Lead generation companies vs. your local brand
Where are you?
I am currently in need of a few specialty contractors for a home project I am taking on.
You would think it would be easy to find some small shop kind of operators who would welcome the opportunity to make a few bucks. I could not believe how difficult it is to hunt down some local help. This project is in a small town, and I prefer to spend my money with the homeboys. But where are they? How do I find them? Where are they hiding out?
There are various trade disciplines I need for this project. I need an electrician, an insulation guy or gal, a drywall contractor to hang, tape and texture, and a painter. The obvious solution might be to hire a general contractor who has access to all these sub-contractors. Oh yeah, I am a general contractor as well as a plumbing contractor; I can hire the subs myself. General contracting is not my everyday thing, I choose not to engage in the business of general contracting for a variety of very sound reasons. That’s not the point, anyhow. The point is I can’t find the local subs. Another solution you might be thinking of is to hire a handyman, you know, a jack-of-all-trades expert. I don’t think so. Most of the time these types are not licensed or qualified, so I’m destined to hunt.
Of course my hunt started online. Surely a simple Google query for a drywall contractor in my community would turn up a list of several. Not so. Page after page of scrolling and I could not find any. What I did find was page after page of lead generation companies trying to trick me into thinking that they were local drywall guys. But I know better. And I know because I know what my company, Plumbing Doctor needs to do in order to be found on the Web.
I know that Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Porch, Thumbtack, Houzz, LocalRemodeling Quotes.com, RatedSubContractors.com and others like them are not local drywall contractors. I know this, but does the average, unsophisticated, unknowing consumer know this? I don’t think so.
It used to be easy to find and hire the local guy because we used to let our fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages, but not anymore. We don’t walk today, we surf.
If you are going to be successful, you need to be found and you need to be found quickly and easily. You need to be the wave for those who are surfing.
Be the wave
There are two primary ways you can be found by today’s searching, surfing consumer. You can be a known local brand or you can participate with the lead generation companies. Keep in mind, the lead generation or lead gen companies as they are known, are not tradespeople seeking a better way to promote themselves. They are technology companies who know how to use the habits of web surfers to get their bank accounts inflated. Notice I said, “Their bank accounts”?
In order for me (the consumer looking for a drywall expert) to find you (the drywall expert), I must go through the lead gen company. The lead gen company will then capture my data or information and will learn very quickly that I’m surfing for a drywall expert. Now, it would work fine if at that point, they gave me your name, address and phone number, maybe even a link to your web site, so I could ascertain just who you are and how local you are. But that’s not what happens. What happens is, my data, is passed on to you, but not only you, you and several of your competitors get my data at the same time. A role reversal has just taken place and the whole hunting experience has just turned upside down and you are paying the tab.
All of a sudden, with the click of a mouse, I am no longer the hunter, I am the hunted.
Now you and several of your drywall competitors are calling me, asking for an opportunity to come to my house. What? Who are you? How did you get my name and number? You want to bid the work?
It feels to me like a solicitation call, because it is a solicitation call. Nobody likes being hunted by phone solicitors, but that’s what my drywall buddies have become, a phone solicitor. In my opinion, being a phone solicitor, is worse than getting a call from a phone solicitor. This process is only one step away from making a cold-call. The only difference is, you know I need drywall work.
As a consumer, I resent being sucked into the process and the deception of lead gen technology companies. All I want is to find a local drywall guy, and to be able to call him directly and invite him to price my project.
Bringing it back home
Let’s quit the secret code here. We’re really not talking about the lonely drywall guy who can’t be found are we? This is Reeves Journal Magazine, not Drywall Daily. We’re really talking about you and me. We are not drywall guys, we are in the plumbing service industry.
We are needed way more often than a drywall guy is needed. We are needed quite often. Studies suggest that we are needed once every two years in the average American home. We need to be found and usually, found quickly.
There is a way around this hunter and hunted game. The way around it is to become a known local brand in your community.
There are many techniques and strategies that you can implement in order to become a known local brand. The purpose of this writing is not to educate you on how to do this, because that would take way more time and space than I’m allotted here. The purpose is to educate you that becoming a known local brand will liberate you from the shackles of the millennial computer geek, who has never turned a wrench in his life, but is controlling how it is you can be found. That kid and his algorithms have no clue of your capabilities and value in the marketplace. It is not their intent to match you with a consumer that would love to do business with you, but to extract a piece of the revenue that the transaction will generate.
But hey, unless you can be found without them, what are you going to do?
Take steps today to build a brand that will be easily sought after and easily found. Oh well, back to surfing for a drywall guy.
The Doctor is out.