Every year in early April, Professional Remodeler has brought together remodelers from across the country for a two-day conference, where they can learn from top minds in lead generation. Leaving no room for misinterpretation, we call the event Extreme Lead Generation.
For the show’s first two years, we ran it out of Rosemont, a small Chicago suburb just south of O’Hare International Airport. But after gaining some notoriety, we decided to change locations to Baltimore, hoping to make it an easier destination for East Coast remodelers who wanted to perfect their lead generation strategies but didn’t want to make the trek to the heartland.
Don’t abandon your plans just because you see someone doing something else
In that spirit, for the remodelers across the country who didn’t have the chance to make it to this year’s event, we wanted to put to feature some of the actionable advice dished out by three of this year’s speakers. And while there was far too much content to condense it all into a single article, we did pick out a few particularly meaty nuggets to serve.
CEO, Level 10 Contractor
Harshaw is one of the few marketing specialists in the country who focuses specifically on the remodeling industry, touting a long list of clients who will be familiar to most remodelers—including 1-800-Hansons, founded by Brian Elias.
In his talk, Harshaw discussed the importance of having an identity, and how a clear identity helps a company stand out and generate more leads. The content of his talk centered around his definition of “identity,” which turned out to be more of a lead generation mantra. It went like this: “Identity is words, phrases, and images articulated with power, precision, and passion that instantly and definitively communicate who you are, how you’re different, and why you’re better.”
The gist is that specificity is the root of true identity, but he best illustrated his point with examples. For instance, he showed the website of a contractor, who wrote on their page, “According to our clients, we’re simply the best.” Short and sweet, right? No. The issue is that there is no differentiator. “Yes, you may be the best,” Harshaw explained. “But what are you the best at?” To further demonstrate, he improved the line by using his mantra, changing it to: “According to our clients, we’re the best because we’re affordable and we finish our work on time, every time.”
By providing clarifiers to claims, like “we’re simply the best,” it gives the homeowner a better sense of where the company truly succeeds.
For more than 35 years, Porter has been in marketing, starting with his own company, which he sold after building it from nothing into a $5 million business. At this year’s ELG, he gave a talk entitled, “More, Better Leads Online.”
In only 30 minutes, Porter delivered a wealth of advice for how remodelers can better shape and leverage their online presence. One quick bit that really stuck with us was his tip for building lead generators into websites. “Every page should have a lead generator on it,” he said, giving the example of downloadable content—something similar to an e-book.
“People aren’t going to call you if they aren’t ready,” Porter explained. Because they’re not ready to call you, even if they go to your website, they’re still not a lead. Porter suggested formatting a unique article—his example was “5 Important Things You Need to Know Before Installing New Windows,” envisioning it for an exterior replacement firm. You make that into a PDF and let people download it off your site. “You just ask for a phone and email to download it,” he said.
One note Porter particularly emphasized is to not make the content promotional. “If the download says ‘Things to Know About Installing New Windows,’ make sure that’s all it is.” Once you have the contact info, you can then work them into the sales stream separately.
Marketing Director, NewSouth Window Solutions
NewSouth Window Solutions is a marvel of a company, having been built from nothing into a $50 million business in only seven years. And today it’s nearing the $100 million mark.
So, when we had a chance to hear from the company’s marketing director, Amy Rahn, who was a big driver behind NewSouth’s growth, we understandably jumped at the chance to showcase her. In her talk, “Media Secrets for Home Improvement Companies,” Rahn explained, among other things, NewSouth’s commitments that are crucial for strong, sustained growth.
1] Commitment to Advertising — “Our growth was not by accident,” Rahn said. “It was always part of our strategy to grow.” Because of that commitment, Rahn said that consistent, year-round advertising—whether in good times or bad—was a necessity. She said that the level of advertising at any given time is based off a simple “10% metric,” meaning their ad budget was at minimum 10% of whatever sales were that year.
2] Commitment to Brand — While Rahn said that a crucial part of growth was allowing your brand to evolve, she was firm in the point that companies need a brand that is clean and consistent. “We don’t use multiple logos or color palettes,” she said. It’s all about sticking to the same message with the same look, so customers know who they’re hearing from and talking to.
3] Commitment to Target — NewSouth’s target audience is adults aged 30 to 64, and its “sweet spot,” where it gets the most business, is in adults 55 to 65. Those may not be your key demographics, Rahn explained, but whatever they are you should work to understand them and focus your marketing efforts on speaking to them. In her own research, Rahn considers what her demographics are going through and what their everyday lives are like to determine what approach to take. She even considers the current weather, and how it might affect their window purchase decisions.
4] Commitment to Strategy — “If you’re at a hockey game and you see your competitor’s banner hanging up, don’t think that means you have to shift money around in your budget to now account for hockey arena advertising,” Rahn said. This is essential to the sustained-growth message she conveyed. “Don’t abandon your plans just because you see someone doing something else.”
NewSouth has built its business on broadcast, meaning radio and television, she said. “We zero in on the first two weeks of the month for TV, because we’d have to compete with car dealerships trying to get rid of inventory for the last two.”
The company also advertises in print—a good investment today in terms of purchase power, Rahn said. She negotiates print rates based on pay per call.
“We always put a call to action in our advertisements,” she said. “Sometimes that’s just a phone number, sometimes it’s a phone number alongside a one-day-only sale.”