It’s Your Call: Weeding Out Unqualified Leads

It’s been a busy year so far, and economists predict the remodeling business will continue its strength. That means your time, and your team’s time, is at a premium. To use it efficiently, you’ve got to concentrate on the leads that will turn into jobs.

Without a crystal ball, though, it can be hard to predict. There are the dreamers, the tire-kickers, and the bargain-hunters. If you’ve been spending time going to appointments that get you nowhere, it’s time to weed out those leads with a pre-qualifying system.

Determine who is qualified

There’s always a spirited discussion about what remodelers and builders consider a qualified lead. The only way to know is to pre-qualify these leads before sending the Salesperson out to the home.

First, choose who in your office is going to do the qualification. You want to choose someone who’s good on the phone, can guide a conversation with open-ended questions, and who can understand whether the answers make the lead a good fit for you and your company.

Arm your lead-taker with information:

  • Project-cost guidelines. Figure these out from past jobs.
  • A script or take-in sheet to get the answers you need.
  • Access to Sales’ calendars, so they can make an appointment while on the phone.

As a general rule, people like to be contacted in the manner they used — so if a lead calls in, take the call or call them right back if they’ve left a message. If the lead comes in through an online form, email them and set up an appointment to get some more details and chat about the project. If they don’t answer, follow up with a phone call if they’ve left a number in the lead form.

What to ask

In your script or take-in sheet, you obviously want the basics — name, address, preferred form of contact, and how the lead heard of your company. That sourcing is vitally important to see how and where your marketing efforts are landing, and what channels are better at getting solid leads.

Even if you’ve got that information from an online lead form, taking the time to confirm it takes control of the conversation — it reins in the people who start detailing everything they want and gives those who are anxious about the process time to settle in.

Ask about the home — it’s age, how long they’ve been in it, and use that time to look the home up on Zillow or Realtor.com to determine its current value — if the project they’re looking at is too expensive for their home or neighborhood, better to know now. If the lead has recently moved into the home, there may still be photos of the interior from its time for sale. Copy and paste the URL to the take-in form if it’s digital or into a blank document for use by Sales.

Find out who lives in the home — adults, kids and their ages, pets, and get the names. Getting this information at intake helps paint a fuller picture for the Salesperson.

Now you can start to really talk about the project they have in mind.

Talk money upfront

This crucial step is uncomfortable for a lot of people. It seems abrupt — you’ve just established some rapport. But you have to know if your potential client has a realistic idea of what their project will cost and how they’ll pay for it. And they may not know project costs, which is why they contacted you. That’s totally fair.

Rather than ask “how much do you want to pay,” position it differently — “have you thought about how much of an investment you’d like to make in your home?” Again, they still may not want to open up that much to you. That’s where the project-cost guidelines come in handy. If you can ballpark a range for them, you’re just talking about the facts with no judgments.

You may hear an audible gasp at that point, or an apology for wasting your time, or any number of negative responses — and it’s saved unproductive hours for the Salesperson in travel and appointment time.

More likely, it’s what they expected or a little higher — but they’re still willing to move forward. It’s time to set an appointment. Ask who the decision-makers will be — it could be the person you’re talking to alone, that person and spouse, or may also include in-laws or adult children. Whoever is making the decisions should be at the initial meeting in the home — you need that buy-in to know the prospect is serious.

Ask if they’re willing to go to the next step — setting the appointment. Prep them for what to expect, set the time, and you’ve qualified a solid lead.

The handoff

Take notes throughout — on everything. Whether the qualifier is also the Salesperson or not, treat it as a handoff. Have the answers to the questions in the take-in sheet filled in, add notes, add the URL of the home on Zillow or Realtor.com. Tell as a full a story as you can.

These qualifying conversations can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as 45. But getting a system in place is a crucial first step in an efficient and profitable sales process.

 

Create Raving Fans With Micro-Influencer Marketing

Large brands have used celebrity endorsements for decades… and the latest trend has turned more toward how these celebrities are now influencers when it comes to buying decisions. Kylie Jenner, for example, leverages her 25 million Twitter followers by charging ~$500k per tweet if she endorses a product.

We certainly aren’t suggesting you reach out to the Kardashians.. but perhaps look at a similar and more focused strategy called micro-influencer marketing.

A micro-influencer in our remodeling world would be a former client, interior designer, real estate agent, vendor or industry associate who is exceptionally active in social media, blogging or even podcasting in some instances. They are out there and you simply have to do some local or regional research to find them.

