How to expand your Excavation Business according to Simon Johnston

In this article we feature a useful guide for earthmoving contractors provided by Simon Johnston, HG Group’s Digital Marketing


Getting your name out there is a Business 101 essential. In this article, we will be discussing marketing your business to potential clients using avenues like Print Media, Social Media, Websites, and Referrals.

Source: Attach2 Equipment

Marketing Essentials

First off, we’ll start with the basics of ‘marketing’. defines this as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

So marketing is a bit more than just advertising. Broken down it is your offering to your customers and how you promote this to them and persuade them to choose you. It overlaps heavily with advertising and sales; if you’re a small business, you are likely doing all this too.

First off, as part of your business plan, you may have had to produce a ‘marketing plan‘, if you haven’t, we need to make one.

Download our free marketing planner
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You’ll find a lot of what is discussed here overlaps with your big picture business plan, so it’s important that the two harmonize to achieve your goals. Here’s a brief overview on how to use the template:

1. Business Summary

As the title suggests, your Business Summary is a summary of your organization and includes your business name, location, and important mission statement. Additionally, you need to build a ‘SWOT’ analysis; this is your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

2. Business Initiatives

This section isn’t for your business’s big picture initiatives, rather marketing specific initiatives. These could be: building a website, starting a social media channel, and running adverts.

3. Target Market

We recommended that you define your Target Market; this is where you conduct some market research. What’s that? It’s determining who is your ideal customer, what competition is in the area, and how much of the market is available to you. Part of defining your Target Market is defining your ‘Buyer Personas’. These are your ideal customers perhaps broken down into industry. We’ve created three samples for you.

4. Market Strategy

Your Market Strategy will lean heavily on your Target Market as how you market to your ideal audience/customer and to persuade them to purchase your services.

5. Budget

This section is how much you are budgeting to spend on your marketing efforts. For more detail, you can itemize what you plan on spending this on. EG. Website, Software, Ads, and Events of you plan on hosting/sponsoring these.

6. Marketing Channels

In this last section, your plan will include the channels and spaces you want to promote yourself on. If you plan on using social media to promote yourself on, this is where you want to include it. The layout which social networks you want to use, what you plan on publishing, and how you will measure success from using them.

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Print Media

The most traditional form of advertising; print media has a broad but dwindling reach. Being a traditional medium, it also has a traditional audience, which depending on your ideal buyer persona could be just the right place for you to advertise in. Ways to advertise in your local paper:


These small, sometimes text only placements often appear at the end of the newspaper with similar services and are the go-to section when people are browsing for services.

Ad Placements

Larger and more colorful, ad placements can be any size you need and feature your business with a photo in a more appealing way, as well as be closer to the front page for more visibility.


Editorials are an effective way for ‘telling your story’ generally a reporter or writer will write an article about you and your business, like a profile, take some photos and build an article form that. This can be anywhere from a quarter page to a full page. Some local papers also offer ‘new business’ options as a cost-effective way of introducing your business to the community. Of course, this should be weighed against your target audience and whether this is the right medium. You can often get an editorial for free from your newspaper/magazine as they are always looking for good content, or you can get a paid ‘advertorial’ where you need to pay for the article.

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Social Media

Social media is undeniably a popular medium to attract customers when done right. Some owners fear it; some love it. The key is getting off to a good start. First up, if you’re choosing to go ahead with Social Media, you’ll need to create a business page. Rather than rehash it, Facebook has a great resource on making a business page, click here.

Here are our top tips for social media success:

  • Keep posting!

    Starting with a ton of photos and posts than a few weeks later, silence… It’s best to continuously post and never miss a month. For the best success, aim for once a week, since social media is an active platform, people’s attention spans are short and often browse through numerous posts a day, posting once a month means little screen time.

  • Use photos and videos

    Text-only posts attract the least engagement if you’ve ever seen those! Videos get the most interest with it quickly becoming the most popular form of media on the internet, so use it as much as you can, keep it short, keep it sweet.

  • Talk about anything and everything!

    Your audience may quickly get bored if your posts tend to center on just one thing. So try to keep it interesting, things we’ve found that works: Before and After posts of projects, views on a job site, interesting jobs, volunteer jobs, that extra mile, grading something to perfection.

  • Be patient

    You won’t get 1,000 likes and followers overnight, or maybe you will? Social media can be a slow burn unless you suddenly go viral! Just be consistent and on point and you’ll build a following, and when you do make a go of it make sure you get your friends and family on board to follow you and share your page. Get that positive vibe off to a good start.

