If there's one Internet marketing question we get more than any other, it's: Which types of online advertising work the best?
The answer is, "it depends." Broad questions generate broad answers (junk in, junk out). What works for Joe the Plumber might be a complete waste for Bill's HVAC company or Sally's Affordable Roofing Contractors (okay, we don't know any roofing companies named after a female, but there must be at least one out there!).
To determine which online marketing strategies are best for your home services business, get more detailed with your questions:
What are your goals? What would "fantastic success" look like at the conclusion of XYZ ad campaign (remember to make them measurable)?
How much money can you afford to put toward an advertising test?
What systems do you need in place to accurately measure and track your results?
What's a new customer worth to you (what can you afford to pay for an average new customer)?
What's your lead-to-sale conversion rate (this number combined with the value of a new customer gives you what you can afford to pay per lead)?
Armed with more data, most business owners could put together an intelligent marketing test. And this is exactly how you should think about your marketing - set goals, test, track, tweak, repeat! Every marketing strategy is a test or a series of experiments. Just like you want your sales people to 'always be closing' and your website to 'always be converting' - you want your marketing department to 'always be testing' (as long as they're also tracking!!).
Back to marketing strategy selection...
Overview of Online Marketing Strategies
For business owners unfamiliar with the online marketing "lay of the land", take a quick look at this chart:
On the far left, you have the online marketing strategies heavily geared toward lead generation - strategies like pay per click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), opt-in email marketing, etc.
On the far right, you have the online marketing strategies which tend to be thought of as better for branding (or, from our perspective, those that are simply ineffective as lead generating strategies!).
Sage Advice (not!)
Advertising sales reps (and people that have never spent their own money on advertising) typically pitch small service business owners on the power of advertising to increase branding and name recognition and the incredible value and long-term benefit this has for their company. They reference companies like McDonald's as proof that broad-based branding type advertising works.
Following this type of marketing advice is far more likely to result in you being out of business than it is going to transform your company into the next McDonald's! If you want to turn your small company into something larger than you, your son and a single truck, you need to focus your (limited) marketing dollars on marketing strategies that consistently produce cost-effective leads and new business opportunities.
The Marketing Reality
Branding and name recognition will be by word of mouth and referrals - built over time and as your company grows. Marketing tests that fail to produce quality or cost-effective leads can be chalked up to branding. Branding and name recognition is what you get when you don't get what you really wanted - new leads!
Make no mistake - we are not suggesting that there is no value in branding and name recognition. What we are suggesting is that making it the focus of ad campaigns early in your business is more likely to drive you out of business than it is to turn you into a business rock star.
As your company grows, and you have several concurrent marketing strategies consistently cranking out quality leads, you can start expanding your marketing efforts into the branding realm. However, you'll probably start to feel more like we do and focus your (precious) time turning the dials up on all of your lead-gen campaigns or trying to find new ones.
Learn more about which web marketing strategies work best for which types of companies. Join us for one of our FREE weekly webinars!
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About The Author: Ben Landers is the President of Blue Corona. Ben manages the day-to-day operations of the company including client relations, sales, marketing, training and development, as well as strategic partnerships.
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