Months ago I was watching TV with my family when a commercial came on promoting a show called “The Following” starring Kevin Bacon. It had been a while since I had seen Kevin Bacon because my reflexive comment when I saw him was, “Wow! Kevin Bacon looks hammered. How old is that guy now?”
The question had been strictly rhetorical; I could tell that Bacon was probably in his mid-50s. Nevertheless, within a matter of seconds my wife called out, “He’s 54.”
Guess how she knew how old he was so quickly? That’s right, she Googled it.
This is the same way just about every man, woman and child instantly discovers information about nearly anything he or she could want to know about. I know this isn’t a news flash, but the Internet is now in the palm of everyone’s hand — with astonishingly inexpensive and fast bandwidth — which means that everything is now instantly accessible.
And from a marketing perspective, that literally (yes, literally) changes everything.
Old days are gone forever
I’ll prove it to you: Let’s go back eight or 10 years, and let’s say you placed an ad in your local newspaper that would, at that time, reliably generate 10 leads. Given that historic lead costs used to be about $250 to $300, let’s just say it cost you $3,000 to get those 10 leads.
Here’s the important question: If you spend that same $3,000 on that same advertisement now, how many leads can you realistically expect to generate? I’ve asked this question at seminars nationwide, and audiences tell me the answer is now two or three leads. Same money spent, same media as before.
So the operative question is: What happened to all the leads? Surely, there are still people buying windows, siding, remodeling and roofing. So why aren’t they responding to your advertising anymore?
Answer: Kevin Bacon!
See, 10 years ago, when somebody wanted to look something up online, they would have to log on to their desktop computer and dial in on their modem. And even though laptop computers were being widely used by 2005, wireless Internet was still a rarity, especially in private homes. Then in 2007, the first true smartphone was introduced and, right about that same time, wireless Internet started to become more commonplace. In 2010, the iPad was launched and by 2013, instant-access Internet was available on multiple devices.
So 10 years ago when somebody thought about replacing their windows, more often than not they wouldn’t take any immediate action. They’d get the thought, consider their options for a moment and then forget about it. Three or four days (or weeks) later they’d see your ad in the paper and think, “Oh yeah, I need to call about that.” Boom — 10 calls.
Here’s what now happens to the 10 people who used to call you:
- Two of them see your ad and call — just like in the good old days.
- Four of them already looked you up online before they ever saw your ad.
- Three of them see your ad, look you up online, don’t like what they see and decide not to call you.
- One of them sees your ad, looks you up online and calls you.
All of this is just another way to say that you’d better have your Internet marketing act together. But for some reason, the majority of remodeling companies I’ve seen just aren’t getting the job done.
It’s not about the advertisements
To make matters worse, instead of shoring up their Internet marketing, most remodelers keep asking me the same old tired question: How can I make my ads generate more leads? Look at the numbers above again — asking me how to write a better ad that generates more leads isn’t even the right question. Smart companies are asking:
- How can I make my website work better so it converts more visitors to leads?
- How can I get more people searching for what I sell find my website?
The answers to these questions are complex and take time to implement effective strategies, which is too much to discuss in this column. But believe me when I say that these are the first and second questions to ask yourself from this day forward if you want to continue to compete and thrive in your marketplace. The days of slapping up a website and calling that Internet marketing are long over.
I’ll be discussing answers to these two questions in future columns. For now, just realize that when you get fewer leads than you’d like — it’s Kevin Bacon’s fault.
Richard C. Harshaw is author and creator of the Monopolize Your Marketplace (MYM) system and CEO the company with the same name. Recently, Rich has specialized in marketing for the home improvement industry.