HVAC Residential Market / Business Services

Marketing Magic: Exposing Modern Marketing Myths

October 17, 2011
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Do you want to know which marketing techniques are working to generate leads now? You might be surprised to find out that the Internet has not taken over the world, yet. Thankfully, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is not our sole model of social behavior. (Does anyone else find it odd that 60 percent of his programmers are clinically antisocial?)

There are still ways for contractors 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 myths and get some leads.

Newspaper Advertising

Newspapers — do you remember these? The modern world makes you think these are only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire. Fortunately, there are still literate and affluent people who value them and are less than 112 years old. In fact, print ads still top digital ads.

According to News & Tech, print production ad revenues (based on renewed ads due to value/leads generated) still dominate online with 85 percent of the $5.5 billion in ad sales in the first quarter of 2011.

Plus, affluent customers prefer print. According to an article published in August by Ad Age, affluent customers (those earning over $155,000) significantly prefer print to online media. Using data from a survey of affluent people, they found that 86 percent of affluent American consumers read printed newspapers, while 39 percent read print and online, and 14 percent use online and smartphones. So rich people don’t mind inky fingers.

My takeaway point is to 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 percent who prefer printed magazines over their digital counterparts) it’s far wiser to strategize. Consider these two options: neighborhood/zone options in newspaper advertising (including community newspapers), and targeted direct mail offers for chosen zip codes. In both of these categories, prices are down, competitors have pulled out due to the myth, and this should drive your response rate up by default.

Yellow Page Advertising

Sorry if you haven’t heard yet, but Yellow Page books are actually only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire, with their pages being gingerly turned by various 112-year-olds, all of whom appear to be bargain shoppers. This myth is true, and if you’re investing more than 19 percent of your total marketing budget in YP in any format other than direct response, you should be yelled at and made to feel irrelevant.

Truthfully, YP works with the 55-plus age group, who are slightly more educated (which has an income bias). It’s a good group, but this audience has declined steadily since 2007, which I hear was a few years ago.

Email Marketing

For all of email’s benefits — two being that it’s fast and free — it’s not without some very big challenges. A 2011 Marketing Sherpa report 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.

We’ve advised clients since 2000 (just after the Neolithic Period) to gather email addresses, getting ever more clever in acquisition as rules and results changed. So here’s how to attack those top three problems with methods that work best now: squeeze pages, QR codes, and simple requests.

Use a squeeze page for opt-in. A squeeze page is when you send people from a larger list (your social site, co-op list, etc.) to a very short, non-threatening, free report, video, or coupon in exchange for entering their email address.

These pages work. We just finished our ninth experiment that featured a free seven-minute video behind the squeeze page. This generated 440 email addresses in 12 hours, at about 50 percent opt-in. Effective yes, but be careful that you promise and deliver value or you’ll get reported as spam. And that will ruin your day. A version we crafted for contractors is shown above.

You can also use a QR code to squeeze. This is the way to marry print and online. Put these codes in your direct mail offers or newsletters to build email addresses. You can see an example of a QR code above.

Finally, you can make a simple request at appointment time. Your CSR merely requests the caller to give their email address for appointment confirmation and product alerts. About 80 percent will comply, so it’s an easy, fast, free way to build your email list.

As you work to build your email list constantly, make sure to provide only relevant content to the recipients. Let your big sale email come from either a different sender or very infrequently.

SEO Marketing

Thank goodness Google has saved us from ourselves here. No longer do you have to dominate globally through costly Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get a no heat call in Topeka. SEO has gone from fact in 2009 to myth in 2011. Now, it’s all about local search.

Yet, sadly, as I reported here in my last column, 91 percent of contractors have failed to even claim their local listing. I won’t bash you any more on this, except to tell you that an unclaimed listing is a digital death sentence. (If you want to get more insight into how your site stacks up, the QR code in this article will let you know how your site is graded and ranked in your area.)

So the former recommendation of putting 20 percent of your marketing budget toward SEO can now be lowered to just 16 percent (all aimed locally) using pay-per-click campaigns, well placed banners, and a highly optimized local listing.

A final hint: Your local listings value cannot be overemphasized 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.

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 be in every online ad.

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

NEWS readers can get the free report “54 Ways to Increase Contractor Web Conversions and Online Profits” by emailing their request to FreeNEWSstuff@hudsonink.com or faxing to 334-262-1115. See other marketing reports at www.hudsonink.com or call 800-489-9099.

Publication date: 10/17/2011 

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