Seven small business marketing tips
Many home services companies find marketing to be a huge challenge. Don’t fret. If you embrace the following seven keys, you’ll have taken a huge leap toward being an enormously successful marketer.
1. Market frequently
Many companies send out a single postcard or run radio ads for a few weeks, and consider that sufficient to make the phone ring and ring. That can happen, but the odds are against it.
Why? Consumers are deluged with marketers’ messages. The New York Times and CBS News estimate consumers are subjected to 5,000 marketing messages a day. What are the chances your messages are going to be heard? Especially since most days, consumers don’t want or need to think about your company.
Even if your ads are heard, what are the chances they’ll be remembered? The odds are against you, because most people are thinking and hoping they won’t need you for a long time. It takes frequency for your company’s messaging to break through the marketing clutter, be heard and remembered.
How much frequency is enough? University researchers have studied this question, and no two professors agree. The one thing they agree on: One touch isn’t enough. How much frequency do we recommend to our Nexstar Network members? I’ll answer that in a bit.
2. Avoid the fear of failure
Many companies are so afraid of not getting a positive return from every ad they run that they end up doing very little marketing. While there’s nothing wrong with looking for things that have worked for others (it’s a very good idea), don’t limit yourself to those ideas. If you limit yourself to just those ideas you believe will definitely work, you won’t be an active enough marketer.
If you’re looking for the marketing silver bullet, it’s doing a lot of marketing. Consider sending postcards and newsletters to your current customers; use “guerrilla” techniques and mass media, like billboards, to market to prospects; and use a variety of options available on the internet. You’ll reach more people, more often, with a variety of messages. That’s good marketing.
3. Don’t be a slave to measurement
Companies that are slaves to measurement (in other words, companies that only use easily and accurately measured marketing vehicles) cut themselves off from marketing vehicles that can’t easily be tracked. This can be a long list of great opportunities — such as television, yard signs and more.
If you don’t incorporate these hard-to-measure vehicles in your marketing program, you won’t be a brand marketer. This means you’ll never give consumers any big-picture, long-term reasons to use your company. Since most people don’t know when they’ll need your company — it could be years from now — putting your company in peoples’ heads with strong, positive brand messaging is critical to success.
If you don’t want to utilize brand marketing, that’s fine, but this makes it even more important to keep your company in front of people often. You’ll have an advantage if people have at least heard of your company when that rare day arrives and they need your services.
4. Marketing = Small steps
Despite all the things marketing can do — it can generate awareness for your company; communicate what makes your company different and better; communicate information about services you offer; and more — at the end of the day, your marketing is designed to do just one thing: make the phone ring.
Your marketing doesn’t need to book calls — that’s the job of your CSRs. And your marketing doesn’t need to sell anything — that’s the job of your technicians and salespeople.
The goal of the marketing pieces I create for members of Nexstar Network is to generate enough awareness and interest to get the phone to ring — nothing more. They’re just one step in a series of steps that result in success. Don’t ask your marketing pieces to do more than they need to do.
5. Be bold
If people don’t look at your marketing messages, they’re not doing much good. You don’t even have a fighting chance to get a call.
Your challenge is even greater than most marketers, because as I said earlier, most people, most days don’t want to think about your companies and what you do. They want to take their water and air for granted.
Your marketing has to work super hard to grab peoples’ attention and make them look. Don’t be afraid of bright colors, bold images and fun fonts. However; make sure the colors, images and fonts you pick aren’t so bright and bold that they turn people off. It’s a balancing act to be bold but in a clean, professional, appealing way.
Every time you develop a marketing piece, think to yourself: I want people to see my marketing, like my marketing and remember my marketing.
6. Never take customers for granted
Don’t make the assumption that customers will remember your company and call again. That will of course happen, especially if you deliver a memorable service experience. But many customers will forget you, especially if months or years go by.
I recommend you touch your customers a minimum of four times a year. Mix things up. Perhaps send a repair postcard once or twice a year, and send a holiday card or two. One of those holiday cards might contain a gift card, and the other might simply wish customers a safe and happy holiday. Consumers find this very refreshing.
There’s no one specific right mix of things you might do to keep your company top-of-mind with customers, but there’s one wrong thing you can do: Take your customers for granted.
7. Be the customer
To be a successful marketer you’ve got to think like a customer. This is arguably the most important thing you can do. It’s also one of the hardest. Some marketers get so close to their goals and the products they’re selling that they lose all perspective.
Your customers don’t care about your goals and they don’t know and love your products and services. Consumers care about their wants, their needs and getting their problems solved. To your customers, the world is all about them, so to be effective we have to think like them.
This shouldn’t be so hard, because at some point, we all take our company hats off and put consumer hats on. On the other hand, it’s very hard, because you know too much, and care too much, about your company.
Don’t just think about what you want to sell, which is expensive pieces of equipment. Think about what people want to buy, which in most cases is maintenance and repair. Use your maintenance and repair opportunities to get in the home and build credibility, trust and likeability. Then you can sell equipment.
You can do it. There are very few guarantees in marketing, but I will guarantee you this: If you follow these seven keys to marketing success, you will be a much better marketer.