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The Most Ignored Guerrilla Marketing Tool for Contractors

October 10, 2012

What is THE Most Ignored Guerrilla Marketing Tool for Contractors?

Are you losing Big Money by not using this common, but very cost effective marketing tool?

This may be the most ubiquitous and yet the most unused marketing tool there is.

Nearly every business has it, but rarely is it used effectively.

It is one of the most inexpensive marketing tools in your arsenal.

When it is used, it is usually not thought of as advertising.

Do you know what it is?

The Business Card!

Painters Business Card - The Most Ignored Guerrilla Marketing Tool

Photo Courtesy of KOCards.com via Creative Commons Licensing

I want you to remember something important!

The goal of marketing is to get as many different people in your target market to see your name and your marketing message as many times as possible in the most cost effective manner possible in terms of cost per impression, lead and sale.

  • Business cards are very inexpensive. So why are more people not effectively using them?
  • Business cards have two sides, but rarely do you see anything on the back side. When there is something printed on both sides, it is rarely a headline type statement that will cause people to call you.
  • Businesses will spend hundreds or even thousands to develop a print advertising piece or a logo, but how much time is spent on developing a good business card?
  • Have you determined your USP? If you have done that, there is a headline that you could place on the back of your card. A well crafted USP is an engaging and memorable marketing message that will cause people to keep and possibly even pass on your business card.

Now how do you get your business card in the hands of potential clients?

1st give all your clients enough to give to their friends and acquaintances. Most of us give our clients one of our cards when we first meet them. What a huge mistake. Every time you hand out a card, hand out several. When you first meet the client give them 4-5 cards. When you complete the job give them 4-5 more in the thank you package you send them.

And then keep sending them cards every few months.

Do you pay bills to local companies by check? Are you sending a business card or two back to them on their postage? Why not? If they are on top of things they are sending you advertising pieces in all your bills. Have you opened a major bill recently and NOT seen an advertising piece in there? So send them an ad with your payment.

When you go to the places your clients might shop do you leave a card? Take a loaf of bread, leave a card. Take a 6 pack of beer, leave a card. Now that does not mean litter the grocery store or local convenience store with your business cards everytime you visit.

What I am talking about is leaving a single card next to an item nearly every person in that store will buy from time to time. Bread, Milk, Soda, Beer, staples.

If one in a hundred or even a thousand gets picked up by a person who is interested or knows someone who is interested, you win! I make it a point to never shop in the same grocery store two times in a row. I make a circuit of the 4 in my area and leave one or two business cards each time. It would amaze you how many times I get a call from those cards.

Lets take this a little further

  • When you get gas, leave a card on the counter.
  • When you go to Home Depot or the Paint Store for supplies, leave a card on a shelf.
  • When you get your hair cut, leave a few cards with your barber.
  • When you go to the dentist, leave a few cards with the dentist AND with the hygienist. (The hygienist probably sees more people)
  • When you get your vehicle serviced leave a card.
  • When you (or your employees) go to the office supply store, leave a card.
  • Every restaurant that has a bowl, put your card in it.
  • When you go to a sporting event, take a few minutes and walk around and leave 5-6 cards on the condiment stands.
  • Where do your clients shop and visit. Make sure your card is there.

Everywhere you go, leave a trail of your business cards & more importantly your marketing message.

The Cost & the #1 Excuse

Yes, a lot of those cards will end up in the trash. So will much of the other advertising you do. How many of those door hangers you just passed out do you think are filed away safely for future use or on the refrigerator? Not many.

Business Cards cost 3-5 cents each. I pay 39.35 including shipping and tax for 1000 double sided full color business cards. How much does one job earn you in profit?

Make sure ALL of your employees, especially the ones that DON’T get cards in other companies, get their own business cards.

You can certainly wait until they have been there a few months, but you will be amazed at how much cards mean to people that have never seen their own name on one and how many people they will pass them out to.

Teach them the same guerrilla marketing techniques you learned here.  Just make sure you are not shopping in the same stores every day.

Give people an incentive to pass your card on.

Recently I was talking to the girl that works at my local gas station. She has been there several years and knows most of her regular customers by name. She also knows I am in the painting business. I asked her if she knew anyone that was looking for a paint job. She said yes kind of tentatively. Then I told here that if she referred my company I would give the people she referred a twenty percent discount (which is part of what is printed on the back of my card) and I would also give her $20 for every person that owned their home and allowed me to come out and give them an estimate and $100 dollars more if they buy from me.

I handed her 5 cards, told her to write her name on the back when she gave them to people and thought nothing of it. The following day I got a call from a person that said she got my card from the girl at the gas station. When I went back in to get gas the following day I handed the girl a twenty dollar bill and about 10 more cards.

