Jan 19

Thinking About Hiring a Blog Writer? Watch Out for These 6 Common Mistakes

Content Marketing

Few contractors have both the time and skill with words needed to do their company blog justice. Business blogs need to look polished and represent the brand well, yet learning to write professionally is a trial-and-error process.

Considering all these personal limitations and high expectations, outsourcing blog writing makes perfect sense. But there is a right way and a wrong way to hire a writer. Many contractors commit hefty mistakes when offering someone the chance to take the reins on their business blog.

Here are six of the biggest of those mistakes. Watch out for them when hiring a blog writer to avoid frustrating setbacks and to ensure your blog is as great as it deserves to be.

Going With the Lowest Bidder

online marketing for contractors

This is absolutely the most crucial mistake. Remember the maxim: “you get what you pay for.”

Hiring the cheapest writer you can find creates problems because it assumes the only goal for your blog is to have something published on it. In reality, you want every article published to fit a few criteria:

  • Proper grammar, spelling and syntax
  • An engaging structure that is as easy to read to completion as it is to skim quickly
  • A compelling voice
  • Research and effort during prewriting so that your blogs are informative and offer value
  • Able to capture the unique perspective of your brand or company

Hiring the cheapest writer guarantees none of these things. In fact, you are highly likely to end up with a non-native English speaker who is going to copy the first article they find on Google search …badly.

Have high standards in mind, and use them to make your budget reasonable. Keep in mind that a badly written blog can cause damage to your brand and marketing goals, making a poorly run blog worse than no blog at all.

Not Looking at Their Resume and Past Work

The best indicator of a writer’s strength is their past work. You will want to see a broad range of writing styles covering all the topic types you intend for your blog.

Some writers work better in an editorial format compared to a list of “X reasons why…”, for instance, so ensure the writer you have in mind is capable of creating what you need.

You should also look out for a writer who is able to write engagingly in several different voices. They should be chameleons capable of mimicking your particular brand. At the same time, they should have consistent stylistic devices that make reading their pieces easy and fun.

Hold out for writers who can impress you with their past work and their overall versatility. As a final test, you should also commission a sample piece to ensure they can satisfy your desired writing approach.

Not Setting Goals and Expectations

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The best writer in the world is going to struggle with meeting your expectations if you can’t make them clear.

Since no one can read minds, you will need to explain the purpose of your blog and what you intend to get out of it to the writer. These guiding principles will help the writer shape their approach to your blog.

For instance, if your goal is SEO and generating traffic from social media shares, then the writer may take a more “viral” approach. If the aim is to generate leads and develop brand awareness, quality information and a strong brand voice matters most. If the goal is to create a guide to complex topics in your industry or operate as a sales funnel, the overall strategy for blog topic selection and publishing matters as much as each individual piece.

Define your goals, and make them clear to your writer. At the very least, provide an overview of the type of topics you want to cover and what you intend readers to do next. For example, if you have SEO goals, provide a sample of keywords they can work into the writing.

Establish guidelines for how casual or professional you want the language to be. Give a range of article lengths. Tell them what elements they need to include upon submission to make your life easier, such as adding images or including a meta description.

Put all of these guidelines in a document, and ensure your writer has no questions. You don’t want them reaching out via email at the last minute just to get a piece done. If they have a document to refer to, they can self guide and make the process for both of you easier.

Going With a Strong Writer Who Can’t Match Your Brand Voice

Make sure that any writer you hire can adopt the approach and voice you want to represent your brand. A great test is to provide them guidelines for a sample article using excerpts from blogs you like and some loosely described ideas you’ve had.

If they can produce something that comes across as similar to something you’d write or close to a blog style you want to emulate, you know they’re a keeper.

Not Establishing a Set Workflow and Process After Hiring a Blog Writer

At the beginning of your relationship, you and your writer should know how the typical process for submitting blogs should work. Tell them the deadline for each piece. Tell them whether you want an outline or topic proposal submitted first. Explain how many revisions you might typically go through.

Setting guidelines for touching base is also critical. Even though some professional relationships can work well on autopilot, the last thing you want is for your writer to go AWOL on you. Yet, this can easily happen if they didn’t have clear expectations on when you wanted to hear from them next.

