Chapter Corner

How to Find Out If You're Marketing on the Right Track

Posted in: Marketing Matters, November/December 2013

MoneyGraph.pngEffective marketing for electrical contractors begins with three elemental components: message, market, and media.

The message is mainly composed of the benefits your customers receive when being serviced by your company. The market is the group or groups of targetable people most likely to respond to your message. And the media is the vehicle of delivery – whether direct mail, Yellow Pages ads, radio adver- tising, customer newsletters, or even the telephone.

These elemental components are unchanging for electrical contracting, any other types of contracting, or, for that matter, any other types of businesses. Get the message, market, and media right, and you can’t go wrong.

Expecting to always get it right is to expect the impossible. No matter how well you plan, a part of your marketing success will always be based on trial and error. You can count on certain trends and techniques, but at any given time, any market or any customer base may not respond like you think they will. Yet there’s no need to consider lack of response a marketing failure. Consider it valuable information.

Marketing success means finding out what works and what doesn’t. That’s done by tracking. Another word for tracking is testing, but essentially, you can’t get any idea of how well an ad or promotion works unless you track it. When you do, you’ll have an advantage that pays handsomely.

Without tracking, your ads and marketing investment returns are a guess. Would you put money in a bank that said, “Your return on this money will be, well, I don’t exactly know because we don’t keep up with that. Whatever you get, that’s what you get.” You’d take your money and run, never to return.

One distinction: on a direct response ad, you’re expecting results, so it’s easy enough to chart every incoming lead and attach it to that ad’s performance. On retention marketing or image ads, this isn’t as immediately measurable, but you can start with your receptionist.

For any incoming lead, your receptionist simply says, “And how did you hear about us?” or “Which ad brought us your call today?” or other straightforward, friendly questions. The answer to this – amassed hundreds of times – will determine:

  • Your most profitable ads
  • Your most profitable media (online and offline)
  • The best areas of response
  • The richest combination of marketing methods
  • The value of customer or prospect lists

CustSvc.pngYour receptionist can keep up with this in a number of ways. I’ve seen very effective companies use a “tick mark” system of noting an ad’s response that is then fed into a weekly results sheet for leads and sales. I’ve also seen sophisticated contact management software that had a field for incoming leads per media type. Any method is better than no method. The essence of tracking is to find what works and how well it’s paying you back.

Don’t forget you can also track your online marketing efforts. Is a Facebook post or blog pushing to your website? Check the analytics. See how many unique visits and clicks you’re getting. If it’s hardly any, then consider revising your message and trying again. The great thing about online marketing is you can edit your pieces while they’re still out there generating leads.

The general rule of thumb is that if an ad continues to run or a letter is continually mailed, then it is regarded as having some success. But that is not always the case.

For instance, if you’ve seen one of your competitor’s ads for many years, you may be assuming he’s getting great results. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve critiqued an electrical contractor’s ad or sales letter that has been used for five or more years where I immediately ask, “And how has this been working for you?”

“Terrible,” they reply. “But it’s all I have so I keep using it.” A distressing reason to keep using any ad or promotion; it ignores valuable information made available by the ad’s lack of response.

Never overlook the opportunity to learn from experience – another elemental component of marketing, business, parenting, life, or almost anything else you can name. So as you track, you must apply. It is not enough to know something doesn’t work. You must use that knowledge to strengthen other marketing efforts – and turn your knowledge into a powerful marketing advantage.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors and a National Bronze Partner with Independent Electrical Contractors. Insights readers can get a free “Customer Retention Report” and a no-cost Fall Newsletter sample by emailing their request to INSIGHTS@hudsonink.com or faxing to (334) 262-1115. See other marketing reports at www.hudsonink.com or call (800) 489-9099.