5 Critical Steps to Increasing Your Revenues
When reflecting on your business and looking at how to build profits, you'll find the sources and types of work you do comprise the #1 factor that affects the bottom line.
Why waste time on the small jobs, or the clients who can do little to improve your bottom line?
Are you picking the "low-hanging fruit" and hoping the big jobs will soon come along?
Nothing wrong with that, but let's face it - "hoping" never gets anyone to the finish line. So, how can you secure the best and most profitable jobs?
A simple, clear plan can change your revenues almost immediately.
Master these 5 critical steps and you will be able to pick the jobs you want.
- Define your Target, who you're after and why. Find out where the most valuable jobs are.
- Are you able to identify the most profitable job sources and get commitments for that work?
- Build your Distinction. If you know the secret to distinguishing yourself you can truly knock out the competition.
- Do you differ from your competition in ways that are important and crucial?
- Create Brand recognition in the market. Branding happens when the market recognizes you for the distinguishing factors you provide.
- Do you offer a brand that is more than just stating you are better in quality and service?
- Define your Mission. Marketing constantly falls short when a clear mission is not set firmly in place.
- Do your marketing methods leave you hoping you will get calls or commitments for work?
- Determine your Tactics. Your tactics should be directed at the TARGET, create massive DISTINCTION, build recognition of your BRAND, and be carried out with a MISSION that leads your target markets to commit to giving you work. The tactics you choose are how you bring this all together in one unbelievable symphony.
- Are your tactics a random group of efforts or are purposely aligned to draw in the best jobs and customers?
Don't operate on hope. By truly mastering these 5 steps you can control the course of your company and drive incredible profits!
Want to learn these steps in a classroom setting away from the daily hum-drum? At Planning to Win, we dive in and examine each one in detail. We provide a hands-on workshop environment allowing you to build an easily-executable marketing plan specific to your business!
Visit our website to register for the next event, or call 800-660-5803.
Making Money is Easier When You Get the Best Jobs
by Brent Bowthorpe (Planning to Win Instructor)
Every restoration contractor out there would like to get more of the great jobs. Yet if's often revealed that only 20% of your marketing is actually effective. What if you could double that to 40%?
The reality is that most restoration companies have a hard time keeping their marketing consistent let alone making it highly effective. You can easily double, even triple the effectiveness of your marketing if you simply understand how to make your marketing connect to your audience.
Think about this for a moment: What is the drive behind the tactics you use for marketing your business? They are easy? They are fun? They seem high profile (get your name out there)? Someone told you it would be highly effective?
In marketing your business, if what you're doing is not working, you should stop doing it. To be effective, marketing cannot be a series of random events aimed at random customers (referral sources) - to be highly effective it must be planned, purposeful, and well-executed.
(Let us help you create a customized marketing plan for your business.)
TIP: Understand you can't be everything to everyone. Don't market to every possible customer in every market.
- Focus on the best customers (let the competition have the bottom of the market)
- Understand them better than the competition (many of the most important marketing tactics create opportunities to understand the best customers better)
- Serve them better than the competition can (provide services and offerings your competition isn't even thinking of, and remember; these services don't have to be related to your core offering)
Companies that excel serve a particular group of customers extremely well. This is true in restoration as well as virtually any type of business. Different groups of customers have different needs, problems and desires. Many companies spend a lot of their marketing time and budgets marketing to marginal, and at times, even poor customers. If you identify a great group of customers, you can design an approach that will serve them in ways your competition has not even thought of because they are not focused on those customers.
In practically every industry and every market the companies that specialize in serving specific client/customer groups grow faster and easier than those that try to operate a general practice. There are dozens of groups of customers that are being taken off the market every day all over the country. You should be doing the same!
If you want to understand how to dominate in your market and build long term consistent client relationships, then Planning to Win can give you the understanding of just how to do that. Reserve your seat today.
Success In - and Outside of - Vendor Programs
by Brent Bowthorpe, Delta Business Solutions and Planning to Win Instructor
Trying to determine if vendor programs are right for your restoration company?