Your writer can also become frustrated if you change your process constantly or add on unexpected things like major changes between drafts. Try to work towards consistency.

Not Talking Strategy With Your Writer

contractor marketing strategy

When you hire a new writer, you form a relationship that can be quite beneficial to you both. The best way for this relationship to blossom is to have talk strategy, performance and feedback at key points in the year.

Try to schedule a call or meeting with your writer at least quarterly. Discuss your upcoming plans. Offer both praise and suggestions for improvement. See if they have any ideas you could work into your blog strategy. Make a goal to push your blogging to become better month after month.

Following all of the suggestions above ensures you don’t just find a great writer, but that you also develop a professional working relationship that gets better over time. If you can do all this, you will be much happier with the work from your writer and happier about the content marketing results they help your blog achieve.

digital marketing for contractors
Jan 15

5 Keys to Reputation Marketing Success For Contractors

Reputation

What is Reputation Marketing?

Reputation marketing is a specialized version of brand marketing. Contractors devote a great deal of time and resources to branding their business, with more attention devoted to digital branding than ever before.

Reputation marketing refers to the real-time brand identity that contractors capture from online comments, reviews, complaints, and critiques that come from their customers.

Word of mouth is more powerful than ever, only now it comes in the shape of blog comments, re-tweets, Facebook likes, and sharing/liking/following on every social media platform possible.

Reputation marketing allows your business to take what consumers are already saying about your services, and leverage it for your own use, to increase your industry ratings and, ultimately, your revenue.

5 Keys to Reputation Marketing Success

Given that reputation marketing stems from what other people are saying about your business, it’s tempting to sit back and relax.

You can’t control what people will post or change the mind of every customer who has a bad review, so you can just leave them to say what they will, right?

Wrong – reputation marketing isn’t just people’s ideas about your business that pop into their head for no reason.

Reputation marketing is the active management of your customer’s comments and criticisms to create the brand image that you desire.

Reputation marketing doesn’t need to be complicated, just stick with these core strategies to achieve reputation marketing success:

1. Create Systems for Collecting Feedback

Rather than just trolling around to find out what people are saying about your service, go out there and capture that information yourself.

Customers are eager to review services and weigh in with their opinions, so create forums for them to do so and collect the data that comes from it.

Some of the most effective ways to gather feedback on your brand is through online surveys, contests for users on your Facebook page or from your email list, opening your blog posts up for comments, or tweeting questions for your followers to answer.

This type of data collection is priceless – it gives you a direct link to what your customer thinks.

Don’t let this information go to waste – devote some analysis to your reputation marketing strategy where you look closely at who your customers are. Are they the same people that you thought you were targeting?

What are their buying patterns? Ages? Where do they live? Which customers seem more likely to leave a positive review?

Developing systems for data collection and interpretation allows you to tap into the great resources that are already out there via your online presence.

2. Build Your Reputation

Waiting around for a good reputation to “happen” to you isn’t an effective marketing strategy.

If you want to have your customers say positive things about your products and services, you need to put the time and energy into making that happen.

To do this, you need to open yourself up to what’s going on around you. Read the comments, search relevant hashtags, or scan the internet for reviews of your business.

Once you're aware of what people are saying, you have the power to harness it.

Take your bad reviews and deconstruct them. What specifically are you doing wrong? If enough people have the same comments, changing the way you perform in that area can create a huge shift in your customer's minds.

Then look at the praise your brand gets – what are the areas that you excel in? How can you strive to be even better, so you leave your competitor far behind you?

Reviews are an indispensable way to gather your customers' likes and dislikes about your services so you can turn around and give them exactly what they want.

3. Market Your Reputation

Even though your customers are doing a substantial portion of your marketing for you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue using your existing channels to communicate your brand’s message.

To use reputation marketing to your advantage when creating your other campaigns, you need to pay close attention.

This means looking at more than just whether your customers are leaving positive or negative reviews. Drill down into the specific things they’re saying.

Paying attention to the keywords that keep popping up in your comments or online reviews can inspire your next campaign and directly address those comments.

For example, if you keep seeing the word “inconvenient” coming up in negative reviews, you can tailor your marketing campaigns or social media strategies to focus on highlighting how convenient your product or service can make their lives.

In this way, reputation marketing helps you identify a problem and create a solution to it that you can drop directly in your customer's laps.

