There are still plenty of offline marketing tactics that can be used to boost your digital marketing efforts by helping build meaningful relationships with potential customers.

In this episode, we discuss how to get more qualified referrals through offline techniques like:

  • Door Hangers
  • Professional Organizations
  • Print/Mail
  • Community Involvement/Networking

Plus you’ll learn how to keep your offline marketing in-step with your digital efforts.

For more information about the tools and techniques recommended in this episode, please visit:

Here’s the transcript for this episode.

Episode Transcript

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. This is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from, the experts in digital marketing for trades. 

All right, welcome to episode 23 or Grow Your Painting Business, the podcast from My name is Chris Raines. I’m joined by…

Michael Utley: Michael Utley.

Chris Raines: How you doing, Michael?

Michael Utley: Good. Hey, Chris.

Chris Raines: All right, Michael, I just learned something today that was insightful. Do you want to know what it is?

Michael Utley: Yeah, tell me about that. 

Chris Raines: That there’s life that exists outside of the internet. Did you know that?

Michael Utley: Yeah. There’s still something used called paper.

Chris Raines: There’s a whole world where people meet face-to-face. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’re going to talk about offline marketing tactics. Now, I know Grow Your Painting Business  and SearchPrimer‘s all about digital marketing for painting businesses, but the truth is, if you’re going to do a full spread marketing program, it’s going to include a lot of offline tactics, too. So, these are valuable. Certainly, digital marketing is essential to your overall marketing program, if you’re a painting business, but these are valuable as well. So, We’re going to talk about several offline marketing tactics that every painting business should be using.

Michael Utley: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s funny. I think we’re too quick to think that, hey, we’re getting so much business from the website, or digital’s been our biggest growth area. But, don’t forget all those other opportunities that are out there. Here’s something interesting. A lot of this offline activity we’re going to talk about today, it’s actually good for your online marketing. Here’s how. It’s good when activities that you’re participating in are driving people to your website where they can get more information and self-educate, and get comfortable, and either become a sales lead or otherwise interact with you. Also, there’s a lot of search engine benefit from existing out in the physical world. We’ll touch on a few of those. A lot of these really simple offline activities have a lot of online benefit as well.

Chris Raines: Yeah, and it’s indirect. You shouldn’t do these for the online benefit, but it’s an interesting side product.

Michael Utley: A good side effect. It’s a good side effect.

Chris Raines: Okay. Well, let’s get right into it. These are all offline tactics. Tactic number one, Michael, door hangers. We got to clarify this too. You got to do these print initiatives, door hangers, in a smart way. How would that work for painting businesses?

Michael Utley: Yeah, a lot of our painters… We don’t provide this. SearchPrimer doesn’t do print for our painters. We recommend folks talk to David Chism at A David Creation. If he’s your quarterback and running your marketing, then he’ll pull in Richard, who’s the A David Creation print guy. One of the things that continues to work well, and there are a handful of ways to do this, are door hangers. Personally, we don’t recommend papering a neighborhood with a bunch of door hangers. Really, the way to see it is that… Think about content and advertising. Advertising that you don’t like, we tend to put in this category called spam. Advertising we do like, we call content. If I’m doing a search online for how to paint a wall with chalkboard paint, I might find an article on a website, and really enjoy it, and get the information I need, and say, “Thank you, good bye.” That was actually advertising. That was content that was developed to get me to come to a website and discover a new brand, maybe a new painting company. I might use their services or not, but it was essentially advertising. 

Why do door hangers feel so icky? Well, I think it’s because people do it badly. What I would recommend is consider only placing door hangers for new move-ins, or even new construction. Those are places where there’s turn over. You know there’s an opportunity. Another opportunity is when houses being put on the market. Maybe there’s some cleanup work, and maybe somebody’s trying to do it themselves. They’re down to the wire and trying to get moved out. It’s easy to find information on new listings. Even though this is not as efficient per door for putting something on every hanger, it’s easy to have creative that supports what you’re trying to do. “Moving out? Need to get it ready for the next buyer. We’re here to help, and we’re on your side,” or, “Welcome to the neighborhood. We’re really glad you’re here. We’re your local painter. You may not need anything right now, but we just want you to know that we’re here.” Those are messages that, when they’re appropriate to where someone’s head is, they can be received really, really, well.

