A thread within the members-only section of remodelcrazy.com’s marketing forum touches on some important issues. I won’t name names here, but you can discover the protagonists within the forum if you are a member (so I encourage you to join the group if you are not currently a member).
To summarize, a sales representative representing an alternative to the Yellow Pages, which promotes the marketing of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising across several platforms, started contributing to the group some months ago, with insightful suggestions on how to effectively use PPC methodologies in place of the traditional Yellow Pages marketing model.
This initiative achieved some success — a few group members, impressed with the sales representative’s knowledge and willingness to put forward voluntary and useful information, decided to give her business a try. They signed up for advertising campaigns.
Then, alas, things went wrong. The campaigns for at least two of the group members didn’t go well, and (possibly because of illness, or spamblock problems, or maybe a combination of both) one of the members found poor communications and dissatisfying results. The rep, he complained in a posting, simply wasn’t returning calls or addressing the issues.
Other members then joined the fray, contributing rather negative published reports about where the sales representative works. Eventually, the rep joined the discussion, outlined her side of the story, but then said she would have nothing further to do with the group and signed off.
One member, not a part of the original debate, observed that the members complaining about the PPC advertising service may simply not have a realistic expectation about how to structure and manage their advertising campaigns. He wrote:
Let me preface by stating I have no side…..no side. What I have learned about advertising, people who sell it, and people who buy it all carry different levels of expectation. As a consumer, we hate being bothered by the YP guy, the (name removed, ed.), or the newspaper adman. We hate spending money on things we cannot touch, see, use, or consume. Advertising is abstract. There is no real value at time of purchase. There is also no guarantee. It is a part of doing business. Will the addition of a $40,000 dump truck save you money on roll-offs? Maybe it will….until the guys rip the tranny out of it or forget to change the oil, check the antifreeze, or run it into a building. Maybe a bad example, but it is a calculated risk we would make as a businessman to decrease cost or increase productivity, thus creating more profits. Whether it is BS or not, I have ALWAYS heard PPC reps tell us that we have to have a commitment of at least 3-4 months for whatever reason. Either they make their living in four month client relationships or there is some truth to this and how it integrates you into ‘googel world’. I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is this…advertising does not guarantee you sales, it only guarantees you increased exposure. Some are better at it than others and I would even go as far as to say ‘right place, right time, comes into play to a certain extent. Every advertising campaign will not work. I’m finishing up a $3,000 mistake on a billboard I thought would be a steal at $250 per month. In eight months, I have received three calls. Two were on a Sunday from people pissed off leaving church because they thought I was Satanic for the message I had in my ad copy and the other was from a guy who was asking me questions about how much it was, who was the company, etc.
This contributor, in my opinion, gets to the core of the issue. Most contractors simply don’t understand or appreciate how to use or measure advertising effectively. In fact, they simply don’t measure their marketing at all, flying by a sort of seat-of-your-pants approach, relying passively (too often) on referrals and existing clients for repeat business, without understanding the primary value of an effective advertising campaign — the ability to control and manage your lead flow. When you get it right, you can dial up or down your advertising volume depending on your leads requirements. These successful contractors, seeing business decline in a recession, simply allocate a significant but controllable increase in their marketing budget, generate the necessary leads, and stay in business. But of course they know how much their leads cost ahead of time, and which advertising generally works and is effective.
I certainly see this in my own business, where we find most of our clients don’t really appreciate how to use advertising effectively.
Unfortunately for the sales representative who initially built good will within the group, then lost it, there are other aspects to the story
Her decision to leave the group and walk away from the negativity to her service only leaves it exactly where it is — in a deep hole of distrust. If you go public, if you reach out in social media (or any media, for that matter) and build expectations, only to find people complain when they aren’t met, you can take two courses of action. You can work to rebuild the trust, or you can throw in the towel. You then have done something worse than never showing up at all — you have left your brand in disarray and disrespect.
(I realize the problem here in part is the sales employee cannot control her entire organization, but there is something to be said for persisting and staying around even when the going gets rough. Once you weather the storm, assuming you can truly address the problems and complaints raised, you will remain a worthy member of the group, and your trust level within the community will be incredible. And so will your brand and success.)