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The Marketing Secret Weapon Sitting In Your Desk Drawer

secret weapon in your desk drawer

My dad was a real estate guy. And when I was young, he taught me the value of knowing your numbers.

When he dropped me off at BYU my freshman year, he gave me the calculator I still use to this day (I won’t say “over twenty-five years later,” because I’d be dating myself): the HP-12C Financial.

The thing is older than my oldest child, but it still works like a charm.

Since it’s a financial calculator, it calculates everything “backward,” which makes it confusing for the uninitiated. Seeing someone try to use it is like watching a caveman trying to operate an iPhone.

It’s pretty fun to witness.

Regardless of how you like to crunch your numbers, though, make no mistake—your calculator is your most important marketing tool.

By knowing your numbers, you can determine your marketing budget and how much advertising you can accomplish.

Let me show you a wild example.

An HVAC company wanted to target homeowners whose heat pumps were likely to fail within the next few years with a postcard campaign. The company had made a series of about six postcards they’d send every six weeks to a thousand homeowners who had heaters between 10 and 12 years old.

The goal was to get the homeowners to replace their heaters BEFORE they broke down. This would likely happen in the winter, which is a busy season for HVAC companies. Homeowners with broken heaters would have to suffer days in an ice-cold house while the HVAC company tried to fit them into their overloaded rotation.

As I reviewed this client’s marketing strategy, I had an overwhelming sense their campaign was going to fail.

Getting people to spend thousands of dollars on a problem they MIGHT have in the future can be a colossal feat. The client reasoned that “the longer you wait to replace your heat pump, the bigger the failure risk” would get people to take action.

I countered with “the longer a homeowner’s heat pump works, the more convinced they’ll become that it will never break.”

An ounce of prevention might be worth a pound of cure. But when we’re talking about people parting with their money, spending oodles of it on preventative measures isn’t something most folks are dying to do.

Think about it… do people buy treadmills BEFORE they get fat? Or those extended television warranties the cashier at Best Buy always tries to hock?


But then the client told me something that changed the playing field.

He said it’s not a matter of “if” these heat pumps will fail—they WILL fail, guaranteed.

He said these heat pumps NEVER last longer than 13 years, so homeowners with a 10-year-old heating pump would without a doubt need one within the next 36 months. Period.

I asked him how sure he was the pumps would fail. I asked, “Would you bet your life that 100% of the pumps will fail by the time they’re 13?”

He said he’d bet his life that 90 percent of them would.

Time to bust out the ol’ HP-12C.

The client’s average sale was $8K with a gross profit of $3.5K. So 1,000 prospects on the client’s list is $3.5 million in potential gross over the next three years—$3.15 million if you exclude the 10% of heat pumps that might not fail.

Think about that—a guaranteed $3.1 million in gross profits over the next three years… just sitting there, ripe for the plucking.

Are you salivating yet?

A better question… how much cash would you be willing to spend to get that $3.1 million?

If it were me, I’d spend at least 10 percent of that number: $310K.

Why? So I could unleash the Wall Drug method (incessantly hammering prospects with your marketing message).

To start, I’d send one 6” x 11” inch postcard per week to each of the 1,000 prospects. That’s 52,000 postcards a year for three years, totaling roughly 150,000.

If every postcard costs 60 cents to send, the total cost for the 36-month campaign would be only $90K.

This is chump change compared to the anticipated gross profit, so let’s bump it up to two postcards per week—a little more than 100 per year per prospect. That’ll cost $180K, not including all the customers we’d remove from the list once they actually become customers and we quit mailing them. And we’ve still got $130K and change to spend.

Next, we’ll get a little old school. I’d hire a college-aged kid to knock on every one of those 1,000 doors every month.

If he knocked five days a week, he’d have to hit only 50 doors per day—easily done assuming all the homes are in a reasonably close proximity. After a couple months go by, the homeowners would immediately recognize my door knocker as the dude from the company that sends all the postcards that keeps coming by. If I paid that door knocker $3,000 per month, it would eat $108K out of my three-year budget—leaving me with just $72K remaining.

So let’s think of something fun to do with the remaining 70 grand. How about creating something for my door knocker to hand to people when he knocks their doors? Like fridge magnets. Or calendars. Or an ice cream scooper. Something—anything—for crying out loud.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Uh, Rich… so what message goes on all of these marketing touches?”

Here’s the thing: At the rate, we’re hitting prospects, it almost doesn’t matter what I put in the marketing message, as long as it’s something like “Hey, we can replace your freaking heat pump when it goes out?”

Seriously—this is more about what the calculator says than the messaging.

Now put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Imagine receiving multiple postcards per week from an HVAC company warning you that your heat pump will most definitely fail within three years. How many weeks would it take before you started noticing the postcards? As in, “Hey, this company is sending me a crap load of mail!”? Around four or five weeks, probably.

Now think ahead 18 months. You’ve received two pieces of mail from the company every week for a year and a half, and the college kid has knocked on your door about 20 times. Is there any chance at all that you’re not aware of who this company is? Is there any conceivable way you DON’T know why this company is contacting you? No way, José.

This is what I call “Wall Drugging” potential customers. Hit them so often that they can’t help but recognize your name and brand.

Listen. I don’t want to hear, “But my company is different. We don’t sell heat pumps, and we don’t know exactly who our customers will be.” The moral of the story is to look at your numbers and determine how much you can spend to acquire a new sale.

How could you best spend that money? Use your calculator to find answers to these questions. You just might find a formula for success that you hadn’t expected.

Compliments of HP.



