoc initiatives and achieve long-term success. Such a transition necessitates understanding the difference between strategies and tactics, recognizing the importance of having an overarching strategy and developing a systematic plan to align tactics with this strategy. This approach places an emphasis not merely on the execution of individual actions, but on the achievement of the broader, strategic objectives of the business.

A common pitfall that many businesses encounter in their marketing efforts is initiating with tactics rather than starting with strategies. Tactics refer to discrete, individual actions such as running Facebook ads, creating promotional videos, or placing yard signs. These are specific, tangible activities designed to attract customers or promote a product or service. Tactics play a crucial role in marketing; they bring a strategy to life and provide a means to engage with the target audience. However, these tactics, if deployed in isolation, lack the synergistic effect that can be achieved when they are part of a larger, comprehensive strategy. Tactics without a strategy can lead to inconsistent messaging, fragmented customer experiences, and ultimately, suboptimal results.

The need for a comprehensive, overarching strategy is therefore paramount. An effective marketing strategy provides a clear vision of what the business aspires to achieve. It articulates the long-term objectives, defines the target audience, and lays out the value proposition of the business. It provides a roadmap for the journey towards the desired destination, outlining the path the business intends to take, the challenges it expects to face, and the resources it requires to reach there. The strategy serves as a guiding beacon, illuminating the way forward and providing a sense of direction for all marketing efforts. It ensures that all the tactical actions are aligned with the strategic goals and are collectively moving the business in the desired direction.

For example, if a home improvement contracting business aims to position itself as a leading educator in the industry, its marketing strategy would outline this objective clearly. The business would then need to carefully plan and execute a series of tactics that align with this strategic objective. These could include launching a podcast to share valuable insights and tips, creating instructional videos to demonstrate specific home improvement techniques, or publishing informative articles and guides to educate potential customers about various aspects of home improvement. Each of these tactical actions would not only promote the business but also reinforce its strategic positioning as a trusted educator in the industry.

In essence, transitioning from a tactical to a strategic approach in marketing is about moving from individual actions to an integrated plan, from a narrow focus to a broad perspective, and from short-term initiatives to long-term goals. It is about understanding the strategic objectives of the business and aligning all marketing tactics with these objectives. This shift necessitates a systematic, disciplined approach to marketing, guided by a clear vision and a robust strategy. The journey from tactics to strategy is indeed challenging, but it is a journey that holds the promise of long-term success and sustainable growth. With a strategic approach to marketing, businesses can move beyond isolated actions, achieve a synergy of efforts, and realize their broader objectives.

3. Inbound Vs. Traditional Marketing

The field of marketing has seen considerable evolution over the years, with diverse methodologies emerging in response to changing consumer behaviors, advances in technology, and shifts in market dynamics. Two prominent marketing approaches, both having distinct advantages and applications, have come to dominate the discussion in recent times: traditional marketing and inbound marketing. Traditional marketing, featuring tactics such as direct mail, billboards, truck wraps, and business cards, has been the backbone of businesses' promotional efforts for decades. However, in the digital era, a newer form of marketing known as 'inbound marketing' or 'content marketing' has gained substantial prominence and popularity, reflecting a notable shift in the marketing landscape.

Traditional marketing methods have stood the test of time, remaining effective to varying degrees despite the advent of digital platforms. This approach encompasses a range of tactics that have been around for a long time. Each of these methods has its own merits, reaching potential customers in physical, tangible ways, and delivering targeted messages directly to them. These methods are especially beneficial in generating local awareness, capturing attention, and maintaining brand visibility. Nevertheless, these methods often interrupt consumers in their daily lives, with the marketer's message imposing on the consumers' attention rather than being actively sought out. This outbound nature of traditional marketing can sometimes lead to consumer resistance or indifference, particularly in an era where consumers are bombarded with an overwhelming volume of marketing messages every day.

