iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

8 Popular Digital Marketing Buzzwords You Should Know

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Let’s say you’re out in the field and discovered a problem with a particular system in your customer’s home. Wanting to keep your customer informed of what is happening, you start to explain the issue to them, along with what part of the system is malfunctioning, but you notice at a certain point that their expression becomes confused. This is likely because you’ve used a term that makes sense to you but sounds like a foreign language to them. 

Chances are that you’ve been in the customer’s position at least once when it comes to discussing digital marketing for your company. We know that there are plenty of digital marketing terms out there that make sense to the seasoned marketer, but can sound made up or have a different meaning to someone else. 

When your customers need help with their HVAC and plumbing systems, you’d advise them to seek professional assistance to make sure the job is done right. When it comes to success in digital marketing for contractors, we’d suggest the same. This is why we are going to explain the meaning behind 8 of the most popular digital marketing “buzzwords,” below.

1. Conversion

This marketing term refers to when a consumer who is a potential lead completes a desired action, such as calling a number or filling out an online contact form, allowing the contractor to convert them into a lead. Conversion is the process of getting someone to change from the “Consideration” stage of the customer journey, to the “Decision” stage. Essentially, this refers to taking someone who is curious about your services and turning them into a paying customer.

2. Segmentation

Specifically regarding your email marketing approach, segmentation refers to dividing your audience into different groups to allow for better marketing. You don’t want to send the exact same email about HVAC repairs to a longtime customer and a prospective customer because their needs might be in different places. 

Segmentation helps to divide these types of recipients to allow for better personalization of the materials that they receive. For example, a long-time customer will get a reminder email while a prospective customer might get an email describing why they should reach out to you for repair services. 

3. Branding

Think of a particular product brand that you’ve purchased. Whether it is HVAC equipment or a certain type of soap that has popped into your head, you are going to recognize these items because of their branding. 

Branding refers to all the things that differentiate and identify a company to potential and current consumers. Your company logo, the colors of your trucks, the layout of your website, and even the appearance and text in your ads on search engine results pages are all a part of your brand. Good branding makes you recognizable and memorable, making it easier for you to promote your company and the services you offer.

4. Personalization

Personalization involves personalizing digital marketing content to different customer groups or even setting up the text of an email to include the name of the recipient. Personalization helps you create the right content or products to meet with the right consumer group and the right time, increasing your chances of conversion.

This is done through collecting and analyzing data, creating customer personas, mapping out your content strategy, and more—all of which the team here at iMarket is here to help with! 

5. Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

When you go onto Google, Bing, or Yahoo to lookup information about something, the page that you see come up is called the Search Engine Results Page, or, SERP. While this may just seem like a collection of initial results pertaining to your search terms, the SERP is so much more. 

It’s a mix of organic search results, local service ads, paid search ads, online reviews, and more. One of your digital marketing goals should always be to make your presence prominent on this page through search engine optimization (SEO—a more commonly known digital marketing term!)

6. Keyword Ranking

Keyword ranking refers to how your site ranks in regard to certain keywords. For example, if you have the keyword “air conditioning repair” in your website or blog content, your site will be ranked on Google and other search engines against other websites using that keyword. The goal when using keywords is to rank as high as possible on the SERP, increasing your odds of customer discovery and conversion.

7. Cause Marketing

Have you ever participated in a program where a certain percentage of profits from a service were donated to a local charity? Or maybe your business helped to sponsor a local event? These activities are what are known as cause marketing. 

This marketing approach brings together a for-profit and nonprofit business for the sake of a mutual benefit—for your for-profit business the benefit is often going to have a positive impact on your sales and increased brand recognition.

8. Search Engine Marketing

This is a method used to bring traffic to your website by purchasing it through paid ads, which appear at the top and right sides of SERPs. These paid ads are also called “pay-per-click” ads, since you pay a variable amount to the search engine each time someone clicks on one of your ads. 

Pay-per-click advertising is often used for both branding purposes and lead generation. Branded campaigns are typically helpful if you have a limited advertising budget, since it takes advantage of all potential searches for your company name. 