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How To Get More Sales From Your Mailers

milking new movers like the cash cow they are
Let me throw some numbers about new movers at you…

According to a recent Scarborough report, new homeowners are more likely than established homeowners (people who have lived in their homes for over three years) to invest in the following:

  • 53% more likely to repair or replace their floors

  • 47% more likely to replace their HVAC systems

  • 47% more likely to have their homes painted

  • 45% more likely to remodel their kitchens

  • 34% more likely to replace their siding

  • 33% more likely to augment their homes with additions

  • 32% more likely to remodel their bathrooms

  • 29% more likely to replace their windows

  • 24% more likely to upgrade the exterior of their homes

  • 14% more likely to get roof repair or replacement

In other words: New movers are a gold mine for contractors.

No “ifs.”

No “ands.”

No “buts.”

No bull.

Honestly, these numbers are no surprise. When people move into an existing home, there will always be at least one thing they want to change/remodel/renovate/add.

The question is, how do you make sure they spend their money on YOU?

The obvious answer is internet marketing: website, SEO, PPC, and so on.


Do you want to know an even faster way to get in a new mover’s face and make them think of you—and ONLY you—when they consider their project?

Good old-fashioned direct mail… and lots of it.

I’m not talking about one or two mailers. If you only send a couple postcards, you’ll get crap results.

I mean hitting new movers consistently and frequently.

How consistently and frequently?

Let’s dive into the numbers and figure it out.

First, determine how much you normally spend on marketing to generate a sale.

Not a lead—a sale.

Example: Let’s say you spend $250 per lead and convert 33% of them into sales. That means you’re paying $750 per sale.

Next, estimate the percentage of new movers you think you can convert into a sale if you consistently and frequently mail to them.

What’s that? You don’t know how many you can convert?

Newsflash: No one ever knows for sure the results a marketing campaign will generate. Not even yours truly.

So let’s just go with a conservative estimate of 1%. That means you sell one job for every 100 people you consistently mail to on a regular basis.

This means you have a budget of—wait for it—$750 per 100 new movers to cover mailing costs.

Stop a second and take those numbers in.

If your mailings cost $0.50 per piece, that means you can afford to send 15 mailers to all 100 of those new movers ($750 x $0.50 / 100 people).

This lets you…

  • Establish a rapport.
  • Get the homeowners familiar with your name.
  • Educate them about who you are, what you do, and why you do it better.
  • Let them get settled in and start a project when they’re good and ready.
  • Nudge them into taking action on the project they know they want or need to do.
  • Outlast all the other guys who send a measly one or two (or zero!) mailers.

But why stop there?

If you want to get MAXIMUM mojo out of your mailers, here’s what you do…

After two or three months of mailing your new movers, hire someone to drive around and knock on their doors to see if they’re interested in a home improvement project. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how open and willing to talk these new movers are.


Because a good chunk of them want what you sell… and they want it NOW!

Canvassing in today’s day and age may sound a little “old fashioned.” But try it and see what happens—I’m 99.7% certain you’ll experience great results as long as you mail your prospects frequently.

If you don’t want to take the time and effort to create a powerful direct-mail campaign, let us do it for you.


P.S. Here are some sample “new mover” mailers to get your brain juices flowing:

new mover mailer example 1

new mover mailer example 2

new mover mailer example 3

new mover mailer example 4


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Landing Page Debate

Why Make Prospects Fill Out A Form To Get Info… When You Can Just Give Them The Info They Want?

Why Make Prospects Fill Out A Form To Get Info… When You Can Just Give Them The Info They Want?

Should You Direct Your Online Prospects To A Lead-Capturing
Landing Page…

Or Should You Direct Them To Your Full Website?

By Rich Harshaw

Note: About once a month I answer questions that come to me via email or via one of my call-in webinars. If you have a question, please email it to me at

Hey Rich:

I attended one of your webinars where you discouraged using landing pages for capturing home improvement leads. You suggested just using your regular website instead. But almost everyone else I talk to says the exact opposite; they say I’m better off having multiple landing pages for various lead generating campaigns. Would you mind explaining your rationale in more detail? I’m starting to get a lot of pressure from some of these people (including my business partner), and I need to decide one way or the other soon.

Scott H.

Hi Scott,

I hear you! This is a thorny subject, and one that’s subject to quite a bit of debate. You’re right; I’m a staunch supporter of driving all your web traffic into you main website instead of splintering the traffic into multiple landing pages. I’ll explain why in just a minute… but let’s start this discussion by exploring WHY most people are proponents of the landing page approach:
Read More

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Flying Blind On The Radio

Don’t Be Fooled. That Sales Rep Just Might Be Selling You A Bag Of Magic Beans.

Don’t Be Fooled. That Sales Rep Just Might Be Selling You A Bag Of Magic Beans.

Sure The Sales Reps Are Friendly… And Sure They’ll Promise The Moon.

The Truth: They’re Counting On Your Ignorance So They Can Sell You A Bag Of Magic Beans.

By Rich Harshaw

Note: About once a month I answer questions that come to me via email or via one of my call-in webinars regarding different aspects of contractor marketing. If you have a question, please email it to me at


We are looking to start advertising on the radio soon, and have been talking to some of the local stations. They have all agreed to “waive” the 15% agency commissions for us, so that’s going to save us some money. I’ve attached proposals from three of the stations; they look pretty good to us, but we’d appreciate it if you would look them over and give us any advice or opinions. Any feedback would be great!


Hi Robert,

Thanks for giving us an opportunity to look over this and give you some guidance. Unfortunately, the proposals sent to you by these three stations are all trying to lure you into making uninformed decisions.

The fact that they are waiving the agency commission is a smokescreen—don’t let them fool you into thinking that they’re doing you any favors. In fact, there’s a 99% chance these schedules are TERRIBLE.
Read More

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