Marketing Advice | A David Creation - Part 23

LinkedIn is Not a Private Club

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When building my Linkedin networks over the past few years, I’ve noted a number of small business owners and executives that put their profile on “private” mode. In other words, if I want to connect with them, I need to know his or her email address. The main purpose of Linkedin is to get connected with business people. The more people you know, the better. My suggest is simple: “Approve Everyone.” You can always go through your contact list and “weed out” any unwanted guest later. Use Linkedin to build your network. Once you have a contact, begin the process of building a friendship and a strong connection with key people who can help grow your business.

If you still just want a business or personal profile and want a more private club, Facebook is probably better fit for you. Facebook is not just about networking. It is either personal or business: you choose. Linkedin is for business: to grow your business, your network and your referrals.

Does Direct Mail Still Work?

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Every month or two, I receive a Blue and White advertisement from Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% coupon. Sound familiar? I do not typically need a 20% coupon nor do a buy a lot from them regularly. However, I can count on receiving the coupon each month and when the time is right, I might even use the discount. I’ve also gotten so use to seeing their 20% off coupon flier that I can pretty much not even look at it.

All this was the normal way of dealing with Bed Bath and Beyond each month: I either stuff it in a drawer or threw it out. I never paid any attention to the advertisements and specials, because in my mind, I knew the general idea of why they were sending me their ads: “Buy from us and take 20% off your next purchase.” However, recently I received a plain letter envelope with my wife’s name as the addressee and the return address with Bed Bath and Beyond on it. Everything was typed, no logos. Being a marketing guy, I wanted to know what they were up to in their latest direct mail campaign! Why the change?

When I opened the envelope, I received a blue and white 20% advertising flier. In fact, I believe it was 100% the same as the ones I typically receive. The only difference: it was in a white envelope. They did something different to get a better open rate. Maybe they realized people were stuffing or throwing them out instead of using them. Maybe people got too familiar with them! I strongly believe that because of their name recognition and their new “white envelope campaign” homeowners were just as curious as I was as they opened the mail piece. Maybe people even looked at the blue advertisement to see if it was different too. Whatever the case, Bed Bath and Beyond, a major retail chain in America is still doing Direct Mail. They have not stopped!

So, does direct mail still work? If someone with the big bucks like BB&B still do it, I must believe that direct mail still works. However, the campaign still must strike interest to the potential buyer and remain consistent. The bottom line: don’t stop sending your mailers. Make sure you track results, make any necessary changes to the way you send them or the offer, and keep sending those mailers!

BB&B Envelope

BB&B2

How Unique is Your Customer Guarantee

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I have been helping a client come up with a customer promise and guarantee and could not help but think about Nordstrom. They have one of the best guarantees in all of the retails chains across America, and no one can come close because it is what Nordstrom practices everyday! Their guarantee is known by us all: if you are not happy, bring it back! Period! When you step inside a Nordstrom to return an item or even with a complaint, you probably will never feel like you are not important. Instead, they treat you with respect and take care of your needs right away!

So, I would strongly suggest that contractors think carefully about their guarantee. If you have one already, revisit it. How is it unique? Make sure you stand out among your competition as having the best guarantee in your area and your customers love it too! Oh…and sometimes the guarantee is not just in written form. You have to put it into practice!

How Often Should I Blog

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Screen shot 2009-10-29 at 9.17.08 AMI get asked the question, “How often should I blog” frequently. I typically tell contractors once a week is just fine. If you try to do a couple blogs per week, quite frankly, you’ll burn out and end up posting every six months! Don’t believe me? I have seen dozens of painter and contractor blogs with post dates ranging from 2 months to almost a year between post! It means they got too busy, did it too much in the beginning or ran out stuff to write about.

