In this episode, Michael and Chris discuss how business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) sales strategies work together to grow your painting business. We’ll talk about:
  • Respect-driven vs. action-oriented marketing
  • Avoiding friction by marketing to humans (on desktop and mobile)
  • How to avoid “burying the lead” so customers stay interested
  • 3 Landing page best practices for engagement and lead generation
For more information on the tools and resources mentioned in this episode, please visit:

You can find a transcript of this episode below.

Episode Transcript

Intro: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from searchprimer.com, the experts in digital marketing for the trades.

Chris Raines: All right, welcome to episode 36 of Grow Your Painting Business, the podcast from searchprimer.com. My name is Chris Raines. I’m joined by…

Michael Utley: Michael Utley.

Chris Raines: How you doing, Michael?

Michael Utley: Good. Doing great.

Chris Raines: It’s a Friday.

Michael Utley: Happy Friday.

Chris Raines: Happy Friday. We’re feeling good.

Michael Utley: Cheers.

Chris Raines: Cheers. And we’re going to talk today about B2B versus B2C. So, Michael, why are we doing an episode on this?

Michael Utley: All right. So there’s an experience we’ve had, a conversation we’ve had with a lot of people who reach out to us and want to do more marketing. It’s always been one of these things where depending on how you answer it, if you’re not careful, people think you don’t know any better. And you have to come at it and help them understand, no, no, no, no, you’re missing an opportunity.

Michael Utley: Here’s a typical scenario. We’ll talk to someone and they’ll say, “Well, we’re different. I know you work with a lot of residential painters.”

Chris Raines: “We’re different.”

Michael Utley: Yeah, “We’re different. We want blue money, not green money.”

Chris Raines: “We’re the special unicorn that’s different from everyone else.”

Michael Utley: “Everybody else.” Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly what happens. Yeah. They say, “We’re different.” It’ll be something where we’re talking to a commercial/industrial painter and they say, “Well, our business is more based on referrals.” And I’ll say, “Well, you don’t get any business from the internet because your website is terrible. So you’re making that conclusion based on the lack of knowledge of something you don’t know about.”

Michael Utley: And another situation would be, “We want ours to feel more respectable, more-

Chris Raines: “Yeah, we got to be wearing suits, we got to be… “

Michael Utley: “Yeah, we don’t want to look like we’re just desperate.”

Chris Raines: “We don’t want to show personality either, because that’s reckless. People don’t like that.”

Michael Utley: Yeah. And of course SearchPrimer is owned by GoEpps. Our overall business we serve other industries, not just what we would broadly call the trades or the construction industry, but also healthcare, so we get a lot more of this on the healthcare side. But we’ve also had this come up on a lot of initial calls where someone is very concerned about not being lumped in as being a B2C-type company. And it makes sense because I think, Chris, what’s happened is a lot of these guys have had the experience of having started in residential and they’ve moved up. And so the fact that they’ve been in for 20, 30 years and they’ve moved into larger commercial projects, they almost have, I don’t know, a chip on their shoulder or something where they just don’t want to be mistaken for being residential.

Chris Raines: “I’m very important now.” I ran into this a lot. So my previous career iteration was as a video producer. And I never did weddings, but I ran into this a lot talking to other video folks-

Michael Utley: Perfect example, yeah.

Chris Raines: … where, and I actually agree with this, where people would start out doing weddings. It’s pretty common if you’re a video person and you like to shoot and edit video, you would start doing weddings. But eventually you understand that there’s only a certain amount that people will pay for a wedding video. And so you either need to go for your high-end brides or you need to go for corporate to increase your revenue per project.

Chris Raines: And so a lot of times what those people would do, they would splinter off their website. So they would create two brands. And so you would have a brand for weddings and a brand for corporate. I think that is good and acceptable because your client is completely different. But what we’re talking about is way different because it’s the same person could be doing residential and migrate into commercial versus a bride, who’s a bride is a bride and they’re a bride for a finite amount of time. They’re not necessarily logically going to become a marketing director purchasing marketing business. So it’s a completely different. That’s why that’s appropriate to break that off into two separate brands.

Michael Utley: Yeah. We’re going to actually today get into a lot more specifics. We’re going to actually dissect a website.

Chris Raines: I can’t wait for this. This is good.

