This is part two in the blog series “Marketing Basics for Power Wash Companies.” Find part one here.
You’ve done your SWOT Analysis and figured out your USP. You’ve researched and identified your target customer and made Customer Personas. Now it’s time for the fun part, planning your marketing strategy and implementing your plan!
Begin by addressing what kind of market you are going after, is it commercial or residential? These different markets will have very different marketing strategies.
If you are planning on servicing businesses, Micheal Hinderliter, the internationally recognized “Dean of Power Wash,” says, “On the commercial side, a lot of times cold calling works well or finding and joining business groups that are for specific industries. Those are good ways to go after them. Generally, cold calling is one of the best tactics.”
On the other hand, if you are planning to service primarily residential accounts, one good option is the traditional every door direct mail method or mass mailers. Don’t be afraid to be creative when reaching out to a residential customer though and using some offbeat tactics!
Hinderliter says, “I've even heard of guys driving through neighborhoods and throwing Frisbees in people’s front yards.” Of course, make sure all your contact information is correctly printed on a Frisbee or any other material you use to market.
Once you have your type of market established, combine that information with your customer persona. If you did thorough research you will find that marketing to a specific, ideal customer is a lot easier then marketing to “everyone.”
Begin planning your marketing activities to meet your target customers where they are. Get a FREE media planning template to help you stay organized as you manage your marketing here.
Identify the social media platform they are using (Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter...etc.), place online ads on websites they visit, tailor your email campaigns to include graphics that resemble them, and subtly pivot your writing to appeal to them. Get a FREE social media planning template here to help with this task.
Pew Research Center is a great resource to help with planning which social media platform will give you the greatest return on investment. Read their report here.
Most importantly, regardless of the type of customer you are trying to reach, having a strong, consistent online presence will do wonders to help potential customers find your business.
Hinderliter says, “You need to have a presence online because I have found that before you even get the first call, customers are researching you and it's more likely that they've made a decision before they ever picked up the phone to call.”
The final stage is implementation. Begin running ads on Facebook or Google, sending mailers, or scheduling social media posts. The most important thing you can remember here is to be patient, consistent, and don’t give up! Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t be either (we wish!).
Finally, remember to track and measure your campaigns and be flexible enough to pivot and redirect resources away from a tactic that isn’t bringing the expected returns into a tactic that is. For example, maybe your social media campaigns are doing great but your printed ad in a newspaper isn’t generating enough leads. Learn from this, stop using the newspaper (or change the ad) and start directing your time and energy into the places where your voice is heard! You are an expert at power washing but marketing is a skill, and like all new skills, it takes time and practice to get it right.
Hinderliter says, “I think the stress of running a business can be very daunting, and I would encourage you to just stay calm, stay focused on your goals, and to give it time. Don't give up so easily.” That’s great advice for anyone starting a business.
If you want to generate more leads, one area that you should definitely polish is your quote request form. Asking for too much information will cause most potential leads to bail before they submit the form. Here are some simple guidelines to give your potential customers a better experience while you get more of the information you need.
Every website should have at least one landing page. Hubspot.com describes a landing page as “any page on the web on which one might land that 1) has a form and 2) exists solely to capture a visitor's information through that form.” This is distinct from having a newsletter sign-up box on the front page of your website. If you want a web visitor to ask for a quote, then you need to have a landing page generate leads. The page can include sales language as well as the form. Remind them why they clicked your “Ask for a quote!” button by listing the attributes of your company right next to the form.
Generate more leads by keeping it simple!
This brings us to one of the most important aspects to designing a landing page: simplicity. As marketers and business owners, we tend to think getting more information from a visitor while we have their attention is better. Well, not if too many fields and complicated formatting drive them away. But how many fields are too many if you want to generate more leads?
By analyzing over 40,000 landing pages, Dan Zarrella discovered that while the number of conversions between landing pages with 3 fields and 5 fields was small (25% to 22%, respectively), having seven or more fields drops conversions to 15%. For a small company with fewer than 100 web views a day, that difference is significant. Zarrella also found that fields with multiple lines (as opposed to a field with only one line) drive down conversions. So do dropdown menus. Keep it simple and make it easy!
