In this interview, I talk to Zach Blenkinsopp who is one of the founders of Digital Roofing. They’ve only been open less than 12 months and are already dominating their market.
You might have seen their ad that went viral. That little ad which only costs $200 to make got them over 100 qualified roofing leads.
In this interview, we go over some of their marketing strategies and how effective it has been for them.
Please note that this interview has been edited to make it easier to read
Interviewer: Hey Zach it’s Mauricio I’m doing well, how are you? Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Zach: Not a problem.
Interviewer: I appreciate it! I saw your ads on Facebook on a variety of groups and I would like to discuss what you did, and how you did it. I think what you did is unique and it brought a lot of attention, but more importantly, I think it brought a lot of great results. I think your strategy, together with your background, it could help a lot of roofers in marketing.
Zach: Yes, my partner, Chris, and I worked together in a marketing company. What we would like to do is as follows: Option 1: Start scaling. Obviously, we own a roofing company. Our main goal is to go overseas and make money, that is why we started a roofing company to help us achieve this goal. There’s not a lot of reliable staff out there, resources are scarce. When we started the roofing company we thought that one of us could get a general contracting license, which helped with the sales and marketing.
The company diversified quickly from storm damage and kept growing from there. It developed into quite a good system which we had set up. We could expand our work to other cities, and we’ve got a couple of other options that we are trying to work on.
There are so many roofers that don’t understand marketing and are not spending capital to see results. We thought there was a great opportunity to use our marketing background as an advantage. There are so many roofers out there that only want to be able to buy a twelve pack and pay their mortgage, but those kinds of workers are not really going to scale a multi-million-dollar roofing business.
Interviewer: Yes, you have to support your business. You basically have a business and marketing background, but more importantly, you’re thinking more of the business opportunity, and not just being a roofer, is that right? Yeah, awesome, and yeah you hired a general contractor who was an expert in his field, who did the work, whereas you’re the marketing and business expert.
Zach: Yeah, I know quite a bit about roofing too. I did some recent work in Dallas as a Project Manager, and I worked with a few different roofers and they showed me how they were running their businesses. I took some advice from those roofers as to how they made their company successful and applied it to our company. I used advice from about 3 to 4 other roofing companies that did well. I don’t have to know everything about roofing, I just need to know what other people have done to be successful and apply that to our business.
In a nutshell, how we set everything up was kind of backward. Typically, it’s a general contractor goes and hires people out. The thing is I don’t want to deal with paying overheads, like insurance, and contractors and managing all the projects and stuff like that, so yeah what you’re saying is exactly right.
Interviewer: How long has your business been open?
Zach: Less than a year.
Interviewer: Wow, that’s awesome.
Zach: It’s been a pretty, pretty, explosive growth.
Interviewer: Tell me about your Facebook page. I see it’s very active, you have a lot of videos. Do you guys follow a specific strategy?
Zach: Well, my partner Chris, he took a couple of Facebook courses from the guys in the know and is a very intelligent guy. His background is in commercial Real Estate appraising. We both have a Business Degree, and he became a pretty good Facebook marketer. We had a couple of ideas that we threw around on how we were going to be able to make an impact, and part of our strategy is to create shock value because roofing is generally a boring issue. We bore homeowners talking about shingles and what we’re about to do their house, so we know it’s a boring subject.
So, my advice to roofer’s doesn’t always talk about roofing all the time. Find funny videos, engage with your people in other ways outside of just roofing. If you are always trying to sell people things, it shuts them down. So, our strategy is just to brand yourself by engaging with people without trying to just be selling all the time.
It’s just like a friend you meet at a party, that’s in sales and you ask him how things have been going, and he replies asking when you’re going to see him about buying a new car. I’ve got this new car, and I’m like, I know you sell cars, if I want to buy one from you, I’ll call you. And so, that’s a big way of our strategy for our company. While we build awareness through our Facebook page, we do not want to talk when it comes to selling people a roof. We’re just going to minds with videos. We’re going to keep people engaged that way and bring awareness about the health stuff but won’t be over the top sales, because nobody watches your commercials anymore anyway. So, you might as well to try to engage in other ways anyway.
Interviewer: I want to talk about your viral Ad, your first one. The thing I like most about your ad is that it got attention. And attention is the number one currency in marketing. Once you get attention, you can market your message and get people to take action. I read that you got the idea from a Colorado roofing company. So, talk about the process, how it worked out, what you did. Tell me about the ad.
Zach: Yeah, it was really simple. I saw that he had done it, and my first thought when I saw it, I thought it’s illegal, and so I did my due diligence. I did some research, I got some buddies of mine that are lawyers and asked what they think. And they said it’s actually legal, I think what he’s doing is legal and it is. There’s nothing illegal about it.
