Is generating remodeling leads harder than it used to be, or does it just seem that way? Asked about their most effective lead generating source — such as canvassing, direct mail, TV and radio, home shows, telemarketing, websites and social media — 50 percent of Qualified Remodeler readers responded: None of the above, or at least none of the above in overwhelming numbers. Instead, they rely, it appears, on repeat and referral business or some variation of networking — as they traditionally have.
Repeat business and referrals still must be working, or many more remodelers would currently be employed in some other industry. But times have inexorably changed, like it or not, leaving remodelers to wonder how long repeat and referral business will continue to sustain them. Should they be doing something in addition to hoping past relationships will make the phone ring? If so, what might that be?
The good news is generating leads isn’t as complicated as it might seem, says Tim Musch, director of business development at LaCrosse, Wis.-based MarketSharp Software. Remodelers, however, are confused. “They’ve gone through a transition from getting traditional media leads, and all this Web stuff is confusing the heck out of them; they don’t know if traditional media just doesn’t work anymore or if they should put all their resources in online strategies,” he says.
6,000 Marketing Messages
“If they’re still using marketing strategies that were working for them back in 2005, they’re probably finding it to be a struggle,” Musch observes. Things have changed a lot. “First off,” Musch says, citing statistics from the U.S. Postal Service, “American consumers are subject to nearly 6,000 marketing messages per day; 52 of them get noticed; and four are actively acknowledged. Our challenge as a marketer is to figure out how to get noticed in this sea of clutter.
“Lead generation is a different animal today than it was just a few short years ago,” he continues. “The Internet has really changed the way people buy and shop, and we have to be sensitive to that in our industry.”
However, that doesn’t mean all sales leads are generated by the Internet and none of the traditional methods will work. After all, not every potential client is a twenty-something — and twenty-somethings aren’t buying too many home improvements — yet.
“When people ask me what’s working today, the best way I can answer is what will work for you is what you get really good at, and those could be things like direct mail and more traditional ways of getting business, even canvassing, where the industry got its start. There are companies doing great with methods like those because they became good at it and figured out how to make it work,” Musch says.
“But using the old traditional means is a little different now; you had better have those strategies connected to your Web strategy. Make sure that if you’re using direct mail you’re just not using the typical appeals and calls to action of saying, ‘Hey, free estimate; here’s the phone number; call me,’” he says. “You have to tie that direct mail piece into a very sound Web strategy that’s going to drive them online, and then you hold their hands throughout the process. It must be more than just having a website; it must be a very specific, systematic path you take them down to get them converted, first off, and set an appointment.
“Lead generation nowadays is really about the proper balance between your off-line and online strategies. I don’t think one or the other in most cases is adequate by itself anymore. Off-line is going to include some of the traditional like canvassing, direct-mail, newspaper ads, radio and TV, but you have to get good at making your online strategies cohesive so the message is clear,” Musch says.