For an online quote, only ask for what you absolutely need. Is an address necessary at this stage or can you get by with just a zip code? Don’t you really only need the person’s best contact phone number rather than their work, home and mobile? You will generate more leads if it takes less time to fill out your contact form.
Generate more leads by making your conversion goal clear!
Besides simplicity, clarity counts a lot when trying to generate leads. If you are using a web designer, he or she should know many different ways to increase clarity on how to fill out your form. You can also look online for form design websites if you are doing it yourself.
What tools make your form more clear? The asterisk that indicates a “must fill out” field is one clarity tool. Online forms often have help prompts – words that instruct your guest on what to place in that text box that disappear once he/she begins to type. This is a useful way to inform people of how to type in their phone number – your data capture program will have specific formatting needs and you can let people know what they are before they hit “send” and get an error message. Another big key to generate more leads is to let people know if they filled in a field incorrectly BEFORE they hit “send.”
Clarity relates to design as well. If you have sales information on the same page as a form, differentiate the background colors so their eyes are attracted to the form side. You can add arrows that push their vision to the form. Even a stock photo of someone looking the direction of the form will help drive attention to it. These tips are especially helpful for a quote request form.
Generate more leads by creating trust!
Your form, believe it or not, can create trust with your potential customers. You are already showing them that working with you will be easy (your form is simple) and uncomplicated (your form is clear). You didn’t ask for overly sensitive information or unnecessary information. Now let them know under the email field that their email address will not be sold to other companies, if that is true. Ease concerns about personal information with a brief sentence reassuring them their email is safe with you.
Generate more leads by being a good listener!
All forms should include a brief section where potential customers can add comments. This is an optional section of course, but it can be a great way for you to make a connection in your follow up call. You could say, "This is Bob with Big Bob's pressure washing. I am calling you because you recently filled out a quote form on my website. I see that you have some concerns about potential damage to your landscaping. Can you tell me more about that?"
After your potential customer has clicked the submit button you should direct them to a thank you page to acknowledge that the form has been submitted. Your thank you page can be a great place to upsell your other services, or get people to share your website. Don't waste it with a basic white screen that says something boring like "Thanks for filling out our form. We will contact you soon"
It is also a good idea to send an auto generated follow up email. Use auto-response emails as a way to sell products and services, build a relationship and win over potentials.
It is important to continually polish your website to improve your conversion rate. Use tracking software like Google Analytics to help you make objective, data driven decisions about what might need to be improved. Keep it simple, work to build trust, and be professional. Focus on creating a positive, painless experience for your visitors, and you will quickly generate more leads.
If this is your automated email response to someone who just asked for information about your company, then you are missing a huge opportunity to create a connection with this new lead. People get all kinds of junk sent to them - why be another annoyance? Use auto-response emails as a way to sell products and services, build a relationship and win over potentials.
An auto-response email is sent when a customer takes an action on your website, versus direct marketing emails that are sent in mass to your entire email list. Customers open auto-response emails at a rate of 52% while direct marketing emails are only opened at a rate of 20% (Marketing Land, 2013). In other words, if you send out a mass message to 100 customers, only 20 will read it. But if you send the same marketing message to 100 people who filled out your online form, 50 will read it. That’s why you need to turn the auto-response email into a marketing tool, not just another “thank you” note.
When designing your auto-response email, don’t be afraid to get personal. The more formal you sound, the more automated it feels. Refer to yourself in the first person, not in the third person (i.e.: “The owner will get back to you soon.”). Sign the email as yourself, not the business. For example: “So glad you are interested in my services. I look forward to taking care of your power washing needs! – Jack Smith” is much more friendly and inviting than “Thank you for filling out our online form. Someone will get back to you shortly. – Powerwashers, Inc.”
Keep this part short and sweet and be sure to give contact information. Referring to an email is much easier than going back to the website to find a phone number or email address for follow up. “If you need anything, please call Melissa at 555-5555 or email her at Melissa@Powerwashersinc.com.”
