From the article:
“I’ve been in the Chicagoland plumbing business for 22 years and helped run the family business for 16 of those years,” he said. “I firmly believe that being a subcontractor in any construction trade is one of the most difficult ways to achieve business success. Even in the best of times there are forces outside your control that can make or break you. Delays in payment, bank loans for operating capital, FICA, FUTA, State taxes, change order approval, contract disputes, project delays and insurance claims are just some of the hurdles contractors face daily.”
“Our business finally succumbed to those market forces in July of 2012. We’d fought as long as we could; probably too long.” In 2009, Kavanaugh felt disgusted with the industry he’d originally loved. “Every morning I would get up and it would take every single ounce of resolve for me to put on my shoes and get out the door for another day.” This was his frame of mind when internet marketing expert Ken Courtright walked in the door.
“I was in,” Kavanaugh says. In short, for each client the business would partner with an expert in a field, research content across the web and develop a content strategy. The partner would write the content and Income Store would take care of the site design, development and strategic marketing to help the business increase its capabilities as a “google authority site.”
“So I asked myself; ‘Why couldn’t I develop content that was better than anything on the Internet?’ I was an English major in college and this would give me a shot to brush up on my writing skills and play the long ball when it came to income.” So write he did, and segued without hesitation from the close of his plumbing business in 2012 to become Content Director for Ken and Kerri Courtright and their company Income Store.
“It’s funny, when I first began to write for my website www.theplumbinginfo.com my first thought was a rather cynical one,” Kavanaugh says. “I couldn’t wait to make money sideways on an industry that I thought had failed me. I have since seen the error of my thinking as I’ve replayed my mistakes along the way. As Ken would say, ‘the Room for Self Improvement is often the loneliest room in the house’. I was determined to be lonely, if that’s what it took.”
Then his mindset changed. “I knew that I’d blundered along the way, letting ego, ambition and quite a bit of ignorance aid in our company’s demise, but I’d be damned if I let someone else go through the same exercises in futility without giving advice,” he now says. “So my motto is to help the consumer make good choices on the products they buy and the services they pay for and to help the plumbing professional know they’re not alone in their struggles.”
“I’ve walked through the minefield and instead of stepping in another’s footsteps, I left body parts along the way. So I don’t discourage, but I use what I’ve learned to encourage potential plumbers and plumbing contractors to do the right thing, use the right software, align themselves with the right accountant, suppliers, commercial insurance, tell them not to sign a contract they didn’t read thoroughly, etc. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to give of yourself or your knowledge. Most contractors I know are inherently afraid to give away trade secrets. The fact remains that most people who look at YouTube videos or read informational articles on a service based website are more likely to do business with that company. Customers feel like they already know you when they are interacting with your website.”
(Thought leadership at its very essence. I’m impressed.)
“So in a sense I market myself everyday, I put my name and my opinion on display for all to see and I encourage all small businesses to do the same,” Kavanaugh says. “As a small business owner you must be the driving force, the expert in your field and you have to be willing to let everyone in the world know it.”
“Being the content director for Income Store allows me to study everyday trends of how dynamic content affects a business, whether it’s brick and mortar or a $100,000,000 firm. It happens to be the least expensive form of advertising but it’s the most difficult to squeeze out of a business owner because it takes time and there is no instant gratification. I almost always ask a business owner, ‘What is something great that has happened in your life or an accomplishment you’ve earned that was easy?’ The answer is almost always ‘nothing.’ I follow up by saying ‘Why would it be any different with your content marketing plan?’ You must tackle it with the same zeal you had when you earned your bachelor’s degree or MBA or medical degree or when you hit the pinnacle of your business career.”
This is a new age with incredible pressure, Kavanaugh says, but it’s also packed with opportunities. “Literally anyone can market himself or herself. In fact even if you have a full time profession you should be perpetually marketing yourself. This is perhaps the only thing separating you from a new project, a new product or a new profession. You must have the willingness to put yourself out in front of a potential audience and the determination to create your own brand.”
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