Michael Utley: Yeah, this is going to be good. But what we’re going to talk about is going to put a spotlight on the distinction between trying to market in a way that establishes respect versus marketing in a way that drives action. And so a lot of people that we’ve worked with over the years, and sometimes, Chris, what we’ve done is we build the website the way they ask us to and make it more a, “Hey, we’re respectable,” or, “Hey, here’s a picture of us and how we want to be perceived,” or something. And then, if it doesn’t work well it doesn’t drive as much activity as they expected, they’ll come back and say, “Hey, what can we do now to get this traffic to convert better?” And I’ll say, “Well, we’ve got a little list here. It’s a list we’ve shared with you before of recommendations to make this more action-oriented. And why don’t we just execute those and see if it works better?”

Michael Utley: And then we’re doing things like putting a form above the fold, having some social credentials, like a review rating above the fold, doing some things that to them on the first pass felt too cheesy or aggressive or over the top, or, “Hey, look at us,” or preening. And then they’re us, “Hey, we want to do what you said. Could you go ahead and execute that to the website?”

Chris Raines: Yeah, okay, so we’re going to look at a SearchPrimer client here, an actual website, so let’s give people the URL and we’re going to link this on the show page. So, Michael, what’s the URL to this so we can follow along?

Michael Utley: Yep. So this is brand new and I’m sure bill will not mind me using his website as a test case because we’re also going to link to it on the show notes page, so that’ll be good for him. This is Nash Painting in the Nashville, Tennessee market. So this, coincidentally, even though we work with companies all across US [crosstalk 00:06:39] happens to be somebody here in town. Yeah. It was actually a project that was sent to us by the marketing consultant for them, A David Creation in Maryland. So it’s just coincidence that we happen to be here. But we’re looking at Nash, N-A-SH, painting.com. Not NashvillePainting, NashPainting.com.

Chris Raines: Awesome. So let’s get right to it. So give people a chance to look if you’re following along on your desktop, so you might want to pull this up while we’re talking about it. So NashPainting.com. So what’s the first thing that points out to you in terms of when we’re talking about B2C versus B2B? So everything really is business to customer.

Michael Utley: Yeah, to a human being.

Chris Raines: To a human.

Michael Utley: Yeah.

Chris Raines: B2H.

Michael Utley: Yeah, or B2E, B to everybody. So I think to square away the context of what we’re describing on the rest of the podcast episode i if you’re B2B, you might think, “Oh no, no, no, we just need to make sure that we’re respectable. We need to make sure this. We don’t want anything that sounds too salesy.” I think what we’re saying is everyone you talk to is a human being and the way humans behave, even when they’re spending millions of dollars on infrastructure services, like equipment maintenance or anything, they’re all human beings. And the way human beings behave, without exception, is if what they need to do next is easier to do, they are more likely to do it with you than somewhere where that’s harder.

Chris Raines: Right. Yeah, so avoiding friction in the process for reaching out to you and learning more about you.

Michael Utley: That’s right. So the big thesis we have for today is that you’re not marketing to a B2B audience versus some more B2C feeling tactics, because you’re really at the end of the day marketing to humans. And for the last 10 years, we’ve been raising the flag of don’t overthink the fact that you think your folks are looking to see a picture of somebody in a suit. Go the other way, be more direct about what it is you offer. Now what the example we’re going to look at is a B2C, it’s very a residentially-focused company. Not just residential, they do some commercial, we’re looking at an example that is more of a residential.

Chris Raines: But you could take this and just replace some words and use the concepts for a commercial painting business.

Michael Utley: Yeah, absolutely. I think you might have a little bit more language around RFP processes or get to know your rep for your region or you could have some other things. A lot of the companies we serve serve large sections of the United States. So there would be some things that might be a little different, but fundamentally what we’re saying is the way that residential painters market themselves is helpful and instructive for higher end B2B or large commercial sales.

Chris Raines: Yeah. All right. Let’s get right to it, Michael.

Michael Utley: All right. Good.

Chris Raines: Pull up NashPainting.com and let’s pick out maybe three things about this page that you think are just universally applicable, no matter if you’re dealing with consumers or you’re dealing with businesses or whatnot. So let’s point out some things as we pull up the page. I see you’ve got it up on your computer right now. I’ve got it up on mine. What are some things that you see on this page that are just universal indicators of a high performing page on the internet?