Next, don’t be afraid to include your marketing language. “Voted Best in Kansas City!” “We clean anything, anywhere!” Maybe they noticed it on your website already but adding it again is a reinforcement for why they contacted you in the first place. Solidify with them that you are the best at what you do with every opportunity. You can make a short, bullet-point list of reasons why you are better than the competition – anything that sets you apart. (Note the key term: short.)
Lastly, add any current sales incentives you have going. Do you give 10% off to new customers? Are you running a seasonal special? Discounting certain services? Let potential customers know! Not only will it make them more likely to hire you, it will also make them more likely to open future direct marketing emails because they know that you offer specials that they might want.
Now you have an auto-response email that gives them a friendly vibe, information they can use and incentives to purchase your services. This is how you take advantage of a new lead.
When a potential customer clicks on your website for the first time, you have about three seconds to make an impression. A stunning photo can capture attention and project an aura of quality and professionalism before a visitor ever reads a word of text. A poor-quality snapshot can send a very different message. Hire a professional photographer to get stunning shots that will separate your website from your competitors.
It is not about the gear.
Anyone can buy a pressure washer. Not everyone has enough experience to know that pressure washing an asphalt shingle roof with a zero-degree tip is a bad idea. When you hire a professional photographer, you are paying for experience. Professional photographers are experts at crafting and capturing light. When that expertise is paired with the right gear for the job, they can produce photos that will outshine anything you can do with your camera.
Make sure you hire a professional photographer with the right experience.
Pressure washing contractors usually specialize in a particular area, and professional photographers are very similar. Your company may do concrete cleaning or kitchen exhaust cleaning. You may do both, but most people have an area of focus. You need to hire a professional photographer that has experience shooting action. Ask to see a portfolio. They should be able to produce one like a magician pulling a rabbit from hat. Make sure that it has plenty of action shots. Examples might be marathon runners, dance competitions, or factory workers. If they show you a book full of still life or studio portraits, you should move on.
Find a location.
Make sure that you have written consent from your client to photograph their location, and make sure you have written consent to publish the photographs. Many photographers will charge a retainer for the time that they spend on a location shoot. If you show up unannounced and the property owner refuses to let you photograph, you will probably still have to pay for the photographer’s time.
You should discuss how you intend to use the photographs before the job begins.
Copyright laws can be confusing when it comes to digital files. Put simply, you do not own the photographs just because you have a digital file sitting on your hard drive. When you hire a professional photographer, they will probably have licensing information in their contract. Some photographers have no problem providing digital files for you to use wherever and however you like. Other photographers choose not to sell digital files over a certain resolution. Lots of photographers write contracts that give you the right to use a photograph in a specific place for a specified time span. Avoid surprises and get all of the details in writing before the project begins.
Pressure washing might not be a typical gig for the photographer.
Not everyone is willing or able to climb on rooftops, or crawl into a kitchen exhaust duct. Take plenty of time to walk through the job with your photographer before you begin. Let them know what kinds of chemical you will use. Tell them that debris might be flying and you will provide all necessary OSHA approved safety equipment. Be sure to discuss any dangerous activities such as climbing or riding in a bucket lift. Anything you can do to help them prepare will be appreciated.
Find pictures that you like.
You may have a shot that you snapped with a smartphone that you would like to recreate, or another pressure washing website may have a beautiful shot that you want to imitate. If you have a specific shot that you want to see, you should show it to your photographer. This will help them get a better idea of what you expect to see when the job is finished.
Plan extra time for photos.
Not every picture can be done on the fly. A professional photographer may want to pose you in order to get the perfect shot. You should be prepared for this when you hire a professional photographer. Make sure you have plenty of time before your next job.
Photoshop is not a magic wand.
Professional photographers will almost certainly use post processing software such as Photoshop to enhance colors, textures, shadows and highlights before they show photos to a client. Additional changes will probably cost extra. Photoshop can be used to remove logos, add clouds to the sky, and even make you look thinner! But all of these things take time. If you want extra enhancements, you should make sure your photographer knows what you expect to see before the job begins.
Never hire the lowest bidder.
