Hey everyone, I'm a new home performance company owner. (Originally a general contractor who is expanding with a new company)
My company is ready to be presented to potential customers but I am at a loss as to what avenue to use for my marketing campaign. I have a few ideas but I just can't seem to decide.....
I'm already taking advantage of Facebook without spending money. I have done a bit of guerrilla marketing by going to my local book store and placing my business card in relevant books....
Has anyone had success contacting the local newspapers and getting an article written about your new company?
How about giving some free/discounted services to certain people in your community? (radio hosts? prominent members of the community?)
I appreciate any discussion gentlemen.
Direct mail doesn't do very much, in my opinion, unless you have awesome coupons! Honestly, online advertising is the way to go. Google Adwords is great. Video ads are even better! I am currently managing a video campaign through Adwords and it's out-performing the text ads. By a lot! Consider having a couple 30-second spot ads made and start an Adwords video campaign. (As a side note, don't be fooled by these third party companies that will call you wanting to manage your Adwords for you. They are expensive and these companies are a dime a dozen. Most don't know what they're doing. Google will actually assign a rep to you, for FREE! This rep will call you and help you manage your Adwords account, optimize your keywords and ads and much more. And again, it's FREE! I'll take a Google Adwords employee any day over a third party company.)
Print ads aren't bad either. Again, include a coupon or advertise some sort of sale or special. Radio and TV ads are pointless as most people don't listen to regular radio anymore, and most people don't watch TV commercials. Regular TV viewership is lower as well, and will continue to lower since things like Apple TV and Google TV are becoming more and more popular.
Do NOT do door to door! No one likes that! A billboard might work. I have no experience in that arena though and don't know the stats on billboard ads. I know I never look at them...I'm driving! I don't have time to read a number and put it into my phone while driving (plus it's not safe).
Here is what I would do, in order of importance:
1. Good, useful website (Includes all info a potential customer needs)
2. Google Adwords - Text ads
3. Google Adwords - Video campaign
4. Print ads (magazine, newspaper) with coupon or other offer
5. Facebook ad - Low budget until you see how it performs. Include a coupon or offer with it (You'd be surprised how well most Facebook ads perform if you do it right!)
Thanks for the reply Kim!
I've checked out your profile and it appears you work for the company that supplies the Minneapolis blower doors? Is the marketing experience you are coming off of for that company or for a company similar to mine? I can see how one type of marketing may work for a company like yours but might not be as effective for others.
It's based off my experience here, at The Energy Conservatory (yes, we make the Minneapolis Blower Door) but it's also based from my past experience. I've been working in marketing for over 10 years, before that I was a journalist. I've worked in several different industries, however never for a company like yours. I have, however, worked for companies that provide and sell services, so similar in that fashion.
My response is broad, based on the temperature of the overall marketing world and how to reach people. I was at an American Marketing Association conference earlier this year and a few of the sessions were about marketing, where to advertise, how to advertise, how to reach your demographic and the future of marketing. This wasn't industry specific, there were people there from all sorts of industries. The message I got from each session was the same. Online marketing trumps print marketing any day, in any industry. Video marketing and ads are the direction marketing and advertising are going. Online ads generally outperform print ads.
A few years ago I tried my hand at advertising sales. I worked for a direct-mail magazine where companies would advertise and put coupons. It was similar to Val-Pak (if you've heard of that). It worked well for some companies, but not all. A lot of it has to do with your ad design and copy, and of course your coupon/offer. Unfortunately direct-mail falls into the "junk mail" category, so getting people to even open it is a challenge. Direct-mail isn't all bad though, and it can work. As long as you do it right. Design a good ad with hard-hitting copy and an awesome coupon or offer and you should see some results.
I still stand by my first message though. Online, online, online! Have a Facebook page for your company. If your company doesn't have a Facebook page, it doesn't exist. (Honestly, I'm not joking. That's how many people view it. They will look for you on Facebook. If you're not there it's a red flag to many people.) Google Adwords do work. Video campaigns via Google Adwords are awesome! If you're going to go with print ads I'd suggest publications homeowners read (not necessarily direct-mail) and try that route first.
My statement about radio and TV ads is based on industry trends. TV and radio haven't been great for years. Each year it only gets worse and less and less people are watching regular TV and listening to regular radio. Why do that when things like Pandora, Google TV and satellite radio exist? If you think it might work you can certainly try it, just don't invest too much upfront. Actually, no matter what you try, don't invest too much in the beginning. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Create a budget and divide it amongst three or four routes and see where you get your best RIO. Definitely try some online ads though when you start. Maybe try a few different mediums so you can compare directly. (Keep in mind that print ads, TV ads and radio ads are hard to "track" and "measure" unless there's an offer or something similar exclusive to that ad.)
Whatever you do, invest a decent amount into a GOOD website! That is VERY important! If nothing else, do that.
Let me know if you have any more questions. I'm more than happy to share my knowledge and experience =)
Add some SEO to that recipe (and read as much as you can about it) and it's a great start. Moz has a good introductory guide to SEO. Organic (non-paid-for) visitors are always the best, but the SEO jungle is hard to traverse. There are many lofty promises and questionable strategies, but you can also find amazing, high-quality stuff and experts out there.