Some companies have gone after vendor programs and lost their shirts. They thought they had something great going, and suddenly realized it won't take them where they want to go. Others have found great success in vendor programs, and there's a third group that sits on the fence. Our objective is to get you off the fence and help you determine where you want to go.
Vendor programs have a broader impact on this industry than many of us recognize. They've impacted this industry in positive and negative ways. They brought conformity and uniformity to an industry that was very fragmented. Subsequently, the way this industry works has been greatly streamlined. Contrarily, many contractors have experienced some of the inexplicable expectations carriers can have and many of these are inflated within programs.
We tend to look at vendor programs only from one of two perspectives:
- Am I on the programs and getting business? Or,
- Am I not on programs and fighting to keep the jobs and not have them taken away?
As mentioned many companies have put tremendous effort toward getting on programs only to find they created more problems than they solved. If you think you can get on the program and everything's good, you're wrong. In fact, your marketing focus will differ based on whether you're on or off a vendor program.
- Marketing within a program, what they want is clearly written in the contract; you must master the business skills the program calls for. There are time ranges, pricing agreements and service processes that are part of every program.
- Marketing outside programs requires a skill of identifying market groups, finding out what your market wants and giving it to them; in other words, solving problems your competition does not.
There are highly successful restoration companies around the country that specialize in everything from agents or plumbers to medical facilities or schools. The problems that each of these groups have are different; the ways companies serve them are different. Those who want to market outside of programs know this: There are huge opportunities outside of programs. In fact there are more opportunities outside of programs than there are inside of them. A contributing factor is the fact that most of the restoration companies out there do not recognize or understand that.
If you believe vendor programs are your only solution, you're looking at it narrowly because they are really a small part of the industry. Programs exist primarily in residential and rarely in commercial. In looking at the disaster repair industry as a whole - commercial and residential - the reality is, only a small percentage of claims are going through programs. Claims histories show that the number of claims is divided fairly equally among all three groups: those running through programs, contractors outside programs and home owner do-it-yourselfers.
If you think a vendor program is what's best for your business, investigate first. The worst thing you can do is think that a vendor program is a quick fix to a poor business and marketing plan.
- Evaluate if programs really fit your business model
- Programs are highly structured and require a business model that supports both the organizational and the philosophical structure necessary to make them work.
- Does your current marketing put you in a position of support with carriers?
- Do your future marketing desires fit in with VPs?
- Determine their requirements and what the expected volume of work would be.
- Talk to peers you trust.
- With a few connections you should be able to find people working on the programs you are looking at in other markets around the country.
- Make sure you understand the requirements and expectations and evaluate your business processes.
- You should be able to meet the requirements of the program before you are ever on it. (One of the easiest ways onto a program is to outperform their current contractors when you handle a claim for that carrier presently.)
- Remember, to be successful with a vendor program you must master the process of business skill.
Your financial success will be dependent on your ability to operate an efficient process on jobs.
Regardless of your decision about vendor programs, when industry changes occur, it's critical you accept the facts. A couple of a quick reads we suggest:
- Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. It's about learning how to accept the facts.
- When you see a market changing don't fight it, don't complain about it, say to yourself, "The cheese has moved, let's go get it!"
- Look Ma, Life's Easy! By Ernie Zelinski. It explains this easy rule of life:
- Do the easy and comfortable, life ends up difficult and uncomfortable.
- Do the difficult and uncomfortable, life ends up easy and comfortable.
These are the reasons people are successful; because they've accepted the facts, and they've made the difficult and sometimes confusing moves.
This market is changing rapidly. The facts are this market place is being divided and controlled by insightful contractors all over the country and this goes far beyond programs. Planning to Win has established a marketing program to help you understand just how these markets are being divided and how to truly monopolize on what is going on in the restoration industry today. You can be a powerful force in your market place when you understand what is going on. Sign up today!
Learn to Use Tactics That Make the Competition Virtually Irrelevant (Step 5 of 5)
When it comes to marketing, many people want to just utilize a bunch of tactics and hope they work.
We all know operating on "hope" doesn't lead to a very solid future.
