Marketing Companies and Consultants take advantage of a contractor’s lack of marketing knowledge to squeeze more money out of them. It happens all the time… and most contractors don’t realize it.
— Your Marketing Company Is Probably Ripping You Off and You Have No Idea
I have a 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid. I bought it new on April 25, 2008, and it has run PERFECTLY every day since.
I initially drove it for a few years. Then various ones of my kids have driven it for the last several years.
Last July, at about 110,000 miles, the Hybrid battery light came on… literally the first problem with the car I ever had.
So I hauled it down to the dealership—they confirmed the hybrid battery was dead and wanted something like $4,400 to put a new one in.
I’m cheap, so I said no way and got the car back. It was still drive-able, so I was able to get it home.
I found a company online that installs refurbished hybrid batteries; it was going to be $1,700—still a lot of money, but cheap compared to $4,400. The company had to come up from Houston to install it (on my property), and they gave me a one-year warranty.
My son drove the car to college in Utah in September, and it worked fine.
Then he flew home for Christmas to Texas and left the car at the airport. When he got back, it wouldn’t start. It was completely dead.
I immediately started cursing my decision to get the refurbished battery.
I paid $200 to have the car towed to a dealership in Provo, about 45 minutes from the airport near where my son lives.
It took them 10 days to figure out that “we can’t pinpoint the exact problem but the hybrid battery and the electric system that controls it is definitely bad.”
So I called the battery company to see if they would honor their warranty; they said they would—I could either have the battery shipped up to Utah to do the work, or I could haul the car back to Texas to get it done here.
I tried to find a mechanic who could do the install there (the battery company would pay for shipping of the battery, but not the install). The dealership wanted $495 to install it. I found a guy who would do it for $200, but I’d have to arrange a tow truck to get it to him.
Meanwhile, I ended up buying my son a whole new car—I was so frustrated with that Camry that I just wanted to get rid of it. I asked the dealership what they would give me on a trade-in… they said $500—the car is worth about $5,000 with a good hybrid battery, but with a bad battery, almost nothing.
So then I tried to find somebody to haul the car to me from the Provo dealership. This is a whole other mess I’d rather not talk about… but I finally found a guy who would do it for $800.
So my choices were:
Pay the dealership $495 to install the replacement battery that would be shipped from the battery company
Pay a guy $200 to install it, but have to pay another $50 to $100 and the hassle of arranging to get it towed to him
Either way, I’d have to get the running car back to Texas so I could sell it—either haul it or fly up and drive it down… either way probably $500 to $800
Give it to the dealership for $500
After much tribulation and delay, I finally paid a guy $800 to haul it to my house. It would normally be about $600, but it costs extra to haul a non-running car.
Today, the car finally got to my house.
The guy pulled up in front of my home and knocked on the door. I asked if there was any way to navigate his car hauler onto my driveway, so the Camry wouldn’t be on the street. He looked at me funny and said, “I don’t have to do that. I’ll just drive the car.”
I said, “What do you mean? The car doesn’t run.”
He said, “Yes, it does. I drove it up on the car hauler.”
I said, “What the heck are you talking about. The hybrid battery is dead.”
He said, “No, I think it’s just the regular car (starter) battery. I haul these hybrids all the time. The dealership always says the hybrid battery is dead, but lots of times it’s just the regular battery.”
He drove it off the truck and onto my driveway. He showed me that he had connected a portable jump charger unit to the battery—with that it started and ran fine.
The entire time, it was just a garden variety dead battery. $79 at Wal-Mart.
I paid $200 (tow) and $110 (diagnostics at the dealership) and $800 (to haul the car) to get it to my driveway. Two months—MONTHS—worth of unnecessary aggravation.
Sound familiar, contractors?
Tons of Marketing Companies and SEO/PPC Consultants take advantage of a contractor’s lack of marketing knowledge to squeeze more money out of them. It happens ALL THE TIME… and most contractors don’t realize it. (It’s probably even happened to you!)
At MYM, we hate that crap.
We’re always honest. We always play by the books. And we never sell you stuff you don’t need.
We know you’re no expert. You come to us because you NEED an expert. And we take that responsibility seriously.
Remember when Thanksgiving and Black Friday were their own separate things? You know, before Black Friday bled into Thanksgiving Thursday?
These two days used to synergize so well.
Here’s how things would go:
9am-4pm: Shove that 20lb turkey in the oven; get side dishes and dessert prepared.
5pm: Sit down to dinner with the family.
6:30pm: Trudge your bloated self to the living room to watch a little football. (That second piece of pumpkin pie? Not your best idea.)
7:30pm: Get annoyed when Uncle Bob starts talking politics after one too many beers.
8pm: Kick Uncle Bob out.
8:30: Clean up.
10pm: Go to bed to get plenty of rest for the 5am store opening times on Black Friday.
But over the past few years, this timeline has changed for some families.
Black Friday slowly started creeping backward, truncating Thanksgiving Day family festivities.
5am Friday openings became 2am Friday openings. Then 12am Friday openings. Then 10pm THURSDAY openings.
