Here’s an understatement, “Marketing is a whole lot easier if you’ve got a lot of money to spend.” Here’s another enlightened observation: “It’s also a great way to go broke if you don’t have a plan and don’t know what you’re doing.”
This was very true back in the good old days of 2005 when you could take out a double truck ad in the Yellow Pages and either get really rich or really poor. It just depended on how many books you needed to be in and how many competitors were also trying to get to the front of those categories in the same books.
Today, the goal has changed and now it’s about making it to the top of the search list or at least the first page of the search. This approach is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. There are tons of ways to improve your SEO ranking with money spent on things like PPC (Pay Per Click)]. This, too, is a way to get really rich or really broke if you don’t know what you’re doing or hiring the wrong people to manage this.
Your business is in Phoenix and you don’t have it set up to repel people clicking through from Philadelphia where you don’t service customers.
Since many contractors I talk to have both the problem of not enough calls and not enough money to spend on marketing, I recommend they get really good at either low-cost marketing or no-cost marketing.
7 ways to go about low-cost or no-cost marketing these days
1. Yard Signs are a way to get your name out in front of the neighbors of the customer you’re working for. People like to hire the plumbing, heating, cooling or whatever other trade you’re in that’s already serving their immediate neighborhood.
When you engage the use of yard signs, I recommend you set a goal for the company about how many yard signs you’ll seek to get out there every month and every year and engage your whole team.
I like it when the Big Ticket Sales Person who sells the job asks permission from the customer to display a yard sign at the time of installation and for the ability to leave it up for an additional two weeks. In return, the salesperson offers the customer an incentive that if the sign is up when they come back to retrieve it — which by the way is the perfect time to ask for a testimonial! — you will give them a $25 refund, as an example.
2. Cloverleafing is leaving doorknob hangers in the nearby homes of the customer you have just provided service. This should be done year round but at the very least during your slow season, It helps to increase your customer base by referencing satisfied customers in their neighborhood who already used your services and can testify to the benefits of doing so.
The best way to get this done on a call is to have an apprentice, if you have an apprentice program, or the Tech reach the four to six neighbors that are not already your customers. I recommend you keep in mind what the great George Brazil once told me, “Don’t expect what you’re unwilling to inspect.” So, you must spot-check to verify compliance.
3. Public Relations and Media Relationsis setting up an ongoing campaign to reach out to the local media with good information that will interest their readership if they’re a newspaper, listeners if they’re a radio station and viewers if they’re a TV station. You want to establish yourself as their go-to person on the trades you do. Sending out press releases and pressing the flesh is the best way to let them know you’re out there as their expert. Not only can this be free exposure, it can be leveraged into third party endorsement of what makes you different from your many competitors in a way that money can’t buy.
4. Testimonial-based direct-mailpostcards is a great vehicle that allows you to do what I call “turn it on and turn it off”. It starts with a photo of a happy customer coupled with their full name and the town in which they live. Potential customers will see this as coming from a real person who they perceive is just like them.
When it’s laser-focused, the mailing goes out to a finely tuned mailing list based on where the customer who gave you the great testimonial lives. Good online databases like www.infousa.com or www.coleneighborhoods.com are two examples. There is some cost, but typically it’s not prohibitive.
For this campaign to be effective, these direct-mail pieces need to be assembled and ready to go when things will be slowing down. Waiting till there’s little or no work is too late to put together a campaign. Also, you’re wasting your money, in my opinion, if you don’t mail the piece out three times over a six-week period so there are enough touches to judge the effectiveness of the campaign.
Stay tuned to next month for Part 2!
Is a State of Chaos the State You Live In?...
Here’s what just one client from Canada had to say:
“What I see straight ahead thanks to Planning Power! is how to be more focused. I’m well on my way to creating systems and procedures through Operating Power! We’re becoming a company on the road to harmony. And that’s a road I’m truly looking forward to traveling on. It’s funny to say but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and yes…it’s not a freight train headed my way!
I had an epiphany the other day while working with Al. His coaching had finally started to sink in when I realized that I can’t expect my staff to do what I want them to do if I haven’t first made it clear to them what it is I want them to do. And the only right way to do that is through documented systems paired with ongoing training and good communications.
If you find yourself in a constant state of chaos, now is the time to contact Al to get your company headed in the direction you want it to go.”
High Point Plumbing & Heating
Cranbrook, British Columbia
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