To date, I have received 3 calls generated by this one girl in just 3 weeks. Was it worth it? Heck yeah!  So give people an incentive to pass out your card and then cultivate that relationship.

What would three hot leads by worth to your business? 

Do you think that those three leads are worth more than the cost of an entire BOX of business cards? How many people do you know at your local gas station or convenience store that could become the lead generating machine that this girl has been for me?

Have a great business card designed for your business! And then:

Start to take full advantage of one of the most inexpensive and THE most ignored guerrilla marketing tool for contractors!

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Why you should never buy Twitter followers or Facebook fans & likes.

August 27, 2012
Reposted from Impressions Plus

Why you should never buy followers, fans or likes.

Last Monday I got a phone call from a VERY angry client.

He is a home improvement contractor in southern California who wanted to know why he was getting no response from his tweets and posts even though he had over 5000 followers on Twitter and over a 1000 fans on Facebook.

He said, “I have done everything you taught me in that training about how and what to post. I post at least once per day on Facebook including photos of jobs, testimonials and even an occasional video of a happy customer. I tweet 4-5 times a day with 1 or 2 being links to jobs we are doing or have just completed and the rest being interesting articles about home improvements. I even respond to every new follower and mention I get. I am putting in 5-6 hours a week that I don’t have on this stuff, but I have not had one lead come from either Twitter of Facebook since I took over posting 3 months ago. Not that I ever really got any.”

So what was the problem?

I took a look at his Twitter account and immediately knew why he wasn’t getting any response.

I asked, “You are only following 397 people on Twitter, where did all the followers come from?”

His answer? “They were there when I took this over from the company I had hired to handle this social stuff. I don’t know how they got them.”

I think you can guess where this is headed.  The social media company he had hired purchased 5000 Twitter followers and 1000 Facebook fans to “jump start” his account. Not one of those purchased followers and fans was a real person.

The company he had hired never did anything else to build targeted followers in the city where my new client is located, so only a handful of possible clients ever followed him.

Once he took over his accounts from them, he followed a few hundred people in his area, but thought he already had more followers than any other home improvement contractor in his city (5000 is a lot of followers for a local contractor), so why bother spending too much time on building up more.

All the while most of his real, honest to goodness followers were family, friends and current customers.

So why is this so bad?

My client had paid to come to one of my trainings where I taught him how to build a following and how and what to post.

Then he went back home and spent 5-6 hours per week (I suspect that between taking photos and videos and writing the content and posting the actual tweets and #FB posts it was closer to 10 hours) creating content and posting to Twitter and Facebook for 3 months.

That is 60+ hours.

If he had just went door to door in his neighborhood for 60 hours he would have drummed up 15+ qualified leads and 3-4 sales. In his business that is $30,000 to $40,000 in revenue. At least $6,000 in profits!

Revenue & profits he had lost by spending time tweeting and posting to followers and fans that were not real, that couldn’t buy his service.

So what was the solution?

  • We blocked all 5000 of the fake followers on Twitter (it wasn’t hard to figure out which ones are which) which took an entire day.
  • Then we started following people in his area and people who were following local contractors and other local businesses.
  • We tweeted once per day to come check his company out on Facebook for special discounts and more videos & photos of jobs.
  • He also added his Twitter and Facebook addresses to his website, flyers and business cards and started passing them out.

In just 10 days he has over 1000 REAL followers in his local area and another 100 who are possible rainmakers (vendors & other complimentary businesses to his) and has already received his first good, qualified lead.

More importantly he has a plan in place to build up a following of REAL prospects and other people who can steer prospects his way.

We will check back in 90 days to see how he is doing, but in the meantime he has confidence that he can get good business from his social media efforts on Twitter and Facebook.

An expensive lesson learned to be sure, but a happy ending.

Don’t repeat his mistakes. NEVER, ever buy Twitter followers or Facebook fans or likes.

 

Doing it by the numbers

August 11, 2012

Doing it by the numbers.

 

Its time to start making the painting industry and the construction industry more transparent. 

What do I mean by that?

I mean building value in your products and services by making the costs in the labor more transparent to the prospect while building up the value of your (proprietary) products. It will help both the contractor and the customer and take away much of the distrust customer feel when choosing a contractor.

Start by showing people what it costs to pay your laborers.

  • How many of your clients realize that your workers compensation insurance costs 35% or more of the wages of that employee ?
  • Payroll taxes continue to go up every year and currently stand at 12% just for federal. That does not include state taxes such as Disability Insurance.
  • How many of your clients know how much of each job is in the cost of liability insurance. For many painting contractors it is as high as 3% per job.

