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 SEO [aka Search Engine Optimization].
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.
Example would be 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.
Here are 7 ways I recommend these days to go about low cost or now cost marketing these days:
- 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].
- Cloverleafing is leaving door knob hangers in the nearby homes of the customer you have just provided service to. 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 hit the 4 to 6 neighbors that are not already your customers [make sure to check your database].
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.
- Public Relations and Media Relations is 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 3rd party endorsement of what makes you different from your many competitors in a way that money can’t buy.
- Laser-focused testimonial based direct-mail postcards is a great vehicle that allows you to do to 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 database like www.infousa.com or www.coleneighborhoods.com are two good 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 for Part 2!