why your business service should be using content marketing

Content Marketing: Why You Should’ve Started Yesterday

Creating a customer base is difficult. I get it. It can feel like a constant hustle to reach out to people, create ads, make phone calls, and convince people to use your service.

What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be like that?

One of the biggest mistakes that I see in the service industry is that too many companies aren’t taking advantage of content marketing. In short, content marketing is creating and distributing content that is both relevant and valuable to your customers (for example, a video about how to fix a clogged sink).  Show them your best your best projects.  Show them behind the scenes of your company.  Trust me, people want to see.  I’ve built a multi-million dollar service business largely on content marketing, and one of oldest pieces is still bringing in sale after sale.  I continue to charge forward with more content!

As one of the few tools that brings customers to you, instead of the other way around, content marketing is one of the most effective (and cost-efficient) methods of marketing.

Here’s how to take advantage of it.

  • Start Now.  The best time to implement a content marketing strategy was five or ten years ago. The second best time? Now. While it can be frustrating to look at more established companies with mountains of content and visitors, that doesn’t help you or your company.Although it can seem overwhelming at first, the most important thing that you can do is to start creating content immediately. It doesn’t have to be perfect content. You can spend hours and hours editing a blog post or a video to make it perfect, but it’s better to simply get some content out there on the web — anything.The older your content gets, the stronger it becomes. Since Google ranks your content, in part, based on how old it is, you have to start getting something out to the world now. As I mentioned earlier, a blog post from 5 years ago still generates a tons of sales…. It gets over 200 visitors per day from organic Google searches, around 150 visitors from Facebook ads, and it is active part of other emails in our sales pipeline.  Personally though, every time I look at the page and read it, I cringe (see here).
  • Create a Strategy.  Just randomly posting content at odd intervals isn’t going to get your anywhere. Once you overcome the initial hump of just posting some content, you then need to think about your strategy is going to be.To create a content marketing strategy, think about the type of content you’re going to create. Is it going to be a blog? Will it be photo series of your projects? Will it be a YouTube channel?Once you’ve decided what kind of content you’re going to provide, think about how often you’re going to provide it. People like to know when to expect your content to be released, so consider choosing specific days and times for which you will release your new content.
  • Provide Value.  Your content is useless if it doesn’t provide value to your audience in some way.So, how do you provide value?Think for a minute about the types of questions that your customers are always asking you. Maybe you’re a mechanic, for example. If people are always asking you how to change their spark plugs, that’s a great place for your business to start. You could create a blog post about how to change spark plugs, or you could create a video that shows people how to change their spark plugs.

    There are all kinds of ways that you can go about finding questions to answer.

    You can go by what your customers are asking you in-person, you can look through comments that people are leaving on your website, you can search industry-related forums to see what people are asking, or any other way you can think of that helps to answer your customer’s questions.

  • Promote Your Material
    • What good is your content if nobody sees it?  The best way to get your content in front of people is to optimize it for the search engines. Your best visitors are the ones that find your content organically through a search engine. While it would be great to rank your content for some of the most common search terms, that just isn’t going to happen for most people. Focus on search terms that are a bit less common but that you can rank on the first page for.In addition to getting your website found organically, you should also be promoting your content through social media networks. Depending on what niche your business is in, you can use networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest to promote your material. Find out which networks your customers are using and post your material there.
    • Be Different.  Anyone can look up an article online and rewrite it. However, that won’t cut it most of the time. You have to be different than your competition.Instead of focusing on rewriting content, find out what your competitors aren’t doing. Maybe their articles are missing some key content. Maybe they just haven’t answered some of the questions that you’ve been hearing.Fill in those blanks. No matter what it is, find out how you can separate yourself from the competition.
    • Your Next Step.  If you haven’t already gotten started, get started now. Today. Write a blog post. Take some photos. Create a video. Sign up on social media.
    • Whatever your next step is, do it now.  I understand that creating content can feel like getting started on a walk at the bottom of a mountain, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Just like hiking up a mountain, focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t even look at the peak.

Before you know it, you’ll be standing on the top looking down at everyone else.

Aside note: While I do have a post about The Problems Of Content Marketing, I should clarify that the problems only exist once you reach a high level of success with content marketing and start generating interest from a huuuuge audience.  Something which many will fail to do.  At that point you’ll be making plenty of money, you’ll be out of the day to day operations, and should look to implement processes to handle the issues, and capitalize on your new audience (coming soon: a post on how to handle the problems that come with content marketing on a large scale).

How I Would Market A Gymnastics Studio With Facebook Advertising

I occasionally crawl the small business forums on Reddit, and offer my 2 cents. This time though I found the following post, with someone looking for help advertising a youth gymnastics studio (or gym).

I suggested Facebook ads, but ultimately they seemed a little lost — Facebook ad can be righteously confusing. Now I don’t know much about gymnastics business, but I do know a good bit about Facebook ads, and reaching a lucrative audience. I’m also working on doing an online course on Facebook advertising that will put my actionable knowledge and a plan in place for anyone who wishes to learn. So I think I’ll outline what I’d do if I owner a gymnastics studio and needed to market on Facebook.

First… The geo targeting. Set the audience to a local base. No one wants to go out of their way to take the kids to gymnastics. A few might, but the vast majority just want to travel a few miles. I’d set a radius really close by.

 

Set Up the Basic Audience

There’s 2 ways I’d go with this.

 

First of, families with children. No surprise, you can’t get people without children to bring the kids in. You can even market based on the age range the kids are in.

Next, possibly income. Obviously you need to market to those that can afford your services. It’s an economic reality. You could do select income ranges or exclude income range. Facebook’s data on income isn’t the most precise, so you may want to try net worth, or home value to identify the appropriate demographic.

