Marketing Advice

Aggressive Prospecting

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In this challenging market today, consistent and sometimes aggressive prospecting will be key to keep your business moving forward. The idea of aggressive prospecting is hard for most sales and marketing guys to swallow. In a good economy, prospecting was easy. A sales guy didn’t have to do it! Instead, the office fed him quality leads all day long. If he was good, he’d close the deal 50+% of the time and continue this cycle. Now, being a salesman is a tough business, and it takes years of training and doing to become an expert. But, being just a good salesman isn’t enough when faced with difficult times.

Lesson from History

Years ago, during and after the Great Depression, prospecting, lead generation and closing was all the same thing. A salesman had to hit the streets, knock on doors, make cold visits and calls and learn all about rejection to make a sale. If he did not prospect he made no money.  We can learn something from that era: aggressive and diligent prospecting works! If you want to keep ahead of your competition and grow your business in a down economy, you need to have a prospecting plan. You need to get outside of your comfort zone.

Where to Begin

To begin a prospecting plan in your service business, start by hiring the right people. Make sure they have NO head trash and are comfortable making phone calls and meeting new prospects. Once you find the right people, give them the proper training to refine their skills, agree to a good commission or salary and send them to the streets. Their goal is to meet and greet potential prospects that would be a good fit for your business and sign them up for an estimate or meeting.

If you already have a seasoned salesman who produces great results, he might make a good prospector. You will just have to break him down a bit and get him use to the idea of aggressive prospecting. In this market, you need “all hands on deck.” All your employees must pull their own weight too. If they are not onboard asking for referrals or selling additional work, replace them.  You are building a team, a loyal team. Your job as the owner or business manager is to motivate, encourage, track results and reward for a job well done.

The bottomline is this: if your company is consistent in this market to actively look for work, outside your normal source of leads, you will sail ahead of your competition and leave them fighting an endless battle of survival. Be a maverick!

The Benefits of Hiring a Business Coach

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Hiring a business consultant or coach does not mean you are unintelligent. Just the opposite is true! Any small business owner is wise to decide on hiring a business consultant. As a marketing manager, I come in contact with many owners who decide against hiring a coach. Unfortunately, a large number of my clients who opted not to work with a business consultant actively have canceled their services with me. This has occurred not because I was falling short in my role as a marketing guy.  It was related to three things: 1) They were short on funds. 2) They didn’t budget the time to do what they need to do, 3) They lacked a business goal or plan. When I work with companies who have a business manager or coach, they are more organized and take their business seriously. To them it is a business, not a job.

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Open Rates on an Email Blast

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A lot of time is being spent on creating and sending email blast to customers and prospects today mainly because it is affordable. A service company can create and send an email blast in as little as 2-3 hours the first time around and 45-60 minutes for additional emails, depending on how much content they have inserted. Some email blast companies even offer free accounts, like MailChimp (a list under 500). So its cost effective and simple to use software, emailing is a great way to reach customers. The one problem that most companies I’ve talked to have had is getting their customers to open and view their email. This is known as “open rates.”The higher your open rate, the more viewers read or glanced at your email newsletter.

If you create a beautiful and well thought-out email campaign only to get low open rate, it can be quite discouraging. I wish I can share good news, but email marketing typically does not produce high open rates. Consumers are getting use to hitting the delete button when they see a familiar email come into their inbox. I believe there can be a couple of ways to increase your opening rate. The first way is simple: 1) Have a good list with loyal customers/fans. Think about it, what emails do you open on a regular basis? I tend to open emails from, Apple and Peets Coffee. Why? Because I buy from them and they have good content. I use to open emails from LL Bean until I started receiving an email a week. I thought it was getting out of hand and unsubscribed. So, make sure you have the right people subscribed to your emails and make sure your content is very useful and interesting to your audience.

The second way I believe you can increase your open rate is by having a good “Title.” Most professional writers and journalist, I’ve heard, spend the same or more time thinking of the title of their article as they do on the research and writing of the article. It is the same for an email campaign. Think carefully about what will strike the interest of your readers. I recently put together an email blast for an organization that had a painting tip that mentioned a bank and marketing. So, because my readers were painters I titled the email blast, “Talk to your bank about advertising.” We got a 40% open rate. The industry standard for a non-profit is about 19%. The next email blast, we got a 45% open rate due to another fun and creative title. Am I happy with a 40% open rate? Absolutely! Some emails end up going into the spam box, and there is nothing you can do about it (without paying extra!).

Finally, is it possible to get a very high open rate such as 75%? To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve never seen an open rate above 65%. If you have a list of 20 people who are absolute raving fans of your company, it might be possible to get 75%…but realistically, I’d say you have a very successful campaign if you are above 25%.Also, if you have a low open rate it means you are either sending too many emails to often, don’t have a good list or a clever title.

Coffee For Painting Contractors

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If you are interested in a unique leave behind gift, consider creating a unique coffee blend for your  business, packaging them into 1/2 lb bags and giving them out to your clients and potential clients. You’d be surprised at how well this works for referrals and more business.

