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Are Yellow Pages Dead?

The other day, I was having a discussion with some business owners and I floated the question of how much they used to spend with the Yellow Pages. Monthly budgets ranged from $1,000 to nearly $20,000 depending on the size of their market.

Why were you willing to put that kind of money into the phone book 10 years ago? Because that’s where new customers found your phone number.
Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see a phone book sit on a home’s front porch for months – or at least until it gets dissolved by weather. It’s like they’re trying to cling to life, even though they become tattered, worn and virtually useless – like a zombie.

What Now?

Now, I’m not saying that the phone book is completely useless. Indeed, there are still markets where advertising in the yellow pages is still effective – but they’re getting very rare.
Just for fun, I put together a quick survey the other day and shared it to find out how people use the phone books. Fewer than 10% said they’ve used the phone book in the past 30 days. Just over half said it had been at least 2-5 years. So, are they dead? No, but they need to be monitored.
Think for a moment about how much you used to spend with phone books. If you’ve decreased that money now, what have you been doing with it? Did you invest it elsewhere? Has your business died off as a result so you no longer have it?
What can be done? Is there a solution? Yes, there is. But you’ve got to believe in it. Meaning, you have to be willing to pay for it like you paid for the phone book.

Enter Pay-Per-Click

I want to make this as clear as possible.
Pay-Per-Click is the new Yellow Pages. I want you to repeat that out loud right now.
Case in point – I have some owners tell me that people in their area are still using phone books exclusively. While that may be true in a very few cases, I’ll tell you this:
My nearly 91-year-old grandmother doesn’t use her phone book anymore. She uses her computer or smart phone to find phone numbers. And she lives in a VERY small town (less than 3,500 people).

What’s Your Point, Scott?

My point is, unless you’re turning jobs away every day or have a constantly full calendar, you should take a very serious look at doing PPC advertising.
It’s reliable. It’s useful. It’s proven. It’s where the world is going.
Not sure where to start? I’ve written before about How to Choose a Vendor to run a campaign for you. I’ve also recently written about finding a budget for PPC ads.

Big Takeaway:

If you’re not currently using PPC advertising, you’re missing out on HUGE business potential. Don’t let your business become a phone book zombie.
  1. Do a quick Google search for “carpet cleaning” in your area. If you see your competitors, but not you, you have a problem.
  2. Go to the Gateway to look at approved or recommended vendors and call one TODAY.
  3. Set aside a budget that you plan on spending for PPC ads. Consider it an investment in your business.
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PPC Needs Mobile Access

Image Source_ worldwidemasters.com

According to a recent study, upwards of 60% of online searches happen on mobile devices. Google now gives organic search result preference to websites that are mobile-friendly.

On top of that, with the advent of “Expanded Text Ads” from Google, you now have ads that targeted at both desktop AND mobile websites, and you can tell it which one to pick, but the ad is the same. So what would you do?

There’s a BIG Difference

When it comes to accessibility for websites on mobile devices, it’s important that you make some changes. Searchers on mobile devices usually have:
  1. Immediate needs
  2. Short attention spans
  3. Small screens
That means you have to have the right information available to your customer as quickly and visibly as possible.
Below is an example from Carnation Chem-Dry Middleton, located near Madison, Wisconsin. They have done a GREAT job building their chem-dry.net website, which came with their franchise. It looks wonderful.
But here’s the thing:

While they’ve done a great job building the site, and it’s perfectly navigable on a desktop (i.e. ACTUAL computer) the site doesn’t naturally transition itself and adjust to be more readable on a mobile device like an iPhone or Android.

More recently, Carnation Chem-Dry has made the move to a more mobile-friendly “.com” platform (as seen below).

In this case, they’ve opted for a micro-site from Web Marketing Services at HRI, which have mobile versions of your core service pages (carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, PURT, tile, etc.) by default, and it’s not hard to add more. WMS has several templates available that work well, but you don’t necessarily HAVE to get one from them.
Most website hosts will now offer a mobile friendly website, which can drastically improve your overall organic ranking and site performance in Google because they recognize the trend toward mobile.

