Marketing is one of the hardest parts of business. You’re spending money on something that may never come back around and has no intrinsic value. Even when marketing seems high or low it doesn't really mean it is or isn't working. Consider spending 15% on marketing. If you spend $15 and you're making $100 that's great. The problem is when a business runs a bunch of different marketing campaigns on different media. One could be bringing in $100 at 3% and the other is bringing in $100 at 13%. You now have a large marketing expense and you’re not sure what’s working. Do you see the problem? If you were tracking which campaign is working, you could cut back marketing significantly and still bring in more money. You should do two things when tracking your marketing.
1. Whenever a new customer contacts your company, ask where they heard about your company. This information should also go into your CRM database to track which customers are from which marketing piece. This will tell you the price point per job you’re getting from a piece of marketing. For example you got 100 calls from a postcard with an average price point per job of $300 vs a 100 calls from a magazine with an average price point of $120 per job. They could both be great returns per percentage (depending on cost) but the $300 might be a better price point client for you. In window cleaning repetition or recurring service is a huge part of income so focusing on building $300 clients might be a better goal to focus on. Those types of jobs will also recommend similar jobs.
2. Track your coupons. The above is great because not everyone uses them but you still get to figure out where they found you. Coupons will tell you which offers are working. Add coupons to your CRM so you can track your discounts. This will help you see which offers are working. You might have a marketing piece that is bringing in calls but the offer isn't enticing. Maybe you can change the offer to get a better return on a piece that's already working. This can also be helpful for upsells. I would offer large discount on two or more services. If you’re tracking individual coupons you might realize your coupon works great but the upsell isn’t working. What can you do to make the upsell more enticing than the other coupon?
The window cleaning business really has its ups and downs. Our company was slammed about nine months out of the year, and slow for three months depending on the weather. January to March can be the worst months. A lot of businesses, not just window cleaners are slow then though, so don’t panic. Your marketing can really help this time of year. Two things to do. One, get all your maintenance stuff done that’s been getting put off all year. Two, focus some efforts on some more route work. Most route work is covered from the rain so it’s a great opportunity to try to get some new clients then. Don’t bid your jobs low now because you need work. Once spring hits and you’re busy you still want that account to be worth going to.
There are two types of marketing we’re going to focus on. Inbound and outbound marketing. In simplest terms inbound marketing is when a customer comes to you and outbound marketing is going out to grab your customer.
Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is getting out there and putting your business in front of consumers. This could be direct mail, door hangers, other print, cold-calling, commercials, trade shows, etc. Outbound marketing should be done year round. I prefer the shotgun approach which is just constantly get your name out there to a lot of people. You’re trying to build an association of your name to window cleaning so you become a consumers first thought when the service is needed. Even if they don’t use you they’ll recommend you to their friend. Doing this repetitively is important because consumers take time to trust your company. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t get a great return in the winter but it’s important because it takes consumer time to trust your brand, which pays off in the spring.
Keep in mind your target market when considering outbound marketing. If you're not in front of the people you want to be hired by, you most likely will get no return. Let me explain in more depth. I found a direct mailer that really worked. It went straight to homeowners, and the cost was split with other home service businesses in an envelope. This was a breakthrough for my mailing costs to returns. It was my golden ticket to expanding my company, and easy to scale. So I expanded, went into a larger city, and got a negative return. The reason for this was because almost all the homes in this area were rented to college students. My mailers were going to people who would never hire me. The point is do what you can to get in front of people who will hire you. Marketing without precise direction will get no return.
The consumer marketing process, widely known as a marketing funnel.
The first step is awareness. It could take a customer six attempts for them to even become aware of you. This is why being consistent is so important. You’re building a brand and you want people to know it. The process takes months if not years to get out. I’d recommend setting up a regular mailing year round that goes to homeowners. As your business progresses and depending on our area you’ll know your customer type. Typically it’s going to be retirees, homeowners, contractors, and real estate professionals. Put your ad in front of these people, and do it consistently. Outbound marketing isn’t traceable immediately, because people will hold onto print for months or even years. I had a guy keep a postcard for four years once, well after his coupon expired. Measure this over a year long period. Try to avoid coupon clippers, where people go strictly for discounts. I’ve found this will devalue your brand and they tend to be “interested” but not willing to pay an amount associated with a professional company.
Inbound marketing is the process of consumers coming to you. This could be SEO, Pay Per Click (PPC), blogging, videos, website etc. This should be done in the slower season. This type of marketing lets people know who you are when they come to you. When you’re busy at work and you're turning away clients, inbound marketing is incredibly easy to turn off. Sites like google, Facebook, bing etc. can be turned on and off with the click of a button. This is the beauty of inbound marketing. It’s something you can focus on in slower months and see immediate results. When I'm doing outbound marketing and we’re busy that’s great, but outbound can grab someone's attention next month which is why it’s important to be consistent. Inbound grabs attention immediately because they’re looking for you. So you can seriously manage your workflow, especially in a cyclical business by having your inbound marketing setup and ready to go at all times. Why should you pay for a click in the middle of busy season just to say you’re booked for three weeks. If you’re scheduled out for a week then consider turning on your inbound marketing plan.