So, when I first got back to Alabama, Chris, my business partner and I, we were sitting down one day you know we’ve made a commitment that we want to sell 100 residential roofs in a hundred days. That was our goal and so, we were thinking about ways that we were going to make that happen.
I used to sell the shit out of digital marketing and that’s kind of what my background is, so he knew that just by me being here, we will increase the amount of volume we’re doing this summer and the sales I was going to make. I said I’ve got this idea to run past you. You think about it. A roofing company in Colorado did this, and I showed him the video and the news on record and stuff. And I said I think the guy that did it, I mean I’ve got nothing against him, but for me, he was kind of a plain Jane roofer.
He wasn’t a polarizing or engaging or had charisma. So, I said I thought we could do this better than how he’s done it and so, you know the guy wasn’t better or anything like that and I told Chris that I really think that we can really push it better and launch it on 4th of July.
I think it will blow up and so worked on the thought process and so, of course, we decided to go super over the top and I said if we were going to do it, it would be big and bold, and if not, we should not do it at all. So that was kind of what we did, it obviously worked out. You don’t have to be the most creative person, you can just take a good idea that people have and just do it better.
Interviewer: What did you do to promote the ad? Did you do a commercial? Did you promote it on Facebook, have you thought about that?
Zach: Yeah, I mean all we did was we spent about $100 on the stuff that we bought, whiskey and beer, my outfit. And we recorded on the iPhone, and we boosted it, we spent about one $100 and it off on Facebook, and we also posted it on Reddit. We posted it on the YouTube channel and within 5 hours I got a call from aol.com, which is alabama.com, but it’s really a large media outlet, and the video took off from there.
Interviewer: And then you got things going on and you’ve been posting a lot, right?
Zach: Yeah, I’ve got a buddy of mine who is a consultant in multimedia and he called about a week ago, and I asked him how much he thinks it’s been viewed nationally.
He thinks the number is somewhere around 20 million times, and obviously growing between the TV and the news stations, and the global viewership is somewhere around 50 million.
Interviewer: Wow! That’s awesome. Can you talk about any negative blowback? Positive feedback?
Zach: Yeah, we know that locally it was going to do really well because in Alabama you know firearms are obviously a big deal and hunt this, and drink beer and whiskey. Locally we got a little bit of blow back. I don’t really care I’m a veteran you know if you know, and I’m a responsible business owner, and I’ll have a drink if I want. But you know nationally, specifically on the West Coast and up north, we’ve got a lot more, like we’re evil people for giving away firearms, which isn’t the case at all.
We’re giving people a voucher for a firearm. We had a couple people calling threatening to kill us with a firearm, which I thought was funny because they weren’t mad about gun violence, yet they wanted to shoot us.
Internationally, we got 50-50 internationally. Some people thought we were crazy Americans that were just handing out guns and hoping people were going to shoot other people. We had a lot of people contact us internationally that said we wish we had laws in our country allowing us to protect ourselves and others, so we got a lot of feedback. And of course, Chris and I, we know a lot of background stuff outside of roofing and we’re not you know just dumb as hell as them rednecks.
Interviewer: So, what was the result of the ad? How many jobs did you get from that?
Zach: Incredible. I’ve been working. We were working 7 days a week before this went live. Now, we’ve increased our sales. We’ve increased our staff. We started off with 4 people, we’ve increased from 10-15 over the next month. We’ve been able to break into two new areas including Birmingham, which is a city of about a million-people rounded. We’re still trying to catch up, so I mean conservatively for residential, I would say we’ve probably had at least 100-150 qualified leads that we could actually ride here locally. And probably 5 commercial jobs that we will probably end up landing. So, I mean in terms of capitalistic growth for a start-up company there’s no type of marketing that could have been more successful than this.
Interviewer: What happens when you created the ads and it went viral, how did you handle the leads?
Zach: Yeah, Chris and I, we’re both in our early thirties. We don’t have kids and we’re not married so we have a lot more time than most people do and I’m looking out for a lot of professionals in other industries. So, we brought in people from outside the roofing industry. We believe that there are a lot of talented people that don’t know about the contracting industries and the trade industry, and they don’t realize how much money is in it. So, a lot of it’s just been personal relationships.
We have able to contact a lot of people who want to work with us, but the way I’ve been able to bring people is to find people in other industries that have sales and marketing experience, close the deals and bring them in. And so, a lot of us have been personal relationships and building our team and we’re real big on hiring professionals versus just guys with experience and working industry. Those guys have bad habits so we’ve been really successful in bringing people outside of roofing and making them successful.
Interviewer: That’s great and how did you guys partner with those gun stores? Tell me about that. Did you say let’s have an affiliate type of relationship?