If you sat down and showed just how many man hours went into a project, I think your clients would be amazed and comforted by the quality of work you are about to provide for them.

Let’s talk about the costs & steps of a premium 3 coat paint job with 7 preparation steps.

Cleaning a house properly is a two step process.

First you have to kill all the mold and mildew causing stuff that has built up on there. A mixture of bleach activator (Jomax), bleach and water will do quite well.

This is 1 man for 4 hours

Then after that dries you will give the surfaces a thorough high pressure washing with a cleanser to remove what is left of the dirt, grime and cobwebs.

On stucco homes pay attention to areas with chalking and carefully clean off any chalking or salty residue on the stucco.

This is 2 men for 4 hours

That is a total of 12 man hours total for cleaning.

Some old school painters believe that a hand scrubbing using TSP or other cleanser is a good intermediary step as well which will add another 4 hours each for 2 men.

The next step is to trench around the house and seal the substrate below the grade with a waterproofing material.

This is an 8 hour job for 1 man.

After that you must repair damaged surfaces.

This is generally the most time consuming part of the preparation of a house and can easily take 2 men working 2-3 full time days. Replacing rotted wood, re-floating crumbling and cracked stucco. Patching and filling other cracks.  Digging out rusty nails and other fasteners.

That is 32 man hours minimum and generally closer to 40 man hours.

The next step is scraping off old paint and sanding wood and metal surfaces smooth.

Depending on the amount of painted wood and metal surfaces on the home, this is at least 1 full day for 2 men. If there are a large number of wood windows you can often double this time

That is 16 man hours minimum.

The next step is to seal any bare wood you have had to replace or sand down earlier.

Generally speaking applying a waterproof sealant to bare wood is a 2 hour process for two men because it is generally fascia and other boards placed high on the home and requiring a ladder.

That is 4 man hours total.

Caulking is the next step.

Filling cracks and small holes in the wood and caulk around all windows and door casings to prevent moisture. This is an 8 hour job for 2 men.

That is 16 man hours total.

Masking and taping the areas that are not to be painted is the next step.

Depending on the number of windows and doors, this is generally a 8 hour process for 2 men.

That is 16 man hours total.

At this point you are a minimum of 104 man hours in for your laborers and you have not applied any primer or paint.

Now what does that mean in labor costs.

Most of the work so far has been done by laborers and not your crew chief.
That will generally mean someone making $10-14 per hour depending on region.
Lets just go with $10 per hour so we are talking minimum numbers.

104 man hours minimum x $10.00 per hour  = $1040.00
Total Salaries = 1040.00
35% of $1040.00 = 364.00
12% of $1040.00 = 124.80
2% of $1040.00 = 20.80
Payroll service = 40.00
Total Labor Costs = $1589.60

So on an average 1500 square foot, one story stucco house you have spent nearly $1600.00 in labor before you have even started putting primer or paint on the house.

On most of my jobs I also have at least 8 hours for the crew chief to add to that prep total at $24 per hour.

With workers comp, payroll taxes, liability insurance and other payroll costs that is minimum of another $300.00

So total labor and supervision costs for house prep alone = $1889.60

You still have at least 3 more days of 3 men at 8 hours per day to go.  A minimum of 72 man hours. The crew chief doing the spraying will generally make at least twice what your laborers are making. Mine all make $24 per hour.

So 24 man hours at $24.00 per hour and another 48 man hours at $10 per hour.

$576.00
$480.00
$1056.00

Total Salaries = 1056.00
35% of $1056.00 = 369.60
12% of $1056.00 = 126.72
2% of $1056.00 = 21.12
Payroll service = 60.00
Total Painting Costs = $1633.44

At this point you are over $3500.00 in labor costs

We have not even started talking about materials or sales commissions.

 

Does your customer know what these things cost?

If not, why not?

Knowing just how much labor goes into the job builds up the value of your service when they know what goes into it.

You don’t have to break it down into as much detail as I have here, but showing your customer that you will have 170-200 man hours invested in their home by the time you are finished with the paint job will certainly help explain why you are asking for $10,000 or more to paint their house.

It will help dis-spell some of the distrust of contractors.

It will make you stand out from the fly by night, back of the truck, low bidder contractors that many of these homeowners are used to working with.

Be the difference maker. Dominate your market.

Secret to Marketing Success for Contractors

May 15, 2012

The Secret to Marketing Success for Contractors

The Secret to Success

A good analogy for marketing success is a simple stool or chair.

A one legged stool will fall over without support.

A two legged stool is more stable but still needs support.

Once you get 3 legs, you have a minimally stable platform for a small stool.

To make a large, stable chair you will need 4 legs.