Trip, as someone who works to bring others into the home performance fold, I'm encouraged to see GCs independently arriving at the conclusion that shifting towards HP makes business sense. Best of luck to you in your new endeavor!
Most important is an easy-to-use website. It doesn't have to be big or pretty, but it should be clear who you are, what you offer, how to contact you, and that you know what you're talking about. Too many sites out there make the customer dig through a poorly laid out labyrinth of links, jargon, "green" cliches and buzz words.
Do you have a Google+ page? Another no-cost option that covers a slice of territory beyond Facebook. (I have a cadre of friends on there who staunchly avoid or have fallen off the latter.)
Have you let any of your former customers know about your new services? What size and type of projects did you do for them? Generally, the bigger they were, the more likely they are to care enough to produce referrals.
I agree with Kim insofar as people resent indiscriminate door-to-door campaigning, but if you're doing work in an area already, why not knock on other doors around the cul-de-sac to let them know what your company is doing there? Avoid the hardball sales pitch; be professional, concise, and courteous. Be prepared with an informative handout you can leave them (or door hanger if they're not home). Your vehicle parked outside their neighbor's is a billboard impression, and people are curious; why not reinforce that while you're there?
Figure out who else in your local ecosystem benefits from your success and talk to them. Here, the utility program offers co-op marketing funds. You might not be that lucky, but it wouldn't hurt to get to know people at your local utility, product distributors, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood associations, etc.
On a separate note, please help us expand others' concept of this promising industry beyond "gentlemen". I know you meant no harm, but I've seen (and continue to see) too many qualified, capable women short-changed by the old boys' club mentality. The current stereotype of the residential contractor has to die before efforts to scale this industry will succeed.
Check out our sister company Contractor Nation: https://www.contractornation.com/
NO risk involved
We are a manufacturer (Indowwindows.com) , but as a product line that is sold through many HP contractors to the consumer we do a tremendous amount of marketing to the consumer, both on our own and in partnership with our dealers.
As far as platforms, we do focus heavily on digital marketing as we can track the results. I would encourage you to not only look at initial traffic generation but also remarketing platforms for continued engagement. We also spend quiet a bit of time on SEO and have seen steady increases in that traffic in the triple digits. I would be happy to chat with you offline if you are interested in learning more about what we bring to the table in terms of lead generation as you may find that our product line fits in well with what you are looking to do.
Tactics aside for a moment, I would highly encourage you to make sure that you understand who you are trying to reach. Have you done a demographic analysis of your target customer? Do you know their Income level? and exactly where they live? Maybe their age? or other pertinent info?
Remember that with a billboard you are hitting renters, high and low income earners, kids and more, it is a real shotgun approach. With Adwords and other tactics, even doorknob hangers (we love these and yardsigns) you can get to the zipcode level which can provide a great target. We use what we refer to as a density figure to target our marketing. We have done a demographic survey of the entire US and then target our marketing where the percentage of home that fit our target is high which drives great lead conversion rates and costs. If you don't know exactly who you are targeting then you can't build that map.
When I give presentations on this topic one of the things that I suggest to business owners is to use Zillow to start looking at age of home, as well as value, and zip code of your past customers to get a sense of your target. You can also use it to asses prospects that did not close to evaluate the credibility of your assumptions and the effectiveness of your sales processes. Lastly, it can be used when a new inquiry comes in to very quickly qualify the customer and help drive that conversation.
Good Luck! And remember it is about constant learning, refinement and growth. Marketing success is generally not instant.
Director of Sales
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Before you spend much of anything, you need to define 3 types of customers. What is your 'Bread and Butter' customer? What is your 'Creame' customer? What is your 'Dream' customer?
Starting out, you have to work on your bread and butter. Keep in mind you cream and work toward that.
Where will you find your B&B customers? Will they see the ads you place? Will they respond to them? Your message is more important then where you place your marketing dollars. If you message doesn't show potential customers what you do, and then move them to call, then it is the wrong message. If you have one message here and another there, because multiple others are helping, it will not help.
As a GC what are you doing? Are you using subs with some done in house? How are you working with your subs?
Are you doing it all in house? Insulation, Air Sealing and HVAC?
Where do your customers live? Work? When you have the message, then you can begin to work on where you market to reach your potential customers?
Who is competing for the same jobs? What is their message and where to they spend their advertising bucks?
How to start? Put together your own website. Someone else may actually do it for you? You may have the computer skills. WordPress and others are easy, if you feel at home with the computer.
Start with a blank page. Put a box labeled Home Page. Then put a box for each of the major types of work you do. Use lots of images, and white space. You need text but not too much. Tell your story.
Include your contact info, in lots of places, not just a contact page. Phone, Fax, email. Do you text, then include that also. I have customers that are best contacted on Twitter, others on Facebook, others by text, some by email, some (not many) by phone. You have to meet their needs, not have them conform to you.