Marketing Magic: Ask Mr. HVAC Marketing Person

March 1, 2010
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Adams Hudson

Q: Dear Mr. Marketing Person, I’m a contractor. The Yellow Pages reps are so aggressive, they have offered to slash the price of my ad by 10 percent, give me blue free, and even given me a coupon in the back where cheapskates can drive my profit margin even further down. Is this a good deal?

A: It is only a good deal if you pay them with counterfeit money.

Q: Are you saying the Yellow Pages are dead?

A: Yes. And you may join them if you spend more than 40 percent of your marketing budget there. I was actually at its funeral, which was advertised online. Google it if you want. Next question, please.

Q: Dear Mr. Marketing Person, several ad reps and other contractors have told me I need to do more “branding” of my company. What is this?

A: No one knows, but explanations can take up to 812 pages, which is over my allotment in The NEWS. We think it has to do with your image and the ability of people to recall your name quickly. Everything after that requires hypnosis, scented oils, and some very special Kool-Aid.

Q: Then why do so many people recommend it?

A: Clearly, it was well sold. I think by the Sham-Wow guy. As a sane alternative, we recommend you do top-of-mind-awareness (TOMA) marketing, which can actually be measured. I’d do a small, fast, and inexpensive TOMA campaign for 13 weeks and watch incoming calls increase. For some reason, contractors seem to like getting leads for next to nothing. Next question.

Q: What’s the best way to market in this economy? My main goal is to get more leads.

A: One way, not necessarily advised, is to slowly wait for all your competitors to go out of business. Then you’ll have all the business you want.

A more pro-active method is to realize contractors who are not doing so well might not be marketing themselves so well, either. Those factors are often linked. Since the American consumer has the memory of a fruit fly, none of us - I mean them - can remember the name on the service vehicle that was in our driveway eight months ago. Thus, being repetitive is highly effective. Like I said, being repetitive is highly effective. Great repeat rates are available in radio and in newspapers (yes, those are still printed). Radio has been eroded by satellite, and they will almost give you your own show if you buy enough drive time flights. If you’re in a big city (more than 500,000) this could still be prohibitive.

Newspapers have four excellent things going for them. First, most of your competitors are chasing other media, so they’ve left that playground to you. Second, they’ve become very cheap, inserts especially. Third, these people often live in homes, since to my knowledge they don’t deliver under the interstate overpass - yet. Fourth, people who get the newspaper can often read, a very good trait.

Yet day in, day out, direct mail still leads in leads. However, the U.S. Postal Service rarely has a stamp sale. (Soon as you hear of it, let me know.) Mr. Marketing Person has been seeing increased response in direct mail and advising accordingly for the past two years, but finally the Wall Street Journal business page (see Jan. 12, 2010 issue) agreed. Looks like they’re learning!

Direct mail is worth about 30 percent of your total marketing budget for maximum lead generation. Smart marketers point readers to their Websites too, where they can sign up for a free e-zine, discounts, and the referral program. E-mail supports other contact methods; it does not replace it. Next question, I’m running out of time.

Q: Dear Mr. Marketing Person, Why do you seem pushy and impolite?

A: Maybe I have a branding problem.

IT'S YOUR TURN

Now you, the readers, are invited to ask Mr. Marketing Person a question about your marketing challenges, such as how to win when the economy isn’t, or what’s the best or worst way to invest your marketing dollars.

Mr. Marketing Person (aka Adams Hudson) invites real questions that will get real - and occasionally unreal - answers to your marketing challenges. These may be answered in future articles or by the marketing coaches at Hudson Ink. You may send your questions to freenewsstuff@hudsonink.com or fax on your company letterhead to Hudson Ink at 334-262-1115.

Marketing Webinar: Hudson and The NEWS will be hosting a one-hour marketing Webinar on April 14. To register, go to http://webinars.achrnews.com.

Publication date: 03/01/2010

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