  • Ask for reviews

    Gave a customer a great experience or repeat customer you know loves your work? Ask them for a review on your page, reviews boost your profile and help potential customers see that you live up to your reputation.

  • Don’t measure yourself on likes

    This can be a bit of a trap to fall into; likes don’t = business. Although it can be a good measure of the relevance or quality of your posts, that’s not always the case. For example, those ubiquitous funny ‘meme’ posts attract a lot of likes, but if that’s all you posted on your page you may get more likes, but no business. Instead, measure your success on messages and comments that lead to work.


Social media is not exactly a ‘free’ platform. When it comes to business, leading social media experts to recommend using ads, as even posting high-quality pictures and captions may not lead to the return you desire, and results can be slow. You don’t need to spend a lot; social media is a very cost-effective way to reach a broad audience; the key is the right ad and correct targeting.

Ad Resources from Facebook: How to create a Facebook ad

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Having a clear goal in mind before investing in a website is crucial to see real-world business results come from it. Think of a website as a storefront on the web; if it’s hard to find, poorly identified, or hard to get around, it’s likely not going to bring the customers you want. Having a clear goal of what you want on your website, what you want to achieve from it, and a budget are the best ways to build a successful website.

Where to start

Decide what you want on your website and what you want to get from it. These tie in together so one will answer the other. It may go like this:

What you want to get from your website:

  • Business Awareness
  • Leads

What you want on your website:

  • Services you offer
  • Clear pictures of your business and services
  • A form to fill in
  • Ways to contact you

How to achieve these goals is often what gives most owners a headache. Web design isn’t for everyone, but if you fancy yourself handy on the computer and very proficient with programs like Word, PowerPoint, or even Photoshop, then you might be willing to tackle the DIY route. There are a few build it yourself options out there that offer a drag and drop approach to website design that is more akin to Word and PowerPoint than the lines of code you may have seen in movies. Although we can’t make any recommendation on the best DIY website builder, the likes of Wix, Squarespace and Weebly offer the best value for money and ease of use when it comes to doing it yourself.

The other option is to get someone to do this for you. Hiring a web developer to build you a website has become more commonplace and cheaper thanks to web builders like the above.

It’s best to do your research before you go ahead, though. A web developer is going to rely on you to provide them with nearly all the information and sometimes photos that are going to be used on the site. This means there’s still plenty of work for you to do on your end to get a meaningful website, so it’s not a set and forget process.

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Easily the best method of getting new business; Referrals give your business more credibility than almost any other marketing effort. Why? Referrals come from a trusted source who has used your services and then recommend them to someone else.

A referral can make up 50% of the decision in the buying process. So, getting them is a great way to win new business.
Want referrals? Just ask. For some, it may seem like a ‘desperate’ way to get new business, but it isn’t unless you word it like that. Asking happy clients if they know of anyone also looking for similar services is easy, and they’re usually more than happy to recommend you.

What to say: “If you know of anyone else after (trenching) let me know, I’m always on the lookout for more of this work.” Simple.

You may find that you’ll build a base of clients who recommend you often and even though they may only use you from time to time, actually bring you in more work, a box of beer or something else thoughtful may keep them as one of those customers for life and what marketers call a ‘promoter‘. You could also go a step further and ask them to review your business online like on Facebook and Google; this makes their ‘referral’ public and adds credibility to your business.


Google My Business

You can get Google My Business listing with just a few clicks. When it comes to a local business, this yields a quick win and boosts your online presence.

Start here.

By inputting all your relevant business information, you can inform your customers about your opening hours, address, contact number, website, and what areas you cover, which means that in local searches your business pops up with a completed listing (like the white pages). Best of all, it’s free.

Your Google listing will be the first many people see when searching for the services you offer or your business. It also has a review function, where people and previous customers can leave a star rating and write a review. Studies have shown that your star rating has a significant part in influencing people to investigate your business or contact you as it is essentially a referral, this can be especially true in areas with a lot of other competition from other businesses.

Plan your marketing by downloading our free marketing planner here.

Source: Attach2 Equipment'
Simon Johnston
Digital Marketing of HG Group, New Zealand, Simon joined the Attach2 team in 2018 and is well known for pointing a big camera around in addition to typing, lots of typing. He has a varied background in construction and management and is passionate about using his experiences to see businesses succeed through excellent visual and text-based communications. And yes Simon wrote this in 3rd person about himself.