Anyone can post anything online, and, therefore, disinformation is rampant. Although no one can take away the hard and reputable work we do, anyone can tarnish our work on the Internet. An Internet search of your company may reveal some of your prospects and clients think poorly of your business. Even worse, an ex-employee may have written negative, false statements about the very company that gave him or her an opportunity for employment and a better life.
We conducted a survey of our existing customers and found eight out of 10 looked up our company on an Internet search engine before contacting us. As owners, CEOs and self-proclaimed marketing professionals, it’s high time we pay attention to the Internet and create an action plan to bolster our online presence.
First, we should take advantage of the help that is available to us. For example, you’re already reading Qualified Remodeler, but are you attending events about Internet marketing QR provides (visit MarketSharp.com/BusinessGrowth)? Are you reaching out to the various professionals QR publishes who have had online success? There are many articles and experts available that will help you become more Internet proactive.
In addition, your company can become a more positive force on the Internet by taking the following steps:
1. Capture your award-winning services and projects in video and photos and post them on your website and social media sites. We video interview every client and regularly post the videos on our site, Facebook and YouTube. You can also tweet about them on Twitter. Our sales team uses these photos and videos to build value in our products and services. After posting photos and videos, we have found our prospects are more informed about our company and more comfortable initially sharing their needs with us.
2. We ask each client for a letter of recommendation and post it on all our sites. Keep in mind, however, 100 percent satisfaction is the key to receiving a letter you can be proud to show others. I highly suggest your company start a “post-job walk” to ensure a satisfied client.
3. We create press releases that announce our affiliations, accolades and awards. These are sent to the general public and appear on search engines. By using keywords, press releases can add a lot of content to search engines with little effort.
4. We send professional emails to our prospects prior to meeting with them. These emails include photos, videos and testimonials, as well as link to reputable review sites, like the Contractors License Board and Better Business Bureau. The email controls Internet surfing to a degree because it connects prospects to the reputable information about us on the Internet.
5. We send a “thank you for your interest” email to prospects who told us “no.” This email assures them when they are ready to move forward, we will be there for them. It includes references for the prospect to call; sometimes our previous clients’ satisfaction helps convince prospects to move forward with us now. We also state in the email we will call them within 48 hours for their honest feedback about what our company could have done better to earn their business. This activity is not for the faint at heart, but the feedback is valuable and should yield more business for your company if you use it wisely.
6. We send “thank you for your trust” emails to every client who contracts with our company. This email contains references for our new clients to call and a brief description of the process our company uses to complete their home improvement. It also begins cementing the project and relationship with the client.
Although I tried to save a buck initially, I quickly found having a dedicated employee creating press releases and updating all the sites was necessary. I realize some of you may say you cannot afford hiring another employee or an outside service who handles Internet marketing, but my response is you can’t afford not to. If eight out of 10 people use the Internet to find information about us, we need to re-allocate our dollars and include the Internet in our livelihood.
Unfortunately, the first time someone tried to provide me with guidance about the Internet, my response was “Yeah, I know,” but I was thinking “What’s the big deal? We just paid a company to build a website. I’m a home-improvement contractor, not an online retail company.” If you are stubborn like I was, you can flip the page and do nothing about your Internet presence. However, awareness is the first step to becoming better at anything. We can’t control what anyone writes, but now that you’re aware you can reframe the picture of your business on the Internet and use it to your company’s advantage.
Eric Martinson is the founder and chief executive officer of Pacific Coast Home Solutions, Anaheim, Calif.