SEM is about so much more than this, and we encourage you to reach out to our team to learn how you can take advantage of this and the other digital marketing solutions we offer. 

To learn about what we have to offer, contact iMarket Solutions today. We are dedicated to contractor success!

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Digital Marketing Do’s and Don’ts for Contractors

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Hate it or love it—marketing, specifically digital marketing, can be a powerful tool in growing your business. It can also be confusing, overwhelming, infuriating, and feel like a waste of money!

This may seem like a crazy thing for a marketing company to tell you, but advertising spend absolutely can seem like a waste of money if you don’t have the leadership and business model to support that growth.

The sad truth is, most of the contractors we work with come to the table with some horror story about a vendor or medium they’ve used in the past. Comments like “I’ll never do PPC again, Yelp is nothing a racket, Social Media is a waste” often stems from a lack of transparency, poor delivery, or push for more spend.

If you want to grow your business, you have to market your company. However, if you want to reduce your marketing cost and improve your marketing performance you have to optimize your strategy. As specialists in digital marketing for contractors, iMarket Solutions is interested in being your partner in this process.

A vendor might promise you an easy, “set it and forget it” marketing plan, but a partner will create opportunities for education, training, and growth. When you’re in a partnership with iMarket, our specialists invest in your evolution. 

We believe a successful marketing model is a three part approach

External Marketing & Advertising (The Megaphone for Your Brand)

  • Brand consistency across all campaigns
  • Digital marketing trends applied to your industry

Internal Marketing (Internal Communications and Leadership)

  • Training opportunities
  • Business coaching

Operation Marketing (Business Processes that Support Lead Conversion)

  • Service agreement growth
  • Call handling

The right marketing partner is going to bring harmony to all three legs of the marketing model—advertising and external marketing cannot stand strong without the support of the other two legs.

Investing in the New Age Digital Market

Digital marketing has completely transformed the way that consumers engage with a business. For example, did you know that 46% of consumers say a website is the biggest determinant of whether they trust a company or not? The Internet is an incredible force. If you’re wondering why you should take the time to invest in this new age digital marketing landscape, here are three key reasons:

1.      Maintain Your Brand and Reputation

If you’re a contractor then you know that word of mouth is paramount. When directories went online, one of the biggest changes was the increase in real estate. Traditional word of mouth- spreading from one person to another- can now be massively amplified to huge audiences in a matter of seconds. 71% of consumers who have a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend your service to others.

2.      Acquire New Customers

Digital marketing allows you to study the rankings and campaigns used by your competitors, establish the best opportunities for visibility, and build your audience in the markets that matetr most! We can help you tap in to demand and search data to saturate results pages within your service areas. We can even utilize content marketing through social media and SEO to build your audience in new towns and cities.

3.      Engage with Your Current Customers

This is one area that many contractors overlook. You shouldn’t think about this as “paying for customers you already have.” We know that you want new customers but losing sight of your current customers means that they’ll become your competitors’ new customers. In fact, an estimated 20% of branded searches are lost to competitors when searching online. Direct interaction with your customer base keeps your brand in center focus, and is yet another opportunity to collect data to maximize conversions and increase customers’ lifetime value.

Let’s Talk Strategy

So now you understand the marketing model and why it’s so important to invest in the digital marketing world… but how does all of this apply to optimizing your digital marketing strategy? 

The Do’s

DO align your marketing plan with your financial plan

It  is not easy to create a profitable, growing company. A major consideration in creating a profitable company is marketing “overspend”. Different authorities say very different things (3- 5%, 8%, others may push 10% or in many cases more). 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but we can point you in the right direction with the following guidelines:

  • Set annual marketing goals to support your company’s budget and growth
  • Conduct monthly lead planning with marketing mediums mapped to lead funnel
  • Identify how you’ll measure results—choose a method and stick to it
  • Focus on reducing your Marketing Cost %, instead of focusing on your Marketing Spend $

DO maximize conversion with customer segmentation

Segmentation is key for conversion and optimizing your marketing ROI, data is key for segmentation.It’s important to How can you apply this data to optimize your strategy?