Pressure washers hate the guy that drives around town and underbids them on every job. You know the one. The guy with the yard signs that say “Any House – Any Size JUST $79”. That sort of thing exists in the photography world as well. Anyone with a camera can call himself or herself a photographer. Use this article as a guide to hire a PROFESSIONAL photographer. Remember that you are paying for experience, and the little extra expense will pay off in the end.
As a small business, you aren’t going to buy Super Bowl air time or design a nation-wide Twitter campaign to impact change. You can get involved locally at a level that makes sense for your company size. Charitable giving is a great way to make a positive difference in your community, and help build your brand at the same time.
Most people know that giving means a tax deduction at the end of the year. (See the section below on guidelines for qualifying for the deduction.) That’s not the only benefit. Employees express higher job satisfaction and greater commitment to their company when their employer gives. They perceive that volunteering provides them leadership and professional skills experience (Director’s Notes: Making the Business Case for Corporate Philanthropy). In addition, future employees are more attracted to philanthropic businesses.
In a study conducted by Cone LLC, “85% of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about.” Further, 88% of Americans are fine with a company including a cause or issue in their marketing. A whopping 91% of respondents believe a business should consider a cause that is in the community where they do business. When consumers think well of your brand name because it gave to the community, they are more likely to do business with you.
Charitable giving is also an excellent way to network. Through volunteering, sponsoring and other ways of contributing, you meet others in the community and spread your brand name further than you would have otherwise.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, around 75 percent of small business owners donate a portion of their profits to charity, around 6 percent on average. This can be as simple as writing a check to the Humane Society once a year. You can’t force employees to give as well, but you can offer to match their donations to a particular charity to give them incentive. You can also invite customers to donate during fundraising drives, for instance, through your newsletters or emails.
For some people, they would rather give time than money so organizing an optional employee volunteer day at a food bank, for example, might be a great way to give to your community. Again, you can share the information with your customers and invite them to participate. You might also want to use your services as the volunteer donation, like offering to power wash the homes of the elderly on fixed incomes or similarly needy home owners.
Sponsoring sports teams or a fundraising event is a great way to get public attention while doing good. Not all sports need a lot of gear – sometime they just need t-shirts. Donating money for an event means you get publicity on programs and advertising, and you often get special recognition at the event itself.
Below is a list of general guidelines if you want to use your charitable giving as a tax credit. However, you should consult your accountant or tax attorney to know if your donations qualify.
- Identify an eligible charity, usually a 501(c)(3)
- Make an eligible donation: cash, volunteered services, sponsorship of a charity event or the donation of inventory or services
- Understand that each category has its own limitations (for example, you can’t deduct the value of your volunteered service, but you can deduct expenses incurred such as supplies) — links to all the related forms and limitation information are available from the IRS (see also: IRS Publication 526)
- Ensure the donation is paid in full by the end of the tax year and reported through Form 1040, Schedule A
- Take your deduction, but remember that the IRS limits the amount of charitable donations that can be considered tax-deductible to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income
- Keep records — you’ll want them in the event of an IRS audit. Generally, an organization should give you a written statement if it receives a contribution from you
(From the U.S. Small Business Administration)
How you share your good will is up to you. On the one hand, consumers think favorably of a company that shows it cares about the community it serves, and on the other hand, you don’t want to seem like you give in order to tell everyone how giving your business is. As previously mentioned, you can share about fundraising activity in your newsletter or on social media. You will need to check with the non-profit to find out if you can use their logo on your own materials as they might have rules about that.
The most important aspect to giving is to make sure the receiving cause is one that is important to you. Don’t look for the biggest opportunity to make your company look good. As long as it comes from the heart, good deeds have their own rewards.
Marketers have found that reciprocity can offer an opening into increasing business. The Principle of Reciprocity is, in essence, “the human need and tendency to want to give something back when something is received.” (Womeninbusiness.About.com) The drive to give back is greatest when the gift has been received with no expectation to reciprocate. Consider a common social grace as an easy example of reciprocity: When a person says “Thank you,” “You’re welcome” often follows.
