A myth is a false belief. Have you ever bought into a myth? Have you believed something you later learned was wrong? In our personal lives, discovering we've held a false belief can cost us pride. In business, it costs money. Below are some of the marketing myths that seem to infect our industry. Are you guilty of believing in any of the following?
1. I don't need no stinkin' marketing! Your business is either growing, stagnating or dying. To grow, you need to market. To stagnate, you don't. To die, you only need competitors to market when you don’t.
2. I can't afford marketing. Marketing isn't free. It requires time or money. Marketing is not a cost of doing business. It’s an investment in your business. You shouldn't ask if you can afford to market. You should ask if you can afford not to market.
3. If I'm good, people will find me. "Build a better mousetrap and the world will make a beaten path to your door," said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Are the leading fast food, banking, insurance and other service companies really better than the rest, or simply better at marketing? How about you? Are less proficient plumbers larger and more successful? Why?
4. You don't understand; it doesn't work in my town. In any town in this great nation of ours, I can find a plumber who will tell me why his town is unique and why something won't work. Meanwhile, I can find another plumber in the same town, doing the very thing the first plumber claims is impossible. Your town has the same chains, marketing in the same way they do everywhere else in the United States. Is your community really that different?
5. I don't like it, so I won't do it. Do you hate it when someone leaves a door hanger at your house, so you figure your customers must hate them too? Guess what? You aren't the customer. It doesn't matter if you personally like something. It only matters if the customer likes it. It only matters if it's effective. Don't project your personal preferences on the masses. Find what works, whether it's an approach you personally like or not.
6. A big yellow pages ad is a marketing program. Do you think the essence of marketing is taking out a big yellow pages ad and waiting for the phone to ring? There was a day when you could get away with this approach. No longer. Homeowners under age 50 increasingly regard the Yellow Pages with disdain. They don't use them. However, many older consumers do use them
7. The only purpose of a truck is to carry stuff. While it's true that you invest in trucks to carry parts, tools, and plumbers from place to place, this is far from the only function. Your truck is a mobile billboard. According to Overnightwraps.com, a vehicle wrap provider, trucks in metro areas receive 14 million exposures over the course of a year. This makes your trucks your best marketing and advertising tool. So how well do your trucks look? What do they communicate? How clean are they?
8. I don't have time for marketing. Marketing does take time. For smaller contractors especially, this can be a challenge. You get home after working in the field all day and have enough paperwork from the government, let alone the need to work on marketing. Yet, marketing is still a necessity. The world is more competitive in the current economy. Fail to market and you will eventually fail. If you really don’t think you have time, take advantage of predesigned marketing templates from sources like ServiceRoundtable.com (in the interest of full disclosure, this is my company). They save time and are proven to work by plumbing contractors from around the world.
9. Networking is a waste of time. Few plumbing contractors network well. They may have attended a networking meeting or service club meeting, but considered it a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Business is built on relationships and these meetings give you the opportunity to build relationships with your community’s centers of influence. Since the people who network are often the busiest in town, they design meetings for a minimum of disruption. They’re held over breakfast or lunch.
Too many plumbing company owners eat lunch at their desk or get a heart-attack-in-a-sack from the nearest fast food restaurant. Why not break bread with centers of influence, who are positioned to recommend your company to their friends and neighbors.
10. Homeowners don't use social media to find plumbers. Contractors overlook social media at their peril. Social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the Internet and women over age 35 are leading the way. If you haven’t already, create a Facebook account and create a page for your company. It’s free. Start tweeting. Become Linked In. Every time the Service Roundtable releases social media coupons for contractors to use with Facebook and Twitter, we get feedback that they worked almost instantly. People are using social media to connect with each other and to share information, including recommendations and referrals. Social media is killing the yellow pages. Let's celebrate!
Stay tuned for Part 2 next month when I list the other 10 marketing myths that many contractors fall victim to.
Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable, a business alliance of plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and service contractors. Learn more about the Service Roundtable at www.ServiceRoundtable.com, or e-mail Matt at: [email protected].