Jason Kampsen, owner of Kampsen Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Sauk Centre, Minn., was looking for a change. He ran an ad in a promotional coupon pack similar to Val-Pak.

Let me be brutally honest: I hate card decks. Yet Jason offered a rational reason to try them. He wanted growth. The coupon book allowed him to cover three towns and 7,000 prospects in one mailing. Yet there was just one problem - he’d just lost $1,000 dollars a few months before using this same coupon book.

“I blew a grand on this same book. I did it all myself. Put the time in, created the ad, worked up the rebates. I thought it looked good,” he said. “Unfortunately, the results didn’t. I only got one lead and that didn’t convert to a sale. I thought, ‘This is crazy. What am I doing wrong?’ ”

Regular readers probably noticed the big mistake in Kampsen’s effort. If you didn’t, it was the “did it all myself” part.

Basically, it was a $1,000 experiment that cost at least that much more in wasted time. Contractors are rarely impressed with the DIY efforts of homeowners, so why take the same chance with something as important as your marketing? Armed with the sting of a hard lesson, Kampsen chose a new strategy. This time his method generated 13 leads, 12 appointments, and 11 sales. What caused the hugely profitable difference?


Here were the three strategies that Kampsen used:

Use proven tools:No need to reinvent the marketing wheel if someone else has already solved this problem. Kampsen decided to use a proven ad other contractors had used successfully. “I’d invested in a marketing package full of ads, but as a contractor, I thought I could do it better!”

The difference with his new ad was three fold: 1) It was a direct response ad that made a compelling offer. His old ad was only a menu listing of services with no emotional copy, and generated no results. 2) It boosted emotional triggers of recipients, and heightened the value of IAQ. 3) The offer was limited. Basically, an offer without a limit is not an offer. This is a common mistake.

“When I saw the new ad compared to my old one, the differences were obvious,” Kampsen commented.

Increase advertising value:Seems obvious, but most don’t take this required step. Always ask for special packages, re-run rates, or new customer incentives. Our coaches regularly get clients to ask all media reps of the benefits for being a “frequent flyer.” In this case, it worked well.

“They said they had different packages,” Kampsen said. “Some were longer runs but all offered more for less. I couldn’t believe I paid full sticker price the first time. Another reason to use experts!” he laughed. “I ended up getting three months for the price of two. Instead of $1,000 a month, it dropped to $672. This way I could monitor the results and - if profitable - let them run the three months. If not, they could hold my card for another month. Great plan.”

Educate your customers:The Internet has changed how all media is used. Knowledge and trustable information is more powerful that shoving a sale at someone. Jason’s DIY attempt didn’t educate. It bullet pointed available services, clouded by oversized graphics, and mixed offers with multiple rebates. That never works.

“My marketing coach pointed it out right away, up front,” said Kampsen. “I immediately remembered other case studies shown inThe NEWShaving only one offer. My new offer educated customers and built value for my services. I see the power of that now.”

“I got six leads the Saturday the books hit the mailboxes, another five on Sunday and two more Monday morning. That’s 13 leads within the first 48 hours,” said Kampsen. “Of the 13 leads, we set 12 appointments and closed 11 of those. That’s a 92 percent set rate and an 84 percent closing ratio, a company record.”

Though these results are good, and it’s hard to control the card-deck mailers’ schedule, you are not advised to have mail hit on a Saturday. Best days would be Tuesday through Friday.


Now that Kampsen has real market results that were generated at the ridiculously low cost of $51 per lead, it’s time to up the ante.

Look for “lead source” commonalities.See which area of town, income, age of home, and age of homeowner responded. All these can become much larger, better focused mailing lists that often generate four to six times the response of card-decks.

Do a proximity mailer for scheduled jobs.With too many contractors to choose from, it’s about mental penetration and building TOMA. Send a surround mail to nearby homes offering the exact same service, preferably before the job is done so you can combine trips.

Use these results for testimonials.Once the job is done, extract results, comments, and testimonials to use in future marketing. Today, nothing sells like proof and credibility.

Add all good responses to your automated marketing plan.When you get good results, put it on the calendar for the next season (or parallel season). Simple to do, but everyone thinks every day is a new challenge and wastes time recreating success. Use proven steps.

If the phones aren’t ringing, and you’re not generating the leads, referrals and revenue that will separate you from your competition - stop thinking and start doing. Learn from your past, learn from other’s missteps, and make the most of your season.

Publication date:08/09/2010