In contrast, inbound marketing, also known as content marketing, has emerged as a powerful counterpoint to traditional methods, especially in the context of the digital and information age. This innovative approach centers on creating and sharing valuable content that addresses the queries, problems, and pain points of potential customers. It seeks to attract individuals who are actively looking for solutions, information, or insights, rather than pushing messages out to a broad audience. This content might take the form of blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, social media posts, infographics, or any other format that can provide useful, relevant information to the target audience.

The fundamental distinction between traditional marketing and inbound marketing lies in their respective orientations: the former is interruption-based and outbound, while the latter is value-based and inbound. In other words, traditional marketing seeks to gain the attention of consumers by inserting itself into their lives, whether they are ready to engage or not. On the other hand, inbound marketing provides value and seeks to attract consumers at a time when they are actively seeking information or solutions. This strategy aligns the marketer's interests with the consumers' needs, resulting in a more organic, mutually beneficial interaction.

In practice, businesses might leverage a combination of both approaches, depending on their specific needs, target audience, budget, and marketing objectives. For instance, a home improvement contractor might use traditional marketing methods such as billboards and truck wraps to maintain visibility in the local community. Concurrently, the contractor might also maintain a blog that provides valuable advice on various aspects of home improvement, thereby implementing an inbound marketing approach. This multi-pronged strategy can help the business reach a broad audience, ensure sustained visibility, and build a reputation as a trusted, knowledgeable resource in its field.

4. The Power of Content

The strategic value of inbound marketing, with an emphasis on content marketing, is a pivotal force in today's digital business environment, especially for industries like painting contracting. As the digital landscape continues to evolve and grow, so too does the value of content marketing. There's an inherent power that lies within the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, all of which serve to attract and engage a clearly defined audience.

Content marketing, when employed effectively, serves as a powerful tool for painting contractors to control their marketing narrative, establish their expertise, and answer customer queries. When you consider the wide range of potential content formats, the opportunity for brand development is immense. It all begins with the most common form of content – blog posts. In the world of painting contracting, these could take the form of articles that answer common customer queries about different types of paint, the process of painting, or maintenance advice. Such information is not only useful to potential customers, but it also positions the contractor as a knowledgeable industry expert.

Furthermore, blog posts provide an opportunity for long-form content that can effectively capture and hold the attention of readers. This type of content can also improve search engine optimization (SEO), making your business more visible to potential clients online. Blogging doesn't just answer customer questions - it invites them into your world, providing insights into your work, your ethos, and your understanding of the craft.

But content marketing doesn't end with the written word. As we move into an increasingly digital age, video content is rapidly rising in importance. For painting contractors, video content provides a unique opportunity to not just tell, but show the results of a painting job. Imagine a time-lapse video of a room being transformed with a fresh coat of paint or a tutorial video showing the intricacies of creating a specific effect with paint. Video content like this showcases the contractor's skills in action, providing evidence of their abilities and instilling trust in potential customers. Moreover, videos can be an engaging and interactive form of content marketing that speaks to customers in a personal, visual, and direct way.

There's also the potential for a painting contractor to create educational content, effectively assuming the role of an industry educator. This type of content further establishes the contractor's industry expertise while providing value to potential customers. Guides on choosing the right paint, tips for maintaining a freshly painted surface, and advice on seasonal painting considerations can help to educate customers while promoting the contractor's knowledge and skills. This further strengthens the company's branding, presenting them not only as service providers but also as industry thought leaders.

Through a combination of these content types, a painting contractor can effectively build their brand, positioning themselves as experts and educators in their field. This helps to establish a relationship of trust with potential customers, which in turn leads to increased business opportunities. Moreover, by controlling their marketing through content creation, contractors can ensure their messaging remains consistent, authentic, and engaging.

