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Advertising a thousand ways

Jan. 7, 2015
Life may have been simpler in the past, but it also held fewer opportunities Treat your trucks like billboards The best way to stay in contact with existing customers is e-mail Through your personal FaceBook account, it’s still possible to drive business Regardless of the name du jour, every contractor should complete the Google business microsite profile section Create a YouTube channel and populate it with how to videos for homeowners Anything on YouTube can also appear in a blog

Advertising was so simple a couple of decades ago. Success was formulaic. All it took was money and a halfway compelling message. While advertising is more complex today, money is not as advantageous.

The way back machine

If we turn back time like the Internet archive “Way Back Machine,” the Yellow Pages would be the principle driver of demand service calls. He who had the biggest ad with the best placement won. Companies were even bought to acquire their yellow pages position. It was their most saleable asset.

Back up a little further and there was likely one Yellow Pages directory in a market. The proliferation of Yellow Pages publishers and subdivided books had not occurred. Get a top three position and you are in, baby. Miss the publication deadline (or get a crummy rep who misses it for you) and you might as well close the doors.

Even further back, broadcast media had potential. Cable was in its infancy, limited, and expensive for consumers. Everyone watched the big three networks. If you could afford a TV ad, you could reach a lot of people.

Radio was also more powerful. There were fewer stations and fewer genres. 

Back to the present

Life may have been simpler in the past, but it also held fewer opportunities. Today, we practically have an unlimited number of ways to reach people. Unfortunately, no single option will work the way a well-placed Yellow Page ad did. You have to deploy multiple methods.  Here are a few…

Your Fleet: Your best advertising opportunity is your fleet of mobile billboards. Treat your trucks like billboards. It’s a one-time investment that will build your brand for years.

E-mail: The best way to stay in contact with existing customers is e-mail. Collect e-mails by offering to send customers bios of the plumbers you are dispatching and/or by offering to e-mail the final invoice. E-mail your customers every month, but vary the e-mails. Send a consumer information or reminder piece one month, a family and friends promotion another, and a newsletter after that. Repeat this each quarter. This works. We prepare these e-mails for hundreds of contractors with our Service Roundtable Money Mail program. E-mail drives calls for plumbing contractors.

Facebook: It seems like Facebook is doing everything possible to make it more difficult for small businesses. Nevertheless, through your personal account, it’s still possible to drive business. The Service Roundtable put together a Christmas video for HVAC contractors. I shared it on my Facebook page Friday night. By Monday, it had received more than 20,000 views and was shared nearly 500 times. The version on the company’s Facebook page was seen — not viewed, but seen by 18,000 people and shared six times, after we spent $200 with Facebook to promote it. Your personal Facebook page and network will be more effective and less expensive than your company page.

Google: Google keeps changing the name of their small business microsite service. It was once Google Places and another time it was Google Local. Now, it’s Google My Business.  Regardless of the name du jour, every contractor should complete the profile section. This drives Google’s ten box listings and reviews. This is as necessary as the yellow pages once were, only free. 

YouTube: The second largest search engine is YouTube. A large segment of the population would rather watch a video than read a web page. Create a YouTube channel and populate it with how to videos for homeowners. Yes, this might result in a homeowner tackling a job on his own rather than calling you, but that was likely going to happen anyway. It does position you as the expert and you can close each video with the following statement. “And if you get stuck or the job turns out bigger than something you want to tackle, give us a call. We do this for a living.”

Blogging: Anything on YouTube can also appear in a blog. In fact, write the blog based on the contents of the video. Then, the people who want to watch the video can watch it. The people who want to scan the text can scan. Keep you blog locally focused. Make the posts short and focused on the trade and community. If you do nothing else, link to articles from local newspapers.

Pandora: This is one form of Internet radio that’s taken off. When people register, their location is noted. Pandora then serves up advertising based on the location. I’ve heard Pandora ads for Dallas car dealers when at a meeting in New York. Pandora ads cannot be fast forwarded. Stop Pandora at the start of the ad and it will resume the next time you open Pandora. Internet radio is on the increase and the advertising space is still largely uncluttered.

Podcasting: Create your own radio channel by podcasting. All you really need to do is find someone in your community who is interested in podcasting about the community and pay the person to do it in return for promoting your company.

There isn’t space in this magazine for a thousand ways to advertise, but this is a start. When you consider tradition advertising, guerilla tactics, and the rapidly changing, ever increasing world of Internet advertising it’s possible to promote your business a thousand different ways. Do it and your greatest challenges will be recruiting and counting all of your money.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, contracting’s largest business alliance. For FREE copy of the Oldest Appliance Contest, contact the Service Roundtable ( by calling 877/262.3341 and asking for a Success Consultant.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization.

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