What’s working to generate leads now? 

The Internet has not taken over the world, yet. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is thankfully not our sole model of social behavior. Contractors are still able to break through the marketing clutter and get a response that is not purely Internet-based.

Remarkable, I know. But there are some seriously dead media out there, too. So let’s dispel a couple of myths and get some leads. Starting here …

Newspaper advertising

Remember this? Fortunately, there are still literate and affluent people who value newspaper ads and are less than 112 years old. In fact:

  • Print ads still top digital ads. According to News and Tech (8/11), print production ad revenues (based on renewed ads due to value/leads generated) show that print ads still dominate online with 85% of the $5.5 billion in ad sales in the first quarter of 2011.

  • Affluent customers prefer print. According to AdAge Stat, affluent customers (those earning over $155,000) “significantly” prefer print to online media. Called the “Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer,” it found that 86% of affluent Americans read printed newspapers, while 39% read print and online, and 14% use online and smartphones. So rich people don’t mind inky fingers.

    Takeaway point: Forget the hype; don’t pull the plug on print. As we always say to our clients, use a balanced strategy of online and offline media. Since print is so favored by the affluent (including 93% who prefer printed magazines over their digital counterparts), it’s far wiser to strategize.

    Use neighborhood/zone options in newspaper advertising, including community newspapers. Prices are down, competitors have pulled out due to the myth, driving your response rate up by default.  Send targeted, direct-mail offers to chosen zip codes. The same reasons above apply.

  • Email marketing

    For all  the benefits of email - two being that it’s fast and free - it’s not without some very big challenges. A 2011 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report (which cost us $2,000 so it’s not all free!) identified the following list of “problems” experienced by the top email marketers in the United States:

  •  Difficulty reaching recipients – 66%
  •  Getting people to opt-in – 46%
  •  Deliverability even from opted-in recipients – 39%
  •  Quantifying email ROI – 37%
  •  Legitimate email being perceived as spam – 35%
    And that list is from people running multimillion-dollar campaigns. No wonder it’s a little troubling for the rest of us.

    Takeaway point: Build your email list constantly, providing only relevant content to the recipients. Let your “sale email” come from either a different sender or very infrequently from you.

  • Yellow Pages advertising

    Sorry to let you know, but Yellow Pages books are actually only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire, being fondled by various 112 year olds, all of whom appear to be bargain shoppers. On this one, the myth is true and if you’re investing any more than 16% of your total marketing budget in the Yellow Pages in any format other than direct response, you should be yelled at and made to feel irrelevant.

    Truthfully, the Yellow Pages works with the 55+ age group, who are slightly more educated (which has an income bias). A good group, but this audience has declined steadily since 2007, which I hear is quite a few years ago. In fact, lookups are down 44% over the last two years. Why? Because 78% of respondents said they use the Internet more for company lookups. The new strategy?

    SEO and local search marketing

    Thank goodness Google has saved us from ourselves here. No longer do you have to dominate globally through costly search engine optimization to get a “burst pipe” call in Topeka. So this has gone from “fact” in 2009 to “myth” in 2012.

    Now, it’s all about local search. Yet sadly, 91% of contractors have failed to even claim their listing. I won’t bash you anymore on this, except to tell you that an unclaimed listing is a digital death sentence. (The QR code in this article will let you know how your site is graded and ranked in your area.)

    Takeaway point:The former recommendation of 20% of your budget toward SEO can now be lowered to just 16% (all aimed locally) using pay-per-click campaigns, well-placed banners and ahighly optimized local listing.That is italicized for a reason: The results are overwhelmingly in favor of this method.

    A recent test publicized to our coaching group detailed a contractor who went from “unranked” and virtually unfindable online to 562 leads in 90 days. Your local listings value cannot be over-emphasized. Why?

    Unlike the Yellow Pages of old where your ad was static for a year (sometimes several!), the listing world and the six top services are constantly adjusting the rules. And since 91% of searchers never reach page 2 …

    Contractors are entering a time that the do-it-yourselfer cannot study, research, compile and intelligently claim and optimize listings for maximum results. Amateurs are - by design - losing out to the professionals devoted to discipline in this specialized skill.

    Yet the most important thing to do first is find outhow wellyour listing stacks up in your area and against the competition. You can do a search for your TRADE in your CITY as one way to assess ranking power. Use various keywords to find your listing, then take steps to advance your rank. (There are literally thousands of Google documents on doing this.) Or, to help you do this much faster, we can grade it for you.

    You can get a complimentary Grade Guide to help you see exactly where your listing is strong or weak, with steps on how to correct it. This is an excellent start to better listing health.

    To avoid an instant loss of leads, credibility, findability and sales, please save this article, give it to your webmaster or person assigned to optimizing your listing, and make sure you take the necessary steps to dominate your listing.

    To those who think traditional marketing (print ads, radio, direct mail) is a thing of the past, I’d say “not so fast.” The key is balance and integration. Just as your web addresses should be on every print, radio or TV ad, so should your phone number in every online ad.

    Online and offline are NOT separate or at odds; they blend into a cohesive whole, intelligently managed for optimum results.