When it comes to marketing, companies too often focus on promoting their products but neglect to highlight their services. It’s a huge mistake. We spoke with Joe Crisara, a longtime service contractor and CEO of ContractorSelling, about why marketing must be the No. 1 priority of every service organization, why word-of-mouth advertising falls short and how easy-to-use online tools can attract customers and provide valuable insights into a company’s marketing efforts.
What is the value of marketing for field service firms, and why should they spend time and money on it?
There are really three parts to every growing company, and two are the most important. Marketing is No. 1. It’s important to make promises to the community about what your company does better than other companies. If you don’t market, there’s no reason to be in business. No. 2 is the ability to execute on those promises. No. 3 is the operation of the company. A lot of times companies grow the wrong way by putting operations first and thinking that if they build it, customers will come. Once the initial blast goes through friends and family, they realize that marketing is extremely important.
A lack of marketing is the primary downfall of companies because the flow of opportunities shuts off. Without new calls coming in, the company will stall — no matter how good it is at selling or doing the work.
Can field service organizations rely on referrals and quality work alone, or must they do more?
Referrals are great, but companies need a more predictable stream of revenue. Referrals are the result of great work, but if a company doesn’t get started with enough work, it will run out of referrals eventually.
Also, referrals are the result of having clients who are connected to the community. Today, people are more isolated than ever. They spend more time on the Internet and less time out in the community. Referrals can still happen, but they’re not as predictable as in the past.
Where should companies that aren’t marketing their services start?
The Yellow Pages used to be a big part of every business’ marketing plan, but that has shifted. Today, it’s not enough to simply have a website. Companies need a website with multiple landing pages because potential customers don’t search online for a trade, per se, they search for the type of problem they’re having [e.g. “Why is my bedroom cold?”]. For today’s 2.0 version of the Web, it’s not enough to have a main website that does all of the marketing. Inside, you need different variations of the website or microsites where you discuss reasons why bedrooms are cold and what your company can do about it.
Conversion via pay-per-click is the biggest move right now. With pay-per-click advertising, company ads appear next to search results based on keywords that the company bids on. The company pays only when a user clicks on its ad. The companies that are most focused on the exact problem that people have — are smartest about making their companies searchable on the Internet — are the ones that are exceeding their marketing goals.
What common tools do you recommend field service organizations use for pay-for-click marketing?
Google AdWords is No. 1, but many people do SEO the first day they finish the website, and then feel like it’s done. That couldn’t’ be further from the truth. The companies that are exceeding their goals use pay-per-click data from Google Analytics or AdWords to change their approach. Pay-per-click gives powerful information, but most contractors don’t use it.
When people pay for pay-per-click advertising, people think they’re just paying for the click. But one of the biggest assets you gain is marketing intel. There’s never been a better way to determine the behavior of consumers than by studying what these clicks tell you, including how much time consumers are spending on your website and how many pages they’ve clicked on.
With that said, there’s no easier way to lose a lot of money than by doing pay-per-click incorrectly. If the campaigns aren’t targeted or if they result in an advertisement that says one thing and leads to a website page that says something completely different, consumers will be turned off by that incongruence.
Beyond an online presence, what are other marketing tips and tricks that every service organization should be using?
Another mistake is that there’s a misplaced energy put into finding new customers. In today’s world, retention of old customers is the first form of marketing that should take place. If I had to make the phone ring tomorrow, I’d feel much more comfortable going to existing customers as opposed to new customers who have never heard of our company. So many people forget about that. They think it’s a done deal once you have a customer. It’s your job to inspire interest and desire in your clients to get them to call again.
You’ve been in the business for a long time. Do you have any more insights to add?
I think contractors are the reason civilization even exists. Without the hardworking guys and gals who crawl through the attics, basements and crawl spaces that people have in their homes, our society wouldn’t exist.
I’ve seen every disaster than anybody’s ever been through. It’s my mission in life to help people avoid the heartache of doing something incorrectly.