Marketing done for the long haul doesn’t pay off right away, but like any long-term investment, it will take time to begin producing the desired yield. It takes three clear hits to make an impression on the average prospect. When you market for the long term, you are building an image.
For your company to grow and prosper, a stream of leads with potential must be in place. We have to develop that stream because it doesn’t just happen. Recently a good remodeler and friend, Joe C., called and we did a little bit of a Remodeloscopy on his marketing program — I’ll let you in on the diagnosis.
When we’re a new company, we take what comes our way — if we can get our price. We grow, and as we do grow, we find that some jobs just flow better; some clients appreciate our efforts and even the trades will say, “Boy, that Jones job was sure a sweetheart.” We need to check back on the Jones’ so we can see why it was such a good job.
We start with how we first heard from them; that will take us back to our marketing and advertising; we need to find out why they came to us in the beginning. When they first call, we ask how they heard about us and they will answer that question. Too often we assume that answer is the only reason they called when it may have only been part of the reason. You have to dig a little deeper to really understand your marketing.
My company has run a full color, big ad in the most prestigious magazine in our market, every month (except December) now for 20 years. Sometimes our clients may have seen our ads for two or three years before they call — two or three years?
Yeah, that’s a long time, but they just decided to remodel and we’re like an old friend. They may actually call right after seeing one of our truck or job signs but it wasn’t the truck or yard sign that got’em; it was the two or three years that built confidence in us.
A full service remodeling contractor should budget 3 to 4 percent of gross sales for marketing and advertising and then make sure you spend it; you might even have to spend 5 percent for a year or two to generate some forward speed. You keep your name in lights; the cautious public (the good leads) wants dependability. If you advertise in the place that fits your image and has the demographic you want, you are making the suggestion that you are dependable and that’s what the prospect is looking for.
Hire an agency or not but either way, make certain you know your product and as much as you can about the “Joneses.” You need to find where the “Joneses’ ” go when they dream about how to change their lifestyle. That’s where you want to be, offering real life solutions for dreams. Fifteen percent of your ad budget will go to an agency plus the cost of production or your promotion. You may be able to get help from a publication on production without this charge since they don’t pay the 15 percent to an agency. Either way, make sure you get good production and good photography, always.
The shelf life of a publication is the time between issues and not longer. If the reader tears out your ad, great, but don’t assume one ad will last for three issues. Don’t go with the smaller circulation so you can afford a bigger ad; you are buying impressions in the market you want to be in and people shop up not down.
Advertise in a publication that people pay for. Freebees, city map borders and high school programs don’t work as well. Give the money away but buy good and know the best space you can muscle. It takes time to work but it’s the best source for good leads.
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