Chris Raines: Yeah, so don’t just spray outdoor hangers in every neighborhood in the city. Do it in a smart way where you know you’re going to be targeting people that are mostly likely to need you and receive the message.

Okay, number two. Networking groups, specifically referral networking groups, like BNI. Now, BNI, if you guys don’t know what BNI is, it’s the short acronym for Business Networking International. It is the largest networking organization in the world. It’s a paid group, so you pay a dues per year. The way BNI works is that they only allow one person from any given industry or trade. If you go in as a painter, you’ll be the only painter in that group. If you go in as a search engine optimization person, you’re the only one, and so on. Those are great.

The way I would recommend that you go about doing BNI is vet out a few different groups in your area. There’s probably a BNI group in your area. You can go to and find where the chapters are. It’s really important that you find one with a really strong in-home services constituency. What I mean by that is realtors, carpet cleaners. What else? Pest control, anybody that comes in the home and performs a service.

What you can do with groups like that is, if you have a lot of good strong in-home service people, you’re going to develop a really symbiotic relationship. You’re going to push them referrals. BNI’s all about people offering referrals to other group members and helping grow their businesses through referrals. The people that are most likely to hand you referrals are people that are also in someone’s home offering them a service. The carpet cleaner might come in, and they might be talking about like, “Yeah, we’re getting things cleaned up. We’re about to sell the house. We’d really like to paint the living room, but we’re really not sure if we want to do it ourselves.” That’s a perfect opportunity for that carpet cleaner, who’s in your BNI group, to say, “You know what? I know a great painter that’d do a great job for you.” 

Michael Utley: Absolutely. For commercial painters, the same is true. There are lots of local networking entities in the trades. They’re really specific to every region. Now, BNI is pretty big, but don’t forget there are also a lot of small locally homegrown. I’ll tell you a good place to start. This is a little bit counterintuitive, but start with your bank. Banks are traditionally very involved in some of the local commercial oriented. When you’re talking about some of the bigger money jobs moving through the system, they often have mastermind groups or other networking groups that have that non-overlap approach meeting in their space that they provide.

Pinnacle, here in Nashville, is very active in supporting networking groups. A lot of people discover us because we’ve worked with one of their… SearchPrimer, GoEpps, a lot of our business, all of our growth, comes in through referrals generally. A lot of where those referrals happen are in these mastermind groups where people are trying to refer to each other, but they’re also referring good vendors to each other, and saying, “Hey, I found a good vendor for this.” Yeah, we found that a lot of that is based at the local banks.

Chris Raines: Yeah, this is great. That leads us into our next one and those are… We mentioned referral based groups, but just in general community groups. A lot of these tactics we’re going to talk about are just about becoming a contributing part of your community and giving into your community. Michael, let’s just list some community groups. Rotary Club is probably one. It’s a service group.

Michael Utley: Yeah, and also meet-ups. There are a lot of specific types of groups that get together around a particular trade, and they have meet-ups. If you’re in a major market, that’s a great place to go and network, and connect with either product suppliers, like if there’s a new product on the market. We talk a lot with clients about Pennteck as an epoxy product. It’s not an epoxy. It’s a different type of product, but it solves a lot of the same problems that people are looking for epoxy to solve. Yeah, going to meet-ups is a great place to meet with, and connect with, vendors of those products.

Any kind of industry event that’s happening in your city or even in your region you’ve really got to consider making that happen. It’s hard, because sometimes these things cost money. It’s time away from the hardest thing in the world to turn your back on, actively bidding projects. It’s so hard to make these things happen when things are going well and you feel busy. If you want your pipeline to stay healthy and you want to continue to grow, you’ve got to carve out time and get to these industry events and these meet-ups, local networking events where you can plant the seeds of future relationships with adjacent trades. The chamber of commerce is another big one. 

Chris Raines: Yeah, and I want to also add, and I mentioned this earlier with the Rotary, but any kind of volunteer service based organization. Here’s a good one I just thought of, maybe your church, or your synagogue, or other religious group, is involved in Habitat for Humanity builds or something. Maybe, you work out a deal and say, “Hey listen, three, four, times a year we’re going to take a weekend and someone from our team is going to volunteer to do the painting on a new Habitat build,” and that’s just part of your ongoing community service. If you go at it saying, “We’re going to win some business here, so let’s get after it,” that’s probably the wrong way to go about it.