  • Make sure you’re gathering valuable information like emails and continuously growing your list. “Data-tize” by evaluating your customer database by demographic (household income), geographic (location), psychographic (lifestyle), and behavioral (needs) measurements. 

Maximize the effectiveness of manipulations (discounts, deals) where it is most likely to maximize conversion with targeted manipulation: Have you ever shopped online, put something in your cart, exited out of the tab, and then received an email from the company a short while later prompting you to complete the purchase? 

  • Strategic outreach: It makes perfect sense that is a homeowner previously had a positive experience with your brand they are likely to think of you the next time they need your service. Don’t wait for them, use data to drive your segmentation and take action with strategic outreach. 

DO understand the value of multi-channel marketing

Don’t limit your visibility and potential engagement online! It’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Recognize that 67% of all customers use at least 2 channels before converting
  • Focus on campaign conversion vs. channel attribution
  • Understand the purpose of each and plan for multiple channels in your marketing budget

DO focus on local partnerships and brand awareness

Digital users in your local area are more likely to engage with your company online if they recognize you from real life.

  • Consistently participate in your community—integrate marketing with traditional and digital to create authenticity. Your digital users come from your local area, so make sure you’re engaging with them in real life as well.
  • Establish local partnerships and affiliations for powerful cross-marketing campaigns.

DO ensure consistency with internal marketing

It’s important to ensure that you’re consistent with internal alignment through the following methods:

  • Educate your team on your marketing goals and campaigns.
  • Develop a culture committed to operational excellence. Make sure that everyone on your team is helpful, responsive, and compassionate so that you can instill trust in your customers.
  • Find ways to demonstrate your values and brand. Think of ways that you can demonstrate your story and let customers know who you are. 

The Don’ts

Don’t undervalue your current customer base

It’s crucial to remember that digital marketing isn’t just for new lead generation. If you don’t value your current customers, they’ll end up going elsewhere, so keep the following in mind:

  • Prioritize and grow your service agreement membership
    • If you want to decrease your lead generation cost and prepare your business for shoulder seasons you MUST prioritize the growth of your service agreement membership. 
  • Create a community of customers—engagement and brand loyalty
    • The key difference between companies that grow and companies that don’t is customer retention. Make sure that you’re staying in touch with your current customers and using defensive and engagement tactics like branded PPC, email marketing, and social media.
  • Focus on share-of-wallet during low-demand season
    • Train your team on the value of complementary products and services that you can market to your current customer base like upgrades, IAQ accessories, etc.

Don’t forget to tell your story

A whopping 70% of consumers want to learn about products through content as opposed to traditional ad methods. You can tell your story by doing the following:

  • Differentiate yourself—when it comes to brand promises you have to level the playing field but it’s important that you always focus on what makes you unique. Talk about your involvement in the community or how long you’ve been in business.
  • Constantly source new visual content—an image or video is worth 1,000 words. Your clients want to feel connected to you. Share content of your team members, shots of your holiday parties, team gatherings, and daily operation.

Digital marketing doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can contact our professionals at iMarket Solutions for the expertise that you need. We’re here to ensure that you’re successful in all realms of digital marketing. We’re dedicated to contractor success. 

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Lead Your Company to Growth with These 6 Principles

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Motivation comes and goes.

But if your business is losing money, you’ll suddenly have plenty of motivation. Every hour of work will be dedicated to adjusting prices, improving techniques, and generating more leads.

Let’s say you’re making 12% profit before taxes. For an HVAC contractor, that’s a true marker of success. You could strive to hit 16% and above, but at that point, it’s optional.

Of course, “optional” never motivated anyone. Even the blatant fact that 16% is better than 12% isn’t enough to spark motivation.

The most powerful motivators come from our emotions, and there’s nothing our emotions respond to better than pain.

The way to get that pain back in your life is by holding not just yourself, but your entire business, up to a new set of goals and values. When done successfully, the pain of staying comfortable will grossly outweigh the pain of growing.

By establishing those goals and values throughout the company, they can take root and create cognitive dissonance—the feeling that your actions are not living up to your standards.

