It seems I remember the current president promising changes. We sure got ’em. Everything’s changed, and if you don’t like the way things are now, just give it a few minutes.
Since the economy generally gives people the creeps about
spending money, marketing has changed because it is trying to get them to
spend. The same old marketing rules do not apply as before, and yet, we see
lots of old rules that should be abandoned. Here’s my list of mistakes not to
• No focus – This tops the list for a reason.
Wait, what was I saying? Oh, right. Hard to hit a target if you’re constantly
distracted. This includes spending endless time on discussion boards, allowing
constant interruptions and appointments, unlimited time on e-mail, or the
entrepreneurial disease of thinking every opportunity is worth pursuit - it’s
not. This is why we pound goal setting into our clients’ heads and stay on them
Top marketing goals should be for number of leads, number of
conversions, number of new customers, repurchases from existing customers, and
increasing average transaction size for the year. (All quite doable with a
plan.) Likewise, commit to x new products to take on, y hours per day/week
online, and z training meetings in a year, hopefully more this year than last.
• Too much money wasted on broad and eternally boring ads
– This has been the year to engage customer focus, too. Our top clients’ results from likely response groups
to a specific product or service have been astounding. In doing this, we’ve
advised dumping the broad, generalized advertising (such as Yellow Pages) that
eats too much money for too few leads. So, kill your Yellow Page budget that
exceeds 25 percent of your total marketing budget, spend the savings in
specificity, and watch your leads and ROI rise. Also, I hate institutional ads
that have way too many purposes to ever be successful. Get rid of those.
• One-sale customers – Why have ’em? Look, it
costs you nearly $200 to get the lead and do the appointment, so if the bill
was under $400, you probably lost money on them. Your job is to ascend the customer to a) additional product b) frequency of visit and c)
referral generation. This is done with good follow-up marketing and putting
them into your customer retention program. Resales and referrals happen by
intention, not luck. Focusing on this area can make your profits absolutely
• Perfectionitis –
Quit spending one-half your life looking into doing something, but not quite
ever doing it. You delay because it’s not perfect. Newsflash: It’s never going to be perfect.
The OK marketing campaign or product launch that’s
well-executed will outsell the soon-to-be-perfect one sitting on your desk
every time. Results start with action. I don’t know about you, but I find it
very hard to make a bank deposit based on things I’m going to do.
• Not justifying the sale (ROI) – This happens
in marketing and selling. Contractors think that tossing out a low price in an
ad is going to make the phone ring. Sorry. It just makes you look cheap and/or
desperate. People have no idea how much your stuff is supposed to cost.
Therefore, justify your price position with an ROI-based ad and presentation,
such as, “The extended warranty is worth x because a compressor costs y.” Or
“The 16 SEER system actually generates a 6.2 percent ROI, better than any bank
will offer, plus it keeps you comfortable and increases your
In these times, you’d better be prepared to justify a cost -
high or low - with effective, logically deductive reasoning.
• Admit mistakes, commit to get help, move on – No
one is an expert in everything. If you’re not a marketing strategist or graphic
designer, why are you laboring over those functions or expecting your untrained
staff to do it well? Specialists are abundant and, yes, they charge money for
their craft (don’t you?) but can likely save you more than they cost in
results. Go online or check around.
We recently rewrote a letter for a contractor that was sent
to 13,000 customers. The original generated 34 leads; ours generated 112. He
paid us $4,000 for the custom letter but sold an extra $116,000 over the
previous effort. Though those results are atypical, you can hire a Web
designer, sales trainer, or marketing consultant who has seen your problem
before and can solve it way easier than you can. This is why I hire people to
tune up my furnace.
• Committing the engineer error – The gadgets
and gizmos that made you get weepy at the last conference will not have the
same effect on your customers. Continually adding new solutions without selling
them really only adds to the problem. Commit to the new product after learning how to market and sell it to customers. Without that, who
cares? If you have shelves of stuff you thought was the answer to the question
nobody ever asked, maybe you should hire the guy that sold it to you.
• Failure to segment – This mistake relates
directly to items 1, 2, and 3 on this list; it is that important. No one
can afford to attack the full list all the time, and in this economy, it makes
no sense. Then consider that 80 percent of your profit comes from 20 percent of
your customers. Find the 20 percent and clone them.
Segment your database by recentness, frequency, transaction
size, product interest, lead type, and which ad generated the lead. In this
way, you strategically engineer results from your marketing in response
clusters. Aim, sell, profit, and repeat. The smartest, most successful clients
we have make a nice living off segmentation.
• Customer service that isn’t – This hardly needs
explanation. Customers are attracted to good service, repelled by the awful
norm. Bad stories are oft repeated and silently cost you thousands, maybe tens
of thousands. Good service standouts are rare, lauded, referred, and are
remarkably insensitive to
price. Thus, an investment in customer service can repay you massively.
Consider customer service part of your company experience that flows from the
ad, to the phone, to the visit, to the follow-up. Treat customer service as it
doesn’t matter, and customers will feel the same way about you.
• No customer retention program – This one area
touches about seven items on this list. Contractors who can’t get to the next
level in sales often find that by installing a customer retention program, it
“magically” happens. To me, the gold of your business is already in your
business, buried in the customer list
waiting to be mined.
Customer retention only costs you about 8-12 percent of your
marketing budget, yet generates a high ROI by repeat purchases, less
negotiation, faster purchases, more referrals, and far greater willingness to
buy your recurring revenue maintenance agreement.
If you don’t actively and intentionally keep customers, why
should they stay? It’s not their job to remember you; it’s your job to be
remembered. Pursue them more with follow-up calls, postcard reminders,
newsletters, and advance sales notices. Easily done, yet also easily not done. Make a goal in 2010 to keep every customer for life.
Avoid these common marketing mistakes for 2010, and you can
prosper way beyond those who found out too late that the rules have changed.
Here’s hoping that this year is your best and most profitable year ever.
A Jumpstart to Your
New Year:NEWSreaders can grab
the “HVAC Marketing Jumpstart Kit” which includes seven reports, case study
research results, CDs, and hottest strategies to help take your sales to the
next level at www.hudsonink.com/jumpstart.aspx.
But you need to hurry because this page can only be kept
open for a limited time.
Adams Hudson is president of Hudson Ink, a creative marketing
firm for contractors. Readers can apply to win a free marketing seminar for
their group by sending a polite request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.hudsonink.com
for more information and to grab
Hudson’s free ezine, the Contractor Sales and Marketing Insider.