To achieve results with your tactics, they must be carefully planned. You must have these "Critical Steps" in place:
Step 1- Target Market
Step 2- Distinction
Step 3- Brand Message
Step 4- Mission
These four steps define the strategy you are going to use when you execute your tactics. Developing tactics without these steps in place is like fishing with the wrong bait or hunting deer with a .22 rifle. You may get lucky on occasion but most of the time you waste your money, your time, and you just might go hungry.
- Strategy = A plan of action designed to achieve an overall aim. Your strategy allows you to do your marketing prepared with tactics that are appropriate for what you are hunting or fishing.
- Tactics = Actions carefully planned to achieve a specific end. Your tactics are how you will accomplish your mission and get the commitments you're aiming for.
Tactics used in the restoration industry are often blundered. The effectiveness of a phone call, office visit or a CE class is multiplied when you clearly understand what you're trying to accomplish.
Here's how to identify and organize your tactics to gain commitment.
Marketing can be simplified when you understand there are just four types of tactics:
- Activities - phone calls, lunches, office visits
- Events - golf/recreation events, open houses, CE classes
- Media - TV/radio advertising, social media, newsletters
- Promotional Tools - giveaway items (pens, mugs, notepads, flash lights, etc.), also spiffs and thank you gifts/cards
Each has their place and each has distinct strengths and weaknesses depending on your target. It's important to understand what tactics will help you reach your target and accomplish your mission.
When choosing your tactics, consider these key points:
- Focus on the target customer/client. Choose the tactics that help you find out what your target customers need. In the restoration industry this is critical because building long term relationships is a vital part of getting client referrals.
- Realize all tactics are simply an excuse to talk to a market. The tactic itself isn't what's important; your attention should be on providing the value and solutions you developed in your strategy for your target customers.
Organize your tactics into a series of actions that lead to the type and level of commitment you are looking for. Prioritize them into a process that escalates the awareness and commitment of your target group. The same tactic may be used to initially introduce your company and then later to commit someone to refer you but how you execute it will fit your purpose at that point.
The most critical thing to understand with tactics is the progression. Web designers do this with content and pages that move you through a scale of escalating interest and action. The same thing is done in building relationships. Design your tactics to build that level of interest and gain powerful commitment.
The overall objective of your tactics is to take people from being unaware of your business to being committed customers or clients. A well-orchestrated tactical plan will help you move people along in a process that helps you attract, engage, nurture, convert, and ultimately retain your target customers.
Join us at Planning to Win to learn how to create that well-orchestrated tactical plan for your restoration business!
A Clear Mission Demands Results (Step 4 of 5)
A clear Mission is where the rubber meets the road.
Most marketing activities are pursued with the Mission of "hoping" someone will refer a job or do business with you. Whether you are taking a client to lunch, putting on a CE class or making an office visit (these are Tactics that are covered in the next blog post), a powerful Mission should be more than just hoping they will call you in the future.
Operating on "hope" doesn't lead to a very stable future.
Let's re-cap for a moment. Here's what's been covered so far in our series, "5 Critical Steps to Increasing Your 2015 Revenues."
Step 1 - Target Market
Step 2 - Distinction
Step 3 - Brand Message
Now you need to determine what you're going to achieve.
Step 4 is your Mission. Your Mission defines your purpose - it drives the results you're looking for. All the strategy and planning in the world will not work if you do not define what you are going to accomplish with a mission.
To gain some clarity on this, ask yourself: What "ground" are you going to take? What action and commitment are you going to get from your Target?
This is where your brand statement comes in. "Mr. Insurance Agent, if I help you retain customers, do you agree in return to place me at the top of your referral list?" Or, "Ms. Adjuster, if I provide a way to help you close claims quicker, are you willing to send me work?"
Don't settle for blind commitments, or worse, no commitment. Your valuable time and resources have been spent creating incredible solutions to your client's problems. Expect nothing less than full commitment to send you work or referrals in return. You can define exactly what level of commitment you will get (verbal, written, contract...etc.).
The disaster repair market is VERY rapidly changing. Today contractors are committing various targets in the market to work with contracts, committed service proposals, vendor programs, defined relationship agreements, service agreements, and the list goes on.
Those companies continuing to market by hope are literally being left in the dust wondering what has happened. Attend Planning to Win and learn how to get in and truly monopolize your share of the market.
