Green industry professionals can lower advertising and marketing costs raise prices and grow their business with a successful word-of-mouth marketing program.
March 6, 2018
Marketing effectiveness builds over time. Being in the market with a consistent and dependable message, while delivering superior service and a dependable product, will generate a new business referral for your company. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best referral you can get. You can dramatically lower your advertising and marketing costs, raise your prices and help your business grow by building a successful word-of-mouth marketing program into your business.
To improve your company's word-of-mouth marketing program, gain a stronger grasp on the transactional costs your business incurs to generate a referral. Review the hidden costs your current accounting system might not be measuring. For example:
- The time spent patiently explaining to your customer how their new system works
- The time spent sweeping the walk and leaving the job-site litter free and cleaner than when you arrived
- The follow-up phone call a week later to ask the customer if their system is working to their satisfaction
- Revisiting the job site because your customer tinkered with a sprinkler head or controller
- Keeping in touch with your customers for start-ups and winterizations so they remember who you are
- Calling back three months later to insure customer satisfaction
- Having clean and well-kept trucks
- Sending thank you notes to customers
- Sending follow-up customer satisfaction surveys
- Making sure you and your crews wear professional apparel
Some of these costs you may be currently factoring as marketing and advertising expenditures, but many may be entered under the column of hassles of doing business. Remember how many people first got into professional contracting: they put in a couple of jobs and earned a referral for the next job.
Another vitally important aspect of your company's word-of-mouth marketing program must be your industry contacts. A growing and successful landscape lighting firm in southwest Florida got started after realizing that referrals came from not only their work (satisfied customers) but from their local architects. Now contacts from within the architectural community are providing more and more referrals for this company's professional landscape lighting services.
If you were asked today to make a list of all the people you know who are actively referring business, how long would your list be? The length of your list is a reliable measurement of the effectiveness of your word of mouth marketing program.
It's pretty basic stuff but it's effective. Every customer of yours has a relative, a friend, a boss, and a colleague who can share a positive story about your business. Sticking with a word-of-mouth marketing program pays dividends over the years. Demographic studies have shown that people will sell and upgrade their home five to seven years after moving in. If you're in the contracting business for 20 to 30 years you may be able to sell the same customer three to five times. And that doesn't include all the referrals that may come from that one satisfied customer.
A key factor in building a strong foundation for a word-of-mouth marketing program begins with having a clear understanding of the expectations between you and your customers. Consider putting together a list of quality objectives that both you and the project owner will agree upon before the job begins. Make sure that your final price is in line with your original estimate. A lot of misunderstandings occur when you underbid and overextend yourself and your resources on a job.
Improve your referral business by taking a routine customer transaction and following it from beginning to the end. Analyze every function involved in the process. Does every step concentrate on satisfying the needs of your customer?
Another worthwhile exercise is to pick three customers you recently lost or who have become upset with your business. Spend time with them on the phone and in person and find out why they have become an account in jeopardy. The notes you take will help you improve your business after you make the necessary modifications.
As another season unfolds itself there will be plenty of discussions by neighbors over picket fences about work recently completed by contractors. Nothing's better than having that story be a positive one about your business. It's the best marketing there is.