A Word About Your Advertisements

With an audience in line, next up is the ads. Here’s the catch, you don’t want to use ads that look like ‘ads’. Nobody, particularly on Facebook, like ads. You’ll need to be more subtle and provide them with something this demographic will be interested in. What I suggest doing is writing a couple articles that would engage parent. Good informative articles that are detail rich. Something like:

‘How Gymnastics Will Help Long Term Motor Skill Development’
— all parents want their kids to be successful long term and you need to appeal to that.

‘How Youth Gymnastics Will Help Little Jimmy Get That Football Scholarship’ — maybe run this one only to men.

‘How Weekly Gymnastics Lessons Helped Jane’s Daughter Do Better In School’

Then post them on your website; your company blog (your website does breathe right?). Now you’re going to want to create ads for ‘link clicks’ so people see these headlines, and click through to your website to read the article.

For images, use actual images from your gymnastics studio. Images that look real. Just like something someone one of your friends would share and role through your news feed. No need for professional photography.

Notice there is nothing about selling here. No buy now. No special offer. Just get your audience to engage and absorb your brand. They will have read your articles — which means you’re the authority, not your competitor. They will have read your articles — which means you’re the authority, not your competitor. If they’re interested in putting the kids in gymnastics, who are they calling? If your article (the ad) was good they’ll share it. And that is where Facebook ads compound like the time value of money.

More Advanced Facebook Advertising Ideas For The Gymnastics Studio

  • Re-target

    Use the Facebook pixel, to retarget customers who read your articles. They already showed interest, so stay in their face. At this point, since they are no longer ‘cold’ to your brand, you could try some more direct ads, but just having them see your ads again is highly valuable.

  • Reach Your Past Customers

    Take a list of phone numbers and email addresses from customers who recently stopped attending, upload it in the ‘audiences’ section of facebook and run the same ads to them as well. Maybe they’ll come back. Or use a promotion for past customers. Promotions and direct ads can work, but you only want to use them on warm audiences (people familiar with your brand already).

  • Try A Look A Like Audience

    Using your past customers list, Facebook will let you create an audience that matches the most similar 1% of the population. In other words, the ones that look like your current customers.

Hope that helps the random person that posted on Reddit. If you have success or failure let me know. .

Content Marketing Why and How To Get Started

Content Marketing: Why & How To Get Started

If you have ever searched for something online and saw a bunch of web pages come up, you are seeing the process of content marketing in action.  Content marketing involves creating material, (blogs, videos, social media posts and emails) in order to attract your audience’s attention. If you haven’t started with your content marketing strategy just yet, then you are late to the game. Bear with me, not all hope is lost!

Here are Some of the Many Benefits of Content Marketing:

  • It can help increase your traffic and brand visibility
  • It can help you create relationships with your prospects
  • It will allow you to build trust with your clients and prospects
  • It will help you to be seen as a credible expert in your industry

If that doesn’t convince you, maybe these stats will.

  • “53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.” (HubSpot, 2017) (Source)
  • “Content marketing has become an almost universal tactic, with almost 90% of companies using it in 2016, and even more utilizing it in 2017” (Source).

One of the best things about content marketing is that once you put it out into the internet world, it will continue to work for you over and over again. You see, once you put an article online, it will stay there forever and the older it is, the better chance it will have at staying ranked. If your content is made up of great quality, then the results will be even better. Getting your content shared, commented on or liked will also help to push visitors and traffic to your website.

Personally content marketing has been the single most effective generator of growth for my contracting company in South Florida. It answers customers questions (before they ask), and establishes us as the resource.  It takes a cold prospect and warms them up before they even pick up the phone to call us.

 


Inbound Marketing

Gone are the days where we need to go door to door to pass out flyers. The new marketing trend is called inbound marketing. This means that people will come to you instead of you going to them. By having great content circulated the web online, you will be able to see this passive marketing strategy in action.

Where Do You Begin with Content Marketing?

It might seem overwhelming at first to not know what to talk about or where to start when it comes to coming up with a content marketing strategy but let me make it easy for you.

I’ve been putting out content  since 2012 when I started my company and it definitely helped me grow into a multi figure business. Since it builds upon itself, there’s no better time to start then… well 5-10 years ago! The 2nd best time to start  is right now. It’s time to get things off the ground and rolling.

A lot of business owners get stuck on not putting any content out there because they don’t have any ‘good ideas’ or they are worried that their content might suck. These thoughts will leave you with not putting any content out there ever… and you can’t afford to miss out on all the great benefits that content marketing can bring to your business.

One of my best pieces which continues to bring in new leads and lead them to closure is the blog post ‘4 Types Of Screen Every  Homeowner Should Know About [And What To Avoid].  It’s a post a wrote up on the fly, and quite frankly I cringe every time I look at it, but it works.

You don’t need to be overwhelmed by how to start. You need to just start getting content out there and you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are Some Simple Blog Post, Article and Video Topics to Start With

If you run a service business you might be sick of the same questions that your prospects ask you day in and day out. You can actually use these questions as ideas for content topics. Answer these common client questions by turning each question into a 500 word blog post answer or a 2 minute video.

I’m sure you can think of at least 5 questions that you get on a day to day basis. Once you have all these answers written up on your websites blog, or in  video format, you will be able to save some precious time by answering your client questions as well as point them to your video or website blog for even further information.

The best content is the content that circulates and gets syndicated and shared. If your clients like what they see, chances are, they will share the post with others and your website may be in front of new prospects at the click of a button.