Zach: Yeah, I’ve got a friend of a friend who’s a disabled veteran like myself and he’s a former Marine. I called him up, I said I got your number from a friend, I heard you were a disabled vet. He said, yep, and he sent me a link to his website. He’s the real deal and owns a very, very, very, good gun supply store here in the area. So, I just pitched him the idea and he loved it and we kind of went from there. It’s pretty bad ass the way he’s got it set up. As soon as we get a homeowner that qualifies, he gets the information he sets them up online. They’ll have their own account and they can apply their voucher to their online store, just like that, so it’s a pretty cool deal we’ve got.
Interviewer: You guys did a different ad with the one in Colorado? I only saw it once but it was basically the same type of strategy you offered. Can you talk about that ad?
Zach: Yeah, so I’ve got a friend of mine, he got out of marketing as well and that sort of roofing industry. And I wanted to put something to my roofer that I work with here and see if he’d be interested in doing it. He said do you have any ideas for Colorado, and I said yeah. I said nobody has done it the way we have, and as soon as I said it, he said, oh my gosh, it’s perfect.
And I said get a roof, get some weed, would be a killer ad because they said it would go viral and there’s no doubt about it. I said the national media is one thing, but having the local media is what you want. Without giving the keys to the castle about how we do our business and how we’re going to go so viral, but the whole concept is to get attention and if you can get on local media sites, with a viral ad you have an opportunity to get SEO backlinks from articles that are written. Obviously, you’d link us back there’s a reason for that, SEO backlinks
Obviously, you’d link us back there’s a reason for that, SEO backlinks are greatly going to increase your Google ad algorithms where you’re going to rank higher, your SEO searches and once you’re on page one organically for a roofing business, it’s kind of game over at that point. You’ve just got to steer the ship and make sure you don’t run into anything. So, there’s a method behind the madness in why we do what we do.
The guy’s name is Rex Courtly, and I pitched him the idea of get a roof, get some weed, and he loved it.
He’s a former Marine, and he’s a disabled vet as well and since marijuana is legal in Colorado, we had the same kind of concept, we contacted some local dispensaries, pitched them the idea and they liked it and the rest is history.
Interviewer: Perfect! So basically, that’s not really for your company, that’s for your friend in Colorado?
Zach: Yeah, Chris and I are spinning off our own digital marketing company off of this we just haven’t had time really to concentrate as much but there was a fee for the video and we’re taking over his SEO. We’re taking over his Facebook advertising for the foreseeable future and looking, as we grow as a digital marketing company, we’re going to be offering a full suite of digital marketing services including P.P.C. management, Website build, SEO and custom Facebook, but that’s really all we’re going to do. The good thing about my background and selling digital marketing packages, there’s one thing I’ve learned is there’s a lot of products that kind of suck and so how can this be really good at the core product and those which we build the marketing programs off of.
Interviewer: Cool, I wish you luck. One last thing you mentioned before we talked was about Commercial Roofing Leads. Are you guys looking to grow that side of the business?
Zach: Yeah well first off, I wanted to compliment you on…that’s a bad ass funnel site you have. Yeah, so my partner Chris, is obsessed with those sites. He thinks that they’re still fun and some of the things that they were doing as well I agree with them. What you capture is information and now you had a chance to land and decline it. I was impressed by that and so we are looking to break into commercial part of what we are now. And I hired a really smart guy from our hometown who worked for a company called roofing Atlanta, and they were twenty million dollar a year commercial roofing company.
So, when I saw the offer of what you have, we know that our commercial leads are going to come. And we’ve been just treading water now trying to see with all the leads that we have, but residential is how you pay the bills, but commercial is where we want to get to with our company so we’re doing fewer jobs and making more profit off of them and we’ve got the people to close the deals.
Interviewer: Perfect and so what we do is a paper click campaign, that’s the easiest way to generate. We have other business development strategies, but mainly what we do is pay-per-click. It’s pretty effective. Usually, we start seeing results within the residential resource within 24 hours, we start getting phone calls and residents and commercially, within a week. It’s a very powerful strategy.
Interviewer: Tell me about your Facebook Ads. What strategy do you guys with Facebook Advertising?
Zach: We run our videos, if you go to our Facebook page you get to see a lot of the stuff that we write. Hail maps have been very successful for us. We have to pay a lot of money to get Hail maps program, but it’s been really successful for us, particularly when you can go hyper-local and you can pick out an actual neighbourhood that was damaged by a hail, that’s got really expensive roofs and just put in a dot and say, you live here and then just run the ad.
That’s something that’s been super effective for us, is running super hyper local adverts versus just the amount and just the hail areas, that happened in the specific neighbourhood, and then targeting the people in those areas with that ad, because that way if you get someone in that neighbourhood, they go, holy crap that is literally the neighbourhood I work in, or the live in. That that’s pretty powerful for people and you know as well as I do, your return on investment and roofing is very good.
Interviewer: It was great talking with you.