Why Mobile Matters

As I stated earlier, the number searches happening on mobile devices is quickly outweighing desktop searches which means that you need to have mobile versions of your web pages – especially your high-traffic pages.

Google’s new ad format, “Expanded Text Ads” increase the amount of text you can have in an ad by about 20%. While this is great in and of itself, it also makes it so you don’t have to create desktop and mobile versions of your ads. They adjust them for you based on the device doing the search, BUT you have the option of sending a mobile search to a mobile version of your page, which is what I would do.

What this means for you is that if you’re paying to have someone click on your ad, you want to get as much out of that click as you can. Sending someone on a mobile device to a non-mobile friendly page can really hurt your chances of converting.
For instance, if you are running a PURT ad, and you normally send people to your regular PURT page, it may work very well on desktop. However, if your desktop page doesn’t convert to a mobile one, you may lose out on that opportunity because the visitor gave up on finding what they wanted.

Big Takeaway:

If you’re currently doing any kind of advertising online, especially PPC, you should give serious consideration to the ratio of mobile searches to desktop. That means:
  1. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you need to get one ASAP. Talk to your vendor today.
  2. Pay-Per-Click ads (especially with new Expanded Text) are one of the most sure-fire ways to find new customers. You should be using them.
  3. When you start advertising on PPC, make sure you’re using mobile-ready versions of your web pages to enhance your customers’ experience and increase likelihood of conversion.
Take control of your online marketing today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.
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Featuring Protectant in Advertisements

In my many coaching interactions with franchise owners, my biggest focus is to help them utilize advertising and marketing avenues to not only increase job count, but also to increase their profit margins. Too many of us get caught up in trying to use ads only to get more jobs, but why not use it to get BETTER jobs?
Here’s what I mean. Many in our franchise network do not offer Protectant. Can you imagine that there are actually some who don’t leverage this remarkable solution that refreshes the popular stain fighting power on carpets? It’s an opportunity lost. Imagine the possibilities.
Many of you have campaigns using Pay-Per-Click, Social Media, even postcards and emails that are focused on landing a job using your basic cleaning statistics and quotes. But what about talking about Protectant when someone may be looking for information about keeping stains out of their carpet? Here’s an example:

What I Would Do

If I were setting up a new campaign, I would come up with ads that feature my different services and offerings. Here are a few examples:

Pay-Per-Click

I would try and have a PPC ad campaign focused just on people who are looking for protecting their carpets. You can do the same thing you do for tile & stone, granite, and leather.*
Or make it more promotional like this one:

* please make sure your ads meet the Advertising Rules & Guidelines and include your Full Franchise Name instead of the generic ‘Chem-Dry’. 

Email

When you email a customer, a best practice is to give them something quick and easy to take action on, whether it’s calling you right away or watching a video. Why not show your customer the Protectant demo video?

Another option with email is using a feature from Constant Contact called “Offers“. You can make an irresistible offer to your customer (like HALF OFF Protectant) on a whole-house special. They purchase the offer, and they can even share the deal with friends. A great way to move your audience to action, and to get them to spread the word about your services.   – Be sure to feature a coupon that the customer should show you in order to get the discount and to include your standard disclaimers such as ‘Not valid with other offers. Must mention at time of scheduling. Expires XX/XX/XX.” 

Where Else Could You Sell Upgrades?

All of our other services like tile & stone, granite renewal, Protectant, healthy home (Clean, Sanitize & Protect), and so many others are examples of how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. These are not only revenue generators, but they’re value propositions for your customers. When you explain that you can not only clean and sanitize their carpets, but you can protect them from further stains, you enhance the perceived value of your services in your customer’s eyes.
So, where else can you highlight your expanded services? How can you advertise not only to get more jobs, but to increase your profits? Make a list and get out the good word about Protectant and other upsells.