A simple FAQ page on your site can do wonders. Don’t forget about the call to action at the end of your blog posts. (Give them something they want, like a discount, promotional offer or invite them to subscribe to your blog for more info)

Your assignment this week is to take notes of the common questions your clients ask you, and simply write down the answers. Take your notes and add them to your website. Share these links through your social media outlets, your email campaigns and maybe add them to a few article sites.

If you break content marketing down, you’ll see that it doesn’t always require some big elaborate strategy. It starts with one question and one answer at a time. You’ll get the hang of it.

Keep in mind, I’m not telling you to just tell your clients to get their answers online, you’re still going to have to be personal in your answers, and keep a friendly conversation going.

But by having them head over to your website or videos for more information, you are also making your clients aware of your other services. These clients will be educated consumers and will trust you and your business more. They will be more satisfied with their experiences if you can provide them with the information they are looking for.

Rules for Content Creation:

  • Keep it factual and set a clear line of expertise.
  • Be personal and friendly. Write or speak in a tone that seems like you’re right beside them (kind of like I’m doing here with this post).
  • Point to other similar links on your site.
  • Share your content wherever you can.
  • Add images to your content (preferable from your own photo reel).
  • Be consistent and relevant.

It’s surprising how very few contractors are actually doing this. You may have already noticed but if you take a look at other service business owners, they may have only a few blog posts on their site. That’s a good start… but content marketing doesn’t end there. You need to be consistent with content marketing starting today. And keep building on it. Don’t stop – there’s always something you’re going to want to tell your customers. It’s pretty simple.

Quick Trick: Turning Paid Post Likes Into Page Fans For Free

If you’re running Facebook ads, you’ll certainly have folks who ‘like’ the post – assuming your posts are relevant and engaging.  While post likes are good, wouldn’t it be better if you could turn those people into an audience you can tap regularly?

You can, quite easily.  It’s a little feature often overlooked.  Unbeknown to many is that Facebook gives us the opportunity to simply invite those that have liked our posts, to like our page.  These are people that have already engaged with your content, and now you’ve got the chance to build a further connection with them.  Taking those post likes and turning them into page likes keeps your content in their news feed regularly.

Unfortunately, there is no automated way of doing it so you must click each manually, but its something that can be easily done in only a few minutes per week.

How Specializing Benefits Your Business and Your Customers

How Specializing Benefits Your Business & Your Customers

You see them everywhere.

The guys that ‘specialize’ in everything. They have advertisements for a wide range of services such as kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels, new carpet, drywall, windows & doors usually prefaced with the words “specializing in”.

The problem?

Their services are all mediocre, their bottom line is horrible, and they get little sleep. That’s because they aren’t actually specializing in anything; they’re generalists.

What I’ve found works best for our business is to specialize in one thing and do that one thing extremely well. For my company, it’s new screen enclosures.

However, it does more than just allow us to provide an excellent service. Specializing also enables us to market much more efficiently.

Let’s take a look at why you should be specializing.

You Need One Voice, One Message

When you’re running a marketing campaign, the last thing that you want to be doing is trying to market your company for a multitude of services service to everyone under the sun. It’s a headache. Keeping track of a multiple creatives, and tracing each inquiry they bring in down to a revenue dollar, so you can run a lean and optimal campaign is nearly impossible (for someone who doesn’t have all day to spend managing ads). On top of it all, rather than speaking to the customers interested in the services you really want to sell, you ultimately end up attracting projects that fall in a grey area between the lines.

Remember that old saying. A jack of all trades is a master of none?

Don’t let that be you.

Instead of trying to market every single service to every single person, you should be marketing your one service that you do really well. That way, people can get to know who your company is, what you provide, and you can begin to carve out a niche.

For example, my company once ran ads that advertised for ‘everything’ screen enclosure; new screen enclosures, painting screen enclosures, re-screening enclosures and hardware replacement but really what we wanted were the new enclosures. Guess what kinds of calls we got a lot of? “Can you fix my door?” “My screen enclosure leaks”. Rather than using creative space to advertise everything under the sun, I re-focused only on new screen enclosures and used the extra space to highlight our new enclosures and selling points. Although the results weren’t immediate, it ultimately led to more targeted customers, and less inquiries for services which we couldn’t do efficiently or provide value to the customer.

One Message Means Efficiency and Value

When you have just one message, it allows your team to become more efficient when it comes to your marketing campaigns.

Once you have a campaign that is successful, your team then knows exactly what tools they need to use and how to get your message out to the people.

When you’re on that level, everything that you do can be standardized, everyone knows what they’re doing, and your company wastes less time. Less time wasted usually means more productivity and more money for your business.

However, it also helps your customer. When you’ve streamlined the entire process, you can really focus on providing even more value to your customers than you were before. Again, more value to the customer means more business for you.

Your Sales Team Has More Success

Working in sales is tough and, at times, thankless. In my earlier example, the sales calls for the miscellaneous services, would fatigue my sales team. They had to spend time looking for solutions and dealing with inefficient operations. This would lead to lower morale and a not as positive customer experience.

Do your sales team a favor, and set them up for success.

When a company tries to sell every service known to man, your sales team then has to provide estimates on a bunch of random jobs with people who aren’t even that serious about working with your company.

If you specialize in one service? Your marketing team can become really damn good at estimating costs for that specific service.

Once you become known as a serious company, you start to get more and more serious buyers who now see you as an expert in your niche.

You Have Fewer Headaches and More Happier Customers

Happy customers are what it’s all about.

