Thursday, March 12, 2009

Free Marketing Ideas - Part V

Originally Posted 2.23.09

13. If You Are Drug Free, Promote It

Years ago, a contractor in Auburn, California told me he was randomly testing his employees for drugs. Being somewhat of a libertarian, I was horrified. He explained why and I was even more horrified.

One of his technicians developed a cocaine habit. The tech would case customers’ houses on service calls and return at night to rip them off. “Do you know what my liability would be?” asked the contractor.


“Neither do I, and I never want to find out.”

Flash forward a few years. When I worked in franchising, one of our franchisees lost track of a truck. This was pre-GPS. No one knew the vehicle location. The plumber didn’t answer the radio.

The highway patrol found him. He was sitting in his service van on a freeway shoulder, slumped over, dead from a heroine overdose. Fortunately, the plumber hadn’t hurt anyone besides himself.

In Philadelphia this week, a plumber was arrested after getting videotaped stealing pipes from suburban fast food restaurants. He was selling the pipes as scrap to pay for drugs.

Unfortunately drugs are a problem. And people know it.

According to the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 8% of full time workers use illicit drugs. Among full time employees, the construction trades witnessed the second highest amount of illicit drug abuse (15%) of any occupation. Less than one third of companies use random drug testing.


Drug test. Drug test to protect yourself. Drug test to protect your (clean) employees. Then, promote it.

Let your customers and potential employees know your company is drug free. Proclaim it on job applications and on your website.

It will attract the employees you want and dissuade those you do not from applying in the first place. It will also attract customers who want peace of mind about the individuals who are allowed inside their homes.

14. Insert A Business Card Into Every Returned DVD

When you rent a DVD, stick a business card into the box when returning it. The kid who opens the box to verify the DVD will probably toss it, but you never know. It’s only a business card!

Of course, it will be more effective if you have a coupon on the back of the business card for dollars off a service call.

15. Join A Leads Club

Leads clubs exist in every town. Some are affiliated with national organizations. Some are independent. Usually, the Chamber of Commerce knows about area leads clubs.

Leads clubs are focused networking groups. Non-competitive businesses meet for lunch or breakfast. The idea is to help each other with introductions and business opportunities.

Everyone in your club is a prospect. More important, everyone in your club is a community center of influence and source of quality referrals.

Leads clubs are different than service clubs. Service clubs exist to be of service to the community. The networking that occurs is a fringe benefit. In a leads club the networking is the purpose. As a result, the meetings tend to be focused and no-nonsense. Each member tries to help others gain business.

Contact your local chamber for more information on the leads clubs in your area.

16. Knock On Doors

Tom McCart was the first salesperson in the heating and air conditioning industry to sell $1 million of replacement products. He did it in a small, one season market, one system at a time, with many sales coming from leads generated by knocking on doors.

Knocking on doors? It sounds crazy. Yet, soon after Tom broke the million dollar ceiling, Pat McCormick sold $1 million worth of high efficiency air conditioners in mild Southern California. Pat generated ALL of his leads by knocking on doors.

Mention “knocking on doors” and the image of the pushy salesperson immediately comes to mind. And, a lot of door-to-door salespeople are pushy. The best are not. They don’t have to be pushy.

Think about Tom and Pat selling air conditioners. Air conditioners are replaced every 15 years on average (though they should be replaced a little more often than that). This means that 7% of the installed base of air conditioners needs replacement every year.

Knock on 15 doors and the odds suggest that one homeowner will own an air conditioner that needs replacement. Why hasn’t he replaced? It’s probably because he doesn’t know who to call and dreads the process of calling contractors, scheduling appointments, and listening to the pitch. He imagines the contractor salesperson to be dishonest and pushy.

So why will he buy from you? Because you are the opposite of the salesperson he fears. McCart used to knock on the door, smile, introduce himself, and declare that he was the neighborhood contractor and was letting people know that he had some special financing available for homeowners in the area. He just wanted to know if the homeowner had any interest.

Tom said the next part was key. “Shut up,” advised Tom.

Minneapolis contractor Gary Katz says that silence is the only pressure you ever need to apply. Tom McCart certainly used it to great effect.

Following the pregnant pause, the homeowner will do one of the following:

- He might dismiss you, declaring a lack of interest.

- He might ask for more information.

- He might invite you to take a look at his old air conditioner.

If he dismisses you, thank him for his time. Hand him a business card and give him permission to call you when he decides it’s time to replace.

Pat McCormick said knocking or doors will eventually result in a sale. It’s a numbers game. Pat would divide the commission by the number of doors he knocked on until he made a sale to come up with an average value of each door. On each rejection, he reminded himself of the value of that door.

If the homeowner asks for information, give it to him. If he asks for you to look at his air conditioner, do it. Chances are good that this is a homeowner who lacks a relationship with a contractor and knows it’s time to replace. You’re in the right place at the right time.

All marketing requires an investment of money or time. Knocking on doors costs nothing, but does take time. If you lack leads, knocking on doors beats the heck out of sitting around the shop. Give it a try.

© 2009 Matt Michel

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