Wouldn’t it be great if you could read your customers’ minds? Know in advance what it is they really need, want and desire before you step foot in their home to answer a sales call?
Have you noticed that whenever you go online to search for something, pop-up ads chase you with images and pricing for the same type of items you were searching for the last time you were online? You are being tracked my friend — and researched for your wants, needs and desires. Your information is being widely distributed to allow sellers to solicit your attention and money. Here are five ways you too can pry (legally) into your customers’ — or potential customers’ — minds to dig for hidden treasure.
BuzzSumo.com: Find out what’s top-of-mind in social media for plumbing, heating, air conditioning, solar or indoor air quality and tailor your social media posts, PR campaign, or tweets/blogs to appeal to the broadest base of consumers.
Spyfu.com: Want to see what your direct competitors online presence is doing compared to yours? Get the key stats for their website to help sharpen your own. Careful examination here will reveal top keywords for our industry, competitors and what is working for your competition. I spy indeed!
Semrush.com: This is a keyword site where you can find the most Googled search words to refine your own public relations approach. Enter “water heater installation” to see an example.
Quora.com: This is a knowledge sharing site where you can enter a topic and view questions/answers on practically any subject. Good or bad advice in the published answers? You be the judge, but here’s an opportunity to be the expert.
Answerthepublic.com: Wow! This is a great site to find out what the top topics and questions are for any topic you can dream up. Type in “plumbing” for example, and click on “why are plumbing vents needed” for a fun trip down knowledge lane. This is the stuff your consumers are asking. Great find for newsletter content.
Aside from delving into those types of websites, do you use other sites to gain insider information on your customers? For example, do you Google new customers? I’m often astounded by the depth, breath and wealth of information you can discover about potential customers (or existing ones) with respect to their employment, spouses, past history (both good and bad) as well as work history and criminal records on file. If they are frequent complainers on social media sites, their name and/or email address when Googled can reveal if they are a “one percenter” and best to be avoided like the plague.
More than a few solar inquiries have been resolved without a site visit due to limited roof, or ground, space as well as severe shading issues from trees.
Advantages of maps
Google maps Satellite View and especially the Street View can be a useful tool. Via Street View you can do a “drive by” the property and use the look-around browser tool to check sideways views of the property for things like existing condensers or sidewall vents to indicate high-efficiency appliances are in play. Satellite views can reveal rooftop unit placement(s), chimney locations in advance (chimney liner needed?), and an overview of the neighborhood/area for obstructions like overhead electric lines if you are being called in for a rooftop HVAC bid.
One thing I particularly like about Bing Maps is the ability to “fly” around the site with north, east, south and west views. This is a great first-look resource for solar insolation (energy-gain potential) as shading and roof orientation issues can be determined before investing time to do a site analysis. More than a few solar inquiries have been resolved without a site visit due to limited roof, or ground, space as well as severe shading issues from trees. While on the phone with the potential solar customer: “Are you willing to remove the nearby trees to provide sufficient solar insolation to make a solar PV or thermal installation viable?” A quick cut to the chase and a “no” answer avoids you wasting hours on a site visit.
The other advantages of Google Maps and Bing Maps are the ability to plot travel time and best routes to your jobsites. Not all potential jobs are within your normal radius of coverage.
One recent call for resolution of a kitchen hood exhaust noise complaint involved a Google search (revealed the potential client was an executive of impressive proportions, lived in an exclusive development, and could be very demanding). In addition, the location would involve travel time outside our normal territory. The original installer was refusing to return. The builder, who we have worked with in the past, had referred us. A call to the builder confirmed this was a very demanding customer. All this revealed by having searched online. Eyes wide open: the customer did not want to pay travel time both ways, which we charge when outside our normal travel radius, and then wanted a flat-rate travel-time when I wouldn’t budge. No dice: the address meant our tech would be travelling at peak traffic and congestion, which can vary considerably. They caved to our requirements.
The moral of my column this month: use the Internet to your advantage!
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