My suggestion is to plan out the blogs you will write, set a date and approximate time on your schedule of when you will write the blog. It is important to turn off your phone and shut down your email so you can concentrate! When I say to “plan out your blogs” what I mean by that is to keep a Project List or Memo of Blog Titles. Great writers probably spend more time on their titles to an article rather than the article itself! So once you have a title in your mind, put it on paper. As you begin building your list, writing a blog once a week will be easy.

Now, I must point out one more thing about the frequency of blogging! While writing often is very important, the quality of your content is just as if not more important than the frequency. If you are a painting contractor writing about how to plant flowers, you will probably notice you will be getting a lot of “green thumb” or garden lovers reading your blog and comment. While that may be good for branding, I’m not sure you’ll get a lot of leads. The purpose of blogging for a contractor is to brand and get good leads!

Great Marketing Tips From Seth Godin

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SG Blog copy

I have been introduced to a marketing guru named “Seth Godin” and so far…it appears he has some excellent marketing ideas, tips, tricks, advice, etc! Please take a moment to visit his site and sign up for his blog. The best way to become better at marketing and running your business is surrounding yourself with people who know more than you! Seth Godin knows a lot, and I think we can all benefit from his advice!

A Great Leave Behind Gift

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Paint contractors try so hard sometimes to come up with a unique “leave behind gift” which will hopefully cause their potential clients to remember them. Typically they end of with a widget that has a company logo on it and looks cheap: a pen, a calendar, a mug, and a magnet to name a few of the most common items. I’ve even seen some more creative ideas like an engraved company logo on a very expensive, name-brand knife. While this may not be a complete waste of money and can have some good branding features, it probably will not cause the leave behind products to stick in the minds of your prospects. You want to give them something that will cause them to remember you more than anyone else!

What can you give them to do just that? Some painters are providing free popcorn at community events with their branded logo on the popcorn bags. If they continue to show up to these events and hand out free popcorn on a regular basis, people will remember them as the paint company that hands out free, good-tasting popcorn in their community. It is unique! They don’t charge for it. It is something a prospect can not only use right then and there but will actually enjoy the taste. My guess is there will be a few that will come back for seconds.

While I was working at Chism Brothers Painting, we created our own blend of coffee which we called, “Chism Blend.” It was roasted for us by a local, San Diego-based roaster. They did not care if we ordered 1 lb or 50 lbs. We then created an attactive full-colored label, purchased 1/2 lb bags of coffee and created our unique “leave-behind gift.” When I showed up to a prospects home for an estimate, I’d begin my conversation/sales process, then sometime in the meeting, I’d hand them a bag of Chism Blend. The bag would have the roasted date, typically the same week we hand them out. I then told people, “If you like our special coffee, you’ll love our painting service even more!” I created a coffee blend, for my gift to prospects because I had a creative analogy to share with each one of them about the similarities of fine coffee and exceptional painting. It at least made people to smile! Did the idea work? I once sold a large repainting project (over $50,000) using my coffee gift. I showed up for the first estimate with a 1/2 lb bag. It was a great conversational starter. I then found out who was bidding the job (my main competitor vs. me) and so I showed up again a couple days later with another 1/2 lb. The client was so excited to receive the coffee and thanked me over an over again. He told me, “I was hoping I could have gotten another bag! I loved it.” How much did it cost me? An hour of my time and less than $6 worth of coffee. The client and I built a relationship because I connected with him using coffee. The coffee gift is something they can use, not once but a number of times throughout a two-week period…with my logo on the front of the bag every time they open it!

So pick something fun and completely different and run with it. Be known for that leave behind gift in your area! It will work!

If you need help brainstorming your unique leave-behind gift, I’d love to help!

A Personal Note to Your Existing Clients

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Dear Mr. CustomerAll of us are excited about the new ways we can market our services via the web and email: writing blogs, email newsletters, Facebook and more. However, sometimes it is good to try the old traditional way of marketing like writing a personal letter to your clients.

