Stop Wasting Time on Bad Leads (but be nice!)

A couple of weeks ago, at the Master Your Remodeling Business Workshop, one of the attendees asked me how he could politely turn away unqualified leads via email. Apparently, he’s been getting many emails from people that either aren’t in his service area, want a service he doesn’t provide, or don’t have a realistic budget.

Whatever the case, my first piece of advice was for him to reevaluate his website and his overall marketing messages. If he’s regularly attracting the wrong prospect, then he has a fundamental issue with his brand image.

That being said, there is no way to avoid all possibility of getting the wrong type of lead inquiry. So having a polite way to turn away the misinformed prospect is a good idea.

Now, I don’t have this exact problem myself, (and we were standing around at the networking dinner), so I didn’t rattle off an eloquent email right then and there; however, I can relate to this problem.

I have a number of redundant emails that hit my inbox to which I need to respond, so having templates available saves me a lot of time.

Here’s a sample of the requests I get every month:

  • Someone wanting to submit a blog post to PowerTips (unsolicited)
  • Someone wanting to submit a blog post to PowerTips (from a friend)
  • Someone that wants me to write a blog post for them
  • Someone that wants to sell me marketing software (unsolicited)
  • SEO company that wants to sell me their services (unsolicited)
  • And so on…

Obviously, there are times where the email is just straight up spam, in which case I’ll add the sender to my blacklist and delete the email without a reply.

But there are also plenty of instances where I will want to be professional and extend the courtesy of a response, even if it is to say simply “no.”

So I created templated responses for these common inbox requests, and I entered them as an email signature in my Outlook Email:

Email Signatures

THAT’S RIGHT! There’s no law that says that the signature box must only contain a signature! 

Here’s an example of the template I send to unsolicited guest blog submissions:


Hi [Name],

Thank you for your interest in contributing to PowerTips! It’s an honor that you would want to be associated with our humble publication.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be able to use your submission. We receive dozens of requests every month, and I simply can’t accommodate them all. When I am able to use a guest submission, I offer it to our community members first.

Thank you again for your interest. I wish you all the best in your blogging endeavors!

Warm regards,


I get many of these requests every month. Having this template is a huge time-saver.

As you can see, this method works great for politely replying to all of your redundant emails; be them unqualified leads, requests for employment or any number of other time-wasters that are hitting your inbox.

The No.1 Email Mistake I Know You’re Making

Every single touch with another human being is an opportunity for your company to shine. It’s a chance to differentiate yourself from the competition. And the out-of-office reply is the single most overlooked opportunity a remodeler has to be remarkable.

Now, the amount of mileage you can get on this will certainly vary. If you’re new to our community you’re (hopefully) getting at least one week away per year. But for some (like many of our Roundtables™ members) you’re taking three to six weeks of vacation per year.

Whichever applies to you, one thing we demand Continue reading

The Secret to Reselling Past Clients

Be honest, is there anything more annoying than finding out a past customer recently had work done on their house but they went with another company? Most of the time it’s not because they didn’t want to use you: it’s because they didn’t know (or couldn’t remember) that you could do that specific type of work.

In this week’s episode of PTTV I’ll share different ways to stay in front of your past clients so this never happens again.

How about you?

What strategies and tactics have you used to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your past customers? Let me know in the comments below!

The Marketing Tactic Remodelers Don’t Use Enough

Overlooked Marketing Tool

When I ask remodelers what marketing tactics they most rely on, I usually get the same answers. Number one is almost always Referrals. As it should be.

Referrals are commonly referred to as the lifeblood of a remodeling company. And the reason is obvious: since they come from a credible third-party you are instantly trustworthy.

The only real problem is that they are in large part out of your control. You have to hope someone knows someone that’s going to remodel and remembers to drop your name.

After referrals come the usual suspects: Canvassing, coupon mailers (Valpak anyone?), print ads, direct mail, radio spots, etc.

The benefit here is that unlike referrals, you can get your message to the masses, but they are costly.