4. Manage Your Reputation

The beauty of reputation marketing is the wealth of information it gives about your customers. To keep their comments and reviews pouring in, you’ll need to spend some time creating an incentive for your customers to engage in the conversation.

For example, you might see a spike in reviews when you introduce a new service. However, after several months on the market, you may lose momentum and see your customers turn their attention elsewhere.

To manage your reputation and keep the dialogue open, your business sometimes has to make an effort to keep the hype going, so you don't fall off your customers' radars.

Some ideas for generating buzz is to create and offer promotions, special offers for your followers, host events, or offer exclusive discounts.

These tactics motivate customers to purchase when they might normally be ready to move onto the next thing.

best marketing strategies for contractors

5. Monitor Your Reputation

The key to monitoring your reputation is in repetition. This doesn’t mean reading reviews once and then never looking at them again. The conversation is always changing. What was irrelevant yesterday could be tomorrow’s hottest trend.

For this reason, monitoring requires regular attention to what’s being said about your brand. This might mean a weekly or daily read through your social media posts, searching for online reviews, and scrolling through the comments on your blog or Facebook page.

Regular monitoring allows you to see if things are working or if they're de-railing in a relatively short period. Looking at comments once a year means that someone may have said something negative six months ago that you could have acted on or addressed, and now it's too late.

Keeping close tabs on your reputation allows you to spring into action as soon as your customers identify an area that needs improvement.

Consumers love to support contractors who have a personal touch. If your reputation matters to you and you make an effort to give your customers what they want (not just what you think they do), you’ll stand out in a sea of faceless businesses who don’t have the time to listen to their ideas and comments. Satisfying and delighting your customers doesn’t require a flashy sales tactics or aggressive marketing.

What you need to do is get quiet and listen. Your customers are telling you what they want, what they dislike, and what they love.

Now it’s your job to deliver more of the things that make them happy and keep them engaged in the success of your business for effective reputation marketing.

contractor internet marketing
Jan 12

Is Your Contractor Company Blog Not Working? Here’s 5 Reasons Why That May Be

Content Marketing

Content marketing and blogging have proven to be effective digital marketing methods. Done right, they can generate leads and convert people to the next stage of your marketing funnel.

Yet, plenty of contractor company blogs completely struggle to meet their content marketing goals. For one reason or another, they fail to find the right audience — or, for some, any audience at all.

Other blogs earn plenty of traffic but lackluster conversion numbers. Still others have myriad issues of their own related to various mistakes in strategy, positioning, site design and more.

To help you pinpoint where your issues may lie and how you can improve your blog performance, we have come up with five reasons why your current blog may not be working. These observations come from common company blog mistakes in the industry and how the top blogs fix them to find success.

You Don’t Have Your Target Audience in Mind

internet marketing for contractors

Before you write a new blog, you should always stop to check in with your audience goals. Namely: who is this blog for?

Consider your ideal target audience based on who you think will help you succeed in your contractor business goals. If, for instance, you are a B2B software company, you may assume that your audience has at least a small level of expertise in your line of work. But if you are a financial services provider to a typical consumer, then you are going to have to cover even the most basic concepts to ensure your audience can keep up.

By the same token, you have to think about things your audience would be interested in reading. For instance, while someone in IT may be excited about “a new way to configure proxy servers,” the average consumer will want to know less about the solution itself and more about the benefits it offers. Looking at the latter type, they may need a headline that reads something like “New Method for Connecting Online Makes Actions Happen in Nanoseconds,” or something similar.

Think about what your audience needs to see to understand the point you’re trying to make, and think about the emotional triggers that can spur them to be interested enough to click. When you can understand what these needs, expectations and emotional triggers are, you can earn a higher volume of clicks from targeted audience groups.

Your Level of Quality Is Low

Spelling, grammar, and structure are all critical when writing blog entries. We say this not just because people will split hairs online (and they will), but more because rampant issues affect readability.

If your sentences don’t make sense, no one will be able to understand your point. If you misspell words, people may be confused as to what you meant to say. Use a spell checker, and have someone with a solid sense of grammar review your posts for publication.

As for structure, try to lay out your blog in a way that makes it skimmable. Instantly start with a topic introduction that tells people what they will get out of reading. Then, break up your main point into several sub-topics that are easily read in small bite sizes.