A 2016 survey by Collective Bias found that 60% of respondents had considered recommendations by a blogger or social media post before making a purchase. The same study found that 30% of consumers were more likely to buy a product endorsed online by a non-celebrity than a celebrity.

Why Work with Micro-influencers?

1. Higher Engagement at a Lower Cost
Micro-influencer followers are very interested and engaged in what the influencers have to say, post and share… There is a level of trust there that is difficult for a brand to attempt to establish any other way, and comparatively it would cost 4 to 5 times the amount to reach and achieve the same results.

2. They are More Authentic
The key is that the audience self-identifies with the influencer, “that person is just like me, dresses like me, has the same challenges that I have (kids, life, etc.).. and they like that brand… so, I like it too.”

3. Referrals Will Be Further Along the Sales Process
The thought here is not that the audience will suddenly want to remodel their kitchen because someone they saw on Instagram do it… It’s about reaching the audience that IS considering a renovation and getting them to consider and reach out to you.

More things to consider when working with a Micro-influencer

What is your goal?
Are you looking to generate leads? Increase website traffic? Drive attendees to an event? Or are you simply trying to build your brand among a certain segment of the community? Knowing this will help you identify the specific individuals in your market that you may want to approach.

Are they already familiar with your company and your work?
It’s going to be much easier to attract and work with someone that has either worked with you before, perhaps a former client, or is very familiar with the type of projects you do and the quality of work you are producing, i.e. an interior designer, real estate agent, etc.

What social media platforms are they using?
Clearly Instagram and Facebook are going to be a better fit for your remodeling company as most of your target audience is there already; likely watching your influencer post photos of their latest home improvement, furniture purchase, vacation, etc. Hopefully your influencer is also a blogger or perhaps posting videos as well.

What type of content is your potential micro-influencer posting?
Make sure to review past and existing content closely as you can, as you have little control over the content your micro-influencer is putting out there… Red flags include political rants, inappropriate language or photos, etc.

Keep in mind that by using a micro-influencer, you are selecting someone who aligns with your brand image and target audience, not just eyeballs or followers. With that in mind you are looking for someone who is interacting with their audience, typically in the comments section of their posts, vs. someone who is just posting images with little or no back-and-forth.

Are they currently working with other brands?
I don’t think you’re going to be working with a Kardashian, but keep in mind that the more brands an influencer is working with, the less genuine their recommendations become.

How will you compensate them?
At this level you probably don’t need a formal agreement or contract, and many influencers will be open to a reduced rate or percentage off a future project with you. Some businesses may prefer a longer arrangement as it can take many mentions or posts to see any type of return or impact. If you want to get more formal or really find a strong, experienced influencer you can offer a percentage of each completed project.

NOTE: Make sure you look into any local or state laws that may prohibit you from paying for referrals or sales. The State of Maryland, for example, has laws in place that you should be aware of. 

Summary

This strategy certainly isn’t for everyone, but can be very effective if you have the right audience targeted and influencers in place to reach them. We would love to hear from anyone that might be using this type of strategy, or something similar.

[Podcast] Episode 9: Seven Steps to Earning Positive Online Reviews with Bryan Sebring

Online reviews can be the “Lifeblood” of any remodeling company’s business and marketing strategy and in Episode 9, Victoria and Mark speak with Bryan Sebring a very successful remodeler who has mastered the art of collecting online reviews from his satisfied clients.

Bryan is the Owner of Sebring Design Build in Naperville, IL and has quickly become a valuable resource and thought-leader for R/A and our Roundtables members.

According to Bryan he is a self-taught marketer who jumped in with both feet following a website re-design project that went sideways.

Bryan’s 7 Step process for driving positive reviews is more than just a marketing strategy. As Bryan describes, his firm’s process of asking for reviews and earning them with hard work, great design and a client-first attitude has become more of a company culture.

As Bryan, Victoria and Mark discuss the 7-step process, we learn more about:

  • Strategies around specific websites such as Houzz, Angie’s List and Yelp.
  • Infusing the review process into your sales/lead intake process
  • Dealing with bad reviews
  • How to encourage and educate your clients to read and provide reviews
  • Setting expectations with clients at project kickoff
  • How to work with client on project completion and walk-through

 

Click Here to Listen to Episode 9 >>

 

Free Resource

As Bryan describes his sales and lead intake process, he mentions that he provides his clients and prospects with information to educate them about online reviews: what to look for, good signs, red flags, etc.  Here’s the blog post he share’s with them, which also includes his free Remodeling 101 ebook.
 