Today, many brick-and-mortar retailers open as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving Day. Some even earlier than that.
You can almost feel one of the only family-oriented holidays left being slowly killed by commercialism.
If you’re upset about that, I’ve got news for you: retailers don’t care. And when I look at it from a business perspective, I can’t say I blame them.
Don’t get me wrong…
I LOVE spending time with my family on Thanksgiving. I LOVE watching the Dallas Cowboys with my sons every year. And camping in front of Best Buy for hours, days, or weeks to get deal on a TV is not my thing. But I also understand that companies like Best Buy now need to take drastic action to stay afloat.
Consider this: Nine brick-and-mortar retailers have filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
These are big names, too, like Sears, Macy’s, and J.C. Penny. The places you’ve shopped at for decades.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s sales have shot from $16 billion to $80 billion since 2010.
To stay competitive, brick-and-mortar stores have had to get cutthroat. And that means carving time out of Turkey Day.
Though in-store sales are slumping, Thanksgiving is now a HUGE day for stores. In 2015, 35 million people went out and shopped on Thanksgiving, resulting in billions of dollars in sales.
In addition, data shows 70% of consumer spending happens at the first two stores people visit on Thanksgiving/Black Friday.
So you can see why Thanksgiving is too important for brick-and-mortar retailers NOT to be open on.
These companies don’t care if some people think they are ruining the one day a year meant for family bonding. Those aren’t the people these businesses are targeting.
The ones they ARE targeting are those who don’t mind hitting up some stores for some deals after chowing down on some pumpkin pie and watching a little pigskin.
This strategy of “exclusion” is smart marketing. And it’s a tactic contractors should copy.
Focus on YOUR market.
Don’t worry about the rest.
Don’t worry about alienating people who wouldn’t buy from you anyway. You’ll never get their business, so who cares?
Instead, focus your marketing on YOUR customer demographic. Be specific about who you are, what you do, who you work for, and who you DON’T.
You can do this in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:
Be up-front about having higher prices (and therefore higher quality). You’ll filter out the price shoppers, while landing the high-end affluent clients you want.
Admit you may not be the fastest (but only because you take the time to do everything perfectly). You won’t have to worry about taking calls from homeowners who want a project done yesterday.
If you do have lower prices, shout it from the rooftops. Spirit Airlines markets itself as a low-cost airline to attract clientele that doesn’t care about pretentious extras and “flying fancy.” If you do this, though, make sure you detail WHY you have lower prices. Do you keep your overhead low? Do you buy directly from the manufacturer? If so, say so. You want people to know that your prices are lower because you’re smart… not because you sacrifice quality.
Make it abundantly clear that ALL you do is kitchen remodeling… or windows… or commercial roofing… or contractor marketing (wink, wink). You won’t have to waste time talking to people who want what you don’t offer.
But a few smart remodelers have asked me the one question that shows they really “get it.”
That question is…
“What Is The Maximum Number Of Leads Can You Get Me?”
Now THIS is a great question.
Think about it.
If I can really get you high-quality leads (not clicks, but LEADS) with an absolute guaranteed max cost of $200 (most clients come in between $120 and $165)… why on Earth you would NOT want every single lead I could possibly get for you?
One smart window company in Pennsylvania called me and said, “I’ll start with 100 a month, then up it as many as you can deliver starting in January.”
Another intrepid remodeler in Milwaukee simply said, “I’ll take 1,000 a month if you can generate them—but it will take me a few weeks to up my capacity to handle them all.”
(I love the Milwaukee remodeler’s spirit, but we can’t deliver THAT many leads in the Milwaukee area, lol. We estimate 130 to 180 per month for that market.)
And why not dream big? No-Risk PPC Lead Generation is the easiest and most cost-effective way to generate leads and spike sales.
Case in point…
One of our clients spends $70,000 a month on PPC. He just sold his company to a private equity firm for MEGA bucks.
Another one of our clients averages $230,000 a month on PPC. Yes, two-hundred and thirty thousand dollars a month. They just sold to a different private equity firm for MEGA-ER bucks.
Yes, your company may be smaller, and unable to the amount of leads these guys can.
But for crying out loud… some people have asked me the MINIMUM number of leads No-Risk PPC can generate.
Honestly, I don’t get it.
Why would you want the minimum?
(I know, I know… smaller company, capacity, and so on. But still!)
Not many folks want to replace their windows during the holidays.
Or renovate their bathrooms.
Or install new siding.
Or anything else that would mess with their crazy holiday schedule.
That’s why most contractors make like a bear and go into hibernation mode around the middle of November. They cut their marketing budgets because they think they won’t make any sales during the time of turkey and Kris Kringle.
But that’s not necessarily true.
If business is slow during the holidays, here are 5 ideas to “un-crapify” sales.
As with all marketing ideas, these should be evaluated against your current circumstances. Remember that not every idea may work for YOUR situation.
That said, I present you with my top 5 ideas to fill your stockings with sales this holiday.
Idea #1: Admit Sales Are Slow & Tell A Story
Being honest is a great way to disarm prospects and get them to warm up to you. So why not TELL them your sales are slow?