Michael Utley: Yeah. So I’ll start off right away. And of course we’re looking at a desktop view, but everything we’re going to describe applies to mobile. And then I would add the note for mobile to make sure there’s a clickable phone number above the fold and the header and that that header is persistent, so anyone on the mobile experience is always just a click away from a phone call. So that would be my caveat for mobile, thinking about this for mobile devices. And again, just like I said, I don’t think that should be any different if you’re selling to operations managers, manufacturing plant, floor managers, a government that wants to paint a bridge, I think at the end of the day, getting them to call, getting them to fill out a form, it needs to be more urgent.

Michael Utley: So, okay. Yeah, let’s just go through here, top to bottom. So for me, this promo bar at the top, right now as we’re recording, it’s Save 15% on Internet Painting This Month. That was our winter message. I think having a promo bar or something that stylistically stays out of the way is really good. But then what I’m really thinking about as a big message is what’s above the fold? And a number one is a phone number. And we’ve even got here text or call, and I love that because so many of the new generation are texting, they’re text-centric. It’s an easier way to cut through the noise rather than email or having a synchronous conversation on the phone.

Michael Utley: And then we’ve got a big button here in the header, Schedule an Estimate and that’s really valuable. But then here’s the big daddy, two things: number one is we’ve got a form above the fold and so I want to use some language here and that is landing pages versus websites. A landing page, if you’re driving traffic from, for example, a paid search campaign, often you will avoid driving people to the website because there’s just too much there, too many different directions you can go, too many things you can do. But a landing page is more focused around specific actions, mainly generating a call or a form fill. And in this case we’ve got the form above the fold on the homepage right there. This is a kiss when the date starts. It’s very odd in a lot of ways. It’s not a goodnight kiss, it’s like a kiss on the first view. And that’s a little bit surprising.

Chris Raines: Well, but think about if your counterpart is looking for a kiss, if you are a operations manager or operations person that accompany and you know you need to do a paint job or a construction or whatever your customer is, you’ve been tasked with, “Hey, go out and get five quotes for this job.” So this page that we’re looking at right now says, “Hey, I understand that you’re here to get a quote.”

Michael Utley: And this is, “Hey, guess how you do that?”

Chris Raines: Get a Quote. Boom. Even the button says… What does that say?

Michael Utley: Request Estimate, yeah.

Chris Raines: Requests Estimate. I want an estimate or a quote. Boom. When I push that button, what I’m going to get back in a few hours or a few days is a estimate on what my job is.

Michael Utley: I’m going to get the thing that I’m here to do that you’re in business to deliver. That’s right.

Chris Raines: Yeah. So everybody comes to a site with a need. And sometimes that’s like, “I’m looking for a job.”

Michael Utley: That’s right.

Chris Raines: And sometimes that’s, “I’ve got a boss that’s breathing down my neck and by Friday I need to have five quotes.” So you don’t want to bury that in a menu somewhere or on the footer, you want to say, “Hey look, you’re here to get a quote, here’s a form at the very top. We’re not going to make you look for it or think about it. Here’s a form, fill it out and we’ll get you a quote done. We’re going to serve you for exactly what you’re looking to do right now.”

Michael Utley: That’s exactly right. So we’re putting the handshake first at the beginning of the meeting to establish. And the way I think about this, we think in Western society about, in literature, we tend to think every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. And the end is the big conclusion, it’s the big exciting wrap up or climax of the story. And so when we apply that to websites and we think, “Well, they’re not going to be ready to do that unless they read the About Us first,” or, “They’re not going to be ready to do that unless they watch this video first.”

Michael Utley: What we’re doing is we’re using a Western narrative model for people have to go to point A, B, C, D, E before they’re ready to take action. And what this is really saying, what we’re saying is, “No, you need to flip this.” This is more of the way a journalism piece is structured in the newspaper. Back in the day when reporters wrote for print media in journalism, the way that they structured their narrative was to put the most important thing first and then have the supporting details in descending order and expanded upon.

Chris Raines: Yeah, you don’t bury the lead.

Michael Utley: You don’t bury the lead. And the reason they did that was practical, the editor had to be able to cut a number of inches off to make it fit based on whatever the other news was that day. And so reporters were trained to get the most important stuff out first.