5. The Investment in Marketing

The process of determining the right investment for marketing efforts is a multi-layered task that demands a deep understanding of your business's unique needs, size, goals, and industry standards. In the context of a painting contracting business, this complexity can seem overwhelming, but when approached strategically, it becomes an essential part of the growth and scaling-up process. To determine the correct marketing investment, a business must look beyond the surface level and into its fundamental operational structures and goals.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests a broad guideline to direct budget allocation, stating that businesses with annual revenues less than five million dollars should allocate approximately 7 to 8% of their revenues towards marketing. This figure, while providing a helpful starting point, does not capture the whole picture. Every business is unique and therefore, the optimal marketing budget will vary. A fledgling business seeking to expand rapidly may require a higher percentage allocation towards marketing, while a well-established business with a significant market share may opt for a lower percentage.

Business size is also a significant factor in determining the marketing budget. A small painting contractor targeting a local neighborhood will have different needs and hence a different marketing budget compared to a larger contracting firm operating across multiple cities or states. Similarly, business goals play a crucial role. For a business aiming to diversify into new areas of painting contracting, or one aiming to establish itself as an industry expert, a larger marketing budget may be necessary to effectively communicate these new propositions to the target audience.

The crux of successful marketing investment is not solely determined by the quantity of money poured into marketing efforts, but significantly influenced by how and where this budget is allocated. In the era of digital marketing, content creation has emerged as a highly effective marketing strategy. Allocating a significant part of the marketing budget toward content creation can be a smart investment decision. This is not about immediate return on investment; instead, it’s about the long-term benefits that content marketing can provide.

Content marketing forms the backbone of inbound marketing strategies, which focus on attracting customers by providing valuable information and solving their problems rather than interrupting them with direct sales pitches. A well-written blog post or a thoughtfully produced video can continue to attract potential customers and generate leads for years after it has been published. It is not a one-off advertisement with a limited lifespan, but an enduring asset that can continue to build your brand and attract business over time.

In essence, content marketing is an investment in establishing your business as an industry authority and trusted source of information. When potential customers find useful information on your website, they begin to trust your brand. This trust builds a relationship that significantly increases the chances of them choosing your services when they need a painting contractor.

Moreover, focusing a majority of the marketing budget on content creation means that even with a limited budget, a business can still effectively market itself. This is particularly beneficial for smaller businesses or start-ups where funds may be limited. Through strategic content marketing, they can engage with a broader audience, build brand awareness and trust, and generate leads, all while keeping costs relatively low.

Determining the right investment in marketing is undoubtedly a complex question, but by considering factors such as business size, goals, and industry standards, and by focusing on effective strategies like content marketing, it is possible to allocate a budget that supports sustainable business growth. In today's digital world, content is not just king - it's a wise investment, capable of generating significant returns over time, nurturing relationships with potential customers, and strengthening your brand's position in the market. The question of where you allocate your marketing budget is just as critical, if not more so, than how much you spend. The value lies not just in the investment, but in the strategy behind that investment.

6. A Comprehensive Marketing Plan

A comprehensive marketing plan acts as the cornerstone of all successful marketing initiatives. The key to successful marketing lies not just in isolated tactics or a massive budget, but in developing a thorough and well-thought-out plan that seamlessly integrates business goals, the target audience, marketing strategies, and tactics. This marketing plan, akin to a blueprint, provides a clear roadmap for businesses to navigate the intricate marketing landscape, keeping track of their efforts, and efficiently measuring the results.

The first step in creating a comprehensive marketing plan is to define your business goals. These goals should be clear, measurable, and time-bound. They should align with your broader business strategy and set the direction for your marketing efforts. Whether it's about expanding your customer base, increasing brand awareness, or positioning your business as an industry expert, having well-articulated goals helps focus your marketing efforts and provides a benchmark against which you can measure your progress.

Once the business goals are defined, the next step is to identify the target audience. Understanding your audience is crucial for tailoring your marketing strategies and tactics. Who are your potential customers? What are their needs and pain points? What are their habits and preferences? What type of content do they engage with? The answers to these questions provide valuable insights into how to reach your audience effectively. For a painting contractor, the target audience might be homeowners, real estate developers, or property managers. Each of these audiences will have different needs, preferences, and communication channels, requiring distinct strategies and tactics.