Here’s what you could do:
Write a letter, email or ad explaining that the holidays are your slow months. Use specifics. If your sales slump 60%, say so. Specifics sell.
Make a great offer for people to do business with you right now. I’m talking something really special and significant. (Remember—people are less likely to buy from you, so they need an extra-big push.)
Be straight up and inform prospects that you’re willing to take a hit in your normal profits to keep your employees busy.
Limit the offer to a small number of people. Then stick to it.
I once ran this type of promo for a sunroom company during the 2005 holiday.
Yes, selling sunrooms during the cold months seems about as smart as selling ice cubes to Eskimos. But you know what? The ad was an instant hit.
Here is the first page of the multi-page ad we ran:
This kind of ad campaign can work during any time of the year for services or products that are “seasonal.” Just ensure that what you say in the ad is true. I’ve witnessed businesses take this idea to falsely engineer “slow months” during the summer. It failed unequivocally.
Idea #2: Focus On Past Customers
This is first cousins with the above idea; however, this involves sending a letter to your past customers. This works because it’s believable that you’d give your existing customers a special offer.
Here’s an example:
Fun fact: A large window company altered this strategy to net a $3-million December—six times bigger than their typical Decembers.
They listed their customers from the previous three years on a spreadsheet. In one of the columns, they listed the amount of every customer’s transaction. The company then multiplied the amount of the transaction by 8%. They offered whatever this number came out to be to the customer in the form of a check mailer.
Example: If a customer spent $10,252, the company sent them a check mailer for an $820.16 discount. This strategy was effective because 1.) it was believable that the company would offer their past customers a discount, and 2.) the amount of the discount was such an odd number ($820.16 vs. $1,000, for example) that it made the offer more noticeable and credible.
Idea 3: Position Your Product As A Gift
Position your product or service as something that can be given as a Christmas gift. This will work better for “fun” remodels and renovations (kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels, pools, sunrooms, decks) than for “functional” renovations like windows, siding, and gutter protection. (No offense, window/siding/ gutter contractors!)
Listen to this ad for an example:
A key aspect of this strategy is to determine a way to actually wrap what you sell as a gift, so you can actually give it as a PRESENT. This could be something like a small toy model of a kitchen, a book about sunrooms, or even countertop tile.
Here are some ideas for stuff you could offer to wrap for your clients:
Get creative. Make it fun for your customers. Contrary to belief, “business” and “fun” are not diametric opposites!
Idea 4: Buy Your Customers’ Christmas Gifts FOR Them
If you want to be on the receiving end of some serious “good will toward men,” take some of the profit from a customer’s project and give it back to them in the form of a gift card they can use to purchase Christmas presents.
If they bought a $30,000 kitchen remodel from you, don’t give them a “discount”; instead, give them a $2,000 gift card to Amazon or Target or wherever. Your customer will actually believe you’re Santa Clause. But instead of giving you a glass of milk and plate of Chips Ahoy, they’ll reward you with something MUCH better: repeat business, referrals, and awesome word of mouth.
The key to making this work is how you position it. Here is a great way to angle it in an advertisement:
“Have you thought about remodeling your kitchen, but decided to put it off until after the holidays? BAD IDEA! Right now, XYZ Remodeling wants to pay for ALL YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFTS THIS YEAR. That’s right, Meet with us and sign a deal to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, and we’ll give you gift cards worth up to $2,000 to spend on Christmas at stores like Target, Amazon, Macy’s, and others….”
Idea 5: Keep Your Pay-Per-Click Budget Strong
It’s natural for contractors to want to cut back on their PPC budgets during the slow season. Fight those instincts. Keep your PPC budget healthy.
Here’s why. Your competitors will have smaller budgets than yours. This will create a big opportunity for you to get great placement and a huge chunk of the clicks. Remember, pay-per-click is a great way to capture “now buyers” who are in the market searching RIGHT NOW. Just because there are fewer customers during the holidays doesn’t mean there are NO customers during the holidays! If you keep your PPC going strong, you will find those folks who are in the market for immediate action.
Combine this PPC strategy with one of the ideas above, and you’ll have a holiday-marketing double-whammy!
Bonus Idea: Do SOMETHING Productive During Winter!
If none of the ideas above make sense for your situation, you still have plenty to keep you busy during the down time. Use the time to work on projects that you need for the spring.
Here’s a short list of things to consider getting done during the holidays:
Improve Your Website: It takes time—might as well be doing something while you’re doing nothing.
Beef-Up Your SEO: Write blog posts that you can unload during the busy months when you don’t have time to mess with it.
Home Show Prep: Do you need to revitalize your home show presentation? Winter’s a great time to get it done!
Other Stuff: Are you using a powerful CRM software like MarketSharp? If, not, invest some of your downtime into installing and learning how to use it. Do you want to close more jobs… while doing so for MUCH higher prices? Get set up with hyper-effective closing tools like GreenSky Financing on the double, so you can implement them into your sales presentation.
Don’t just sit around and let inertia be your guide. Getting a head start on projects will make a HUGE difference when your busy season rolls around.