Here is a short one today to make up for yesterday’s long post…
Read – read the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post. Read as much as you can to stay on top of the news, and then read some more. Specifically, I want you to read your local yocal paper from front to back every time it is published. This will keep you up to speed on everything going on locally that you sometimes miss while running your business.
The benefits are:
1. You stay informed on a personal and professional level about what is going on in your backyard. 2. There are plenty of business opportunities in those pages, you just have to pay attention. 3. You may discover a marketing opportunity that others miss, therefore gaining 1st mover advantage. 4. It makes sense to know as much as possible in the market you do most of your business in. 5. You get to know who the local movers and shakers are in business, politics and civic activities associations.
I knew a guy that lived in a castle (literally) here in Philly from the money he made advertising his business in the classified section. He has since lost the castle because he failed to pay his income tax, but that’s a different blog. The point I want to get across here is that classified ads are still a great way to advertise on the cheap, but there are some tricks to it. But do it right and the upside is huge. So here are the 5 things you want to make sure you do when marketing for your construction company in the classified section:
1. A phone number that is indigenous to the local market-Not only the area code, but the prefix too. Your brand new cell phone number with a new area code isn’t going to cut it! 2. An interest-creating remark-What’s in it for the reader? Classified ads are all about them, and nothing about you! 3. A Offer-People are looking in the classifieds for a deal. If you don’t have one in your ad, why did you place it in the first place? 4. A Call to action-As I always say, people are sheep, they need to be told what to do. As a matter of fact, they WANT to be told what to do. 5. Answer the phone when it rings – If I have to teach this one, then we are not communicating!
Now, do this in as many papers in your market as you can afford. And make sure you do it repeatedly since booking business with classifieds is based on people who have a specific need at a particular moment in time and are looking in the classifieds to hire, not tire kick. So make sure you are there when they are ready to buy!
Remember Who – What – Where – When – Why and How? Well, I am going to show you how to create your own ads in 5 minutes or less using the 5 W’s.
Here we go:
Who: Your business name, company slogan, logos & USP
What: Information on your range of products and services. Customers need to know what you sell.
Where: Address, phone number (local to the market served), web site, e-mail and areas served.
When: Days and hours if applicable along with emergency numbers.
Why: Reliability, years in business, endorsements, brand names, payment methods, licensed, insured, memberships and affiliations.
WWW: Do you have a website that prospects can visit to learn even more about your business? If not, you better get one!
Once your ad answers the 5 W’s, the ad is well on its way to delivering effective results. Then, you just need to present the information in a way that is logical and pleasing to the consumer’s eyes while running it enough (frequency) to be effective.
Yesterday I went on a bit of a rant about the direct-mail company Money Mailer. And if you paid attention and read between the lines of that post there was a valuable marketing nugget that you could put to good use right away to promote your contracting company. If you didn’t read it yet, you can find the post here.
In my opening paragraph I said “As any good marketer will tell you, I will steal an idea from anywhere“. You see, many people say that there are no new ideas, just new twists on the same old ones.
This leads me to the marketer’s secret weapon… the swipe file
I collect direct-mail pieces, newspaper clippings, online ads and just about anything that has to do with advertising that I think is a fresh approach to the same old message and store them in a swipe file. Sure it helps to know the basics of advertising and marketing, but if you can say yes to the following question — would the ad make you buy the product or service – then you know you have a decent foundation to start with when writing your own ad copy.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using other advertising to help get your creative juices flowing. Sitting down to write out ad copy is a pain in the ass, that’s why most of you are smart enough to hire knuckleheads like me to do it for you. What’s not okay is just lifting someone else’s copy verbatim or stealing the concept entirely. If you look around you will see it happening everywhere, you just have to know the difference between plagiarizing and imitating your competition. So start your own swipe file and put it to good use the next time you have to come up with an ad.
Advertising is a $350 billion dollar industry, and that’s just here in the United States. Ads are blasted out every day from more than 1500 TV stations, 12,000 radio stations and 2000 newspapers.
And yet some contractors still don’t believe in advertising
The reason many will tell you is that they have survived for years from referrals. And while referrals are the reward for doing a good job, they are not the only way to build business, especially if your contracting company hasn’t been around all that long.
With all the choices of how to get the word out there, how do you decide which one works best to reach the buyers you are looking for? And how do you develop a marketing strategy that doesn’t get lost in crowd? Well, you can hire guys like me, or you can try to do it yourself. And you have a better chance of success doing it yourself if you follow these 6 tips to creating effective advertising. Ready?
1. Be creative, but not creative for creativity’s sake – In other words, make your message stand out, but get your point across too. Don’t try to be too clever or too funny, it won’t work.
2. Make your message impactful – Headlines, copy and graphics all play a critical role in stopping readers in their tracks.