The difficult part is getting a coffee company to work with painting contractors. They typically show a lot of resistance, because they don’t think there is much money to be made. If you are interested, I do have connections! Send me an email to learn more. I have done the research and have very good prices: cheaper than you can get at Starbucks, Peets, etc…and it taste good too! Fresh is the key!!! Email David

Writing Quality Page Titles For Your Website

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One of the best ways you can help your website have better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is by having quality page titles. Typically, I’ll see a lot of painter’s sites that have page titles that say things like, “Painters, Houses, Residential, Commercial, Somewhere City, Another City, How About Another City, Oh and This City, Why Not One More City.” This type of page title is written either out of desperation or a lack of knowledge of what a quality page title should look like!

Google, Yahoo and MSN are quite picky about page titles, especially Google. To write a quality page title, a description of the current page, try to simplify the wording and make it relevant. In other words, don’t “spam” the titles with tons of text. Make it short, right to the point and real. For example, if I lived in the town of Pillsbury TX and had a paint company that did most of my work in that town, my “home PAGE TITLE on my site would probably read, “House Painting Contractor in Pillsbury TX | Pillsbury Painting

Writing quality Page Titles will benefit your website in the long run. It makes you one step closer to getting better SEO results. If you need help in setting up your Page Titles, Send me an email.

How To Ask For Your Client’s Email Address

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It can be a rather daunting task for contractors who have a large customer base to call and ask for an email address. Have you ever tried it? I am sure you are mainly hear the following, “I’d rather not share my email address” or “No thanks. I’m not interested in giving it out.” “Are you going to sell my email address?” Sound familiar? Most homeowners do not want to give out their email address because they assume their email address will be sold or used to get junk mail. Why do they think this? Because it is what they’ve been told from their friends, “Don’t ever share your personal email address with a business or you’ll be spammed for life.” Now, we all know that we as honest contractors will not spam our customers or sell their email addresses. I have yet to meet a quality contractor that has done such a stupid thing. So what do we do about this problem? I have a few simple suggestions that work almost 100% of the time.

Almost every service contractor today would prefer email over mailing an estimate. So asking for an email address should be rather simple. The resistance from prospects and customers comes from the contractor not asking for the email the right way. Instead of saying, “Can I have your email address please?” Try this approach, “Our estimator will be emailing your estimate. What would be the best email you’d like me to give to our estimator?” When I’ve used this question, I almost have never received a “No thank you…I’d rather not share an email with you…” Let’s face it. Almost every homeowner has at least 2 email addresses if not a half dozen. Asking for the email in a positive situation produces good results.

Several contractors have asked me, “What if it is not a lead or sales call. Then what? How do I get my existing customers to give me their email address?” This is a little more tricky. You can try mailing them a post card saying that you are updating your database, but I don’t think you’ll get much of a response. The best way is to get on the phone and call ever customer. It is time consuming, but I believe you’ll get a 75%+ response rate and might even close a few jobs. When calling them say something like, “In the future our estimator will be emailing your estimates to you. I’m calling to see if you have a preferred email address you’d like to put on your file. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address (don’t forget to smile a bit when you say this part)!” or “In an effort to be more green, we will be using email as a way to communicate more in the future. What would be the best email to have on file?”

Book Appointments using Facebook

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As I mentioned recently, I’ve been looking into a program called, “BookFresh” as a powerful online scheduling program for service contractors. So far, I’m impressed. It works great on a mobile device too. If someone books an appointment, it send it to your mobile device and you can accept or decline the appointment! It is that easy!

I forgot to mention one other benefit to BookFresh. BookFresh has a widget you can install on your business fan page on Facebook. If you are already using Facebook to market your business, why not add BookFresh to your page! If someone stumbles upon your fan page, they might want to book an appointment at the same time! You just never know.

Personalized and Professional Voicemail Greeting Alternative

Posted by | Cool Software, Marketing Advice | 5 Comments

Thanks to my awesome web designer, David Guy, for turning me on to a cool program called “Snap Recordings.” If you are tired of recording your own voicemail messages and greetings, or if you just don’t like hearing your voice, have Snap Recording do the work for you. Snap provides professional voice talents to create your custom messages for your phone systems. Their voices really do sound great! The prices are reasonable $50-100. You can even have them add music to the messages. All you have to do is write the script!

Give it a try: Go to SNAP RECORDINGS website.

Painting Giveaway By A Allbright Painting in LA

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One of my clients, Josh Abramson, from A Allbright Painting, just announced the winner of his 5th Annual Painting Charity Giveaway. It was so touching reading the stories of the 3 nominees and hearing who one this $7,500 painting gift. Josh and company have done a fabulous job at marketing this charity event, but most importantly, A Allbright loves doing this. They do this event each year because they truly love giving back to the community. The community in Valencia really appreciates the work A Allbright accomplishes. It is a great idea to set aside the traditional marketing efforts to serve the people around you.

Great, job A Allbright Painting! To read the story of the family who one this year and a letter from the one who nominated them, view the site.

Oh…by the way, the winning family will be receiving an interior paint job by the professional painters at A Allbright completely free of charge.

Branding Can Be Cult-Like

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I ran across a great article called, “Your Brand as a Cult” this morning. It is quite true!

As a service contractor, remember, do not spread yourself to thin. Develop your brand. Discover your ideal customers. Go after them!

Stay away from anyone who will never hire you. You know who they are. Avoid them at all cost. Read this BLOG POST and purpose to make your brand into a cult. Yes. It is possible even for a small painting contractor to be loved by your customers!

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