Michael Utley: Well, when we started building websites 20 years ago, something happened, we used the Western novel as the underpinning idea of how to tell a story with a website. We thought that we needed to get all this stuff out that was really important first. And it turns out that journalism offers a better metaphor for how to structure a website: have the single most important thing first and let everything else be a supporting element.

Michael Utley: So yeah, to answer your question, what are three things on this website that are important to understand for B2E, business to everybody, is get the action up front. So that’s number one for today is action upfront.

Chris Raines: Right. Okay, I want to talk about two more things. We’re running short on time. One is the headline that’s that’s benefit oriented, right? And I want to talk about the upgrading of the social proof elements and the reviews up to the top.

Chris Raines: So, Michael, talk about this headline here that says We Make Homes Beautiful, and how that could be focused on the company or some other irrelevant thing rather than the benefit to the customer.

Michael Utley: That’s right. All right, so big idea number one is conversion opportunity and points of contact at the top. Don’t bury the lead. Number two is customer -centric messages and social proof. And here I’m just going to do a quick scroll through the page, top to bottom. So if you’re synced up and you’re looking at this, I want you to notice some things. We Make Homes Beautiful, that headline number one, it’s not about us, it’s 100% about the benefit you’re going to experience.

Chris Raines: Exactly.

Michael Utley: And listen, it doesn’t matter-

Chris Raines: It’s not trusted Nashville painters.

Michael Utley: It’s not trusted Nashville painters.

Chris Raines: They don’t care.

Michael Utley: Who cares if you’re trusted?

Chris Raines: I want my home to be beautiful because I have relatives coming in for Christmas and I want to impress them with my home.

Michael Utley: That’s right. So we’re talking about customer-centric benefits supported by social proof. So let’s scroll through from top to bottom. We Make Homes Beautiful. Okay, that’s the primary message. The secondary message is, “Yeah, we’re experts and here’s the market we’re serving.” That’s also very important and really important SEO. You’ll notice that that content is built in HTML. It’s not part of the image because we want that indexed. And then these great star review ratings on Google and Yelp, these are saying, “Yeah, you can trust us. Don’t worry about it. Every everybody knows we’re good.” And they are good, they’re a great company.

Michael Utley: All right. Then as we go through, we’ve got some nuts and bolts here, How It Works, Request an Estimate, Here’s the Promise, Nashville Trusts Nash Painting, so these are all really secondary to this you-centered benefit. And then Award winning Quality, Outstanding Service, again, social proof just through showing the credentials, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, all of those are supporting elements to the value proposition that’s been placed out there on the table.

Michael Utley: And then Nash Painting Delivers Award Winning Service, now this is all very much us, us, us, but it’s in support of that initial message. And then again, second person going back again, a second person, you deserve to work with a painter you can trust. It’s about the customer experience. And again at offering social proof. At the end of the day, there’s always, it’s good to have an About Nash Painting section because what that’s doing is just offering a little bit of detail and also-

Chris Raines: And likeability.

Michael Utley: … it’s good to have pictures of people.

Chris Raines: Yeah, likability.

Michael Utley: Yeah. It’s like, “Okay, well who are we giving our money to? Who are we supporting?” And then so the map serving families and businesses in Tennessee.

Chris Raines: That’s another social proof.

Michael Utley: Huge. It’s like, ‘Hey listen, we’re probably already painting two or three houses on your street. Look at this map.”

Chris Raines: If you want to get a good resource for why people make decisions they do and what influences people, check out Robert Cialdini, Influence. It’s a great book. And when I was leading into this, I was-

Michael Utley: Have not read that.

Chris Raines: Robert Cialdini, Influence. Basically, there are five different categories for why people make decisions that they make, social proof is one of them, it’s what we’ve been talking about and it’s what led to this discussion. On the very top of the page, you see the Google and Yelp reviews. People want to know that, “Are people that are like me, where I live, also trusting these people.” That’s a very powerful, might even be the most powerful thing.

Michael Utley: Yeah, and I think when you see a map and you recognize the cities, in this one it’s almost hard to tell, this could be anywhere.

Chris Raines: That’s great, it’s just overwhelming. [crosstalk 00:20:02].

Michael Utley: Yeah, it’s overwhelming. [crosstalk 00:20:02]

Chris Raines: You’re good. You’re good. We have so many customers that you can’t even see the pins in the map.

