Last month in this space, I reviewed a series of market projections for 2014 from Harvard University as well as the industry’s leading associations.
World wide word-of-mouth
As the Internet evolves into the most powerful purchasing
tool ever created, so does its impact in facilitating the growth of online conversation to influence buying decisions
How to be a part of the conversation
Now that we generally know when consumers go to the Web searching for information about their potential remodeling project, it is equally important to know what questions they are asking at the Zero Moment of Truth. This is more art than science, but most remodelers with experience dealing with remodeling clients have heard the questions before – about colors, about timeframes, about the right appliances and, perhaps most significantly, about design trends. The reason that it is important to know the key questions remodeling clients are asking is that being a part of the conversation means that you’ve got to be the person answering those questions – in blog posts, in video walkthroughs of completed projects, in the captions on photos posted on your Pinterest boards. You may ask: is this really marketing? The answer is yes.
Top Tip: Ask for reviews upfront
Remodeler Mitch Anderson, a blogger for ServiceMagic.com, has developed a strategy of asking for online reviews from his clients before he gets started on a project. It is a pretty simple process:
Step No. 1: Contractor says to the client... “My commitment to you is to make sure that you are completely satisfied with my work. At the end of the project I will be asking you to post a review of my work. Can you do that for me?”
Step No. 2: Client agrees, contractor adds... “Please do me a favor. If at any time during this project you are less than completely satisfied, will you bring it to my attention so I can address it immediately?”
Step No. 3: Contractor completes job, verifies satisfaction and reminds customer of promise to write a review.
A number of positive things are happening in this conversation with a client.
1. Anderson is clearly signaling his commitment to making the customer happy.
2. He gained a commitment to take the time to post a rating and a review.
3. Anderson reset his own intention to satisfy.
4. He gained the client’s agreement to take ownership for bringing any issues to his attention.
5. He verified their satisfaction and reminded the client to follow through.
In the old days, when advertising was the only way for a remodeling company to get its brand and message into the market, the marketer controlled the message. And for years, the goal of good advertising was to interrupt people and get them to pay attention to an ad long enough to properly communicate the message. Today it is important to be seen as an authority who is consistently present with the right answers to key questions.
If a remodeling prospect goes online a year or six months out from embarking on a kitchen remodel, the questions they put into the search bar are likely to be about products and companies. A typical search a few years ago might be “granite” and “Milwaukee” and “Shorewood, Wis.” Back a few years ago, the search results would yield a list of websites of local granite fabricators and kitchen remodelers who used keywords to appear at the top of these queries. Today consumers are going to the web and throwing very long lists of search terms at the Google or Bing search bars. These ‘long-tail’ searches are becoming more common as consumers are realizing that the more they include, the more likely they are to get the information they want. The same search for granite today might be: “granite and remodeler and Milwaukee and shorewood and best and reviews.” Your website is not very likely to appear at the top of this type of search. Instead the consumer will see links to ratings, reviews, articles, blog posts, how-to videos – a plethora of interesting information. To be seen in search results increasingly requires the creation of applicable content in the form of videos, blog posts etc. It also means adroitly handling negative comments and reviews.