Marketing And Branding With Josh Swisher Of Northface Construction

At the beginning of 2023, Josh Swisher set an ambitious goal for himself: he was going to create 365 videos and post them on his roofing company’s YouTube channel.

Swisher, who founded Elk River-based Northface Construction in 2010, already had some success sharing video content on Facebook. People were liking his posts and engaging with him, but his YouTube channel? Well, it wasn’t getting a lot of action. He knew that if he wanted that to change, he would have to step up his efforts.

And so Swisher set to work on his 365-video goal feeling confident that if he stuck to his plan, it would lead to results.

His instincts were spot on.

“We had less than 1,000 subscribers on YouTube going into the new year,” Swisher said. “In the first 24 days of the month, we gained more than 600 subscribers. We’ve had more than half-a-million views and now we’re actually making money on YouTube.”

Swisher knows that not every video he posts is Oscar worthy, but he’s learned that’s not really the point.

“It’s all about being consistent and it’s also about being genuine,” he said. “The best videos that we’ve had in terms of views aren’t the ones that are salesy – they’re the ones that are genuine and heartfelt.”

Plus, thanks to the advent of smartphones, Swisher hasn’t had to spend an arm and a leg to hire videographers or production teams to create his videos.

“Almost all of our content is filmed on an iPhone,” he said. “And a lot of our videos look better than the ones that are taken on expensive professional cameras.”

The fact that there are now so many free channels for publicity is encouraging, but Swisher knows that the concept of “marketing” can still be scary, especially for new business owners. They may feel like they need extra help to get their names out there and, unfortunately, there are plenty of so-called “marketing agencies” that are eager to offer their assistance.

“I get inundated with emails from all these marketers asking ‘can you handle 50 more jobs this month?’ or ‘do you want more leads?’ If you’re someone who’s just starting out and you’re afraid you’re not going to make it, you might be tempted to pay $5,000 for the guarantee that you’ll make a certain amount of money. Well, that’s usually a farce because no one can guarantee anything,” Swisher said. “In the end, it all comes down to the basics – do your job well, be easy to find and communicate with your customers where they are.”

If you’re launching a new business and you’re looking for marketing and branding strategies that won’t break the bank, here are Swisher’s suggestions:

  • Start spreading the news: Compile an email list consisting of every contact you’ve ever made and send a message letting them know about your new company. Because these people will, ideally, recognize your name, they’re more likely to give you a shot to earn their business.


  • Provide outstanding service: “Customer service is a marketing tactic in and of itself,” Swisher observes. If you create a positive experience where you show up on time, get the job done correctly and generally meet or exceed expectations, chances are good that your customers will be more than happy to sing your praises. Whether they share your name via word of month – or better yet, through an online review – they can play a valuable role in helping get your name out there.


  • Take advantage of social media: Creating a Facebook page for your business is important, but it’s also a good idea to use your personal profile to get involved in neighborhood and community groups. For example, Swisher’s marketing manager has joined many such groups and whenever someone posts asking for a referral for a roofing company, she suggests Northface. Additionally, she’ll post an introduction every few months letting people know she works at Northface along with a brief rundown of the services the company provides. She closes her messaging out by offering free estimates for community members and reminding them that Northface is always there to help them. “She brought in $300,000 in revenue last year,” Swisher said. “And it all came from free advertising.”


  • Create a free Business Profile on Google: It doesn’t matter how great your business is – if people can’t find you online, you’re going to have a pretty hard time being successful. However, many companies continue to operate this way. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a contracting company truck out on the road and then when I go to Google them, I can’t find them,” he said. “The only information I see about them is on the Secretary of State website.” Having a website is important – and it doesn’t have to be fancy – but it’s also critical to create your Google Business Profile. Not only can your profile literally put your business on the map, but it’s also where you can gather those all-important five-star reviews. Once people see that your company is trusted by their friends and neighbors, they’ll feel confident in hiring you, too.


  • Don’t overcomplicate your branding: It can be easy to go down a rabbit hole when you’re trying to create your brand, but if you’re just starting out, there’s no need to make things overly difficult. Start out by answering these questions:
    • What do I want my organization to look like?
    • What kind of service experience and value add do I have?
    • How can I communicate that information effectively and consistently?


  • Once you’ve nailed down your answers and have them to reference going forward, it’s all about sticking with them across the board. “This gives you a cadence of consistency in your brand,” Swisher said. “Then you’re communicating in a similar way with your customers whether you’re talking to them online or in person.” From there, everything else will start to fall into place and you’ll be able to be more intentional and consistent in your marketing and outreach efforts. “Visibility equals credibility,” he said. “The more you’re in front of people, the more it substantiates your credibility with your brand.”


  • Use your video content to show rather than tell: No one wants to watch videos that are all about pushing a sale – and viewers can sniff that out a mile away. Instead, use your videos to show how your company is solving problems for its customers. Take footage of yourself out on a job. Walk the viewer through the issue you’re handling, the steps you’re taking to remedy it and then finally show them the finished product. If you don’t want to be on camera, that’s OK, but the more videos you create, the more comfortable you’ll likely feel.


  • Be strategic: Northface made an intentional push to double its size in 2022 through marketing, but Swisher and his team didn’t simply wish for it to happen. They developed a plan that was based on having a deep understanding of their data up to that point. “To facilitate effective growth in marketing, you have to know your numbers and your past performance,” he said. Once Swisher decided that he wanted to bring in $10 million in revenue in 2022, he began looking at where he’d spent his marketing dollars in previous years. Billboards. Google. Vehicle wraps. Homeadvisor. Everything was analyzed closely. And because he’d been consistent with collecting data as it pertained to how much he sold per lead source, how much it cost to acquire leads and how high the closing rates were from each lead source, he was able to make a strategic plan that he knew would help him hit his goal. “We figured out that Google AdWords was our most consistent, highest-closing return on investment for the money we spent,” he said. “We knew that if we put enough money into Google that we could bring in an additional $3 million in revenue and then organically turn that into more. We had a plan in place, and we were able to achieve our growth goal.”


  • Don’t read the comments: People can be brutal online, Swisher said. Don’t feed into that negativity – just keep doing an excellent job and good things will happen!


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