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5 Tips to Close More Leads

5 Tips to Close More Leads

There is hardly a home improvement contractor that can’t use more leads to grow their business and keep their employees busy.  Leads are the lifeblood of any business.  Knowing how to nurture a lead through the sales funnel is a skill that many contractors lack.  Here are a few tips to help you understand where you can improve your lead conversion rate and your understanding of what went wrong, and what went right.  In no particular order:

1.  Are you fast enough?

People expect instant gratification today.  They carry around their cell phones and are used to getting answers at the touch of button.  Want a pizza?  Just click on the Dominoes app and get a pizza delivered in 20 minutes.  The instantaneous nature of online transactions have conditioned consumers to expect to have their questions answered in less than a minute or they move on.

If you are buying leads from such companies such as Home Advisor, then you know that you need to get back to a lead inquiry right away.  It is usually the first contractor that responds that gets an opportunity to bid.  With four or five contractors receiving a notification (and a charge) for these inquiries, the faster you can return the call to the homeowner the better your chances of having the chance to quote.

2.  Are you trustworthy?

Many small businesses don’t think about branding much, but every business has a brand reputation that develops throughout its lifetime.  A good brand has value to the brand owner and to consumers.  Both Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet make good cars.  Only one of them, however, can charge a premium for their product over all others.  Why do people pay so much more for a vehicle from Mercedes?  The answer lies in the strength of their brand.  A brand means trust to consumers.  What are you doing in your business to build your brand’s trust factor?  When you offer superior customer service, guarantees, follow up and show a true appreciation for your customer’s business, then you build your business brand.  If you don’t want to compete on price alone, then you need to develop a brand identity that differentiates and elevates your products and services from the competition.  People will always pay more for a brand they trust.

3.   Are you delivering a great customer experience?

From the very first exposure,  a potential customer begins to form an opinion about your company.   Your phone demeanor, your staff, your truck and equipment, the appearance of your website, business card, or advertising piece are all touchpoints that customers use to evaluate your worthiness for their business.  First impressions do matter, even if they are not in person.  If the customer experience is not good, the customer will go elsewhere.  If the customer experience is good at each of these touchpoints, then you have a better chance of closing business because the impression your company has given up to that point is a solid, reputable one.

4.   Are you getting a good return on your investment?

One of the biggest mistakes we see contractors make when it comes to lead generation is not knowing what kind of return they are getting for their dollars spent.  You should be able to calculate what your return on investment is for every dollar that you spend on marketing.  If you pay for a postcard campaign, you know how much the design, printing, and mailing cost you per homeowner.  If you are not keeping track of the amount of closed business you got from that campaign, then you don’t know if it was a profitable undertaking or not.  No matter what form of promotion you do, online or offline, every initiative should be tracked so you know what to do again and which programs you should drop.  Sometimes, businesses are just so happy they are getting a phone call, they don’t bother to ask where the customer found their number.  Something as simple as ‘We are so glad you called us today.  How did you find us?’ usually will get you the information you need.

5.  Do you test?

There are a great many options for contractors to reach potential customers.  Businesses should test any reasonable opportunity that comes their way.  This doesn’t mean blowing an entire marketing budget on a new initiative.  You need to do tests of any promotional activity you are considering before you commit significant dollars.  Online this is much easier to do than offline.  If you are considering newspapers, then a small ad is a good way to test the waters.  If it works, then you can test a different ad to see if the response is greater with the second ad.  If that works well, try a slightly bigger ad and so on.  Marketers should always be testing as you never know where the next really good source of leads will come from and it probably is where no one else is looking.





Why Are Most Lead Generation Services Not Worth the Money?

Why Are Most Lead Generation Services Not Worth the Money?

Not many of us have money to burn, so being prudent with your marketing dollars is always a good idea. If you are getting a return on your marketing investment, then you should be willing to rinse and repeat those efforts all day long. Unfortunately, all too often the lead provider has designed their program to maximize their revenues, not the revenues of their contractors.  On the flip side, many contractors don’t understand how to properly respond to leads and fail to get back with the prospect in a timely manner.  This is especially true if the leads are shared as the first to respond usually gets the chance to bid.

Most contractors that have had bad experiences with online lead generation programs will tell you that

1. online lead generation doesn’t work
2. they don’t want to pay for leads, just closed sales
3. they don’t like to have to share leads with their competitors
4. they don’t understand why they should have to pay more for calls than clicks
5. if they can’t get in touch with the homeowner, then how do they know the call was real and why should they have to pay?

Since we are in the lead generation business, we would like to explain a little about what goes on behind the scenes that cause contractors to either thrive with a lead generation program or fail miserably resulting in a colossal waste of money.