If you’re trying to provide too many services, you’re going to end up producing mediocre work. There’s no way you can be a specialist in everything. You don’t have all the right tools, you don’t know how to handle small problems when they arise because you haven’t done it (that particular scope of work) time and time again, and your standards of quality won’t be as high, particularly if you have employees doing the work. Can you really expect Joe who’s done three totally unique projects this week to have a high standard when he spends everyday frustrated and has no regular standard?

When you’re truly specializing and working in a niche, you won’t have many “unexpected’s”, and you when you do, you’ll have a systematic process in place for handling them quickly and efficiently.

The side-effect of mediocre work from too many unexpected’s and frustrated employees is two things.

The first is that you end up with unhappy customers who are complaining to you. That’s more stress and work for you.

The second is even more critical.

When you have unhappy customers, you get bad reviews. When you get bad reviews, people don’t want to work with your company.

One of the best marketing strategies that you can have is to have glowing reviews all over the internet, and the best way to get those good reviews is to specialize in one service that you do exceptionally well. This compounds as the reviews reflect your services performed, and those interested in your target service take notice.

You’ll Raise Your Bottom Line

The whole point of having a strong marketing message, and the entire point of running a business, is to make money.

If you’re moving from a more general business model to a specialized model, you might experience a small drop in sales at first since people don’t know to go to your company for that specific service yet.

However, word gets out over time.

Once you have a strong marketing campaign going for your service, have worked successfully with some clients, and have several reviews online, people will be coming to you instead of the other way around.

When this happens, you make more money.

But not only that.

If you’re an expert in one area and know exactly what you’re doing, you know what to tell your employees to do every single day. When a company is making money, and the employees see strong leadership, people want to stay and work hard for you.

Thus, you’ll spend less time hiring and training new workers.

Get Started Today

If you’re a company who tries to specialize in everything, today is the day that you need to start thinking about how you can change that.

Which one of your services are you best at? Once you’ve narrowed that down a little bit, start looking at the competition in your area. Try to specialize in something that has a bit less competition so you can pick up on that business.

Remember, a streamlined business is an efficient business. An efficient business is a profitable business. With a profitable business, you’re a happier owner.

Good luck, and feel free to drop any questions or stories in the comments section below!

Facebook’s Powerful Marketing Features For Home Service Businesses

Facebook is one of the most powerful marketing platforms in the world. One of the reasons why is that no other advertising platform enables users to target an audience specifically based on demographics, purchasing patterns, and certain behaviors.

Traditional advertising methods of the past such as billboards, community mailers, yellow pages, radio, and television never had the same capabilities. Using Facebook’s marketing features allows you to advertise with such precision that you can target an audience based on a time of day and location, making sure that your ads actually get noticed.

Mailing to people’s homes, for example; you’ll know that people are home owners but you aren’t sure if people read or even absorb what is sent to their homes. Facebook lets you obtain valuable insights from your ads so that you can customize your campaigns to get the kind of response that you want.

These are some of the powerful Facebook features that can work for home service providers and contractors:

  1. Local targeting

    Facebook let’s you market to people within a certain distance that you choose, for example; a 5-mile radius, based on a map, or even a zip code. If you want to target a certain part of town, or exclude areas you don’t want to advertise in (because it’s far, or a project isn’t relevant to the location), this is also possible with Facebook.

  2. Home value

    With Facebook advertising, you’re also able to target people based on how much their home is worth. You can target homes that are worth $2 million, as well as those that are between a $100,000 and $1 million range and whatever other ranges you choose. Facebook enables you to target individuals based on the value of one’s home, or status of home ownership. Using billboards won’t give you the same kind of capability, as you are not able to choose a home value range at all. With Facebook, you can eliminate an audience based on the fact that they don’t own a home and save your advertising dollars.

  3. Home type

    In my case, I work as an exterior contractor-providing patio and deck services, as well as screen enclosures to the Florida area. With our business, we want to target our advertising based on home types. Condominiums and townhouse owners don’t engage in exterior work since they have associations who generally manage that stuff. We want to target single-family homes as this is the audience that engages with our products and services the most. Depending on the kind of contractor that you are, you may or may not want to use this feature in the Facebook ad section. Example; if you’re an air conditioning contractor that is quick and efficient with smaller condo units, you can target condominium homes.

  4. Lookalike audiences

    With a lookalike audience, you can take your current list of customers, upload it into Facbeook, and let the algorithm work by identifying their unique demographic features and characteristics. You can then create a lookalike audience of other users who have the same demographics as your existing customers and target them.

  5. Market to existing customers & leads

    You may want to take a list of people who have purchased maintenance services or paid for small projects and target an advert directly to them. You can then upsell those clients with a Facebook ad. Since we replace screens, which is around $100 per service call, we re-market to these customers educating the life expectancy of screen mesh and the value of replacing all it once as opposed to paying higher rates time after time. To do this, you can export from a CRM and include emails and phone numbers, then upload it on Facebook as well.   This kind of marketing can work on any kind of contractor since it can lead to purchasing a maintenance contract or a larger service. If you are a handyman, those customers may eventually need full interior jobs, or work that’s worth more money.Facebook also enables you to remarket to existing leads who haven’t purchased anything yet.  We’ve been seeing a lot of success with this kind of advertising before, since it contributes to the decision making process of potential buyers.

  6. Demographics

    : Facebook lets you target a specific demographic with their adverts, such as those who are more likely to spend on home improvement services. Behavior identification targeting allows you to identify people based on recent purchasing habits. This is extremely valuable when it comes to getting the best ROI possible out of paid ads.

  7. Editing Possibilities

    If you send out a local community mailer, are you able to turn it off or edit it? No, you’re stuck with that $1200 half page ad you paid for. With Facebook, you are able to monitor your performance whenever you like. This allows you to stop the ads, edit your copy, change your images or split test an audience at the click of a button. If you see that your ad isn’t performing well after spending $100, you can stop it and test out something else. This is a huge lifesaver when it comes to saving money via advertising online.