Try to let one thought flow into the next. Make sure that almost everything you say builds off the last point, and always stay focused on the central purpose of your post. Getting feedback from others and rereading your post drafts after an hour or so of writing them can both help you think more like your audience and write more persuasive, compelling articles.

Your Blog Titles Aren’t Interesting

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Certain approaches to headline writing can grab our attention, while others simply don’t work. If you find you have low conversions for your blog posts through search engines or social media, maybe your titles are to blame.

You can reference this guide to the most popular headlines on Facebook from Buzzsumo to get you started. Rand Fishkin of Moz also has a handy suggestion for writing short yet compelling headlines that don’t leave anything out.

You Don’t Have a Strong Call to Action

With limited exceptions, most business blogs will want to close out with a strong call to action (CTA). This section comes after the argument being made is completely wrapped up. It then instructs the reader on what they should do next in order to find even more information or benefits.

Example calls to action include:

  • Take a look at our product page…
  • Sign up for our email list…
  • View further information for an upcoming course/webinar/event…
  • Visit a service page for more information…
  • Contact us to start the conversation…
  • Read our other content…

Whatever your call to action is, make sure it is clear and written as a strong command or suggestion. While that may seem pushy, people respond better to messages written in this format and remember them more clearly.

You’ll start to notice that most marketers do this, too. A commercial would never say “consider visiting our store during our sales event.” Instead, they would lead with a commanding verb: “Come visit our store during our one-day sales event to get incredible savings!”

You Don’t Have the Right Landing Pages and Lead Capture Forms to Guide Your Audience to the Next Step

Sometimes when you can’t convert blog readers, the issue isn’t the blog itself but the website ecosystem around it.

Put simply: make sure that your calls to action lead to compelling landing pages or website pages. These pages should capture audience interest and further direct them to the next step.

If you don’t have anything like this available, make one! Even something as simple as a custom “Contact Us” landing page can help you convert more people compared to linking to your normal Contact Us page.

For normal website pages you want to link to, like explanations of your services, ensure that the page guides the reader through the most important information and benefits first, concluding in yet another strong CTA.

You may not even need a landing page link to accomplish certain goals. For instance, many websites have found that email address capture forms displayed adjacent to blog content work better than a custom landing page.

Just make sure that any forms present on your content are short and involve minimal work. Their placement should also not disrupt the reader’s ability to digest the content at their own pace.

Let Data Tell You About the Company Blog Mistakes You’re Making

contractor marketing strategy

The above suggestions work well in general, but you need to know what you’re blog has to change to get better performance.

To learn what that might be, look to your own data. You can configure Google Analytics for free to inform you about where, exactly, your blog is failing you.

A low click through rate (CTR) on organic search means that maybe your titles or meta descriptions need work, for instance. A decent readership but low conversions means you need more convincing calls to action and easier access to the next step for readers. A high bounce rate means that people were intrigued by your headline, but didn’t like what they saw when they clicked.

Study your data, pledge to work on best practices, and write for your audience. These approaches will help you get better performance from your company blog in 2018 as you make marginal improvements over time.

facebook marketing for contractors
Jan 08

2018 Trends in Facebook Advertising That Will Help Contractors Reach Prospects

Social Media

Facebook has come a long way since its debut in 2004, especially when it comes to the Facebook Advertising platform. Facebook has almost single-handedly turned paid social media marketing into a cornerstone of modern digital marketing tactics.

In the next year to come, we can all expect Facebook to evolve in deeper ways. These evolutions include both new features and shifts in the way business will be able to use Facebook ads to reach prospects.

Let’s explore the most important Facebook advertising trends for 2018. With them, you can improve your marketing funnel and hopefully find more leads than ever in the coming year.

The Importance of Facebook Video Ads

video marketing for contractors

Mobile audiences eat up video more hungrily than ever. Altogether, Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video a day.

As a result of their demand and improvements in video players, we have seen an explosion in both paid and organic video content.

On average, videos on Facebook get 135% more organic reach than photos.

Contractors can potentially improve both their organic reach and engagement on paid posts by creating more promotional assets as videos. Making the switch does not have to be expensive or painful either.

With just a few Facebook video ads, you can improve engagement and prospecting. You also help people remember your messaging since people remember video almost seven-times better than they do text.