Seats fill quickly - sign up today!
Is Your Brand Blowing Away the Competition? (Step 3 of 5)
Here's the Simple Way to Make Your Brand Stand Out.
Branding is probably the most talked about marketing concept there is. And one of the most misunderstood.
Much of the time and money wasted in marketing is done in the name of "Branding." Although branding is vitally important, it should not be the sole focus of your marketing strategy.
When you market with branding as the sole focus, you spend great resources chasing people that are not good customers and putting your company in the same place as your competition. Everyone says they are better, faster, cheaper or higher quality.
That's why we've listed Branding as Step 3 in our series "5 Critical Steps to Increasing Your 2015 Revenues".
To create an effective brand, you must first have these key components in place:
Target Market - Being clear about your target market allows you to get a real focus on who you need to stand out to. Your Brand is focused on that group.
Distinction - How you will stand out is your Distinction. As you focus on your Target you will find how to serve them in valuable ways.
Your Target and Distinction are woven into your Brand, it's not an independent concept.
You may be starting to see how a complete marketing strategy is built connecting these steps together.
Here are a couple of key points to remember with Branding:
- You can't be all things to all people. When a brand tries to be all things to all people it just creates confusion and becomes non-distinct in the marketplace. The exact opposite of what you want to achieve.
- In the end, your customer decides what your brand is. Your efforts to build an awesome brand should focus on the needs of your Target. It's easy to get distracted with what the competition is saying, the latest industry gadget, or whatever you think is cool. None of those will necessarily get you any closer to what your customer's needs are.
Consider for a moment: Are YOU determining your brand and driving it in the market or are you a victim of whatever the MARKET perceives your brand to be?
In order to drive the view of your brand, you must be clear on what you represent in the market. An effective brand must be simple, direct.
That more effective message can be as simple and clear as:
"Only [your company] provides [distinction/benefit] for [target market]."
XYZ Restoration provides increased customer retention for insurance agents.
Only XYZ Restoration helps adjusters close claims quicker.
Now that's a brand you want to build and promote. That's a brand that blows away the competition.
As the competition continues to shout to the market they are better for no apparent reason, you can show that you understand the problems your target has and that you solve them better in real and practical ways.
Attend the Planning to Win 2-day workshop to learn how to create a brand for your company that gives you massive distinction taking your target(s) completely off the market!
You Can Literally WIPE OUT Your Competition! Distinction (Step 2 of 5)
Do you REALLY stand out from the crowd?
Distinction is a difference or excellence that sets us apart from others.
Though widely understood as a key component in marketing and building a company, Distinction is seldom executed in a powerful way.
How do you approach Distinction?
The standard approach is to come up with ways you are different (or simply better). Then you spend your valuable resources telling the market all about it and why it should be important to them.
BUT...regardless of how awesome you think your methods are, if you solve the same problems as your competition, then one of you isn't needed.
The distinction you present to the market should not be based solely on how you see yourself or what you believe makes you better.
Whether the differences are large or small, to be powerful, the things that differentiate you must be based on the wants or needs of the customers/referring clients.
Your most powerful approach...
Once you have chosen your Target Market you must invest time and resources to determine what their real problems are. (Hint, it is usually not finding a quality restoration company.) Everyone has problems and frustrations. When you address those you will gain huge ground over your competition.
Study your target. Talk to people in the industry. Read their magazines. Attend their events. As you begin to connect with what is going on with your target market you will find key problems they are having. (e.g. customer retention, government regulations, heavy workload, finding new customers, too much competition, etc.)
Their key problems may seem irrelevant to you.
BUT...This is where opportunity lies. Opportunity for you to serve your target market(s) in ways the competition hasn't even thought of. Because they do not have the information or focus on the market that you have. That very focus will allow you to solve problems they can't even touch.
It's only when you've identified the top problems for your target market that you can begin to work on your distinction.
The solutions you provide to your clients are what make you highly relevant to them. The value you provide to them make your clients want to choose you over the others.
Imagine. What if you could:
- help insurance agents retain their customers?
- minimize liability and exposure for property managers?
- help plumbers get new customers?
