Back in 1992, when I started my business, I remember calling my Dad and telling him I bought a computer for my new endeavor.
His first question was, “Do you know how to use it?”
“Of course not. I have someone in the office who will be using it. I’m too old; I’ll never have a need to learn it.”
I was 30 years old at the time, and I truly believed I would never really have a need for a computer or anything like it. However, I did have this cutting-edge pager that actually could display a message in letters as opposed to just numbers; now that was cool.
I could not have been more off base. Fortunately, I did not stick my stubborn head in the sand and keep it there. I was open to new ideas and was forward-thinking enough to be willing to keep up with the times. I’ve traveled the slow progression through all the gadgets and toys. Now, our company is almost completely paperless. Our techs and salespeople are on iPads and touchscreen tablets; we email receipts, job sheets, and proposals whenever possible; and we are always looking for ways to streamline processes and be more efficient.
You may be wondering how it is that I have come to have such an expansive knowledge of technology and be so connected with the latest and greatest electronic ways of this ever-changing world. Well, the truth is, I’m not. I’m a heating and air conditioning business owner who has some pretty good management and organizational skills, and I know how to treat a customer. That’s right. Most of what we do here technologically is way beyond my understanding. If our technological progress was dependent on my ability to learn, retain, implement, and follow up on the changes we have made, I fear we might still be using carbon paper. My big secret is that I have people working here with me who are familiar with current technology and the electronics world. Federal law prohibits you from asking, but, yes, they’re a bit younger than I. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
While all this technology helps us be more efficient in the office, what I really want to talk about is marketing. Have you noticed that your meetings, discussions, and interactions with your marketing partners have changed over the last few years? Your local newspaper rep has been talking to you about advertising on their webpage. Your radio and television person is showing up with an online streaming package. The Yellow Pages guy is hitting you with a big pay-per-click campaign. And, most importantly, everybody wants to do your marketing for you. It’s all because most of the traditional marketing vendors we’ve used for the last few decades know that marketing through the Internet and social media is the only lane to success. You need to do a ton of research and devote some serious time to planning out your marketing program or hire an agency to do it for you.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and retargeting are terms you should be familiar with. If you’re not, you’d better take your head out of the sand and look around. The way I see it, you have two choices: You can spend an enormous amount of time and effort becoming an expert in social media and Internet marketing, produce endless blogs and Twitter posts, and become Facebook addicts; or you can hire someone to do it for you. If you think I’m making too much of this, you really need a reality check. If you still have two full-page display ads in the Yellow Pages, one under heat pumps and one under air conditioning, you might want to drive to the emergency room and put yourself on life support immediately. If you think you’re too old or don’t feel you have the time or energy required for such a task, then get help. There are companies out there that are reaching potential customers like never before. I know, because we’re doing it here. I have people here who are in their 20s and 30s who understand what’s needed to traverse the digital landscape. They’ve grown up in this world of technology and understand it. I have dedicated staff that manages outside vendors that handle our pay-per-click ads, reputation management, targeted display ads, website retargeting, blog posts, Facebook and Twitter posts, etc. Our website is optimized for mobile devices, and our team is diligently working to keep it relevant. These are all things that need constant attention and are of the utmost importance. People are out there looking for you. If they can’t find you the way they search, their search will lead them to someone else.
I wholeheartedly believe we cannot continue to market our companies the way we did 10 years ago and expect the same results. I can’t stress enough that you need to give some serious thought to changing or enhancing your marketing strategies. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone who can. You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Well, I say, “Even if you do know what road to be on; if you’re standing still, you’re going to get run over.”
Publication date: 1/18/2016