For professionals in the business of home repair, how you manage lead generation can be the single most important factor separating success from failure. There are two big questions that home repair pros typically have about lead generation, “How do I generate more leads?” and “How do I generate the right leads?”
No matter what home repair category you specialize in – roofs, siding, HVAC, windows, foundations, even landscaping services – you’ll reach a point in your business where you need to step up to the next level of sales. When the things you’ve been doing just aren’t working to grow your business in the way you want. That’s when maximizing your lead generation becomes mission-critical.
So how do you generate more leads and take your business to the next level?
To answer that question, it’s important to understand the decision-making process that customers go through in deciding to buy from you. Today, marketers often call this the “customer journey” while advertisers in the past simplified the process to the acronym AIDA, standing for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
The ultimate action you want a homeowner to take is to become a buyer. Before that happens, there are a lot of steps on the journey. All along the way, there are things you can do to help move the customer forward … and mistakes you can make that may stall or derail the process entirely.
First, let’s look at how we get customers to take their very first step on the customer journey of becoming a buyer: Awareness.
Lead Generation and the Sales Funnel
A funnel is a good way of imagining the customer journey. At the very top, the widest part of the funnel represents the entire universe of potential customers. At the bottom, are those customers who are ready, able, and willing to complete the purchase.
Our goal as marketers and salespeople is to facilitate the journey of as many homeowners as possible from the top of the funnel all along the way to the bottom.
Lead Generation and the Selective Perception
The very first step to getting homeowners in our funnel is simply making them aware of us. You can’t buy something if you don’t even know it exists. Or, more importantly, you can’t buy it from us if you don’t know we exist.
So, we should just tell people who we are right? A few TV commercials, maybe a radio ad and we’re good to go. Getting awareness sounds simple.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Every time you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve probably experienced the biggest challenge in generating awareness: Selective Perception. Think back to your last new car. After you chose the make and model, did you suddenly start seeing them everywhere? The fact is, there weren’t any more of them than at any other time, but your brain let you notice them because they were relevant to you, they had a new importance.
This is Selective Perception and it plays a big part in marketing. Homeowners sometimes don’t even notice your advertising until they’re convinced that it has some relevance to them. That’s one of main reasons why experts like RCG Contractor Marketing advocate an “always on” strategy for your advertising. In generating awareness from the total universe of homeowners, you never know which ones your services have recently become relevant to; which ones whose selective perception will let your message “through.”
Homeowners sometimes don’t even notice your advertising until they’re convinced that it has some relevance to them. That’s one of the main reasons why experts like RCG advocate an “always on”strategy.
Lead Generation and the Created Relevance
The good news is that we don’t always have to wait for homeowners to decide on their own that our services are relevant. There are a number of ways that home service providers can create relevance and generate awareness and interest in their company.
The secrets to creating relevance fall into the categories of messaging and media.
The first consideration in creating messaging that gets attention and builds awareness is creating a brand that customers can trust. Many homeowners will instantly weed out companies that don’t seem to take their job as seriously as the homeowner takes caring for their house. Things like your name, logo and even the graphics you use in advertising can influence homeowners’ perception of your expertise and professionalism.
Whatever brand you present as the outward face of your company, it’s important to be consistent. The impact of your marketing is the sum of every touchpoint you have with your customer, if these touchpoints are inconsistent and have little connection to each other, you diminish the overall impact and won’t be getting the most for your money.
Once you’re employing a consistent brand across all your messaging, you can also create relevance by helping homeowners recognize how your expertise can improve their lives. Many homeowners may not know what they’re missing, whether it’s warning signs of a problem or a more pleasant home environment if an issue is addressed. As humans, we get used to our surroundings and grow “blind” to the alternatives. The best lead generation advertising gives examples, dramatizations and credible testimony that opens homeowners’ eyes and makes our services relevant to their personal situation.
Relevance, and the attention, can also be enhanced by the media you employ to deliver your message. Today’s digital media – and even traditional TV and radio – offer more opportunities than ever before to zero in on your very best prospects. Ads can be served to certain neighborhoods, to homeowners who have used specific search terms, even to places where there is a thunderstorm happening right now!
It’s important to remember that adding targeting criteria can add cost too. You might spend $100 to reach five targeted prospects, while that same $100 could reach 10,000 people in mass media. So, it’s important to always balance your targeted tactics with a broad audience strategy. With the right mix of media, you can optimize your targeting while making sure no good prospects “fall through the cracks” of too-finely targeted messaging.
Lead Generation and the Internet
Another important element of being relevant to homeowners is being there to provide an answer when they ask a question. And the vast majority of today’s homeowner questions are asked through a search engine.
Search engines like Google and Bing can be a home service company’s best friend or worst enemy. On the positive side, they give you an amazing opportunity to present your solutions at the very moment that potential customers are curious. Unfortunately, they give your competitors the very same opportunity.
For home service companies to “win” the search engine game, they have to play on two fields: SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
The first, SEM, is a pay-per-click strategy where you bid on select search terms and pay to serve a link to your content to homeowners in their search results. Though obviously much more targeted, this process is very similar to buying traditional TV and radio spots where you pay to serve your commercials to a certain demographic audience.
The second, SEO, is a website content strategy where you work to build and interconnect information on your website that will be valuable to homeowners. Search engines regularly “crawl” sites and evaluate how valuable they think the information is. If they deem that your site is more valuable than another for any given search, they’ll serve yours above that one in the search results. Because SEO involves adding content and links within your website, it falls more in the category of web development than “advertising” in the traditional sense.
What both elements have in common is the need for content that answers homeowner questions. The only difference is whether that content is served through paid promotion (SEM) or organically because a search engine scored it as relevant (SEO).
While companies used to make new commercials and ads once or twice a year, now creating new content should be an ongoing process. It’s important to have a strategy to continuously craft new content that will give potential customers more confidence and more understanding of the solutions you offer and why they’re better than the competition.
Continuing to create new content allows you to build your relevance for potential customers by both broadening the topics you cover and going more in-depth on specific topics.
As content is created, you can also edit format it for use across different platforms like social media and YouTube. Some platforms are adding automation and artificial intelligence to the content deployment process. This process of predicting content needs and serving relevant content to specific audiences is often called “content intelligence” and it will continue to evolve as a powerful tool for marketers.
Lead Generation and the Closing the Sale
There’s an old saying that, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The same can be true when it comes to generating leads and closing the sale.
So, what’s the secret to getting homeowners to buy? Creating a sales culture and training great sales people is only part of the answer, the other part starts farther up the Sales Funnel, all the way back to when you first created awareness: setting the right expectations and paying them off.
We’ve probably all experienced a time when we got intrigued by great advertising and then we disappointed by the actual product. Maybe it was a beautiful hotel website that didn’t show the dingy guest rooms. Or the beautiful food photos in a restaurant ad that were nothing like the dish served to us.
These are simple examples, but they point out a powerful truth about advertising: it has to be authentic. As we create advertising and content to move homeowners along the Sales Funnel, it should be consistent with experience of the sales close. Advertising and content that sells on expertise and precision may generate lead, but it will have a hard time making a sale if your estimator is rumpled and sloppy.
It’s critical to your conversion of leads to sales to make sure the expectations you set all along the Sales Funnel are paid off by the experience you give customers at the close … and in the final service as well! After all, today’s customers can be tomorrow referrals.
RCG Contractor Marketing is a company dedicated to helping home service professionals turn their marketing into a profitable investment in lead generation. See our related articles for more in-depth information on the topics covered in “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation for Home Repair Pros.” Or, contact us for information on how we can create custom solutions to help you build your sales and your business.