In short, one of the reasons why Facebook marketing is an awesome advertising platform is that it let’s you advertise specifically based on demographics and buying patterns or behaviors. This isn’t something you can do with other platforms or even using billboards that are placed on the side of a road. All you can do with a radio ad is that you know what time it will air, but with Facebook’s advertising platform, it’s much more precise. You already know a lot of information about your target audience and you can use this information when advertising.

Top 6 Marketing Mistakes That Service Contractors Make

Regardless of whether you are involved in construction, landscaping, painting or any other industry, as a service contractor you are reliant on clients and new contracts to be successful. This is why marketing should play an important role in your business model because how else will new and prospective clients find you?
Marketing is your presentation to the world and often an online campaign is the first point of contact between you and a prospective client. So, while recommendations and word of mouth are always solid tactics, you can’t wait for them to come rolling in, especially when people are using a variety of different mediums (suggested reading: Why Nextdoor.com Should Be On Your Radar) to find their service contractors nowadays. How you present and market yourself is key and if you are struggling to find new clients, it could be because of one of these common marketing mistakes:

    1. Having A Website That Doesn’t Breathe

      I say your website NEEDS to breathe. Your website should be a top priority and those who don’t regularly update it with their services, prices or even portfolio and recommendations will turn away potential customers. A neglected website gives a bad impression and should be treated in the same way as a workspace. You wouldn’t have an untidy office to meet clients in would you? Instead make sure you pick a user-friendly and good looking theme, add some keywords and descriptions to make search engines find it easily as well as photos or proof of previous works. Remember to have a killer “contact me” page to make it easier for prospective clients to get in touch.

    2. Only Marketing In Peak Season

      It’s easy to market in peak season when cash flow is strong, and the results of your marketing efforts are highly visible. We’re all short sighted, so seeing the ads go up and then revenue come in makes are neurons fire fast. Not only ours, but our competitors who are also spending money on advertising.
      However, those that can be logical and contrarian can find huge opportunity marketing during the slower periods. While the effects don’t immediate dopamine like results, many customers are researching companies and planning their projects. This is a great time to be in front of them, particularly if you can make a great first impression with your website (link to website first impression piece). To top it all off, competition poole will be less, and likewise so will the cost of your advertising relative to.

    3. Forgetting Reviews And Recommendations

      Many service contractors don’t build reviews as they should and waste this potential to create client trust from the outset. There are online review programs that solicit and funnel reviews by email and text that you can utilise (coming soon: Best Review Building PlatForms) and always ensure that you ask previous clients to review your work as well.

      Send out a follow up email or package after you complete work so that you can not only get feedback for improvement but also a review that you can put on your website or marketing materials for the future. Recommendations can make a contractor feel safer to a prospective client, which is why they are an excellent addition to your marketing strategy, particularly if previous clients are willing to help.
      Prospective clients and customers will always opt for those who are recommended to them by friends and family over a random find which is why reviews and recommendations are important.

    4. Avoiding Analytics

      A gut instinct or basing decisions on emotions can only get you so far. While it may prompt you to enter certain sectors or be the inspiration behind campaigns, it is not going to help you know if it is succeeding or not. As I mention In my post on hammering down marketing costs, the #1 thing to do to stop wasting $$ on advertising is track conversions.

      Analytics can be confusing, particularly when you get started but using data and seeing exactly the impact that certain things have on your bottom line can help you make smart decisions, save money and gain clients overall. You can track your return on investment (ROI) as well as knowing what tactics are more likely to work in the future (and ones that you don’t have to waste your time on).

    5. Not Having A Target Audience

      When you market to everyone, you market to no one.
      A lack of understanding of your demographic can have you shooting in the dark with your marketing campaigns and just wasting money. There is no point marketing to customers that your services don’t suit, particularly if they are never going to be suitable because you need to target customers that not only want your services but are also likely to recommend you or create more leads and potential business in the future.
      Find your proper audience by looking at who the main bulk of your customers are, look at spending and lifestyle habits or perhaps they are only in a specific area that you cater to as well as why your services suit them. Analytics will be able to help you narrow this down, as well as your own records and then use this information to create a specified action plan to adapt to your marketing campaign.

    6. Not Specializing

      Specializing in everything, means specializing in nothing.. Trying to cover too many bases at once is a sure fire way to drain resources, kill efficiency, and leave customers unhappy. When you specialize in a particular service your marketing message is clear, which attracts your target customers. As the flywheel spins, those happy customers will compound and refer you on to even more prospects… and each one of those referrals is conveying the same message: “They did an awesome job on my __________. All do is _________, and they’re really damn good at it”.

      With the specific focus your sales team can hone their expertise in one particular area. Their conversations with customer will be filled with “I suggest this because….” And not “I’ve never heard of that, let me check on it….” The confidence will resonate and easily lead to more sales.

      Aside for the marketing there’s also a huge benefits to operational efficiency, and quality standards all of which leads to more value and a better experience for the customer. I elaborate much further in this post here.

Rectifying these mistakes is an excellent place to start and you should see an improvement in your marketing campaigns fairly quickly, particularly once you have decided on your services, demographic and market that you are going to target. Remember that marketing is all about specificity and tracking progress and that being a service contractor is a business, and every business needs marketing.

Website First Impressions And Your Home Service Business

Website First Impressions And Your Home Service Business

You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression, and with the way of the internet your website is often making the first impression while you’re working, or at least it should be.