Instilling cognitive dissonance will create new thinking patterns and turn them into improved performance:

It won’t be enough to give yourself and your employees a morale-boosting pep talk. Those feelings will hardly last until the next quarter, let alone the next week.

To truly keep motivation for growth burning strong, you’ve got to change thinking patterns, and it all begins with instilling a solid set of principles for growth and execution.

1. Create a Plan and Buy-In

Before you can do anything, you need to start with what Jim Collins defined as the BHAG—the Big Hairy Audacious Goal—in his book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies:

“A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.”

Your BHAG should consider what’s possible for your business in a ten-year timeframe. Then, reverse-engineer it into smaller goals to mark significant milestones. For example, five-year goals, three-year goals, one-year goals.

The purpose of these goals is to improve the current condition of the company. Examples include factors like pricing, sales process, marketing plan, and more.

Establishing a plan and getting buy-in from the organization will unite everyone’s efforts in moving to the next level.

2. Leadership Matters – Not Just Yours

Good leadership gets people in alignment, and that’s great for getting everyone to work together.

However, leadership also means giving your team a model of success—what we call the “white rhinoceros.”

Try this exercise with your team:

Have everyone draw a picture of a white rhinoceros from their imagination (no cheating!)

Most people will draw it poorly. After seeing a picture of a real rhinoceros, most people will see they mistakenly only drew one horn instead of two.

Did they draw the rhinoceros so poorly because they weren’t trying?

Of course not—everyone was giving the right effort in design and in the work. The problem is that they weren’t sure what the work really was in the first place.

Good leadership is about giving people the model of success. You need to give people the right expectations and define the proper attitudes from the very beginning. If you don’t provide it, they’ll do what they think is best. While that can lead to good work, it will mostly lead to inconsistent work.

3. Raising Others “Up” Is Key

We’ve all heard this old saying:

“Your business is only as good as your employees.”

When your employees get better at what they do, your business gets better with them. The people are the driving force behind the growth.

But as business owner or manager, it’s on you to take ownership and responsibility of their individual growth.

Your efforts for improving your employees should revolve around:

  • Teamwork and interrelationships
  • Training and development
  • Understanding and awareness

There must be a constant thought process about how to improve your employees’ performance. For example, if you have a mid-manager who is a level 7 on the leader scale, how do you bring them up to level 8? And then to level 9?

4. Changing the Entrepreneur’s Work

When you first started the business, you had no choice but to think like an entrepreneur. However, a key factor of growth is evolving from that entrepreneur mindset and into one of a leader.

When you’re working as the entrepreneur, you’re still involved in the day-to-day operations of the business:

  • Directly involved, responsible, and in control.
  • “The passion” behind what happens every day.
  • Living in the world of unknowns—every new day could be a high or a low.

In order to focus on making the business grow, you must step back and become the leader:

  • Allowing others to take responsibility for your tasks.
  • Organizing the business so that the owner doesn’t have to be present.
  • Developing plans for your employees’ growth.

Many business owners are hoping to get to this stage but are unsure how to proceed. The secret is relinquishing control—a thinking pattern adjustment.

It also requires patience and allowing others to fail. Even if you don’t think someone is necessarily on the right path or doing things the way they should be done, there are times where you must let them experience how business works—both in success and in failure.

5. Mastering Accountability

In order to step away from the business, you need to know what direction it’s heading and how to keep it on track. Not only that, but the leaders in your company must be capable of steering the ship, too. The way we do this is by staying accountable with key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, let’s say you and the manager of the service department both understand that the labor to revenue ratio KPI is 22%. Yet, the data shows 28%. You and the manager should both understand—independently—that there needs to be some investigation into dispatch, travel time, technical capabilities, and so forth.

Teaching others how to interpret the numbers is the first step. The second step is teaching them how to make adjustments based on those interpretations. If you do that, you should be able to reach a new level of accountability that gives you more freedom, gives you the ability to pay people differently, to reward people based on success patterns, and more.

6. Measure the Top Five to Ten Key Metrics

There will be plenty of metrics and KPIs to keep track of, but there are usually 5 to 10 that drive the principles of success and failure in any company.

When you’re making mistakes in the business, it’s not always clear-cut where they’re coming from. But, with a good set of key metrics, you should be able to narrow down the problem.

Not only will these metrics help you understand the business’s weak points, but it will also show you what’s working well.

Refining these metrics, again and again, is key to maintaining growth.

When trying to create and measure essential KPIs in areas outside of your expertise—such as in marketing and customer acquisition—you might need to outsource help to a lead generation company for contractors. Instead of trying to form those KPIs on your own, you can rely on their specialists to set those KPIs and achieve them for you.

Conclusion

As soon as growth becomes optional, we tend to lose the sense of pain that brought us up in the first place.

However, we can find our motivation again with the right combination of growth and execution principles.

Instilling these principles throughout the company can create just enough cognitive dissonance to make it more painful not to grow.

Nothing is more essential to growth than lead generation! To learn more about our lead generation strategies for contractors, contact iMarket Solutions.

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Tips for Recruiting Top Talent

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

It might just be the most difficult part of the trade – how do you recruit top talent? You want the very best contractors, managers, and leaders on your team, but how do you go about finding them?

Your role as the business owner is to ‘sell’ your company – not only to potential clients, but to potential employees as well. Job candidates want to know that your company can not only provide the rewards and pay they deserve, but that it can also provide the training, support and development plans to advance their career.  

It’s About More Than the Money

Deciding to work for a company is as much an emotional decision as it is a logical one. Potential hires find it necessary to feel the culture of the business, to see that their talents will match company values and brand promises.

For this reason, it is important to have your values clearly and concisely defined. You need to be able to define “the why” of your business – why do you do what you do? Additionally, you want to be able to explain the direction you foresee the business heading – where do you see the company in 3, 5, or even 10 years?

Defining Rewards, Recognition, and Pay

While payscale is an important factor to consider, recruits want to know that their work is going to be recognized and rewarded, and therefore, it is important to outline and discuss the rewards your company offers.

When do I reward my employees?

To provide the rewards and recognition your employees deserve, you need some sort of measurement to track their progress. For example, you might find tracking sales and the ability to meet quarterly sales goals is an effective way to measure the success of an employee.

Take Recruits for a Ride

Potential hires want to know how they are going to be treated as a member of the team. They want to know that their work and talent is going to be welcomed and respected.

To give recruits a sense of how your business operates on a day-to-day basis, you might do well to consider implementing “ride alongs” into your recruitment strategy. This is where potential hires have the opportunity to join current members of your team for a day in the field. This not only gives recruits a good sense of daily operation, but it also sets the grounds for work and character expectations.

The Ability to Grow and Advance

Having clearly defined advancement and development opportunities laid out for potential hires can set your business apart from your competitors. If you desire top talent, you must also recognize that these individuals are seeking the opportunity to grow within your company, and therefore, you must have a development training outline in place.

A development training outline defines the steps and training a hire must complete in order to advance their career in your business. Though the completion of these steps doesn’t necessarily guarantee a promotion, it does qualify employees for the chance to step into the next role.

What is the next role?

In addition to a development training outline, it is important to have a company organization chart, which outlines the structure of the company, roles, and positions. This way, employees have a sense of direction in terms of career advancement.

Finding Talent

We’ve talked a lot about the ways to get people interested in applying for a position in your company, however, we have not yet mentioned where to look for the talent itself.

Fortunately, we no longer have to rely on newspapers to get our help wanted ads out into the world. Internet sites are the perfect medium to broadcast your open positions. Additionally, you may find that creating a video advertisement is a great way to reel in potential candidates. A video allows you to talk directly to recruits about what they can expect from your company.

The Takeaway

When the time comes to fill a position in your company, remember that candidates are looking for more than just good pay. They want to be sure that your company has clearly defined and outlined expectations and values. Additionally, they are going to want to see your business plan and how you plan on growing your company over the next few years.

Potential hires are also going to want to know that they have the opportunity for growth and advancement within the company and that their progress can result in the opportunity to step into another role. Finally, it is important that you provide fair compensation and implement a rewards system in which you track and measure employee success.

iMarket Solutions provides tools and tips to build successful contracting companies. Contact us today to learn more.

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Preparing for the Spring Shoulder Selling Season

Monday, January 28th, 2019

One of the most common challenges contractors face as spring approaches is pushing sales in the shoulder season. For some, the challenge is even greater since the slow selling season happens twice a year—depending on where you are geographically. It’s something that you need a solid plan to overcome, as this potential loss of revenue can impact even the most successful contracting business.

Overcoming Negative Cash Flow

For many, if not most, contractors the shoulder season means there is not enough consumption to overcome the overhead costs of business—there just isn’t enough gross profit during this time. This puts contractors in a tight spot, often with negative cash flow as they struggle to pay the bills and keep quality talent on staff without losing them to other trades.

This leads us to the question we often get, “How can I be successful in the shoulder season?”

One of the first things you’ll need to do as a contractor is recognize when your shoulder season is. At iMarket Solutions, our customers have access to a budget planning tool to help identify their shoulder season as well as how many jobs a contractor would need to overcome this—answering the question, “How many units do I need to sell and how many services do I need to provide in order to break even?”

Service calls aren’t enough—contractors need a mix of business and products sold during this period to be successful. And in order to make these sales, some specific steps need to happen. This starts with conducting a situational analysis of your current marketing plan in order to analyze the problem you’re facing. From there, you’ll need to determine:

  • Your revenue by department (as part of your budget)
  • Your growth by segment, both percentage and dollar amount
  • The mix of business and products you’ll need to sell in order to achieve desired revenue
  • A media plan that delivers the leads you require on a weekly and/or monthly basis
  • How to fix the seasonality problem
  • A promotional and pricing strategy to increase revenue

This last point is often one that contractors resist, but it’s an important one. We encourage you to run promotions during this slow-selling period! In fact, we want you to create a promotional plan so strong that a customer who doesn’t even need what you’re selling feels compelled to react on an emotional level.

Yes, this costs time and money in an already strained period of the year. But, it’s important to think of your business as not only a contracting company, but a retailer. And retailers do what it takes to fill capacity in order to bring sales up and break even sooner. Often, this means offering incentives in order to produce even minimal revenue, with the goal to create lead opportunities and future transactions.

Selling Service Agreements

One of the biggest keys to revenue growth for contractors is service agreements. We encourage you to get your service agreements to 1,500 per million for your residential business unit. Of course, this requires a lot of selling, and many contractors are concerned about this as most technicians are not trained to sell but rather to provide service.

It’s up to you to create a daily training plan in order to arm your technicians with the resources needed to provide accessory sales and service agreements.

“But, what if my technicians just aren’t motivated to sell?”

This is a valid concern. People are fueled by intrinsic motivation, and your technicians may have the limiting belief of, “I’m not a salesperson.” This is exactly why training is so important! In addition to regular training, being upfront and honest with your technicians can do a lot to encourage them. Just like any other business, employees are always looking for answers to “what’s in it for me?”

We encourage starting the conversation by sharing your company’s vision, value, and purpose. Explain in principle to your technicians what is in it for them, and why they should care. Many contractors shy away from sharing financials because they think their technicians aren’t interested. However, being upfront gives them a reason to care and empowers them to understand how they contribute to the company’s overall success.

“What Else Can I Do to Help My Business?”

The methods you implement to sell your products and services during the shoulder season will depend on a number of factors, but here are a few more steps we encourage you to take:

  • Implementing a new sales process
  • Starting a tuck-in strategy in order to add customers to your existing database
  • Implementing an annual reference guide for seasonal discounts and promotions
  • Creating a brand promise that is unique to your market
  • Considering a new vertical to add on to your products and services
  • Tracking all your lead sources and defining your cost per lead

Last, but not least, we encourage you to build your digital branding and online presence. This includes an updated website, a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) search strategy, and social media marketing. It’s important to remember that we are in a period of time when mobile search rules all other forms of internet search, so using these methods along with building organic links with a strong content strategy are essential to forming a reputable digital footprint.

Contact iMarket Solutions today to learn more about our digital solutions and how we can help you overcome the slow selling season.

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