Having clearly defined goals and a well-understood audience lays the foundation for devising effective marketing strategies. Strategies should be designed to leverage the strengths of the business, counteract the weaknesses, seize opportunities, and mitigate threats. In the context of a painting contracting business, strategies could include establishing the business as a local expert, diversifying services to cater to a wider audience, or creating content to educate potential customers and build trust. The strategies should be broad and flexible enough to adapt to changes in the business environment but focused enough to guide the implementation of tactics.

The tactics are the specific actions taken to implement the strategies. They are the boots on the ground, the tangible activities that bring the strategies to life. Tactics could range from creating how-to videos and blog posts, conducting local workshops, or launching targeted social media campaigns. The key is to ensure that the tactics align with the strategies and that they are suitable for reaching the target audience effectively.

An essential component of the comprehensive marketing plan is the monitoring and evaluation framework. Regularly tracking the performance of the marketing activities against the set goals is crucial for understanding what's working and what's not. It helps businesses adjust their strategies and tactics in response to real-time feedback, making marketing efforts more efficient and effective over time. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be identified for each tactic to measure their success.

Implementing a comprehensive marketing plan is a dynamic and iterative process. It involves constant learning, adjustment, and fine-tuning. The market environment is continuously changing, and businesses should be flexible enough to adapt their plans accordingly. Regular reviews and updates of the marketing plan ensure that it stays relevant and effective.


Business success is reliant on the adoption of a growth-oriented mindset, a strategic approach, and intelligent investment in marketing. It's crucial to understand that building a successful contracting empire entails much more than merely offering top-tier painting services; it necessitates the implementation of well-crafted marketing strategies aimed at attracting the right customer base.

Adopting a growth mindset is the first crucial step on this path to business success. This mindset isn't about an insatiable desire for expansion but is an acknowledgment of the constant potential for improvement. It means viewing challenges as opportunities and feedback as a stepping stone to higher service levels. For painting contractors, this could mean going beyond the job's technical aspects to understand what customers truly value – be it cleanliness, punctuality, good communication, or adherence to deadlines. A growth mindset would also lead to constant upgrading of skills and tools, continuous learning of new techniques, and staying updated with the latest trends in the industry. This mindset becomes the driving force behind all decisions and actions, keeping the business agile, customer-centric, and ever-evolving.

Being strategic in business activities, particularly marketing, is another pivotal aspect of building a prosperous painting contracting business. A strategy acts as a map, guiding you towards your goal, saving time and resources that might otherwise be wasted in aimless activities. Crafting a robust strategy begins with a clear understanding of the business's unique value proposition, target audience, and objectives. Identifying the right target audience and understanding their needs, preferences, and pain points will help devise effective marketing tactics, be it through social media engagement, content creation, or local community events. Strategic marketing also involves continuously monitoring results, learning from successes and failures, and adjusting the course as necessary. This approach ensures the most efficient use of resources, maximizing return on investment and driving sustainable growth.

Moreover, intelligent investment in marketing is a crucial aspect of building and scaling a painting contracting business. Marketing, often misconstrued as a costly expense, is indeed an investment that yields long-term benefits in terms of brand recognition, customer loyalty, and business growth. However, the key lies not just in how much you spend, but where and how you spend it. Allocating resources toward creating high-quality, valuable content, for instance, can serve as a potent marketing strategy. This content – from informative blog posts to engaging video testimonials – can attract potential customers, establish your brand as an industry authority, and generate leads over time. Regular analysis of the investment's performance can help optimize the budget allocation, ensuring each dollar is spent where it counts the most.

In conclusion, building a successful painting contracting business, whether you're just starting or aiming to scale up, demands more than superior craftsmanship. It calls for a growth-oriented mindset, strategic marketing, and wise investment. It requires businesses to offer not just excellent painting services, but also a vision of growth and an unyielding commitment to delivering customer satisfaction. The journey towards building a painting contracting empire might be challenging, but armed with the right mindset, strategy, and resources, it is undoubtedly achievable. The advice presented in this guide is intended to help you navigate the complex landscape of marketing and lead your business toward sustainable, successful growth.

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