…And Speaking of Asking for Reviews

We are receiving great feedback from our listeners and we have more great episodes like this one coming. If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word by rating our show and commenting on iTunes, Stitcher, or whichever platform you use!

9 Things to Look for When Choosing a Web Company

Your website should be more than an online brochure with pretty pictures of the projects you have completed. It should be a living, breathing, lead-generation machine. It should be the “Hub” of your digital marketing/content strategy and treated that way when looking at building or re-building your remodeling company’s website.

Choosing a website developer to work with can be daunting task. There are likely hundreds or more in your local market and there are Do-It-Yourself (DIY) outlets such as Weebly or WIX. And there’s always a friend-of-a-friend that “does websites…”

When looking for a Website Development firm, look for these 9 things when considering who to work with.

Breadth of Service

Many web development firms will build a website, launch it, cash your check and wish you luck. So you have the “hub” by having your website completed, but unless you have an internal staff of marketing pros to handle all of the associated “spokes” such as SEO, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media, Video, E-mail, etc. you have nothing but the brochure I mentioned above.

It is important that the firm that develops your website should also have a plan for what happens post-launch. Who will be responsible for writing copy for the site that takes SEO into account? How will you drive traffic to it? How will the site integrate with your social media? How will leads be handled? How often will the site change and who will be the point person on that?

The firm you choose does not have to offer every service needed but, at the very least, they should have 2-3 partners that they work with on an on-going basis to handle them. For example, the last firm I worked with did not handle SEO but we brought their partner into the planning stages prior to building the website, worked with them on the copy and then post-launch as well.

Portfolio of Work

Take a closer look at prior work.

  • Visit the websites that the firm has developed and click through them… Do they navigate well? Is it easy to find information? Are there broken links or 404 Errors (missing pages or bad links)?
  • Does the work reflect the type of website and quality that you are looking for? Remodeling sites rely heavily on presenting high-quality images of prior projects… Do they do that well?
  • Is there variety among the various websites in their portfolio? Or, does it look like they have used the same “template” and just changed the colors, images and dropped in a different logo?
  • What types of websites do they have in their portfolio? They don’t have to specialize in remodeling websites but they should understand what makes your website and our industry unique?
  • Contact the clients presented in the portfolio and ask them about their experience in working with the prospective firm. Easy to work with? Project completed on-time? Within Budget?

Technology

Many web development shops are design boutiques that create beautiful work.. really stunning visual sites.. but they lack functionality. As remodelers you may be drawn to them because of their ability to present your high-quality images but be very careful that you don’t wind up with a website that (1) can’t be updated easily, (2) can’t be found on a search engine or (3) doesn’t capture leads.

Look for a firm that not only creates professional, visually appealing sites, but also builds them on reputable content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress. The prospective firm should have a clear and demonstrated knowledge of website hosting, DNS, Domain issues and E-mail configuration as well.

In addition to the 3 above, here are more things to look for:

Ownership of website: Insure that once the website has been completed, that your company owns the website, including all code, copy, images, etc. This may mean purchasing the limited rights to stock photography, video, etc. but whether you are hosting the website yourself or not, insure you own it at the end of the day.

Project Plan: Ask to see a project plan from a previous client that they worked with, or even better, ask that a rough project plan be included in your proposal.

Process: What does their production process look like? Look for a firm that has a discovery phase before building anything.

References: Ask for them and contact them.

The Prospective Company’s Website: I know there is a saying about the Cobbler’s Children’s Shoes but if I’m trusting a web development firm to build my website I want to see that their own website is solid (no broken links, typos, incomplete pages, empty portfolio, etc.)

Do a Google Search: This likely applies to any vendor you work with but a cursory google search on the name of the prospective company is likely to uncover any client satisfaction issues that you should be aware of.

Summary

Because a website is so vitally important to any reputable remodeling company, choosing the right partner to work with can be a critical business decision. A poorly designed or executed website goes further than just an image problem; losing qualified leads because prospects can’t find or don’t like your website can negatively affect your bottom line. Take your time and choose wisely.

Did we miss anything? We would love to hear any tips or advice you have in finding good or strong web partners to work with. Please refrain from posting ads or links to firms you have worked with… We want to focus on other things to look for… or perhaps any red flags to watch out for?

