Marketing Plan Made Easy


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A guy is driving through town, doing a fine job. However, his wife is telling him, “Slow down, you’re going too fast,” and his mother-in-law in the backseat is saying, “Speed up to get in the left lane or you’re going to miss the turn!” He’s had enough advice and shouts, “Who’s driving? You or your mother?!”

Point is: You can get too much advice, no matter how well-intentioned, even though it’s clear from this example that he should’ve let both of them out several miles back… near a mound of fire ants.

When it comes to marketing plans, I have found that: a) Most contractors avoid them like a butane torch to the armpits, and b) Those dispensing the advice just might have a financial stake, like the cute-sounding voice who promises her media (regardless of what it is) ‘deserves’ more of your budget. What a coincidence.

If you’re going to pick any time to review a marketing budget, it’s now. And not just because we’re staring at January, but because of this –

Things have changed. In fact, if you’re still using a marketing budget and plan that looks anything like 2015, it is significantly out-of-date.

So let’s take a look at two ways to get started:

  • Look back. What happened last year? Note your three biggest sales months and three slowest sales months. Usually, they are both caused by the same forces – positively or negatively (see below).
  • Look ahead. Set goals based on last year’s numbers. Follow the S.M.A.R.T. acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Most importantly, share them with staff who can help the team with a plan to achieve.

A great tool to achieve your goals will be your marketing budget. This is the ‘fuel’ to your marketing plan.

3 Things That Impact Your Big and Small Months

  1. Weather – If weather created a ‘positive’ condition in a predictable pattern, start your marketing for this condition 21 days prior to estimated arrival.

If weather created a ‘negative’ condition, schedule ‘gap marketing’ to best targets (customers) with the most attractive offer (service specials, limited discounts) to fill in the gaps. You must be aggressive when you know the decline is coming.

  1. Marketing – If you had a ‘positive’ campaign, focus on merely improving the same offer, the target and the media spend to broaden the appeal. Marketing is about “improving what works,” not reinventing the wheel with guesses.

It’s amazing. We’ll have clients run our “Inspection Postcard Series” and do great. Then, the next year, they ask, “What should I run?” and our answer is, “The exact same thing.” Wal-Mart has been “Rolling back prices” for 7 straight years; Lexus has had the “Christmas Big Red Bow Event” for six. They’re tweaking and improving, not guessing.

  1. Economics – Were there conditions for rebates, financing or discounts that created positive results? Did you offer a discount on a new system? Maintenance Agreement renewal special that worked? Then revisit and engineer to recur again this year.

If the ‘general’ economics dampened your sales, look at how other retailers are flourishing by ‘bundling’ services, offering payments, lowering the initial installment, building discounts for loyalty… There are literally dozens of ways to reduce the ‘pain of payment’ while still getting paid.

Marketing Made Personal

Marketing budgets are not one-size-fits-all.

Our marketing budget recommendations for contractors range from a low of 3.5% of total sales to 10%. The higher the number, the more aggressive the “acquisition” role; the lower the number, the more aggressive the “retention” role.

3 Contractor Marketing Platforms

Aggressive – You’re a contractor who’s hard-hitting, insistent and uncompromising. You invest generously in marketing and advertising because you want more market share. Direct Response is your favored ad type. If that’s you, your personality calls for you to spend 6-8% of total sales on your marketing budget.

Moderate – You’re a “meet in the middle” type of contractor. You tend to look for balance, create a buffer, serve as an equalizer. Your marketing investments are consistent. You use aggressive Direct Response, but keep it balanced with All-Purpose and Image. Your personality calls for you to make a marketing investment of 4-6% of total sales.

Conservative – You’ve built a large and active customer base, a long-standing solid reputation in your market. You run minimal Direct Response campaigns, and are more concerned about Image and Retention. Your favored messages are: “Dependability, Quality, Reliability, Honesty and Integrity.” With your personality style, your comfort zone for marketing investment is 2.5-4% of total sales.

What’s Changed?

  • Is everyone – including those not yet born – online now? Not completely… yet. About 85% of consumers use internet services to find local businesses. You best believe they’ll seek support media to make their decision. This includes online reviews and social endorsements.
  • Is Direct Mail in the Hospital? Actually, it is not. Direct Mail continues to perform tremendously well in the home-service industry. Statistics show that about 90% of consumer’s respond to Direct Mail advertisements – a much larger open rate than email. People just love mail!
  • Who’s Getting Social? Several people who are bored beyond recognition apparently. Many companies are using social marketing, yet most have “no plan” for how to do the interactions. Translation: Time wasters. Use the “Auto Publish” feature from your blogs to repost to Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Quit spending half your life trying to scare up a handful of leads. It’s easier with automation.

No plan, no strategy – not a good idea. Because the one thing that hasn’t changed is this: If you want to get where you’re going, you’ve got to have a plan. Have a superbly profitable 2017… all according to plan.

Adams Hudson
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Posted In: Sales & Marketing

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