- become an expert in government regulation for an HOA?
- help an adjuster alleviate their workload?
Human nature is to reciprocate. When you provide services of incredible value to your clients, they'll in turn send work your way.
At Planning To Win you will learn how to establish and use your distinction to own key markets. You will gain important knowledge about how to take what you do and use it to make the competition irrelevant. You will be able to tie the different marketing concepts together so that you truly go out with one clear strategy and know how to use tactics that commit the market to using you.
Learn how to make your competition irrelevant by attending Planning to Win. Seating is limited! Register today.
Triple Your Effectiveness With Target Marketing (Step 1 of 5)
You can quickly learn how to triple your marketing effectiveness without spending a dime more. Here's how...
What's the big deal about target marketing anyway?
You've heard the term many times. Maybe you're implementing some form of it in your restoration business.
Read on and you'll agree this statement is true: The smaller the market, the better the opportunities.
Why should I target market?
Most marketers spend 60 to 80% of their time marketing to clients that have no real potential. Despite the fact most marketers are aware of this, they're unable to create a method to isolate the valuable clients.
Target marketing is the surest method to avoid wasting your valuable marketing resources and the fastest way to triple your effectiveness.
It helps you define who and where the most valuable jobs are. To grow your business, you need to identify the most valuable target markets for your company.
With a little thought, the characteristics of the best clients can be identified. There are some great tools that can help make this a simple and quick process (explained below).
What exactly is Target Marketing?
Simply put, a target market is a group of people or businesses that think and act in similar ways; thus, they can be motivated to use you or refer you in similar ways.
Typically we group people within an industry like insurance agents, adjusters, or property managers of various types. But as this industry has developed, companies have become more and more specific with how, where, and to whom they market.
Enter the process of refinement...
As you work within those groups you find certain characteristics lead to better relationships and better referrals. This is a process of refinement as you get to know a market more and more. That is one of the major jobs of marketing.
- What types of agents are better?
- Which adjusters are worth your time?
- Are all plumbers a waste of time or are there some that are great to work with? (What is true in one city or area may not be true in another.)
Gaining a deep understanding of what motivates a group of people (a market) is only possible if we isolate a group with common viewpoints and value to us. When you have that group you are able to understand how you can create value to them. Then you can figure out how you run your business to serve them in ways they are not being served by the competition.
Marketing is a process of building relationships with people and making it more attractive for them to do business with you than with your competitors.
When you understand a group of people better than your competition does, you can serve that group of people better than your competition does. This is what creates loyalty!
So where do I start? How do I Target Market?
The real process of marketing is not going out in the market screaming and shouting you are better than the competition. It is the process of knowing important groups of people better than the competition and using that to serve them in ways the competition doesn't even understand.
Try this little exercise:
Of all the people you know of, is there a group you think you could do particularly well with? There has to be some group you already have some understanding of. Examples: Agents, Adjusters, Plumbers, Other Contractors, Property Managers, Facility Managers, Realtors, etc.
Now, thinking solely within that group, are there any you think would be better? Many variables to consider here.
- Think in terms of proximity: Can you better serve those closer than 1-2 hours away? Any geographical barriers?
- What about size? Would bigger be better for you or are you looking for smaller (think through the advantages and disadvantages of both).
- Are there characteristics that would give one sub-group better exposure to more jobs?
You get the point. Continue to delve into the sub-group and you'll find there are characteristics that can help you identify better and better relationships.
Now the big question:
Why are you spending time chasing people in that group who have almost none of the good characteristics and completely ignoring ones that have all of the characteristics you've identified?
How well do you know the ones that match your profile? Do you know them well enough that you really see what makes them tick? Can you identify the key reasons they refer? Why would they switch from who they use now?
Planning to Win teaches the skills that allow you to choose the right target markets and blow the competition away. You will see how to isolate markets and define a plan the competition quite literally would never even think of. When you understand target markets you are always one step ahead of the competition that is trying to figure out - "what just happened?"
Don't miss the next event! For more information or to register, visit planningtowin.com or call 800-660-5803.
Have Your Marketing Efforts Gone Stale?