Still, these tactics can be a valuable and effective part of your marketing plan. However, to get the full benefit of these marketing tactics you need to commit to long term campaigns.

Few remodelers do this. Many, in fact, will try one once and give up on it.

This is what I call the Casino Strategy.

The Casino Strategy.

Regardless of the tactic you choose, doing it only once is relying heavily on luck. Since it takes repetition to achieve top of mind awareness and brand recall, doing a one-off campaign means you’re hoping your message will hit home with a prospect at the very moment that they:

  • Have a need or desire for your service
  • Have the money to spend on your service
  • Have a motivation to proceed that outweighs the desire to keep their money

Put another way, it’s very much like putting a $10 casino chip on RED-12 at the roulette table. Yes, this number will certainly hit at some point in time. But will it be when your chip is on the table?

Not likely. So your one-off campaign just missed the mark.

In order to make it work, you have to keep putting that $10 chip down over and over hoping this will be the time when RED-12 hits (i.e. your prospect is ready).

This is what makes these tactics so costly. You have to engage in a long-term campaign to be sure you’re “on the table” when the prospect is ready for you.

Quite the quandary.

If only there were a magic casino chip that could sit on RED-12 for the next 30, 50… 100 spins of the wheel without further investment.

Well, believe it or not there is.

The Magic Chip

What we’re looking for is a marketing tactic that:

  1. combines the widespread coverage of casino tactics…
  2. with the trust factor that referrals bring…
  3. at little to no cost to you.

Did you guess the tactic yet?

Email marketing does it all!

It allows you to stay in constant contact (pun intended) with customers and prospects, helps you build relationships and earn trust, and best of all costs next to nothing to send messages over and over again.

So why do less than 10% of remodelers have an active email marketing program in place? My guess is it’s the same reason people would rather put $500 into a casino than into a savings account — immediate return potential.

An email marketing program can take months, if not years, to see big results. But the long term benefits are there to be had.

It’s Easier Than You Think

The biggest obstacle to overcome is the seemingly daunting task of building your list.

But you already have an audience that you’re overlooking! Start with past customers. Then move to the phone calls and emails you receive. Your website gets traffic I assume? How about the the events you hold and home shows you participate in?

Building relationships with this audience will accelerate your growth. And not giving them a way to stay connected with you is a lost opportunity.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your “list” is arguably the most valuable asset in your business. If you’re not actively trying to build a list, then you’re missing an opportunity to increase your company’s value.

Promote It!

You have to get the word out. Promote your subscription email service or newsletter in everything you do.

  • Promote it on your trucks
  • Promote it on your print ads
  • Promote it on your estimates
  • Promote it on your business cards

Don’t be afraid to be agressive and take it offline. Remember I said casino tactics can be a valuable part of your marketing? Consider papering a neighborhood with your newsletter signup as the primary message.

What do you think is going to have a higher response: “Get a free tips in your email” or “Get a free quote.”?

Do’s and Don’ts

In my opinion, you shouldn’t get caught up in the hype of fancy HTML emails and newsletters. You don’t want to make the reader feel as though they are just part of a list. Plus, most email services won’t download images by default. Which means that pretty email is going to look very ugly at first glance.

Great emails start conversations. One good way to do this is to simply to ask for a reply! It reminds the reader that you’re human, that you care about her and you want to help. As an added bonus, email algorithms (like gmail) take note of email addresses that are responded to, keeping your future emails out of the spam box.

A few more tips:

Don’t…

  • Don’t make every issue an advertisement.
  • Don’t miss an issue …ever.
  • Don’t forget your manners.
  • Don’t sound technical/show off.
  • Don’t use a generic email address (like newsletter@…)
  • NEVER use a noreply@… address.

Do…

  • Do provide valuable information.
  • Do support your brand image.
  • Do write in a conversational tone.
  • Do use a personal email address
  • Do encourage reader to share/forward.