More Diverse Ad Types

In addition to video ads, Facebook has been quietly diversifying their ad inventory. Marketers and contractors can use these ad formats to accomplish specific business goals.

  • Carousel ads can use multiple images, multiple offers, or multiple USPs in one go, providing a richer experience and a more compelling CTA.
  • Slideshow ads use lightweight video to load faster and intrude less on the browsing experience. They can be a great transition for contractors looking to create more video.
  • Collection ads allow users to browse through multiple products or informational pages in-app. This grows awareness while generating less friction compared to an outbound link.
  • Canvas mobile Facebook ad formats transform your ad from a single video or image into a full screen, scrolling experience. Use them to showcase high-quality assets or nurture prospects further along in the buy cycle.
  • Dynamic ads can use a single ad template to promote several products or create customized pitches for different segments. These ads maximize relevance and returns while helping you A/B test more quickly.
  • Link ads include a prominent, customizable CTA button to direct prospects to a landing page or offer. They encourage action, increasing conversions.
  • Lead ads incorporate a lead capture form directly in the app! We’ll explain the significance of this ad type and similar formats below.

Understanding and taking advantage of these Ad Types will be a large key to success.

Facebook Likes To Keep People On The Facebook Platform

social media marketing for contractors

Ad formats like lead ads and collection ads keep audiences in-app as they interact with your brand.

For instance, Lead ads pull up a lead capture form in-app and autopopulates it with information from the users Facebook user profile. This feature dramatically reduces friction in your marketing funnel, encouraging more prospects to convert thanks to the simpler process. You also reduce the number of needed assets by getting rid of certain landing pages.

Because of these abilities, Hubspot asserts that Lead ads can “skyrocket conversion rates and make mobile ads more effective for B2B marketers.”

Understanding Facebook's goals for their user experience will enable you to get the most out of your Facebook advertising budget.

Paid Advertising Increases (As Organic Reach Nosedives)

contractor marketing strategy

Facebook made waves when they announced that they were experimenting with a newsfeed that contained zero organic branded posts. All of this content would be moved to a separate “Explore” feed.

If Facebook implements this change globally, then all branded Facebook Pages will see their organic reach tank.

Even if that doesn’t happen, though, these Pages have already seen dramatic drops in reach over the past few years. With fewer people seeing their content appear on its own, these Pages must now resort to funding paid Facebook advertising campaigns in order to generate impressions.

Truth be told: this has been the situation for years. Contractors simply cannot rely on the Facebook algorithm to serendipitously show their content to meet their reach goals. By funding a paid ad or promoted post campaign, you guarantee yourself a sizeable audience.

Even better, you can fine-tune the targeting for your ads to maximize relevance and ROI. Facebook has gotten much more granular with its targeting features.

You can use these features to weed out audiences who are unlikely to need your services, increasing your conversion rate and your overall returns.

Ultimately you must embrace paid advertising if you want to continue to reach your target audiences on the platform.

Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising Trends in 2018 and Beyond

By looking to the above Facebook Advertising trends contractors can find greater successes in reaching their ideal prospects to grow in 2018.

Make sure you combine your Facebook Advertising strategy with other digital marketing practices for maximum gains.

digital marketing for contractors
Jan 05

The Best Contractor Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for Crushing It in 2018

Content Marketing

After the last echoes of ringing in the New Year subside, everyone reflects on how to make 2018 better through their own actions. If you’re a contractor looking to market your services digitally, this time marks the perfect opportunity to set ambitious goals and pledge to cut out bad habits.

To help inspire you to do better in the New Year and meet success head on, here are our 5 top recommended digital marketing New Year’s resolutions for 2018.

Make More Video

video marketing for contractors

We’ve hammered this point home plenty of times, but just to reiterate: video is the direction that the internet’s going. Cisco studies predict that 69% of total internet traffic over 2017 will have come from video views. By 2021, they expect that portion to increase to 82%.

The reason for rising video consumption is simple: people love video! Better smartphones and cheaper data plans also give us the means to watch video anywhere at any time.

Appetites for video content will keep on growing throughout 2018, and marketers for contractor businesses of all sizes should be willing to help satisfy that demand. If they do, they will reap substantial rewards.