Inbound and outbound marketing work together. You should be sending outbound marketing pieces year round to build your brand and remind your customers. Especially things like postcards will give them something to hold onto and save. Marketing takes so many attempts for a customer to trust you that maybe the print isn't enough and they look you up online. This is now turning into inbound marketing. The customer has become "aware" of your company and they're now "interested" in your company and making a "consideration" to hire your company. Even if you're not paying for online ads, you should stay active online to consumers can get the information they need before hiring you.
Your goal with marketing whether inbound or outbound is to push your customer through the funnel.
Direction - Give your customer direction like “get started”.
Urgency - Give them a sense of urgency with coupons expiring.
Reminder - Remind them of something like the holidays or nice weather for the spring.
Clear - Make sure your message is clear. Can someone look at your marketing and know what it's for within seconds?
Offer - Offer them something for free, money off, buy one get one, give them an offer that's easy to understand.
Ego - Make sure it's about the customer, not you. Boost their ego, not yours.
When I made my very first post card it was all about me. I talked about who I was, my experience, and blahblahblah. It was horrible. Nothing about my customer or their benefits. As soon as I switched my marketing over to things like "you've worked hard for your home, let's keep it clean" my marketing started to work. It talks about the customer, compliments them and tells them we'll work hard together to keep up their home. It draws an emotional tie to their most valuable asset and our company can help them maintain their investment. If a customer cares about your personal story they'll seek it out on the website or another inbound source. But on your marketing pieces, focus on the customer themselves and building your brand and awareness.
It takes time to build awareness. I love print media for this step in the marketing funnel. It's something people will hang on to. I've had people hang on to postcards just because it made them laugh. When I started my company I printed over 20,000 postcards. That was over a 10 year long period and in different sequences and amount so I'm not recommending you do that. I love postcards because I would print them in bulk at a cheaper rate and when work was slow I would pass them out door to door. I would also give out five per job per day to crew members to leave at each of the neighbors houses. When I didn't have time to do postcards I put stamps and addresses on the same cards and sent them out to customers. They seemed to be versatile and convenient on pricing. Keep in mind if you do something like this and use an expiration date then the cards expire. Your goal with this awareness, you want a customer to associate your company with window cleaning. Social media is also a great way to build awareness but I've found most of my clients are older and less are on social media. Maybe in a few more years or maybe even in your area this is a great resource for building awareness.
The customer gets a post card, sees a facebook post, or something else and that awareness actually made them interested. Hopefully they reach out either by phone, email or text and gives you the opportunity for you to push them through the funnel to purchase. If they don't reach out maybe their interest pushes them onto your website or something online that represents your business.
At this point they're actually considering using you. Make sure your touch points are in line. Remember touch points, this could be anything that a customer associates with your business. Consideration is really a point where the customer is on the fence and needs help deciding. If someone on the phone is rude, bad reviews, or any other negative circumstance they might get pushed off the other side of the fence. Be sure to work on those touch points so they get pushed to the right side. You can do this with a professional estimate presentation by using software, in most CRMs.
At this point your touch points look good and the customer wants to hire you. What can you do about it? Make their scheduling easy, keep your communication clear. This is a point to selling. They want your company and you should have processes in place to make setting up their appointment simple. Some individuals just want the work done so when someone expresses immediate intent, you should be able to close the deal quickly and get them scheduled.
They agree to terms and purchase your product. Make sure it lives up to the exceptions of everything in your marketing funnel. Rinse, repeat. You should be collecting emails to keep in regular contact with them and keep an ongoing relationship. Then your funnel compresses into intent and purchase, making sales much easier.
You can see that it takes time to push a buyer to a decision. When you’re coming up with a marketing campaign keep it consistent across all mediums. At first I had to determine what was my goal with my marketing? My goal was to collect as many leads as possible. As my company grew it became difficult to manage leads, mainly because my marketing pointed to have customers call. This ate up a ton of time on the phone to collect information. I realized I was asking the same questions and I could automate this on my website. So I changed all my marketing to “three easy steps”.
Go to www.website.com
Click on get started.
Fill in the form for your estimate.
This was a simple call to action that people could understand and get what they wanted. The best part was this took no time away from me or my staff. We simply got an email with all of the exact answers we needed to give them a professional estimate in a few minutes. I found that people who weren’t willing to fill in the form were the same people calling looking for the cheapest price. I switched all my marketing to point towards collecting this information from people, so I could get them a complete and accurate estimate. This also allowed me to stay in touch with prospects and offer them future deals.