Michael Utley: That’s right.

Chris Raines: If you go about it in a more altruistic way, and say, “You know what? We’re part of this community, and when we make the community better, the community’s better, and everybody thrives, and then as a result we’ll thrive too along with everybody else,” but if you approach it in that way, you’re probably going to find that two, three, years later, you’re going to get business from somebody that you met at somewhere where you weren’t going there to win business. You were just going there to be a part of your community.

Michael Utley: That’s right. Let’s organize these ideas a little bit. We’re talking about three things that are all mutually related. Referrals, which can come through active referral networks or through networking in places where the right people are, which could be trade events or other specific meet-up type groups. That’s referrals, number one. Number two, event sponsorships. We’ll talk more about that in a moment. Then, the next one, Chris, you just mentioned community involvement. What these things are doing, what they’re really doing, is they’re putting out an aroma around the brand. They’re telegraphing to the world you may have heard about us. You may know us and know that we offer this particular set of services. But, did you know that this is what makes us tick? Or, did you know that this is our character, this is our personality? 

Yeah, if you’re a big, for example, a big commercial painter in Seattle, and there’s a Walk for the Cure, and you’ve got your team out there, and they’ve been raising money for the cause, and they all go out in their branded company t-shirts that are made just for the event, what you’re doing is you’re actively sacrificing a little bit of time that could’ve gone to something more directly related to the bottom line for the future of much bigger pay off down the road. You’re planting the seeds of people understanding who you are and what makes you tick. You can’t fake it. People are going to know. You need to do things that you’re comfortable with, because really this isn’t about playing a character that’s not a reflection of who you are. This is about letting the personality, and the values, and the commitments of your brand, get to the surface where people can appreciate them, and have a chance to see them exhibited, and doing it in natural ways that are a natural extension of your people and yourself. 

Chris Raines: Yeah, so that would be an example of a sponsorship. I guess sponsorships are in two different categories. The one you mentioned was a nonprofit sponsorship, so that’s more of a… It’s not like you’re targeting the nonprofit based on if your target customer is going to be involved. It’s more of a-

Michael Utley: It’s very much a “give back” frame of mind. But, give back but with your brand associated with it.

Chris Raines: Well, let’s talk about more focused sponsorships that you could do, events. I’m thinking about anything related to real estate. If you’re doing residential painting, for instance, you might want to sponsor a local real estate organization meet-up, or vendor fair, or something like that. That’s a more focused event sponsorship that’s more business related.

Michael Utley: Absolutely. Here’s how to break this down. Chris, you’re right. There are two categories. We’ll call them cause and industry. With cause event sponsorships, what you’re doing is you’re making sure that you’re showing up, that your people are motivated to participate, because usually those are a team effort. Here are the points of contact where value for your brand is actually created. One is your physical presence on the day of. Another is you sharing the event ahead of time via your social media to invite your customers to understand that you’re associated with this event, and even to support it, and sponsor it, and give money to it, and to celebrate your people internally during and after the event, which social media is another good way to do that. Also, your own in-house email list. 

Then, when we get into event sponsorships that are more related to a business event, yeah, residential painting and real estate organizations are great examples. If there’s a realtor who’s putting on, maybe, a lunch and learn, and they want to go speak, you can go out and be a guest speaker, and participate, and be one of the paying sponsors. Yeah, a typical situation would be you’re on a panel. There’s going to be a topic, and they’ve got a realtor, a banker, a residential painting company, maybe a big local electrical or HVAC company. They’re going to come together and talk about some topic that’s of interest to a particular set of folks. Maybe, how to buy a house in today’s economy, something like that. there are any number of opportunities through networking with local adjacent professions to develop these types of things. We develop them all the time.

If you need help developing some events and you’re in the Nashville area, you can talk to ProScout Lead Generation and get Chris Turley and team to produce events for you. There are lots of ways to go about it. It’s a really good way to get in front of an audience that has a specific alignment. It’s kind of like the door hangers. It’s not one on every door. It’s, no, who’s the audience? How can we have a message that’s tailored to them. If you can get a bunch of people who are in the market to buy a new house, then you’re talking to people who’re going to need walls painted.