The results of using reciprocity are impressive. Waiters who gave a mint along with the customer’s check (without mentioning the mint) saw a 3% increase in tips versus the control group (no mints given). Waiters who personally offered two mints saw a 14% increase and those who brought out mints with the check and a few minutes later personally brought out more mints saw an increase of 21%! (www.helpscout.net)
If you want try using reciprocity to boost your sales, you have to give first and your gift must be perceived as having no strings attached. Here are some examples:
- Offer an extra cleaning service or a discount when you make your quote (known as the “that’s-not-all” technique). Make it sound like it is a personalized offer, not made to everyone.
- Send a thank you note and a small token (key chain, pen, etc.) to someone who asked for a quote.
- Send a small gift to customers who recommended your company. It is a simple way to give first, leading them to reciprocate by hiring you again.
Once you send the gift, don’t wait on your follow-up contact. Experts suggest that the desire to return the favor of a gift decreases as more time passes since receiving the gift.
Other ways to give that are less costly include a newsletter with information, a follow-up call after then service is completed to make sure they are satisfied, or offering free quotes on other services they might need. When you create your own gifts, be sure there are no obligations for your customers to return the favor.
You do a lot of work to market your business and get your name out in the community, but that isn’t enough. You need to seal the deal more often than not. Reciprocity is a great way to use psychology to help move your potential clients into satisfied customers.
Your customers are trying to solve a specific problem. Most pressure washing companies specialize in a particular area like kitchen exhaust cleaning, fleet washing, or house washing. So it’s easy to think of all of the specific services you offer as one service, but that’s not how your customers think. Customers will search for things like “dumpster cleaning, sidewalk gum removal, or grease trap cleaning” before they search for “restaurant cleaning.” If they search for “restaurant cleaning” they are likely to find janitorial services. That’s not where you want to rank if you are trying to generate leads for a pressure washing business.
If you have one page with a bulleted list of services, take each of those items and create a page for that specific service. Then write a keyword rich description for each service. Resist the urge to copy and paste. This will most likely cause your page to be flagged for duplicate content. Make each description unique. Your description doesn’t need to be long. You just need to name the problem and tell them why you are the best person to solve it. Use headings and bullet lists to bring attention to important information and make your content easier to read.
The next step is to add some great before and after pictures of several previous jobs. Be sure to give each photo a descriptive alt tag and title. This is a great chance to use your keywords. In other words, stop calling your images “G85N3.jpg” and start calling them “Vinyl Siding Cleaning Before Shot.jpg” Update your photos and photo captions often to keep your content fresh.
Don’t forget to add a form to request a quote. Don’t risk losing conversions by making your customers click through to another page. Make it easy for them to contact you. Only ask for the information you need to move to the next step in the sales process. Remember you are still trying to earn their trust at this point. Not everyone wants to give out a lot of personal information over the internet.
Multiple service pages will give you a chance to send more meta information to search engines. Instead of creating a single page with a title like “Pressure Washing Services”, create several pages with specific titles like “Vinyl Siding Cleaning Services.” You can also make more keyword lists and meta descriptions that are specific to each of your services. Once again, it is crucial that each page be unique. Do not copy and paste here.
Generate more leads by creating multiple service pages. Write unique, keyword rich content for each page. Add some great before and after shots. Put in a call to action and give customers a place to request a quote. Then finish up with keyword rich meta information.
Ads that appear in search results are brief. One word can sometimes drastically increase conversion rates. Some ads get a lot of clicks, but none of the clicks convert. It may take a you a few tries to figure out what works best.
Create multiple ads within each one of your ad groups, and monitor your variables. Your potential customers will only see one of your ads displayed at a time. So it is okay if each ad is almost exactly the same as the last ad.
Start by choosing a headline that is rich with keywords from your ad group. Then alter the headline by arranging the order of the keywords or using close variants of those keywords. Keep everything else in the ad the same. This way you can A/B test to see which headline works the best.
After you have created a few good headlines, you can start optimizing your ad content. Use the same A/B strategy with your ad content that you used with your headlines. Try to give the user some idea of what they will see on your landing page when they click your ad. Sometimes just switching the top and bottom lines can impact your click through rate. Keep making adjustments until you find what works best.
Your display URL does not have to match your destination URL. The domain must be the same, but the content after the slash can be used to give additional clues about the content of your landing pages. This is another place to try and use keywords that may match search queries.