Instead of designing your monthly or quarterly newsletter this fall, try out my suggestion. Write an update about your company that is personal and truly down to earth. Your clients hired you in the beginning because they liked you, not your logo, your trucks or branding: though that may have caused them to be interested. They liked the person behind the brand! They felt comfortable that you and your team would do a good job on their home. Therefore, write them an update on how you and your team are doing. Tell them what you’ve been up to lately, any major changes you’ve made in your personal or business life such as “I just ran the Boston Marathon for the first time!” or “My oldest son just graduated from the Naval Academy…” etc. Don’t try to sell your services. Just write like you would to a friend and see what happens!

I spoke to a painting client who tried this “technique” out when he started a new painting business. He had broken up a partnership and started a brand new painting business and still had a small client list of over 100 people. He wrote a very simple letter telling them about his new company without trying to sell himself. Within days, he had 11 leads and closed 8 jobs! Not bad for spending less than $200 on stamps and a couple hours of time! My father’s company, Chism Brothers Painting, just recently did something similar. Instead of sending out their normal fall newsletter, they wrote a regular-old letter that gave their clients an update on their company and family life. 48 hours after people received the letter, Mike Chism (owner) had 4 quality painting leads from very good clients. He then received several emails thanking him for sending the letter and sang his praises for being such a great service company. One customer even told him she had made changes in her business and customer service department because of how he treated his clients! Wow!

So, try sending out a well-written letter, fold it up, stick it in a blank #10 envelope (with no window), type or hand-write your customers address, stick a stamp on it…and send it out! The time and cost is well worth it. Your clients will not be offended and will fill like part of the family!

Painter For a Day Marketing Assistance

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Chism PFDFor those of you who are familiar with the Painter For a Day (PFD) program and wish to have assistance in beginning this in your business or need help with implementing it, I would love to help. My father, Mike Chism, was the original founder of the Painter For a Day concept for his painting company in San Diego, Chism Brothers Painting. He original started the program to service his existing clients who had small to-do items. When I came on to work for him full time, I began to see the benefit of marketing the PFD to potential clients so they could sample our fine painting services. My dad and I worked many long hours fine tuning the way the program worked at Chism Brothers and made it into a very successful part of our company.

After attending many PDCA and painting conferences and sharing our PFD success, many other painting owners began to like the concept and began to market their own Painter For a Day program. When I talk with painting contractors to do who use the PFD in their own business, they still struggle with how to sell and market the idea successfully. This is why I am offering my assistance to my clients, Summit members and professional PDCA members who are not direct competitors of my father or my clients! I can answer questions, help with the sales process, marketing ideas and even customizing proposal forms.

Email or Call me anytime! Request David’s Help

Samples of Quality Painting Websites

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Updated 3/2018

Below is a list of a few of the websites Pioneer Design (my web design partner) and myself have been involved with the past few years.

Our sites might have some similarities between them, but all these sites were built from the ground up. These are not themes or templates.

The cost on these sites also varies depending on several factors. Because these are all built from scratch, a lot of planning goes into them up front. The customer will answer a variety of questions about what he/she is looking for on a website. Our team also will discuss how large the site will be: how many pages, copywriting, pictures and extra features. Pricing for sites typically varies from $8,500 to a site with lots of content/pictures/features: $14k. All of our sites are built on a custom Content Management System (CMS), making it easy for your team to make edits to your site once completed.

Advanced Sites

  1. Chism Brothers Painting: High-End Professional Painters in San Diego & La Jolla CA: View Site
  2. Allbright Painting:  Painting Contractor in Los Angeles and Santa Clarita CA specializing in both residential and commercial: View Site
  3. Commercial Painting Examples: Painters USA and Kaloutas Painting
  4. MB Jessee: Painter in Oakland / Bay Area

Starter Sites (basic websites with 3-4 pages. As a company grows and more money is available, these sites will grow)

  1. Karen’s Company: Professional house painter in Lafayette, CO
  2. Brooks Painting: Residential and Commercial Painter in Davis CA
Schedule your free 30 minute marketing call. Contact David Today!