Successful marketing is similar to a chair in today’s market conditions. Marketing is what supports the rest of the company’s activities. At least 4 marketing channels must be utilized in a highly targeted marketing effort to provide a stable platform for the rest of the companies operations. The final determiner in whether to continue a marketing effort is whether or not it is profitable.

Don’t make the mistake of canceling a marketing channel just because it is not as profitable as your top performer.  This can lead to an unbalanced and dangerously narrow marketing effort. Set an acceptable profit level and measure each of your marketing channels success against that barometer. A good rule of thumb is 10 qualified leads per thousand dollars spent on that marketing channel.

Continue funding programs that meet or exceed that minimal acceptable profit level whether or not they are your most profitable methods.

Profitable marketing channels include but are not limited to:

  • Telemarketing,
  • Special Events Exhibiting (Home Shows and State, County and Street Fairs),
  • Direct Contact & Canvassing,
  • Door Hangers,
  • Direct Mail,
  • Directory & Print Ads,
  • Some TV and Radio,
  • Internet Based Lead Services,
  • Search Engine Optimization and Marketing,
  • PPC & Other Internet Advertising
  • Local Search Marketing
  • Social Media – Much more than Twitter & Facebook
  • Email Newsletters & Specials
  • Relationship Marketing Programs
  • plus a well thought out website and blog.

There is no one Secret of Marketing Success for Contractors. Its an integrated campaign utilizing many tactics that is the “true” secret of success.

Telemarketing is Not Dead!

February 3, 2011

Blueprint to Contracting Success Blog

Over the past 7 years I have heard contractor after contractor tell me he doesn’t think he should do any telemarketing or that it just isn’t profitable any more because of the Do Not Call List legislation.

Hold up on the funeral dirge for telemarketing. Its not dead!

While the days of the big (8 to 200+ station) predictive dialing equipped cold calling telemarketing centers are long gone, telemarketing as a cost effective method of generating leads for painting, roofing, windows and other replacement contractors is far from dead.

In fact today telemarketing may be even more vital to your overall marketing efforts.

What has changed is COLD CALL telemarketing being your only method of marketing. Cold calling to generate appointments has become more difficult, mostly because the number of possible prospects is much smaller with all those people opting into the do not call list, but it is certainly not impossible. And the advent of tax credits for energy saving items like roofs, windows and solar has made their jobs easier than it was in recent years.

Today you do have to combine a small cold call telemarketing work force with telemarketer or two that is focused on generating referrals, telemarketers that are taking inbound calls and following up on other sources of leads and telemarketers that are rehashing leads you have run in the past.

The telemarketing call center is now the hub of a multiple legged marketing effort.

Many of you are already familiar with my chair analogy for marketing. A quick recap: Just like you have to have at least 3 legs to have a stable stool or chair, to have a stable contracting business you have to have a minimum of 3 profitable marketing channels. The more profitable marketing channels you have, the more stable your company is.

In years past many companies relied on a one legged stool for marketing and when the laws and public buying habits changed, their unstable efforts collapsed.

Pacesetter Products and Sears AHIP are two great examples. Both had sales of more than $100 million per year with offices across the nation, but they were built on the backs of their telemarketing centers.  When the do not call laws came along, their corporate culture was so embedded in just one marketing channel that they could not change fast enough to survive.

Now these behemoths are gone.

They are being replaced by the companies that were already using multiple marketing channels focused on a carefully targeted demographic or who quickly adapted to the new environment to stabilize their companies.

The most successful companies are those that are using telemarketing as the hub and using multiple sources to keep a steady flow of leads flowing into the call center. Multiple marketing channels are integrated to create the successful and stable marketing effort that will be directing leads into your telemarketing call center.

But beware.

Today many companies are making just as fatal of a mistake as those companies of the past by choosing to make door to door canvassing their only method of marketing.

They have hired armies of poorly trained people and set them loose in neighborhoods across your town to attempt to set appointments for their tex-cote, windows, solar or other home improvement services. Some of them are not even leaving door hangers or flyers on the doors of those that are not home.

They are setting themselves up for a fall. Yes it is quick and fairly easy money, but in the end they will either adapt to the market or go the way of the Pacesetters and Sears AHIP.

And it isn’t just the big companies that fail if they rely on just one marketing channel as their lifeblood of leads.

So don’t allow your company to be the next one caught relying on just one source of leads.

What You Absolutely Must Do to Dominate Your Market

April 8, 2010

The Three B’s of Marketing

– Be First, Be Unique, Be Memorable

You don’t have to do all three, but it is absolutely essential to do at least one of them.

So what is unique about your business? What is unique about the product you sell? What is Unique about the processes you use to apply paint or siding or roofs or solar? What is unique about your warranty?

What are you doing to make your company or product name memorable?