Sell Your Services Not Your Price
Avoid phrases like, "Our Prices Can't Be Beat." They will often bring in the wrong kind of traffic. These people will click your ad and immediately start looking for pricing information. Unless you can give them the "right" price, they are likely going to leave your site without contacting you.
Use Ad Extensions
Ad extensions appear below your search network ads and add valuable information for your potential customer. They can improve your visibility. When two ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with extensions will be chosen over the ad without extensions. There are several types of extensions. The most relevant extensions for power wash contractors are described below.
- Call extensions allow users to call you directly from your ad. You can track the calls and count them as conversions
- Location extensions are excellent for businesses that have a physical location. Mobile device users can click through and get directions to your facility. Perfect for truck wash bays, or other stationary power washing facilities.
- Previous visit extensions let users know if they have visited your site before, and how many times they visited. This extension can help you build repeat business. A home owner may not remember the name of the company who cleaned their driveway last month, but they remember what your website looked like. This extension can tell them how many times they have visited your site, and even when they visited.
- User review extensions show positive reviews from third party sites. Users will click through with more confidence, and are far more likely to contact you once they have visited your site.
- Site links show users some of the most important pages on your site. They can help them land on the right page and get the information they need to make a purchase decision.
Top ad position is not just awarded to the highest bidder. According to Google, "Ad position is determined by a formula called Ad Rank that gives your ad a score based on your bid, the quality of your ads and landing page, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats." Google wants to present the most relevant information possible when a user searches for content. Make sure your keywords match your ad content and your landing page content. Test and make adjustments to your ads to increase your conversion rates. Small changes can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Search ads are triggered by keywords. Many people start with long keyword lists and try to get their ad in front of as many people as possible. Strategic pay per click keyword management will help your ads get in front of the right people.
Use Long Tail Keywords
Keywords like <power washing> are way too broad for most power washing contractors. People who type <power washing> into a search field could be looking for <power washing advice> or <power washing supplies>. Neither of these searches should show an ad for power wash contracting companies. Long tail keywords are groups of words. Phrase snippets that are more specific than individual words. <wood deck washing service> would be a better choice. Long tail keywords are more like a fishing lure than a fishing net. They will catch the people who are really searching for what you offer. This will help your ad rank because your ads will be more closely related to the user's search.
Use Keyword Match Types
Keyword match types (sometimes called keyword modifiers) are special tags that you can add to your keywords to make them more specific. These modifiers are the key to a successful ppc strategy. There are four types of keyword modifiers.
- Broad match keywords are the default setting.
- If your keyword is <power washing services> your ad may show for <power washing equipment> or even <janitorial services>
- Broad match searches can be modified with a plus sign (+) before any word in your phrase. This action lets search engines know that that word should be in the search, but the other words can still change. So if we said <+power washing services>, our ad would show in searches for <power washing contractors> or <power tools>
- Phrase match keyword modifiers tell search engines to match your ad to a specific phrase. They are surrounded by quotation marks ("your phrase").
- If you use a phrase match for "power washing services" your ad might show up in searches for <cheap power washing services> or <power washing services in Dallas, Texas"
- Exact match keywords will show your ads only when a search matches a phrase or a close variation of your phrase with nothing before or after. They are surrounded by [brackets].
- Use them carefully. If you use exact match keyword [power washing contractor] your ad will only show for that search and maybe <pressure washing contractor>
- Negative keyword modifiers tell search engines to never show your ad for a particular keyword. They are marked with a minus symbol (-).
- Use them if you discover that your ads are appearing in unrelated searches. For example, a truck washing company may not want to appear in searches for <car wash>. They wash big rigs, and RV's. This is probably not the place where most people would want to bring the family car. So we could use the minus sign with the keyword <-car wash> to try and stop some of those searches.
A low click through rate means that your ads are not matching search queries. A perfect score would be one click for one impression. A 2% click through rate is a more realistic target. Keep your keyword groups really focused. Pause keywords with low quality scores. Use Google's "Ad Preview and Diagnosis" tool to test your keywords. Aim for the most relevant searches for the highest quality clicks.