And it is important that the first impression is a damn good one.  It doesn’t matter if your selling home services, auto repair services, or b2b printers.  Not only does it increase the chances of an inquiry and sale, but a study has found that a positive first impression leads to higher satisfaction.

Ever visited a poorly made website (aka a website that does not breathe) and immediately tried to find the back button? We all judge based on the usability and appearance of a website before we waste time reading anything else or making an inquiry and your clients are no different.   Even with my experience in marketing, I still gravitate towards doing business with companies that have a clean and breathing website (notice I didn’t say amazing or well designed website, more on that in a later post – leave a comment to remind me).  And to a degree it does reflect internal organization.  The way I see it, as a consumer, a business that has a professional website, has a bunch of reviews, and uses Adwords, generally has their shit together well enough to effectively handle my needs.

Within seconds of landing on a page we that first impression is made and a few key details are anchored in the prospect mind.  A negative impression will lead to clicks away and few inquiries while a positive impression leads to not only substantially more inquiries but also better targeted inquiries.

They will quickly form an opinion and if it is negative, they will click away and you will have lost a potential sale or long-term contract.

Upon first find a website most home service prospects usually determine:

Company Scale

First and foremost for home service businesses, customers will immediately determine if you’re a large organized operation, or on the other side of the spectrum, a small informal operation.

There’s a fine line you have to balance on that spectrum as well.  A website that is too nice or professional may intimidate potential clients, particularly if you are a tradesperson. This is because a large and impressive website may not be representative of your company scale and you could cause people to look elsewhere as they feel you are too big of a company for them, or charge too much.  At one point in 2016, I had ditched a totally pricey redesigned version of my company website because it looked too big, and the feedback was that many prospects thought we were a ‘big corporation’

You need to maintain the “family business” mentality and avoid something too corporate or impersonal. With trades in particular you will find that potential customers are looking for localized companies and their websites should reflect this rather than that of a multi-national corporation if that is not what you are.

Location

Are you making your location obviously? If you only cater to a small area, which is most home service businesses, then make this known to avoid disappointment. Also ensure that if you have several branches or different contact details according to customer location that these are highlighted as well. I find the best way of doing this is prominently displaying your local phone number with area code.

Brand

What does your website say about your brand? It is clean, professional and easy to use or is it a bit of a pain to handle? Your website represents you, so apply the same principles to your website as you do to your business. Also remember to use the same color palette, style and logos or graphics as well as this helps with brand recognition and keeps it consistent across the board, making your website an extension of the real world.  A clean and organized website will convey a clean and organize operation, whether true or not.

Feedback Conscious

If you’re comparing two business websites, one that displays customer reviews, and one that does not, which one lets prospects know that the business cares about their customers and wants more happy customers?

Obviously the website that displays the reviews.

Showing customer feedback, and showing that you care about it subconsciously lets prospects know that you’re customer oriented and in it for the long haul.

Services

Are you making your services clear? Does your website easily highlight the services that you provide as well as what you don’t provide? Being unclear about your services can waste visitors and client’s time and could also be misleading which could cause legal liability issues further down the line. Ensure you have clear guidelines about what you offer as well as what is included in any packages, particularly if your website allows customers to buy directly to avoid confusion and disappointment.

Common Website Mistakes

  1. Confusing Navigation – A common mistake for businesses when choosing website designs is that they forget that users won’t inherently know how to use it. YOU know how to use it because you either put everything where it is or someone has explained it to you but you need to remember that users aren’t mind readers. Make navigation easy to use and obvious so that clients and users can get to where they want.
  2. Too Focused on Images – You can create a beautiful website with stunning graphics, colours and design but if it doesn’t have the content that the user needs, it’s effectively useless. Make sure you have all of your services, up to date pricing and the information you want to convey before you package it nicely so that you know it won’t be forgotten.
  3. No Contact Page – Someone has landed on your page, found what they wanted and now they want to hire you, but how do they contact you? Make the “contact me” page obvious from the homepage (it will also be picked up better by search engines this way) and this will allow you to convert website traffic to leads more easily.
  4. Too “Busy” – When someone lands on your page, you want them to look at a variety of things but trying to draw their attention in too many places can be confusing and make them click off. Keep it easy and simple and focus on the one or two elements of your website that are most important.
  5. Ad Heavy – Ads and advertising space can be an excellent revenue stream from your website that you should look at utilizing but ensure that you aren’t putting on so many ads that it affect usability and experience because this can be a big turn off for many.
  6. FAQ – Your website is bound to provoke questions so always aim to have a frequently asked questions page where you can highlight other areas of your website as well as respond to natural questions that customers will want answered before they contact you.

As a representation of you and your brand, your website is important and has to give the right impression. You will also need to bear in mind that those who are looking to pay premium prices will gravitate towards a professional, clean website that makes it seem worth it, particularly when no tangible products are available as they are buying your service and your website reflects the service that they are purchasing. Remember to make your website easy to use, presentable and on message so that you can effectively reach your demographic and rank higher in search results which also gives a better impression to users who are looking for you.

Hammering Down Your Marketing Costs For Better ROI

Where To Start: Hammering Down Your Marketing Costs For A Better ROI

One thing that really shocks me is how many contractors and home service businesses just waste money on advertising.  I’ll see people running those DexKnows websites in AdWords all the time – multiple ones for the same company. It’s like the DexKnows sales people sold the same company the exact same marketing package and they all high five and leave these website owners in the dust.

The same goes with Yellow Page ads. In the Fort Myers area, a yellow page ad is running upwards of $5000 year, (on the low side) and that was a few years ago when I heard that number. There are still all kinds of contractors and service providers running ads in there and quite frankly I think the yellow book is outdated and a horribly ineffective way of advertising.