Michael Utley: Yeah, this is what I call overwhelming social proof. Okay, so then we scroll down, we’ve got a little services list. Our customers come first, we’ve got reviews, testimonials.

Chris Raines: Social proof.

Michael Utley: Meet Your Painting Team, again, human.

Chris Raines: Likeability.

Michael Utley: Very real.

Chris Raines: Likeability.

Michael Utley: And then this footer, this footer is really built to speak to search engines as much as anything, but it’s Nashville Trusts Nash. What a great line. And Nash was Bill Nishanian, it was actually he picked Nash painting, not for Nashville, but because it was a variation of his name. People would say, “Hey, I’m trying to find a Bill Nash.” It’s just people would say that to him. And so it ended up being a happy coincidence, but I love it. I love it. So I want to talk about number three, but that’s number two. Number two is customer-centric language supported by overwhelming social proof.

Michael Utley: Can I tell you number three?

Chris Raines: Yep. All right.

Michael Utley: All right. Here we go. Number three, we did something innovative with this project that’s cool. Instead of thinking about the website as a homepage that you’re hoping people get to and drill into to get what they want, we know that a lot of people come to websites, not to the homepage first but to an interior page on the website. So it’s typical for us if someone is coming to a website for something like commercial painting, in this example, or I’ll just even go to on the Nash Painting site cabinet painting, that may be the search they’ve done. They may have done a search in Google for cabinet painting Nashville and they may end up on this page because this page is clearly serving the Nashville market and it’s related to cabinet painting.

Michael Utley: So if they come here first, guess what? We’re treating this page like it’s the homepage. We have a form above the fold, we have social proof, we have content and images that reinforce the service we know they must have searched for to get to that page. And then we expand on that service set with some content, some narrative text content. and then what do we do? We hit them with the how it works, the promise, the gallery-

Chris Raines: Oh yeah, all that sort of proof.

Michael Utley: … the trust, the service, the video, the-

Chris Raines: Authority, expertise, social proof.

Michael Utley: … authority, expertise, social proof, social proof, other services, credentials, human team, SEO, rich footer. And so number three is don’t think about your homepage as necessarily the first page of your site, think of it as one of the webpages on your site. Now, it’s typically going to be the most important, but it’s because a lot of websites haven’t done a very good job with their interior pages in the past. Something we do, we build a lot of what we call localization pages. We’ll build pages out for every standalone metro in a SearchPrimer customer’s service area.

Chris Raines: Right. Because people are searching for Brentwood cabinet painter.

Michael Utley: People are searching for Terre Haute industrial painter, Terre Haute silo painter, Terre Haute-

Chris Raines: And that needs its own page, that doesn’t need…

Michael Utley: That needs its own page.

Chris Raines: The more relevant you can be to that person, the better.

Michael Utley: Yeah, our goal in building webpages and content for search engines is not to have efficiency of producing a small footprint of pages that work for everyone, our goal is to have an expansive footprint that’s properly indexed and that Google finds to be helpful for more searches.

Chris Raines: Yep. And that’s how you win. All right.

Michael Utley: Yeah. Let’s review real quick if that’s all right, Chris. I’m going to say number one is action first. Action above the fold, whether it’s mobile or desktop, go through the experience, think about what’s the one thing they’re trying to do-

Chris Raines: And make it easy for them to do that.

Michael Utley: … and make it easy. Yeah, you don’t need 10 fields of information so your sales team can have stuff come into them served up on a platter. You need name, phone, email, go.

Michael Utley: All right. Number two, customer-centric language supported by overwhelming social proof.

Michael Utley: Number three, your homepage is just another page on your website. Give all those other pages the same love you would the homepage and make them as action-oriented as possible. And if you do this, even if you’re marketing to governments, you will find it to be-

Chris Raines: Boom.

Michael Utley: … more effective in gaining requests for proposal, inbound contact, everything that your website does will be more effective.

Chris Raines: Awesome. All right, we’ll leave it off there, and hey, if you want a custom audit on your website, if you’re a painting contractor, go to SearchPrimer.com and scroll to the bottom and click the Get My Free Audit, this is a free audit that will tell you what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong with your web presence, and how to show up on Google and other search engines to increase your leads, increase your sales. So this is completely free, so take advantage of this, go to SearchPrimer.com to get that free audit. And until then, we’ll see you on the next podcast.

Michael Utley: Absolutely. Thanks, Chris.