How the web was won

Your website should show who you are, not just what you do. HOUSING talks to a panel of experts so you can feel confident and get started now.


Anne-Maree Brown

From contractors to builders, you work with your hands, you know your value and you receive your pipeline of projects through word of mouth – or do you? If there is one thing we have learnt from our recent isolation situation, it is that the world is connected through digitalisation. If there is nothing else you do with your marketing budget this year, a quality website should be at the top of the pile.

But it doesn’t have to be as all-consuming and scary as it sounds. We talk to experts in the world of digital brand identity and building workable, relatable websites about what you should do and how to make the most of online space.


Meet our experts 


Steve Nelson – managing director – Switch

Steve and Switch specialise in all aspects of digital, working with businesses to understand how it can help them efficiently grow revenue and deliver the best customer experience in the process. When he's not in front of a computer, you'll find him working in the garden!


Ben Brooker – General Manager Digital – HIA

If there is one thing Ben knows it’s digital. With 15 years’ experience, HIA’s own General Manager of Digital brings to the panel his wisdom and expertise in strategy, transformation and creative solutions, with a can of Coke (no sugar) in hand, and three children under six under foot.


Chris Gresham-Britt – Caffeine Powered Creative

Chris believes your brand and your digital presence go hand in hand. First, he helps businesses to develop their look and feel and then their website follows suit. Plus, he drinks coffee – a lot.


Q: Why is it important for makers, tradies and builders to have a website?

Steve – Switch

Over the past 10 years we’ve seen how quickly digital has permeated nearly every part of our lives to the point now that it is hard to think of where digital isn’t part of someone's daily routine. From a product or service perspective, we know that 88 per cent of customers will research online as a part of their buying lifecycle, so it is critical that you’re online and in the right way.

Many businesses have been challenged by the changes that digital brings, so it is important to be ahead of that change to capitalise on the opportunity by reaching and engaging with your customers (or potential customers) at any time of the day or night over the entire year.

What is even more important than having a website is establishing the right solution that speaks to what your brand is about and what products or services you offer.

Ben – HIA

Ultimately, it’s about responding to how your customers are behaving.

Before deciding to contact a new business or service, most people go straight online. Powered by the smart phone, and the super convenient in-home voice recognition services of Google Home and Amazon Alexa, the internet is now an integrated part of our lives. Australians spend about 22 hours per week online (according to Roy Morgan), a figure often easily recognised in our own digital behaviour and social media bingeing.

The behaviour of consumers generally follow cultural norms, and as you would expect this changes over time to adapt to newer technology and ways of connecting. Consumers in Australia have changed to adapt to the digital age and so too must your business.

Contrary to what you might think, a website is not about you or your business, it’s about your customer. And in your case, helping them to find information, search possible service providers, builders or specialists to eventually solve their problems or meet their needs.

A website, and in fact a well thought out digital footprint, is an essential component for every business – particularly small businesses in our industry – to be successful.

Surely for small business owners there’s enough to be dealing with already, right? The hard truth is it’s 2020 and you need a website. You needed one the day you registered your business name.

Chris – Caffeine Powered Creative

There are a million ways to answer this question, but at an absolute minimum I believe every maker/tradie/builder needs at least a simple website for two reasons:

  1. visibility: If someone jumps on Google to look up your phone number and they can’t find it…will they call one of your competitors instead? As great as social media is for representing your business online, many people specifically seek out your website for a whole bunch of reasons. Make sure they can find what they need!
  2. legitimacy: I come across business owners all the time who say they don’t need a website because they get enough business through word of mouth. The trap there is that a website isn’t just about generating business, it’s also about assuring your potential clients that you’re reputable. If one of your word-of-mouth clients looks you up, make sure they can be reassured that you can do what you’ve said you can do.

Q: Why isn’t my social media enough?

Ben – HIA

Many small businesses ask the question: ‘do we still need a website if we are active on social media?’ The short answer is yes, you absolutely do. Of course, the sheer numbers of people who use social media sites mean they can be a great way of accessing new customers. But, for a small business, it can be very difficult to cut through the noise.

Platforms such as Facebook now have more than one billion users, so competition for likes, clicks and relevance is fierce. It is therefore dangerous to look at social media as a good substitute for your own website.

A comprehensive and informative website, which goes into detail about your business, is a great way of quickly establishing trust among potential customers. After you have established your website, you can use social media to complement your web presence rather than as a substitution for it.


Five reasons to invest in your website

1. Boost your credibility

If customers can’t find anything about you or your business when they search, they may question if you’re a legitimate business. Even a one-man band can appear like a multi-million dollar business with a good website. Otherwise, you risk looking like a tiny operation that isn’t going to be able to deliver great service. A professional website is a very simple way of boosting your reputation.

2. Stay open 24/7

As a small business owner, you often struggle with working in your business not on your business. A well laid out website helps your business be available when your customers need it the most, which is seldom 9-5 these days. 

3. A chance to show off your work

It’s hard as a small business to differentiate yourself from the competition. From the perspective of a consumer, it can be very tricky to find the right professional for their job. Often the only information consumers can base their decision on is price.  

A solution is to build a website that showcases your work and displays images of jobs you have already completed. By including images of the jobs you have already successfully finished, a potential customer is much more likely to have the confidence to book you for theirs.

A custom design or template website for your business is highly personal, and it can be easily updated and edited. A dedicated website will properly showcase your dynamic and growing business.

4. Generate quality leads and save yourself time

By first spending time getting to know your business and the service you can offer through your website, potential customers who do get in touch will already know that they need what you offer. This saves you time speaking to customers who have mistakenly found their way to your business.

5. Expand your reach or focus on local specialisation  

With word-of-mouth or print promotion, you’re limited to the immediate area your business practices in. With an online presence your reach can be expanded into surrounding regions, nationally, internationally or, conversely, even go hyper-localised to your targeted suburbs. Search engine optimisation is the best way to get your website noticed and it can be tailored to your desired locations.


For more insights on developing a professional website, check back into HOUSING Online for the next article in the series.

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Digital Champions

HIA has joined the Australian Government’s Digital Champions project, an initiative to educate the industry on the latest technology and how to use it. Register your interest in the complimentary service for your small business.

Not an HIA member yet? By joining Australia’s largest national association for the residential building industry, you’ll get access to a range of member benefits, as well as industry products and business services designed to help you manage, operate and grow.

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