How about road side billboard ads?  Those cost at least $1,000 per month for decent placement, but let me ask you this, of the dozens of billboards you drive by daily, how many do you recall?  How many have you called?  For me, it’s a recall of 1, and a call of 0.  The one I recall is an ‘upside-down billboard’ which I’ve talked about before (link to post about Best Home Services).

I once ran across a poster size ad one side of a tri-sided directory display AD in the mall (an ad on the back of the mall map).  The ad, complete with a stock photo of a plumber and fake smile was accompanied with a company name and number that I recognized.  I shot the owner a text and asked him how much he spends on it, and he said “$750 per month”.  I followed up with asking about how many customers it gets… he said “a few people a month mention it.

Do these business owner have any clue just how much money they are wasting on marketing?

Now I should clarify, that I don’t mean to say these types of marketing don’t work – they can, but I find I often wonder how much many home service companies spend on marketing.  Darren Slaughter, a construction industry marketing consultant suggests a marketing budget of 15%.  Louis Bruno, of Bruno Air says that most sub 10m companies spend 8-10% on marketing and should dilute it as they grow.  Jay Young of North West Professional Services says his firm spends 2.5% on advertising.  Clearly there is no ‘magic’ target number, yet many business owners look to this number to judge their marketing efforts.

To really get an accurate handle things marketing expenditure needs to be viewed in terms of ROI.  Only then can you data drive decisions.

Are You Wasting Your Money on Ads?

Getting a better ROI for every marketing dollar spent should be a priority for any business.   Many of the marketing services and platforms out there though bring a negative return and most proprietors have no clue.  They see their billboard on the side of the road on their drive home everyday, and they hear their phone ring and believe their must be correlation… that usually isn’t the case.

If you want to be one of these contractors wasting your marketing dollars away and you want to start lowering your marketing costs, here’s where to begin:

  1. You Need to Track Conversions

    If you’re going hammer down your marketing costs, you really need to know what marketing sources are leading to a lead and then a sale. So many business owners are just out there, running ads and paying loads of money for them. If they “feel like it”, they will keep pumping money into more ads without even knowing if they are efficient.

    I know an interior remodeler in Port Charlotte Florida that has 3 large billboards that cost $1500 a month and he won’t stop advertising that way even when he doesn’t know how many phone calls or leads he’s getting from them.  He simply ‘feels’ like they work.

    To quantify and justify your marketing dollars, you have to be tracking conversions! You can set up CallRail or a similar program that tracks your phone calls, and tracks how these customers are finding your business or what marketing source they’re using to find you and contact you. With a program like CallRail (which i personally use) you can assign a specific phone number to each ad. So to track your billboard ads, you can just put a unique tracking phone # on the each ad and then each month you could see how many people are calling your business from them.  You can even record the calls and track first time callers to the company, and from that information, you can get a ROI and see if it’s worth the $1200-$1500 per month that you’re spending on these billboards. That’s a lot of money to have no quantification  to know if it’s even bringing in any traffic.

  2. Track Website Conversions

    You also need to track your conversions that come through your website’s contact form.  It’s not difficult to set up conversion tracking. Once you have conversion tracking set up, you can see which pages people landed on or what content is leading to the conversions. You can learn which paid traffic avenue is leading, ie – bing ppc google ppc,  display ads, fb ads..etc.. and how well they lead back to phone calls. A lot of people run facebook ads, but don’t have a way to track them. They just throw money into ads and see what happens but never really know if it’s working. This is a complete waste of money.

    Once you get conversion tracking on your website and through your phone calls, you can see exactly how many phone calls and leads you got from those Facebook ads or any other marketing source and decide if you want to go through with putting more money into this campaign, or look for a way to lower costs with it.

  3. Cut The High Cost marketing  Methods

    Once you have a conversion tracking system in place, the nail has been set, and the hammer is ready to be swung.  At this point you’ll have actionable data into your cost per lead, your cost per customer, and the revenue generated from each lead source.  From here you’ll be able to see which marketing methods bring you the best ROI!  Slowly cut out the worst performing marketing methods.  Do note I said slowly.  Never chop your marketing budge significantly in one shot. Theoretically it is practical, but in the business world, its better to make small steps.

    As in the case of the interior remodeler I mentioned earlier, a $3 tracking number from Call Rail, for each Billboard, might reveal that the billboards have an extremely poor ROI and save $54,000 per year.

  4. Get Into the Driver’s Seat of Your Website

    You need to have a website that breathes, you need to have a website that’s consistently updated and you need to control it (or a key person on your team needs to control it). They need to be able to login, update things, post regular blog updates, and things like that. You need to make sure your website actually has a growing presence and it can keep growing with your business and always be dynamically changing to your businesses needs and to your target audience.

  5. You Have to Create Content

    Creating content and getting it out there on the web will allow your organic marketing campaign to keep growing, it’s like a firewheel effect. You work on one piece of content and you build on it and build on it and before you know it, you have all of this great content out there and it keeps leading people back to you. Not only that but it puts you ahead of your competition and two years down the road when competitors choose to do content marketing, they now have to catch up to you and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

    The older your content gets, the more traffic and targeted customers it can reach, and the more it will bring back traffic and leads to your business.  Beyond the time spent on creation, this advertising is free.

    My best posts are from 2012 – 2014 and even before that, when I first started this contracting company. I don’t even think that my posts are that good but they’re on the web and that’s what matters. They are not something I would write now, but it’s great content to someone else that doesn’t know much about our services. The point is, it is good to have something out there, compared to having nothing.