By Dave Hanks, Director Planning to Win
You'd Never Deliver Stale Donuts to Agents - or Would You?
Most of us in the restoration business have incorporated, at one time or another, the sales tactic of delivering donuts to insurance agents whom we hope will refer us work.
We've also tried to be creative and set ourselves apart by taking pens, pads, coffee mugs, flowers, candy, lip balm, cell phone cleaners & stands, etc. etc.
Let's be honest - very few insurance agents appreciate these because they simply get too many from us and our competition. Would you ever consider delivering old and stale donuts? Of course not. But the truth is, all of these are now "stale" tactics; UNLESS they are accompanied with the proper strategy.
Are you a donut dropper or a problem solver?
Restoration companies that are experiencing the most success with agents or other referring parties are looking much deeper to deliver products and services that really matter to the agents. Think outside the box (pun intended): What are the real problems that insurance agents are dealing with? It's certainly not finding a better donut, pen or mug. It's not even finding a quality restoration firm because frankly, your competition says they're great too.
"If you solve the same problem your competitor does, one of you isn't needed." Keith Cunningham
The typical insurance agent is dealing with one of FOUR CORE PROBLEMS.
- Sales (leads)
- Customer Retention (internet companies taking their clients)
- Loss Ratio (prevention)
- Distinction (enhanced claims service)
- Talk to agents and find out what their core problems are. (You'll be tempted, but DO NOT offer any solutions during this meeting.)
- Sit down with your team and brain storm solutions to these problems.
- Provide your solutions to the agent's problems and gain their commitment to send work your way.
The solution to success:
FIND OUT WHAT THEY WANT, GO OUT AND GIVE IT TO THEM
How PTW Differs From Other Marketing Seminars
By Derek Preece, Spot on Solutions
When looking at the many different business-training seminars in our industry, friends and colleagues often ask me, "Which one is better?" To which I reply, "it depends". It depends largely on what training and information one is looking to acquire at the time.
Having attended quite a number of training courses over the years I have found many to be very beneficial to myself and to my company. Each has provided valuable information and in most cases has been worth the price of admission.
Frequently I'm asked about the Interlink Supply sponsored "Planning To Win" symposium. How does it differ from others and is it worth the time and price of admission. To which my response is:
If you are a restoration company or a cleaning company with plans to enter the restoration industry, and you want to learn how to create an iron-clad marketing plan specific to your restoration niche, then PTW (Planning to Win) is an absolute MUST for you and your business. PTW has been put together by guys whom I regard as the best in the business in regards to capturing and dominating specific markets. They teach a philosophy that is new and mostly unheard of in our industry. Among many other things, they teach business owners how to compete with the "program guys" and how to succeed at it.
You may think that you know how to build and grow relationships with referral sources and potential clients before you attend PTW. But trust me, Brent Bowthorpe will take your understanding of relationships to a whole new level. Plus, John Kowalski will lay out invaluable systems that will streamline the "workings" of your business.
PTW will be three of the most valuable days that you spend on your business.
Why I love Planning To Win
by Meredith Truitt, Training Advisor Reets Drying Academy
At Reets Drying Academy, my job is to help restoration companies grow and flourish. Time has proven that having the right tools available to you will lead to a much higher success rate. But action is needed to successfully implement these things to work for you. There are many tools out there for our industry but I find that Planning to Win hits the nail on the head! It targets exactly where most restorers seem to struggle in their business and I have seen multiple companies go through this program and do a complete turnaround in business!
I have attended Planning to Win several times over the last 2 years and I have taken so much from the events and applied them to my own marketing process. It has helped me grow and learn more about our industry so that I can be even more of a resource to my restorers that call me for help! This is possible because you have some of the most experienced industry professionals sharing their secrets and wealth of knowledge with you.
Whether you are struggling with branding yourself, enhancing your social media footprint, working with adjusters, strengthening your relationships with agents or making a plan for your business; Planning to Win can help you put processes into place that will intensify your company's presence in your market!
We have many tools and resources at Reets Drying Academy to offer to our customers in the restoration industry and you will always hear Jeremy Reets talk about having processes and systems in place. In fact, Reets.TV Online Water Restoration training was born out of the need for systemization in our industry. Planning to Win is an event that we are proud to support because of its dedication to putting change into an implementable strategy!
