Chapter Corner

5 Steps to a Killer Marketing Plan

Posted in: Marketing Matters, March 2014

The number one marketing question from electricians is, “What do I do?” The second is, “When do I do it?” The right answer to each question takes planning. The effective contractor marketer knows the answers long before the questions are asked.

A simple marketing “attack” plan gives you a strategy that considers the needs of your market and provides a year-round plan to meet those needs. It gives you a calm, rational approach to anticipate the slow times and provides ways to keep promoting yourself when business is booming.

The plan can also put your sales and profits through the roof, the trouble is 77 percent of contractors don’t have one. Instead, they roll along while the weather is bringing in business, and the minute it slows, they start desperately throwing money on an ad.

Without a plan a company is reactive when you should be proactive. Don’t fall into that trap. Your marketing plan also gives you the road map to ensure that you’ll arrive at your destination.

You can make your plan short or quite complicated. Without knowing your company size, market size, or company maturity, here is a very simple plan that can get most anyone along a solid path. In order to have a killer marketing plan, you must decide:

1. Who are you trying to reach? Determine who you’re going to target with this program and rank them along with the potential size of the market. Even though you would like to be able to expand your marketing budget, it’s not inexhaustible. So, you’ll need to choose your targets carefully and launch your message with precision.

One thing you should remember: an average message to the right target can do very well, even make good money. A great message to the wrong target will flop every time. You cannot underestimate the value of selecting the right target.

2) How do you plan to reach them? “Media” simply refers to how your message is delivered. Whether it’s a yard sign, a 30-minute TV infomercial, or a Facebook ad, your delivery method is your media. Choosing wisely is imperative.

If you have a message and you want people to respond, you must share that message through the media that makes sense to them. (Remember to keep the SAME general message across all media.) Select your primary media choices based on your target market size and media cost.

A business unwilling to operate through the media that prospects/customers are not only most likely to respond to but that offers a service to but that offers a service to said prospect/customer causes loss of business, lack of customer loyalty, and, ultimately, smaller profits.

3) What advertising tools and unique message will you use? It’s amazing how many contractors deliver the same message as everyone else and think that they will get different results by purchasing expensive ad space and time.

Peruse and choose the specific ads, cards, letters, scripts, and forms, knowing the ad “type” and the intended goals of each. (Also select any other ads that have been successful in the past.) Your unique message and your competitive advantages must be “alive” and simple to communicate in your media choices, through your technicians, and by those who refer you. You’ve won 50 percent of the battle by being different. The other 50 percent is what you say to whom.

4) When will you run your promotions? This question is answered based on the services you offer and how those services are affected by changing seasons. You can’t let the weather run your business, but you can partner with it to ensure a steady flow of income. Image and retention ads may be run all year long, but focus direct response for those times when you need to generate leads.

Many contractors think, “If business slows down, the first thing to shut off should be advertising.” This is like saying, “If an airplane slows down, the first thing to shut off should be the fuel supply.” When business slows, you simply market smarter by maximizing your contact methods. This can be done very efficiently among your customer and prospect base.

5) How much do you plan to spend? According to percentage of sales goals, the more aggressive your goal and the greater amount of “broad market” sales achievement required to reach it, the greater percentage you spend.

  • An aggressive marketer will spend 6-8 percent of total projected sales volume on marketing and adopts a forceful message with the primary intent of massive lead generation in a multi-pronged attack.
  • A moderate marketer will spend 4-6 percent of sales volume on marketing and seeks to achieve a balance of image and direct response lead generation.
  • The conservative marketer will spend 2.5-4 percent and tends to be more concerned with long-term image and less with “right now” lead generation.

What contractors need is a strategy that considers the needs of your market and provides a year-round plan to meet those needs. Once you build it, chart its results, monitor it, and then only modify what needs work. After the first real planning efforts, your workload is tremendously reduced.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson,Ink, a national marketing firm for contractors and an   IEC National Bronze Industry Partner. Insights readers can get a no-cost “Marketing Budget Calculator” and a free subscription to the industry’s top training resource, the Sales & Marketing Insider eNewsletter, by e-mailing a polite request to INSIGHTS@hudsonink.com or by calling (800)489-9099.