1. Experiences are experiences, and we have no doubt that this disappointment with online lead generation goes on each and every day.  We can tell you that based on our years of lead generation experience, lead generation for contractors does work, and work very well.  But you need to select the right program with the right strategy and execution in order to get the return on investment you need to grow your sales.

If we had to pinpoint where the perception that “online lead generation doesn’t work” comes from, we would say it is because the lead provider is using bad sources for their leads.  This might be leads from third parties, leads scraped from lists, or leads that have been resold too many times.

2.  In the history of advertising, no publisher has ever guaranteed sales or closed business from advertising on their television station, radio network, newspaper or magazine.  Money is paid up front regardless of the impact on the advertiser’s top line.  Advertisers pay for the audience who sees or hears the advertising, not whether it results in guaranteed business.

Lead generation companies have no control over how well a lead is handled.  They should not take the risk that a contractor can’t close a sale.  All businesses need a steady and predictable source of low-cost leads and that is precisely what online lead generation does.  It is quantifiable and trackable, something that other sources of leads don’t do.  (Perhaps with the exception of direct mail, but most contractors don’t track direct mail efforts as they should.)

3.  Sharing leads keeps costs down and ensures that the potential client gets at least one good vendor to bid on their project.  The big contractor lead generation companies such as Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and Houzz want to make sure that their number one mission (to provide qualified contractors ready to bid on a home improvement project) is fulfilled.  A homeowner will not come back to their site unless they have a good experience and got what they came for.

The big secret in the world of lead generation is to close the time gap between when the customer asks for a quote and the time it takes a contractor to respond.  The chance of closing a deal goes up exponentially when the homeowner can immediately speak to someone who can solve their problem.  We are now in an era where voicemail and answering machines don’t cut it anymore.  People want to speak to a real person.  (Ask us about setting up a 24/7 answering service for your business that will also qualify leads for you and set appointments for less than it costs you to buy coffee every day.)

4.  The only way a contractor will get business from a potential client is by speaking to them on the phone.  Clicks to a website (which is what Google sells in their Adwords program) are not calls.  On average, it can take from 6 to 10 clicks to your website to get a phone call.  If you do the math you will discover that a phone call might be costing $60 to $100 if you are paying $10 for a click.  If someone offered you a qualified phone call for $50, that would be a great deal in anyone’s book.

5.  Any lead generation program worth its salt should be providing contractors with back-end access so they can listen to phone calls that have come in, when the call was made, and the number the call came from.  This way, wrong numbers, missed calls, and duplicate calls are easily identified.  This is transparent reporting and contractors should be offered this fail-safe checking mechanism.

Given these objections and reasons why contractors might have a bad experience with a lead generation platform, it is easy to see how online lead generation can earn a bad reputation in the trades.  Use this list of 5 objections to evaluate your next lead generation program opportunity to weed out the bad ones from the good.


Lead Generation and Profitability

Lead Generation and Profitability

You probably know that online marketing works. You can’t grow dynasties like Google or Amazon if it didn’t. What you might not know is how well your search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media initiatives are contributing to your profitability. This article will summarize the findings of a study performed on the impact of online marketing on a company’s growth rate and profitability.

Growth Rate and Profitability from Lead Generation
Hinge Research Institute Chart

The goal of the Hinge Research study was to determine if online marketing was a prudent investment. It used data from 500 companies. Looking first at the average firm growth rate which is illustrated in blue, the lowest growth rate was experienced by companies that received 0% of their leads from online sources. The greatest growth rates are experienced by companies who get 40% or more of their leads from online lead generation. The sweet spot in terms of growth is with companies receiving 40-59% of their leads from the web.

Next, taking a look at the profitability rate which is in red, one sees that the more leads a company generates online, the more profitable a company is. Online leads are generally less expensive than leads generated from alternatives such as direct mail, outbound telemarketing and radio and television. More leads from a less expensive source lowers the average cost of a lead and profitability increases.

If your company wants to grow faster and be more profitable, then online lead generation will help you achieve these goals. Where do you start? Any marketing initiative you undertake online should have the full commitment of management. Start somewhere and stick with it. Benefits compound over time and you don’t want to abandon an online strategy right before it starts to pay you dividends. You don’t need to completely ignore traditional marketing methods either. In fact, the most profitable companies get 40% to 60% of their leads offline.

If online lead generation is a priority for your company this year, then we’re here to help.


Call Tracking  by MediaCenter

Call Tracking by MediaCenter

One of the key services provided in our pay per call lead generation program is our integrated Call Tracking service.  This service is included in the per-call fee for qualified lead calls.  No extras.  No add-ons.

Having this feature in your pay per call campaign allows you to track your calls, listen to call recordings, and determine a return on your investment in this program.

Each campaign we build for a contractor has its own dedicated phone number that we provide.  That number forwards directly into the phone you want to use to answer calls, whether it is your cell phone that you keep with you at all times, a receptionist phone at your office or an answering service that you may currently employ.  The calling customer does not know that your call is being forwarded; everything is as seamless as calling your number direct.