Attend Planning to Win
by Jeff Heyd, US Director of Sales, Concrobium
The title, "Planning to Win" says it all. One fundamental principle in business management goes something like, "Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail." It's also common sense. How can you get anywhere if you don't know where you are going and don't make a plan to get there?
I've managed cleaning and restoration companies and I know there's rarely enough time to just deal with putting out fires and getting the basics done. That's why this seminar is so valuable. It forces you to get away from the day-to-day operations of your business and focus on the larger picture.
In addition to the very specific practical information and advice you get from this seminar, you will also be surrounded by like-minded owners and managers facing the same challenges you are. The discussions and networking alone are valuable enough to justify attending.
I have attended several of these Planning to Win events now and I learn more every time. I highly recommend this as one of the best values in the industry!
A Quick (But Really Effective) Restoration Website Tune-Up
By Jeff Cross, Editor Cleanfax Magazine
The disaster restoration industry is very competitive, and veteran business owners are constantly looking for that "edge" to land more jobs.
These same owners have become experts in dealing with restoration business building challenges, negotiating with adjusters and running even the most technical of jobs.
But mention websites and search engine optimization and their eyes glass over. They hand that task off to someone else in the company, or hire it out to an Internet firm.
And that's OK. But each business owner or marketing manager must understand the basics of website marketing and what their website must have to be effective. That is smart management.
Learning the top Internet marketing strategies is what you will receive during the two hour Internet marketing session at Planning To Win workshops.
Here are some highlights of what you will take away from this session. The following is just part of the Internet marketing blueprint you will be given at PTW.
Strategy #1: Specific pages
You must create a specific page on your website for every service you offer and, in a very competitive market, for every specific city or community you work in.
Part of the challenge, and the reason why you should have a page for every service you offer, is that you can optimize an individual webpage for just a few specific keywords, without lessening their impact.
And remember that the search engines, whether Google, Yahoo, Bing or any of them, see individual pages on your site as individual websites. A page for every service you offer, although part of a single website domain, shows up as a specific, highly-targeted landing page to the search engines.
Strategy #2: Keywords
Keywords are the "keys" for search engines to find your website pages and then display them to potential customers.
Keywords can be used on the webpage itself, and used as "meta" keywords, working in the background; invisible to website visitors but easily seen by search engines.
Strategy #3: Title bar
To search engines, the title bar is the "front door" to a webpage, and it is some of the most important real estate of a website.
Most carpet cleaning and restoration companies use their company names as the title bar. Do a search for carpet cleaning or restoration companies in your area and you will most often find that those on the first page of the search engines do not use their company names as the title bar.
Remember that the title bar should be keyword rich.
Strategy #4: Page description
Your page description, those few lines displayed by search engines, is also valuable real estate when it comes to your website.
If you don't specifically choose a page description, the search engines may just pull any copy off your page to fill that space. Choose the best description you can, remembering that a keyword-rich description will help your SEO efforts.
Strategy #5: Backlinks
Just like offers to have a SEO firm work on your website, you may have received invitations to have a company provide you with backlinks, sometimes hundreds of them. But like anything else, quantity is not the most important consideration. You want quality.
A backlink is simply a mention of your website, with your URL, on another relevant website. That means that getting the local corner grocery store to put your website URL on its site doesn't mean much. But get the local Chamber of Commerce or perhaps your industry association to put your website URL on their web pages... that's real value.
The NEW Yellow Pages
Website marketing and search engine optimization is the new Yellow Pages - it takes time, effort and money to get it done right.
But unlike the old Yellow Pages, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars each month to get top position.
While it is true that you can use "pay-per-click" and paid Internet marketing programs to get quick results, which can be fairly expensive, you can optimize your site for organic listings for virtually nothing - if you know how to do it yourself.
Website marketing and SEO are here to stay - at least for the foreseeable future. Do yourself and your company a favor and learn how to use the online marketing tools available to you.
Jeff Cross is the senior editor of Cleanfax and is an industry trainer and consultant. Contact him at JCross@NTPMedia.com