Chris Raines: Yeah. Michael, I want to talk to you, before we wrap up, I want to talk about the secondary side effects that we teased in the beginning, how these offline pursuits can help your online marketing efforts. Is there anything else, in terms of offline, that we want to cover before we go into that?

Michael Utley: Yeah, real quick, print and mail. I would say this one falls into the same category as the door hangers. You don’t need to mail something to everyone in the zip code. That’s too expensive these days. If you’re going to do that, just go run search advertising. Instead, you need to have really specific messaging that’s directly tied to your brand. Not just the content of the message, but the format of the message. If you’re going to contact new homeowners in your area with print marketing, it needs to be a series of postcards that tell them welcome to neighborhood. You need to have something like content. For example, we’re developing a guide to local schools for a Nashville based remodeling company, just so they can help people who are moving to Nashville better understand what they’re getting into and where they’re going. If they need remodeling, fine.

You can do this with print. You can have a helpful guide to the local hiking trails. You could have activities to do with kids. You could have top 10 things to do in the new city for people who have newly purchased a house on the strong chance that they’re relocating to the area. Yeah, having content that’s relevant to the audience, and being extremely, extremely, selfish with your print marketing dollars, and making sure that every single one that goes out the door is sort of like a little package of love, not mass marketing. The days of mass marketing by mail really should be dead by now. We need to put them behind us. 

Chris Raines: Yeah, because there are so many ways that we can segment down and eliminate that waste in our print marketing. All right, Michael, let’s talk about how these offline efforts can actually, even though we’re not doing it for our online efforts, how it can affect our online efforts. One of them is just back link. Let’s talk about some instances where some of these things could just, even organically, without us trying, give us back links to our site, which, as we know, as we’ve covered before, increase our local SEO.

Michael Utley: Yeah, I’d put all the offline value, or all the value of offline marketing for the website, into two categories. The first one’s back links. The second one is direct traffic. We’ll talk about that next. 

Yeah, any time you have an event that you’re sponsoring… For example, if there’s a local lunch and learn, and you’re connected to, maybe, like we said, a real estate agent, an HVAC company, and maybe a bank who’s offering mortgages, and you’re doing a little mini convention for first time homeowners, or empty nesters who are downsizing, something that’s targeted, what you can do is put together a little block of text, copy, and ask everyone to share it on their websites. Make sure that you’re including links to each participant’s website in that content. 

You want links to your website from other websites. Those are a signal to search engines that your website is valuable. It turns out that, in doing SEO work, that’s one of the hardest things that we have that we try to do. It’s really time expensive to go out and drum up some inbound links. We’re able to do some of it with some other tactics, but in terms of local, authentic, real links, the best way to stir the pot is to have these relationships-

Chris Raines: It’s hand-to-hand combat, isn’t it?

Michael Utley: Yeah, have this stuff. We call it small ball. It’s not something where you really get a chance to swing for the fence. Really, what you want to do is just get base hits over, and over, and over. What that looks like is following up and saying, “Hey, Johnny, thanks so much for being on the panel with us at this event. I’m sending you a block of text to share everyone’s websites on your website. Would you mind putting up a quick blog post or a news item on your website and include this link to us?” Maybe link something like local painting contractor, because when those keywords are linked, those keywords are a signal to search engines of what the target is about, the target being your website. Yeah, this is small ball. A lot of where people miss their opportunity with being involved, and present, and engaged in their community is making sure that you’re doing it in a way that search engines can see it happening in a very natural way with inbound links. 

Chris Raines: Yeah, and a lot of these event sponsorships, that’s actually part of the package of benefits that you get. You might get your logo on the banner, and logo on the program, and, oh by the way, we’re going to link back to your site. If that’s not a benefit of any sponsorship you’re doing, you should just ask for it.

Michael Utley: Yeah, ask for it. Yeah, and the people who’re asking sponsorship packages, non-profits, they’re kind of crazy and all over the map, and sometimes have a lot of turnover. Sometimes, professional trade organizations can drop the ball. Or, they’re so small that a link would still be really valuable if it was shared out on two or three websites and pointed to your website, but people don’t know the technical ins and outs of why that’s so important. Asking for it is good, and just making sure you get what you pay for. Of course, this is not offline, but if you’re doing any kind of sponsorships, using email quite a bit to try to drum up attendance is good, and just sharing things out to social media, because a lot of those social media pages are public as well, and those are additional inbound links, like sharing it to LinkedIn, that sort of thing. 