51% of marketers globally list video as the type of content that earns them the best return on investment. Video uploaded to social media also generates 1200% more shares than text or image posts combined!

To take advantage of video in your digital marketing strategy, start by creating summary slideshow summaries of your most-popular blogs using tools like Rocketium or Adobe Spark. Or, go live with behind-the-scenes looks at your operations or Q&A sessions. Both of these low-cost options offer reliable solutions for engagement.

Looking longer term, investigate the budget you would need to create a few short 2-5 minute video assets. These can help raise your brand awareness, earn shares, and give your company a veneer of modern professionalism.

Tie Content Better Within Buyer Journeys

In 2018, your audience deserves better than irrelevant content. No one will click on articles that don’t offer some sort of value. And, more importantly, how your audience perceives value depends on the stage of the buyer journey they’re at.

Offer value by planning content topics and placement around your customers’ stage in their buyer journey.

For instance, if you sell RVs, don’t expect someone who doesn’t have any intention to buy an RV yet to click on your article about “6 Top Reasons You Should Buy Your RV From Us!” Instead, recognize the types of topics that would get them interested. Here are a few examples:

  • Not yet aware they want to buy an RV
      • 7 Top Camping Destinations on the West Coast
      • Pros and Cons of the 4 Most Common Types of Camping
  • Maybe thinking about buying an RV
      • 5 Reasons RV Camping Blows Tent Camping Out of the Water
      • Winter Camp in Comfort at These Gorgeous Destinations
  • Deciding what RV to buy
      • Must-Have Features for Every Modern RV
      • Top RV Models by Price Range
  • Ready to buy
    • Why You Should Buy Your RV From a Local Dealer
    • 6 Warning Signs for Dishonest RV Dealers That Should Make You Leave the Lot

Each hypothetical blog title is aimed at a particular area of interest within a particular informational scope. If you have an email list, you will want to offer each piece based on the information the buyer has looked at before and their indicated interests. For your website, include suggested blog topics logically within the section the buyer is currently within.

Going one step beyond this approach requires personalization engines and marketing automation. But you can get started by creating several buyer personas and customer journey maps, then devise a content strategy to help nurture each persona type towards a final sale.

Reshape Your Website to Be Even More Mobile Friendly

contractor digital marketing

It’s 2018, and mobile phones are officially grafted into our lifestyle. Americans spend 71% of their time online using mobile devices, and visits to websites through mobile devices shot up 72% in 2017.

Using responsive design and passing Google’s mobile-friendly test are therefore just the start of your contractor business. You should rigorously explore and test options for even more engaging and usable mobile layouts throughout 2018. Offer mobile visitors a true experience, but still make navigation and content consumption easy.

Improvements like these can help you stand out among competitors in an environment where mobile will only increase its share of traffic over time.

Engage More Authentically With Your Social Media Audiences

Social media audiences want to feel like they’re engaging with real people, not brands. According to one of the top social media management apps, posts with a personable approach, humor, inspiration or emotion drive the best engagement.

You can also ask questions from your audience directly. How do they handle challenges related to your line of work? What tech trends do they think have the most promise? What are their New Year’s resolutions? Questions like these drive engagement and help your audience feel listened to.

Person-centered conversations surrounding your brand can also occur outside of your owned (well, borrowed) social spaces. By setting up social monitoring tools for mentions of your brand or service area, you can engage people in 1:1 conversations and help them solve problems.

Engaging directly with your audiences in these ways can sway public opinion in your favor while making your social media pages more lively.

While Fulfilling These Contractor Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2018, Base More Decisions on Data

contractor marketing ideas

All of the above resolutions can bring you success as long as you take a scientific approach. Start by setting goals and target metrics. Make predictions on how to meet these metrics, measure how accurate your predictions were, and experiment to see if you can find even greater success.

You can also A/B test two approaches simultaneously to learn even faster. For instance, maybe you aren’t sure which Facebook post for an upcoming event will get the most clicks? You can use paid social advertising to serve two different promoted posts to targeted audiences and see what happens.

Experimentation combined with dedication and a healthy dash of creativity will help you go a long way towards finding more success in the year ahead.

Keep the above resolutions in mind, and you could be well on your way towards making contractor digital marketing work for you in 2018. Good luck, and have a Happy New Year!