This custom phone number enables the back end of our system to do a few things.  First, we can record the date, time and duration of the phone call.  We can record the phone call if you wish.  (This is optional but there is no extra charge if you want to listen to calls you have received during the month for auditing or training purposes.)  Your client will hear a message that the phone call might be recorded, and you will get a whisper message (also optional, no extra charge).  A whisper message identifies that the incoming call is coming from MediaCenter before the call is picked up.  This message alerts you that you are receiving a lead so you can distinguish between calls that might be from telemarketers or wrong numbers you don’t want to answer.

To access your call recordings and data, we give you a private login to our back-end system.  You can check your calls 24/7 and check for any calls that may have been missed so you can get back to the lead right away.

We pledge to deliver qualified leads and we back it up with access to your data any time you want.   Sound like something that will work for your company?  Contact us to find out more!


6 Common Small Business Mistakes

6 Common Small Business Mistakes

Most contracting firms with less than 100 employees are defined as small businesses.  Perhaps your business started out with just one employee, you, and you subcontracted or outsourced tasks you didn’t have time for such as accounting, marketing, and reception.  Most of us have been through that phase where there is too much to do and very little time to do it.  That being said, however, the goal is to build a sustainable business at some point and it will be necessary to start putting into place systems and a plan to fulfill your goals of a viable, growing business.

Here are six common mistakes that small businesses make that we see every day that will directly impact future business goals.

No website.  It is 2014.  Your business must have a website.  People have a phone in their hand and will want to check out your qualifications before they call you.  This is not an option.  There are plenty of online services that you can hire that can get you a simple website for less than $250.

Lack of a plan.  They used to call it “just hang out a shingle and see what happens”.  Launching a new business, any size business, without a plan for success is a recipe for failure.   You need to have an outline of processes and procedures that are going to drive revenue and you need to know how you are going to deliver value to your customers.  You also need to have a strategy that will ensure a profit.  No profit, no business.

Shotgun approach.  Focus on one or two things you do well and forget all the other “shiny objects” that will distract you from your core competencies and most profitable services.  It is okay to test something new, but your brand needs to focus on developing a reputation for excellence in one area first.

No USP. It is surprising how many business owners don’t know what a USP is, and yet it is one of the secrets to business success.  A USP is a unique selling proposition.  What does your company have that others cannot duplicate?  If you don’t want to constantly be competing on price to win bids, then you must deliver something else that your potential customer will value.  Do you have 24/7 service? Do you have a free follow-up service call after 3 months?  Your USP should reflect your core values as a company and that will be easily communicated to potential buyers.

Carelessness.  Money is always tight because there are infinite ways a company can use it.  But there is no excuse for carelessness when it comes to what the customer sees.  Your marketing materials should be free from errors.  Your trucks should be clean and well-maintained. A job site should be left in a tidy state after each day’s work.  These are small things that don’t cost a lot but they do impact your reputation.

Customer appreciation.  Taking the time to thank customers for their business is a small gesture that pays big dividends.  We have one client that hand-writes a thank you note after each job.  The cost is minimal, but the effect is monumental because no one else does it.  People work hard for the money they pay you for your talent and labor.  Let them know that you appreciate their trust in you.



Pay Per Call Advertising by MediaCenter

Pay Per Call Advertising by MediaCenter

Most contractors care about only one thing:  is my phone ringing?  That is the basic premise for our pay per call solution:  it is based on performance and performance alone.

A pay per call program ensures that you only pay for phone calls from real, viable new potential customers.  There are no impressions, clicks or other metrics to bother with.  You don’t pay regardless of how many customers you get like so many other forms of advertising where you pay before you even see any results.

One significant benefit of pay per call advertising is that it is very easy to track your return on investment.  If you get 10 calls, four of which turn into paying customers who paid an average of $750 each, your ten calls resulted in $3000 worth of business.  If those 10 calls cost $300, then your return on investment is 10x or 1000%.

Our pay per call marketing program is the ideal solution for local service providers in the insulation vertical.  Any contractor that needs new customers to call in to schedule an appointment or get a quote will greatly benefit from this kind of advertising. (Editor’s Note:  As of 1/31/2017, our insulation vertical is no longer accepting new contractors.  We have sold out of every market in the U.S. that was available.  We are excited to add  the brick paving vertical to our offerings as of 2/1/2017.)

Our program is built to generate phone calls that are targeted and that will produce ready to act customers.  We don’t believe in paying for marketing that doesn’t produce results, and neither should you.  With our pay per call lead generation, you have the freedom to leave the program at any time – you are never locked into a contract.  Our mission is to deliver qualifed calls and provide you with a marketing solutin that will help you grow your business and not have to worry about where your next job will come from.