Chris Raines: The other one you mentioned here was-

Michael Utley: Direct.

Chris Raines: Direct traffic. Obviously, the more people that know about you, the more people are going to just go directly to your website. 

Michael Utley: That’s correct. Here’s what matters about this. A lot of people miss the connection between direct traffic and what happens, or excuse me, offline marketing and what role their website plays. Here’s what people expect to have happen. They think they’re going to send a postcard, and it’s going to have, maybe, the phone number, the website address, and they’re hoping people just call. “Hey, I got the postcard. I’m calling.” Sometimes, people think that that’s what’s happening, because customers are mentioning it. “Yeah, I got your postcard. We actually do need a room painted. You’re timing was perfect. We just move in. I can’t believe you found us.” A lot of times, what they’re doing is they’re going to the website first and checking things out before they pick up the phone. Or, they’re going the website and hoping to actually take action there. 

Here’s a quick list of things to make sure that you’re doing, so that your offline activity is as valuable as possible. Number one, put a phone number in your header. It may be on the postcard, and maybe on your contact page, but just go ahead and make sure that phone number’s in your header. 

Number two, think about your website in terms of being a lead generation engine. Don’t think of it as being a brochure that’s informational. Think of it as another touchpoint that has a job of getting people to take action. Number one on that is get a form above the fold on as many pages as possible, and if you’re comfortable with it, the homepage. Be as conversion-oriented as possible. 

Number three, if you’re thinking about using tools like live chat on the website and you’re doing a print marketing campaign, that’s a great way for someone who’s maybe not totally convinced and ready to pick up the phone, but they are checking out your website. If you’ve got live chat, that’s another opportunity for them to just move a tiny step forward in the relationship without being cornered by some salesperson who’s going to intimidate them. 

Number four is don’t forget that, if you’re going to send out 1,000 postcards, it would actually be better to send a third of those to the same third, and then a separate card to the same third, and then a third card to the same third, rather than all thousand. Frequent messages delivered over a series, not the same message, make sure you’re branding is consistent but change up your thing, you can actually get a lot more out of print marketing. 

When those print marketing things drop, you’re going to see a spike in your website traffic. It’s not necessarily just on the first hit. Sometimes it’s on the second mailing date. Sometimes, it’s on the third. The first one, it softens them up a little bit. The second one, maybe they’re going to the website. Third one, they might go to the website and click to chat to try and schedule a time. So, making it as easy as possible for the website to move conversations ahead, either as a phone call, a sales lead through a form, or a live chat, or even if you’re using any self scheduling tools, letting them go ahead and book. Something like Calendly or any of the number of options that lets you use integrated tools with your calendar to get people to schedule. Those are all ways that direct traffic can be turned into new business prompted by offline activity.

Chris Raines: Those are great. Those are all great on site ways to enhance the user’s experience once they get to the site. All right, that’s all the time we have. I hope this was helpful. I hope this was a good list of… It’s not an exhaustive list, but a good list to get started on offline activities that you should be doing to help grow your painting business, and also affect your online marketing as we just mentioned. Speaking of online marketing, if you-

Michael Utley: Yeah, real quick on that. We can do a part two on this, because we didn’t talk about signage, we didn’t talk about… People are doing things like little business card holders on the sides of trucks. There’s a ton of ideas, tons of stuff out there.

Chris Raines: The lowest cost per impression that you could possibly get is vehicle signage, because you pay once and you just drive it around. Yeah, we should make it-

Michael Utley: We might do a part two on signage.

Chris Raines: Yeah, that would be great to do. Anyway, speaking of online marketing, if you’re interested in getting a free audit of your painting business website just to figure out where you stand amongst your competitors, where the opportunity is, and just what the health is of your site, go to and click the button at the top that says, “Get my free audit.” All you’ve gotta do is fill in your name, email address, and a link to your site. We’ll get back with you and give you just a free audit of where you stand and some things you can do to help enhance your SEO of your site.

Michael Utley: Absolutely. 

Chris Raines: All right, that’s all the time we have. We’ll see you next time.

Michael Utley: Excellent. Thanks, Chris.

Chris Raines: The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing,