Today I want to talk about a great marketing system can overcome disruption in business. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of disruption over the last handful of years. I was in a networking meeting this morning with a handful of people. And one person said, “I really do need to market more, but I’m too busy. What I really need is to just find some leads.”
Many businesses, when they get disrupted immediately say, we need more leads. We need to create more sales. Well, there’s a big difference between leads and sales. So let me explain.
Buying or Earning Leads
There are two different ways to find leads. A lead is obviously something that could lead to a sale. You can buy leads or you can earn leads. Now I belong to a group, a networking group, and it was a leads group. The whole purpose was you show up, you give leads, you get leads. But what ended up happening most of the time was people were so pressured that they would say, “Hey, I’ve got a lead for you.” And most of them were dead ends. It was people that could be a good fit, but they never really spoke to them. And when I finally called them up, most of them weren’t in the market for what I was selling when I was selling it.
The difference between bought leads and earned leads is that earned leads come from current and past customers. One of the things I learned during the last year or so is that businesses that were most successful were consistently marketing. They were spending about 45% marketing to their current customers, 25% of their time and money to their past customers, and 30% to build up new prospects. That means that 70% of a business’s revenue can be generated from current and past customers. And that’s the difference between leads and generating sales.
So you do need leads, but a lead has become the pitch du jour. If you go on LinkedIn, there are so many people that are saying, “Hey, could you use more leads?” There’s software out there that lets you mine leads. But first, you have to define what a lead is.
Hot & Cold
Now, I want you to imagine that you own your own HVAC company. So let’s define a lead for you. Well, a lead is a person because everybody uses heat and AC, especially here in Chicago. But a better lead is a homeowner because they’re in charge, they’re paying for it. A great lead could be a homeowner with a 20-year-old home that they built. You know that that 20-year-old home will probably need to replace its furnace or AC. An excellent lead is a person whose furnace or AC just crapped out.
But a quality lead means that you’re recommended by someone to that person whose furnace just crapped out. So when you look at leads, there’s a lot of different ways to approach them. And obviously, you can target homeowners with a money mailer, or you could send out emails to past customers.
But when disruption hits, we tend to panic. Like that person in the networking meeting, they’re too busy to market because they’re too busy doing work and they want more leads. The key thing that I said is when you’re the busiest is when you need to market.
You just need to create a marketing system. I’ve mentioned my 10-10-10 before. The simplest way to do this is to identify 10 people, spend 10 minutes, 1 minute each and send them 10 words. How are you doing? And how can I help you? If you reach out to current and past customers that way, you have a better chance of finding that quality lead. They may recommend you to somebody whose furnace just crapped out – metaphorically speaking, of course.
If your goal is to generate referrals from past customers or current customers, you can do a couple of different things. Number one, what most HVAC companies do is offer the “maintenance agreement.” That means that they will come out and inspect and clean your HVAC system twice a year, usually in the spring and the fall, as you switch over from heat to air and air to heat. And that’s good because you end up in somebody’s house twice a year, which usually keeps them loyal. But that’s the equivalent of sending out an email twice a year. You could easily do the same thing by sending out coupons and not pay somebody to be there for an hour to clean and check it.
Now, I’m sure there’s a fiscally responsible reason to do that. But here’s another idea. What if, instead of doing that, you did the filter of the month club, meaning that every single month, one of your trucks stops in the neighborhood and delivers a filter on their front porch. Number one, you remind them twelve times a year. And secondly, it becomes a visual marketing indicator for all of the surrounding neighbors. Your truck’s in the driveway, that furnace filter is sitting out by the front door with a big sticker on it. When somebody walking their dog sees that filter, they’re like, “That’s interesting. I need that.” And they look at your ad. That would be the equivalent of emailing somebody once a month. And you could charge for that service because I know it’s a pain in the butt going and buying furnace filters.
But what happens when business is disrupted? For example, you’re having a hard time finding quality people who can do quality work, or you’re having a hard time because of supply chain issues actually getting furnaces to install. Well, if you have maintained those relationships with those past and current customers, you could let them know upfront.
Number one, if your furnace goes down, call us sooner than later because they’re getting harder to install because of supply chain issues. By the way, cleaning is probably the best way to prevent your furnace from getting into trouble, and let’s do it now. And then thirdly, you could also say, we offer other services like maintenance and air duct cleaning, and other things that can help you get through this troubling time.
In other words, if you’re spending time communicating with past and current customers, they’re more amicable to your messages, they’re going to understand that you care about them by communicating the issues upfront and offering them other services that can help them get through the trauma of what’s going on.
Now, not every customer’s going to need that extra service that you offer, but you’ve generated so much goodwill by being upfront and communicating that chances of them referring you to somebody else when things loosen up is going to increase. If you’re having supply chain problems, if you’re having problems hiring people, which are key things that have been happening, using a marketing system to communicate to that 70% of your customers that you have a relationship with, will help you generate that other 30% of the leads that could help you maintain and even grow your business in the coming months.
I would love to hear your thoughts on establishing a marketing system. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about your own marketing system.