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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    559

    Default Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    It's that time of year again when I need to renew my Yellow Pages contract for local books. I cringe when I see how much it can cost a year to advertise in the Yellow pages and I'm not sure it's worth it anymore.

    I know that referals are my greatest source of business, and from the marketing studies done by ASHI, it appears I'm not alone. But I want to continue marketing and increasing my exposure and business.

    I also feel that Yellow Pages will probably be a dinasour in a few years as WEB based ads take over.

    So Now I have a web page, but I'm inundated and overwhelmed with ways to increase traffic on the web. I'm now faced with how best to spend for advertising on the WEB?

    My state (MA) doesn't allow Realtors to refer home inspectors or home inspectors to solicate realtors, it's illegal, therfore I'm always looking for ways to increase marketability without them.

    I am interested in your thoughts on:

    1. Does anyone think the Yellow Pages are still the best source for advertising?
    2. If Web based ads are your recommendation, what is the most cost effective way of increasing traffic??
    3. How does one get to be the in the first position on Google? Any ideas of cost for this?
    4. What pitfalls to avoid? Any horror stories out there?

    Similar Threads:
    OREP Home Inspector E&O Insurance 2

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    4,112

    Default Re: Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    Ken, you will get lots of different ideas, but the number one thing is to do what works for you, in your area.
    If you don't track your results, start now. I try to make it a practice to ask each customer where they found me and to be as specific as possible.

    Traditional Yellow pages are pretty much dead in my area,IMHO since I am in a high tech area.
    I know I get a dozen or more books that go straight to the recycle bin when they arrive. I always search on-line when I need anything.
    I have always had a yellow pages ad or two in the small town I started in but had few results.
    When I relocated to the Dallas, TX area, I bought yellow page ads again and then tracked it.
    I did not get ONE inspection for the entire year.
    I then switched to yellow pages on-line with moderately better results.
    I think everyone will agree the best you can hope for is to be in the top 5 for organic search results in popular search engines, but that takes time and I am still working on it. I am forced to do the pay-per-click through yahoo and google.
    The best bang for the buck has probably been my vehicle signage.
    Good luck!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
    Posts
    4,517

    Default Re: Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    Ken,

    I have to agree with Jim.

    Most of the money spent on the yellow page books is a waste in my opinion.

    If you want to be on the internet and be sucessful with it, you probably need to have a 3rd. party maintain your site so they can stay on top of it.
    You do have to spend some money to be at the top of the search engines which can get expensive.

    I've always found the best form of advertising is just marketing in the area you wish to work within.

    You can contact home sellers, realtors, run an ad in the real estate section of the newspaper, and have vehicle signage. These have worked the best for myself.

    And don't forget to ask you previous clients to pass on your name to their friends and family. Stay in contact with these clients with some type of letter periodically or some type of adverstisement such as a yearly calendar or something to keep your name in front of them.

    rick


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,332

    Default Re: Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    I do track every job that comes in.
    Here's some of my observations:

    The one thing I have found the last few years is the increase in "shoppers" from the yellow pages. They seem to call and just go down the list until they either get the lowest price, or they hear what they want and book the inspection. When I bought my friends HI company, we transferred his phone number to ring into mine. I would get a call, give them the price, and a minute later they would call the other number.

    Very few people will leave messages. While we do have a live person answering the phone, there is the times where it does go to the message.

    Most of the internet "shoppers" I get are just that. Cyber shoppers that refuse to pick up the phone to talk to a live person. I have a very low close rate with internet shoppers.

    The yellow pages do generate lots of calls.
    The calls do generate booked jobs.
    They do pay for themselves, though they are not huge revenue producers.

    While most of my business comes from referrals from past clients, attys, mortgage companies, etc, enough comes from the yellow pages to not drop them altogether.

    I have been reducing the size of the ads, but then went into a new book to expand service area (closer to where my guy lives).

    In Knoxville, we have two major phone book companies and one wannabee. We have Bellsouth and Yellow Book with Verizon trying to break into the market. I have to be in both books and my service area covers 3 major books and one minor one. I'm in a total of 8 books.

    I will continue to be in both books since I see a mixture in the houses I'm inspecting, but will scale down the ads each year. I have only a BOLD listing in some books.

    I guess you have to try to determine if your market is yellow page driven or not and act accordingly.
    JF


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
    Posts
    4,517

    Default Re: Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    The yellow pages may work for you there, but here in the Dallas area when you open the phone book and you have several pages of just home inspectors it just doesn't make good sense to me to spend a lot in them.

    We have about 1 home inspector in those books for every home on the market.

    Sure you could buy a half page ad or maybe a full page which I have done before but I didn't have the calls off it either. Mostly I just got price shoppers. Clients have told me that they normally don't call the larger ads in the phone book because they expect those companies to just charge you more.

    I personally do not rely on the phone books at all for business. I've been in and out of them for the last 20 years and have finally decided to spend it elsewhere. Bold listings I might have just so that if a prior client goes looking for my number they can find it.

    Now when someone does call I just give them a price and ask what time and day they want it set it up. Most will book with you I've learned if you just take the incentive they are going to use you. Don't just quote a price and wait for them to make the decision to use you or not or have the time to call around to shop prices.

    Most I believe want you to just tell them you can do the job. Asking for your price is about all they know to really ask of us.

    JMHO

    rick


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    I agree with the general idea... Yellow Pages are a dying breed... how fast seems to depend on the area. I have pretty good luck with direct mail marketing. It works better than just throwing an ad out in a publication. In the whole scheme of things a home inspection is pretty far down on most people's radar until they need one. That's really why I don't like just general advertising to the masses.

    I've been at this almost 10 years and this is a time like I haven't seen before. I agree with Rick when he says there's a HI for each house on the market.

    The frenzy over the last 3-5 years brought people into all related industry by the hundered. This slow time is going to starve a lot of people out. It's kind of a necessary evil in any industry I suppose.

    I read a good book on small business marketing lately... It's called 'Duct Tape Marketing' - It was fairly relevant to our industry. It has a lot of fairly specific good ideas.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Healdsburg, CA
    Posts
    1,741

    Default Re: Where should I put my marketing dollars??

    Spend your money on a "killer" web site. Many folks are going there for all of their needs.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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