Earlier this week, I noticed this intriguing thread on the Warrior Forum for internet marketers.
I am looking for both online and offline methods and ideas for my blog.to get people thinking funny and creative!
For example, see this funny plumber idea.I am sure this must be making him a ton of money. Who wouldn’t call him if they needed a plumber?
Although the area code doesn’t appear on the truck, a quick Google search narrowed AIM Plumbing and Electrical Services location down pretty quickly, to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax happens to be in the service area of one of our publications, Atlantic Construction News, so I called the AIM number. (The business uses ToiletTruck.com for its Internet domain.)
Paul Verge said, indeed, he is the company owner, and the truck is his only form of marketing.He asserted he operates a one-person business, generating about $250,000 a year. (Exceptionally, he has both plumbing and electrical certifications, a real advantage for smaller jobs such as kitchens and bathroom renovations.)
He said he came up with the idea of the toilet truck wrap about a decade ago. It cost him $600 to turn the photo into the truck decoration. He says he replaces it every time he replaces the truck, say once every five years or so. And he said this is the only form of marketing he needs to do.
Now here is where things went off the rail, probability-wise. He asserted he generates 100 leads a week, of which most are from “word of mouth” and most of that word-of-mouth is from the truck.
How does he handle all that work as a one-person shop? “I’ve turned down twice as much work as I could have done,” he said.
Wow, it seemed unreal. Take a photo, go to a sign wrap place, and generate more leads than you could ever imagine, all for a cost of about $100 a year (allowing for the amortized time to pay back the $600 truck wrapping fee.)
He says most of the calls he receives are local, though he continues to get calls from around the world, from people who have seen the viral Internet toilet truck image.
Alas, the story doesn’t quite add up. I asked Paul to send me his own copy of the truck image and his email address, so I could verify things with him. Then I called our Nova Scotia-based publisher and she told me: “Yes, I’ve seen that truck around Halifax.”
“I do however find it curious that he has a NSCC email addy (Nova Scotia Community College),” she wrote.
My initial reaction: Maybe he is teaching part-time at the college as he continues to operate his successful business. I phoned Verge again.
Indeed, he says, he now is a full-time pipe trades instructor at the college. And his business? He is switching to an unwrapped truck and has mostly wound the business down. “I still get calls, based on that stuff, picking and choosing, and work the odd night and odd weekend.”
He certainly didn’t volunteer this business-scale-down information with me during the first phone conversation.
Why would he give up a lucrative business with seemingly unlimited free leads to become a college instructor?
“Oh, I’m getting older,” he said. “The knees are going, the shoulders are going . . . enough of it, I’ve been at it 20 years already, enough.” Verge said he will turn 52 in August.
We can believe Paul Verge’s original story if we wish. Just take a photo of yourself on a toilet, wrap it on your truck, and generate hundreds of leads a month, for virtually no cost per lead.
But if the story was really that good, I imagine he would have been able to build a truly impressive large-scale business.
He said he decided not to go beyond one person “because it is hard to find good help” — but, heck, if you have this many leads and you can pick and choose, you can pay better than the going rate for good plumbers and electricians who would be happy to share in the largess of an incredibly successful marketing initiative.
However, there is another side to this improbable story. If the cost of getting the self-taken photo and turned into a truck wrap is just $600, even if it doesn’t generate hundreds of leads, what would it cost to test the idea out in your own market area? If it bombs, you just peel the wrap off, and chalk it up to an experiment that didn’t quite work (for about the cost of the many wasteful advertising campaigns you are induced to try.)
And if it works, well, even if the results are a tenth as good as what Paul Verge asserted in his original interview, you’ll be plenty happy with the results.
Believe it or not, this is a construction marketing idea worth trying out yourself.