3. Clarity – Keep the message tight and easy to understand. Don’t over-complicate it with multiple messages.
4. Memorable – If I don’t remember you, I can’t buy from you. Make me think about YOU when I think about what you DO.
5. Informational – Peel back a few layers of the onion and show me what the important reasons are to consider you for my home improvement needs. Again, keep this part tight and on one message at a time.
6. Differentiate – You have to be unique. There are 10,000 plumbers in even the smallest cities. Why should I buy from you? Look for holes in your industry and exploit them!
And here is a bonus
Advertise – Yeah, I know what you are thinking, that’s easy to say coming from an ad man, but I bet you can tell me where every McDonalds is near your home right? And yet McDonalds still spends $7 million a DAY on advertising. Know why – Burger King!
Many business leaders and successful people have adopted a common phrase, “Hope is not a strategy”, well no shit! However, many construction contractors are still relying on nothing but hope, prayer and a little luck with their construction marketing strategy. They are hoping that their latest radio ad or television spot will pull in some new leads. Or they hope that the 1,000 postcards mailed out last week will produce a response. Don’t fall victim to this type of mentality.
Instead of relying on hope, develop your strategy
Think of a marketing plan as a new building. You have to first test and prepare the site. Then you build a strong, stable foundation. Next comes the framework and roof of the building. Finally, the interior is completed.
In marketing for contractors, the testing and preparing phase is finding out which services people are looking for. Then you need to build a foundation of communicating with customers across multiple platforms. A website, blog posts, Facebook account, YouTube videos, Flickr photos and Twitter messages are some examples of different ways to reaching prospective clients.
After making the initial contact the work doesn’t stop. You have to continually stay in touch with people. Sending out alerts about new promotions, or helpful tips, or even a quick question about how to improve service are different ways to keep in touch with people and stay in their mind until the day comes that they either need your services directly, or can recommend you to someone else.
In the end, just as it takes time to build a new office or home, it takes time for your marketing efforts to pay off. Consistent and prompt communication, focused on a particular segment, will yield better results than simple “hope.”
I have previously written a post on the importance of not only having a logo but a slogan or tagline as well for your contracting company. One that isn’t just fluffy bullshit, but one that actually means something to you and your company.
I bring this up because I was recently asked by a client what mine meant;
Helping Contractors Sell More, Advertise Better & Market to Buyers!
Seems pretty clear to me, but if one person was confused, then that means there are probably more of you. So, I thought I would go through the exercise that led me to craft such a long and laborious tag line. It took me about a week to come up with the exact wording because I was continually trying to shorten it. What you see above was the final product, and every word means something to me, and yours should too!
So let’s break it down together…Ready?
Helping contractors sell more –
This one has no hidden meanings or connotations. Through 20 plus years of selling, I know a thing or two about the art. And if you don’t think selling is an art, then you aren’t good at it. Knowing how to sell helps you sell more!
Advertise Better –
This one is a little more complicated. Anyone can throw darts at a board, and in the famous words of Gordon Gekko, I don’t throw darts at a board sport! What I mean is, having worked with so many contractors, I have been exposed to 100 things that work, and 100 things that don’t. Now, marketing campaigns are like snowflakes in that each one is different, but after working with 20 roofers or 10 plumbers or 15 electricians, I have a pretty good idea what works across and industry, hence advertise better.
Market to Buyers –
This one has a special meaning, “Market to Buyers”. Having worked primarily with companies and contractors that need to make $2 dollars for every $1 dollar spent on advertising, I don’t market to passively or disengaged consumers. That means a limited diet of newspapers, television and radio, a good dose of specially targeted direct mail and Yellow Pages, and pigging out on dotcom products. That’s how you target to buyers.
Because people who are ready to buy use the YP. People that are ready to buy are looking for special offers or coupons in their direct mail, and they use the web and Google Adwords, Yahoo Ad Network and MSN AdCenter everyday to hire contractors….hence the market to buyers.
So as you see, my slogan may be long, but it means something to me. Make yours mean something to you, and more importantly, your team and your customers!
when creating your ad you should spend as much time thinking of the headline as you do the rest of the ad. As I mentioned in my previous post, the headline sells the reader on reading the rest of the ad. Follow these tips when creating your headlines and watch your conversion rates shoot through the roof… no pun intended to my roofing contractor readers!
Start your headline by telling the story. Stories are a great way to pull your reader into the ad
By using something like “Act Now” usually conveys a sense of urgency to the reader
Use your headline to tell the reader what to do
The headline is a great place to announce a free offer
Write your headline as if you were speaking to one person, in other words, make it personal
Your headline has to either relay a benefit or intrigue the reader into wanting more
Again, people will make a decision to read or ignore your ad-based off of your headline. If the rest of the ad is fantastic but your headline sucks, than shame on you for not taking the time to create a compelling headline.