    We’ve got one blog post called, “4 types of screen every homeowner needs to know about and what to avoid”, and this is full of the basic information we relay to customers day in and day out and we put it into a blog post. It’s been out for 5 years and people still read it. It still gets the most traffic; about  200 visitors organically each day and  another 100 will come to it just by navigating through our website, on top of that, we’re still pumping facebook ads traffic to it. It’s the most popular page of our website by far, all from just one blog post. How many sales has this one blog post lead to? Probably well into 7 figures, most of our customers read that blog first, then contact us for more information.

    Creating content and getting it out there is cheap, it’s easy to do, and when you just start out, you might be thinking that no one is reading your content but you have to consistently do it day after day, week after week and you will get there. You will get the results you’re looking for from it and the best part is, it’s going to be cheaper than any other way of marketing. It probably only took me an hour to write that article. And 5 years later, it’s still bringing in tens of thousands of dollars every month. How can you beat that for ROI?  No print ad, radio, billboard or TV ad is going to do that.

    Another thing to realize about paying for ads is that as soon as you stop paying for those ads, they don’t perform anymore. When it comes to content that’s out there, it will stay there forever without any other payment required to keep it running.

  6. Start Experimenting & Consistently Improving

    With the value of each marketing dollar being tracked, start experimenting with your marketing and campaigns.  Make small changes and try campaigns or tweaks outside of the box.  Set a budget to cap your spending and see what happens.  Change up the design, or the verbiage, or even the billboard location.  You’ll probably be amazed at the differences that slight changes can make.

    Bottom line: if you really want to get serious about lowering marketing costs, which I think everyone should:

    • Start Tracking All Conversions From Lead Source To Sale
    • Cut the ineffective marketing methods
    • get in the driver’s seat of your website, stay in control of it
    • create good content, put it out there,
    • Experiment and improve.
How Adwords Can Get You A better ROI

Yellow Pages Has Died. Here’s How Adwords Can Get You A better ROI

Yellow pages, yellow book classified ads, I can’t believe they are still around. I haven’t used one in at least a decade, nor do I know anyone who has and whenever I see them, I feel bad for all the trees that have been wasted. When I get them, they just end up in the recycle bin, and I think I’m not alone in this.

Even our clients, 80% of whom are over 65 years old in Southwest Florida, they all have tablets, iPhones, and computers; and they all use them. News Flash: The Yellow Pages are dead.

I can’t remember seeing or hearing about any of my clients bust out a yellow book, yet the solicitors still come to my office, and I respectfully decline their offer to advertise in the big yellow book. I see that other home contractors, plumbers, roofers, service providers and contractors still buy placements and they spend (for a full page to be in the yellow pages), around $10,000 in my area, it’s ridiculous!

The New Yellow Pages is Google AdWords

The new yellow pages are Google AdWords: you’re much better off throwing $10,000 into AdWords. When you want to find a service provider you pick up the phone, Google it, and call whoever is at the top listing. With AdWords you can target specific locations, such as demographics and most importantly you target these ads by keywords.

You can choose the keywords based on what your customers are searching for online. You can even exclude certain keywords (like the DIY niche) and this way you can eliminate people that are looking for DIY information online. I do that with my campaigns.

Exclude Negative Keywords

If someone is looking for DIY screen enclosures, I exclude those keywords so my ad will not pop up when they perform this search. A DIY client is clearly not looking to have to pay for a service as they want instructions on how to do the project themselves. I’ll also exclude the key terms “how to”. These keyword targeting choices let me be in front of people who are searching for my services, and no one else.

Pay Per Click Basis

AdWords campaigns also allow you to pay on a cost-per-click basis, which are relevant clicks, taking me one step further. I also do call tracking and conversion tracking, which every contractor should be doing. You can set up Google AdWords to bid on a per conversion basis so you’re only paying when someone becomes a lead, aside from anyone who just clicks. The Google algorithm will do its magic and show your ad to people who are likely to convert.

By paying per click, you’re not paying for extra waste on a print ad. You’re paying for people who are actually interested in your products and services and want to learn more about your business.

AdWords Campaigns Are Flexible

There is also the ability to turn your ad campaigns on, off or even pause them. If you are busy with lots of projects, you can click on the pause button and not pay for more ads then you need to do while you are busy with your current clientele and workload.

You may agree with this; the biggest constraint in business growth is finding, hiring, and training people not only to sell but to do the work. There are times when I’m busy and most of all, focus needs to be on handling existing service quality and providing value.

With Google AdWords, we can choose what time of day to run the ads. We’ve found that our ads lead to much better conversions from 8am to 5pm, when we are in the office and answering phone calls. After these hours, you still get clicks but not a lot of leads. We run campaigns during business hours Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, it’s turned off, and Sundays we leave it on since clients don’t expect contractors to be open or for many people to call in, but they fill out contact forms. Being able to choose the time of day, target keywords and the flexibility of turning off and pausing campaigns are things that you can’t do with yellow pages.

Where is Your Target Market?

If you are actively doing content marketing, is your target market really still in the yellow pages? A lot of our customers, even the older demographic, are online using tablets and smart phones. The customers that are still looking in the yellow pages probably aren’t the most tech savvy or able to see value in the content you provide. As a progressive home improvement company, and we do all of our estimates online. Our business model uses electronic contracts, and we leverage our online content to build sales. We like customers to see our information online, browse our reviews and email or call based off of this information. Because of these reasons, the Yellow Pages, erm user is generally not a good fit for us, and likely not for you either if you are reading my blog and following my processes.

If you’re still advertising in the yellow pages, it’s time to switch to a much better and more active place for people that are searching for your business.