Email marketing is without a doubt one of the most powerful tools in the remodelers marketing toolkit. But it’s being overshadowed by shiny buzzwords like SEO, social media and the like. If you are patient and stay committed, you will see great returns in the months and years to come.

What about you?

Are you one of the minority that uses email marketing? How’s it working for you? If not, what’s holding you back? I look forward to reading your replies below.

5 Keys to Running a Successful Email Newsletter

How to Run an Email NewsletterEmail newsletters should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. People love to read timely information on topics that are of interest to them.

A newsletter campaign will serve to keep your name firmly “top-of-mind” with your customers and is a great way to solidify your remodeling company as an industry leader. Here are 5 key points to consider when running your email program.

Frequency

Studies have shown that there is no maximum number of newsletters you should be sending–as long as the content is relevant and compelling. I’m subscribed to hundreds of newsletters and there are a few I get twice a day. Don’t be afraid that you will annoy subscribers!

Of course, without a full-time copywriter on staff, 40 monthly newsletters will be daunting (to say the least). To start you should plan on sending one or two newsletters per week; but certainly no less than two per month. Why? Because it works! It works because you never know when prospects will buy, so you have to keep plugging away.

Newsletters are advertising; and as with all advertising, repetition is key. It’s through repetition that you will establish credibility, brand familiarity and ultimately become the first thought when the need for your products or services arises.

Quantity, Layout, and Content

Newsletters should be clean, easy to read, and ultra-specific. If you’re just starting out, stick to one article per issue. There is much debate on this point, but I would urge you to consider your own tendencies before jumping on the “more is better” bandwagon. Especially if you’re just starting out and are concerned about frequency. If topic ideas are at a premium, you’re better off not blowing through them all in one mailing.

This format also allows for a more compelling subject line —which is arguably the most important part of the email (assuming you want it to be read). Another benefit to sending one topic per issue is the potential for forwarding. Subscribers are more likely to become your evangelists if the newsletter is  clear and specific. You want the opportunity for a subscriber to think, “Hey, John would love this,” and that will result in more subscribers and ultimately more customers.

Tone, Personality, and the Missed Opportunity

“You” is the most powerful word in advertising. In my experience, the most effective newsletters speak to you, not at you. It should answer the “what’s in it for me” question each and every issue.

Ultimately, the newsletter is an opportunity to cultivate a relationship—not make a sale. The goal is to befriend the subscribers and maintain the impression that it’s a one-to-one communication. This lets them know that you’re not a company, you’re a person.

Most newsletters miss this one completely. They try to sound like big corporate machines. Writing in the first person will make the reader feel like you are speaking directly to her. This will make your newsletter a more personal and more effective communication method.

Title Format

As I said earlier, the subject line is most important element in getting your newsletter opened and read. It should be compelling and less than 50 characters. Compelling is “6 tips to making your home more energy efficient.” As far as subject lines go, I think you’ll agree that this is highly more likely to be opened than “ABC Remodeling Newsletter – March Issue”.

And, since you’ve taken my advice and decided to write in the first person, you’re certainly going to want the “from” email to be a person. Consider this: are you more apt to open an email from mark@example.com or newsletters@example.com?

Opt Out Language

I said earlier you can never send out too many newsletters. Well, it should be noted that a recent study showed people who unsubscribe from good-quality newsletters cite the primary reason for leaving as delivery frequency. But don’t panic! This can be easily remedied by directly addressing the “high volume” objection on the opt-out page.

Consider this: someone wants to unsubscribe because you’re sending too many emails. They click the unsubscribe link and are directed to the following opt out page:

Please select your delivery frequency:
[ x ]   I would like to lower my delivery frequency to one email per month.
[    ]   I no longer wish to receive the coupons, tips, and insights your newsletter offers at this time. Please unsubscribe me.

Assuming the only reason for leaving your otherwise insightful and entertaining content is the volume of emails, this option will save you from losing a loyal reader (and future customer). So as I said, don’t be afraid of over-mailing. The upside to high-volume newsletter delivery far out-weighs the downside.