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Marketing a painting and decorating business

Listed under Blog, Marketing Posted Apr 17 2010

These are some marketing strategies that have worked for me over the years when promoting my painting and decorating services.

In general, marketing is more an art than a science. No two campaigns return the same results, sure-fire winners fail, whereas less well thought out ideas can strike gold. The best approach involves a variety of tactics, the so-called marketing mix.

Word of mouth

If you have time on your side, word of mouth is the best, cheapest and most sustainable way to market a painting and decorating business. I started with a couple of jobs for friends or family. I gave them a price break (materials at trade cost or a decent discount), did the very best work I could do, and when I was paid, I asked my satisfied customers to refer me to their friends.

It is slow, but sure, and the onus is on you to maintain and improve your standards, else you are letting down your biggest fans. The biggest break I ever got in business was thanks to word-of-mouth.

Word of mouth doesn’t suit cowboys based in small communities!


When I came to Cheshire, I knew nobody. I had to hit the ground running, and so I was under pressure to kick start a flow of inquiries. Clearly word of mouth wouldn’t do it.

This is a testimonial I wrote for Distribution Unlimited in Maccleesfield. It is self explanatory how I used flyers to launch a high-end painting and decorating business.

When I contacted Distribution Unlimited about a leaflet drop, I was new to the area, to the point that I hardly knew my way around our own village, let alone Cheshire. When I explained that I offered a high class decorating service, I was sent maps of three locations that DU considered had a demographic to suit the standard of work I do.

In addition, they advised me to produce a flyer on good quality card with a clear message.I followed their advice to the letter, and 3000 cards were delivered on a solus distribution mid January.

Within 3 weeks I was booked up for 5 months, plus I have passed on leads for several thousand pounds’ worth of small building works to a local contractor…

I will definitely consider using Distribution Unlimited again when the time is right, and would recommend that anyone considering a leaflet drop talk to them first, because according to my own feedback, most cheap flyers being delivered en masse these days end up in the bin without even being read.

This flyer campaign was a resounding success, but as I said at the beginning, no one can predict results. Later in the year, I sent out two similar flyers to other areas with similar demographics, and the short term results were far from stellar. However, I still get inquiries from those drops 6 months later. So, who knows? Regular flyer drops will generate results, and I advise budgeting accordingly.

btw Flyers aren’t necessarily a sign of a struggling business! If I were to expand or diversify my current services, a quality flyer would be a great way to spread that message quickly.


Once I have completed work for a customer and been paid, I tell them about my simple referral scheme.

If you recommend to me friends, I will give you a nice gift by way of thanks for supporting me.

About 30% of my work is coming from recommendations, and I have surprised a few customers with iTunes vouchers, or a meal for two at a local restaurant. Financially, it is not exactly life-changing, but it is a neat gesture, a genuine sign of appreciation, and generates major feelgood for both parties.

Marketing a painting and decorating business online

I am a big fan of the internet – unlike traditional methods involving bespoke designs, 4-colour printing, distributors… it is so easy to create a full colour brochure of all your painting and decorating services, upload it to a website, and be instantly accessible to a global audience.

The hard part is marketing to the online masses! Millions of potential customers go looking online for someone with your skill set and services but how do you stand out from the thousands upon thousands of other painters and decorators with a web presence too?

Twitter, website, blog

I started off with a website, so when I got inquiries via flyers, word-of-mouth and referrals, my online presence made it it easier for me to sell myself to those respondents. ie Check out my website to see the sort of work I do.

But the internet really started working for me as a marketing tool when I was advised on the three-pronged online approach by James at Projectbook. The Twitter-website-blog marketing tactic generates work from customers who don’t receive my flyers and don’t know me from Adam.


In my opinion, Twitter is the simplest and most efficient way to build up a network of contacts. When other Twitter users get to know you and trust you as a person, they begin to trust you as a business too. We are what we do! It takes about 10 minutes a day twice a day to keep in the Twitter loop.


Ideally you should have a website – a digital brochure, so that when Twitter users find you on Twitter, they can check out your website to find out more about you, your services, your portfolio.

A website can be as simple as a (Word) document with your name and contact telephone number, or be a complex dynamic ever-changing compilation of millions of pages full of text, images, videos and music, all interlinked, all aimed at promoting your painting and decorating business.

However some tweeter painters like master craftsman Richard Ireland don’t have a website and do really well on Twitter.


This article on marketing a painting and decorating business is an example of a blog post. I published it, and told everyone I know on Twitter that I have published it. Anyone interested in an article on this aspect of the painting and decorating business can read it, and then tell their friends on Twitter about it.

If the blog article is interesting, the reader may be motivated to check out my website to see what else I do. And so the circle is complete – website/Twitter/blog – People visit your website via Twitter, and to further reinforce that you know what you are talking about in relation to your decorating business, write a blog on decorating topics and tweet it!


Twitter is free. If you sign up, you are welcome to follow me – @acmasterpainter
Projectbook explain in greater detail how to maximise Twitter for business.
If you don’t get any business or benefits from Twitter read this.
To set up a website and blog, check out WordPress, a very free and powerful program. To find a style of website that suits you, check out free wordpress themes.

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10 comments to “Marketing a painting and decorating business”

  1. Traditional Painter

    Thanks for taking the time to read through those ideas. Hope you took something positive away to apply to your interior design business. Finland has a lot of good style ideas we could learn from.

  2. bpm cheshire painting services

    hi interesting reading, very useful information – thanks

  3. adam feathersstone

    great website made for some very good reading! keep up the good wrok!

  4. Eva

    Was very interesting reading your article, as I did a lot of decorating leafleting also, only had a few jobs from it, but you motived me to do it again, as when there is any spare time why not, I also find very good if I have completed a job on a road I will leaflet the road an say what houses I have completed, and that really works, have know done 5 houses on the same road

  5. Eva

    please take a look at my website.

  6. Traditional Painter

    Thanks for sharing, Eva. That is a good tactic. I guess I am living in the past as I assume people speak to their neighbours, but that isn’t the case. As well as your flyers, sign boards would probably have the same impact – and you dont have to do the legwork.

    Your website is very colourful and cheery.

  7. Adam

    Hi, long time since the last response.
    Interesting and comletely nothing new, is it? Really enjoyed reading the text!
    The true is that the quality of flyers is VERY important, not to mention an area where you want to distribute them. In todays world many forget about this way of linking with potencial clients. Word of mouth is, in my opinion, the most profitable way of marketing;)
    The CEO is most powerful. Haven’t used the Twitter yet, can’t say.
    I like the idea of gift for referrals, trades men normally offer cash, but a gift is more ‘complicated’ and therefore more appreciated;) Website is obvious at present time.
    There are other ways too…i believe so.
    Great stuff, all the best!

  8. Anonymous

    Superb blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about
    here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get comments from other
    knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Kudos!

  9. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Our own forum provides answers and is open to DIY and trade. The Jack Pauhl forum, Bib-n-braces, Painters Pit Stop are trade facing. It just depends on your preferred environment and where you are in the world.

  10. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi we have a forum open to anyone with more than a passing interest in decorating, http://forum.traditionalpainter.com/

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