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Where Do You Get Your Leads?

by Michael Stone

Just when you thought it couldn't get more difficult, there's a new game in town. Ready to profit off contractors and give homeowners ammunition making it harder for you to sell jobs.

The new game is called Porch.com and it's aiming for you if you own a construction-related business.

From CrunchBase:

Porch's mission is to change the world one home at a time by making home improvement easy for homeowners.

The Porch marketplace spans all 250 home improvement, maintenance, and repair categories across the nation. It allows homeowners to get inspired by viewing neighbors' home projects, get educated by seeing their actual project costs (emphasis ours), and decide on the right professional by reviewing friend endorsements.

This helps homeowners make an easy and informed decision when it comes to improving their home and selecting the right home professionals. Today, Porch accomplishes this by organizing and connecting exclusive insights from over 1.4 million professionals and 60 million projects. Every day, Porch continues to aggregate more data about homes to build the connections and insights that fuel its data transparency and social approach.

By understanding work history and which professionals' friends and neighbors endorse, Porch is able to provide homeowners with free, personalized, and trusted word-of-mouth recommendations to make home improvement easy.

This isn't a small company. Investors in Porch.com have already decided that you're worth $6.25 million just to get started. They say they've already gathered data on more than $2 trillion in projects over the past 15 years, with data on 75 percent of US homes.

Don't miss the "seeing their actual project costs" part of the description of what Porch will offer, because that's a big part of what will make your life more difficult.

That means that when you go on a lead for a kitchen remodel, you'll hear about the beautiful kitchen remodel across town they saw online that cost $15,000. Three years ago. Of course, the photos will have been taken right after the project was complete. They won't show how it looks now, three years later, with wear patterns in the cheap flooring, chips and warping on the particle-board cabinets, and the low cost kitchen faucet dripping. 

In business, it's all about the money, which will come from you. From this article, you can read that Porch "will make money by charging professionals for market insights and promotional exposure, at a rate of $35/month for specific geographic areas within a city, with the ability for professionals to sign up for multiple geographic areas at a time."

If you own a construction-related business, you're the professional. You're the one who is going to pay $35/month. And note that it's $35/month per neighborhood, not $35/month per contractor. Neighborhoods as defined by Porch. When you pay them, you get the opportunity to give them even more data on projects, and hope that you'll get quality leads.

There are millions of construction-related business owners in the U.S., many of whom are talented, passionate tradespeople who love their work but aren't strong on the business side. And they are even weaker on marketing. So they hand their company identity over to others with the hope of a $35/lead (like from Angie's List or HomeAdvisor), or the chance to pay to display their job photos on someone else's website.

Please – you don't have to do that. Take the time to develop your own social presence. It doesn't require a lot. Start with the free stuff – claim your identity on Yelp, Merchant Circle, Manta, AboutUs. It only takes a few minutes per site and it's free. We covered this in a newsletter article last January. You can (and should) do it today.

Then, rather than being intimidated by getting a website, just get started. We've updated our "How to Get a Website" article – it's a simple, easy guide to creating your own website. You can do it. Get started.

Finally, we're held webinar recently on driving traffic to your website. The recording is available here. Even if you don't have the website together yet, the inspiration will be worth your time.

Stop giving yourself away to other companies. Too many contractors have given too much to Angie's List and HomeAdvisor (ServiceMagic). Now Porch is lined up to take even more. Where has it helped contractors?

I'll tell you how contractors have helped Angie's List. In the second quarter of 2013 alone , Angie's List brought in $59 million in total revenue, with $43 million of that from service providers like you. Angie's List needs you. HomeAdvisor needs you. Porch will need you.

Do you need them? If you had a website and an online presence, which is remarkably easy to do today, the answer is "NO". You'd be attracting better leads and spending less money doing it.

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