Lights, Camera, Action! 10 Reasons to Add Video to Your Content Marketing Plan

As we prepare to launch our next season of PowerTips TV, using video as a key component to a healthy content marketing plan is, of course, top of mind.

Why are online marketers spending so much time and effort producing and delivering video content?

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), your audience is 10 times more likely to engage, embed, share, and comment on your video content than blogs or related social posts. What are some other reasons?

Easier and Less Expensive to Produce:
High-quality video can be captured easily on an affordable digital video camera or even on your smart phone and the cost of easy-to-use video editing software has dropped dramatically. Marketers no longer need slick, professional videos as consumers are preferring “real” content in many instances.

Easier to Consume:
Whether you have kids or not, you’ve likely seen for yourself how easy it is for consumers to access and view video content, especially on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

It Works:
Whether you are looking at click-through rates on e-mails, conversion rates on landing pages or increased engagement on social media, including video performs across the board.

Still not Convinced?

In a Forbes Magazine article, Matt Bowman, Owner of Thrive Internet Marketing, gathers and presents these compelling reasons to add video to your content marketing mix.

  1. Video is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019.
  2. Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.
  3. Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.
  4. 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.
  5. According to YouTube, mobile video consumption grows by 100% every year.
  6. 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
  7. 87% of online marketers are currently using video content in their digital marketing strategies.
  8. A third of the time people spend online is dedicated to watching videos.
  9. Video ads now account for more than 35% of all ad spending online.
  10. Digital marketing expert James McQuivey estimates that a single minute of video content is the equivalent of 1.8 million words.

How are remodelers using video effectively?

There are some great examples out there… but here are a few Remodelers Advantage Roundtables members using video in an effective way.

Website: Sebring Services does an amazing job at incorporating video into his website’s homepage. http://www.sebringservices.com/

Blog: Lane Homes & Remodeling does a nice job at adding video to their blog content. https://lanebuilt.com/blog/

YouTube Channel: In addition to their website, Patrick A. Finn Custom Homes & Remodeling has a well-executed YouTube channel with some great videos. https://www.youtube.com/user/patrickafinn.  Patrick also does a nice job at bringing that video content to social as well, as can be seen on their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/patrickafinn

Who Else Uses Video Effectively?

I am sure there are others out there… Is it your company? Let us know about other industry companies out there using video in a creative way. Use the comment section below to share your thoughts or questions.

Summary

The audience is out there waiting to consume your content, whether it’s on your website, social media or blog… don’t be intimidated by the technology… start by simply grabbing your smart phone and capturing jobsite progress, testimonials or even some fun stuff around the office. Break a leg!

4 Things You Must Do After Attending an Industry Conference

As we recover and catch-up from Remodeling Excellence Week in Minneapolis we take a closer look at how to handle and digest the great information you gathered as well as how to capture and reach out to your new-found business leads and contacts.

We found a great article from Robert Half International Inc. that gives sound advice on post-conference activities and how best to process this new information before you dive back in to your day-to-day routine, and turned it into an infographic that you can share with your team (PDF).

 

4 Reasons Why Instagram is a Powerful Marketing Tool for Remodelers

You’ve discovered Instagram among the barrage of evolving and emerging social media platforms. FINALLY – a platform that you understand. Pictures, a caption, and maybe even a few related hashtags. Easy!

Instagram’s simplicity is part of what draws users to it. It’s minimalist and streamlined – and it’s in everyone’s pocket. And whether you’re willing to admit it or not, that’s a good place to be in the 21st century.

As simplified as Instagram may seem compared to other social media platforms, it still has a few tricks up its sleeves. Here are a few of our recommended tactics to maximize Instagram as a social media marketing, selling, and recruiting tool.

1. Brand Awareness and Consideration

Imagine your Sales Funnel.

At the top, users are mostly still becoming acquainted with your brand. They’re learning about your remodeling service offerings, discovering helpful resources you have, and comparing you to other remodeling companies in the area.

Here is where Instagram can come into play as a major factor for remodelers. Not only does it showcase that you are a modern company keeping up with trends, but it also showcases that you take pride in your completed projects.

When considering a remodeling company, homeowners want the assurance that their home remodeling project will be “Instagram-worthy” as well.

Sharing pictures on Instagram of your completed projects, your team on the jobsite, happy clients loving their new spaces, and any other imagery that boosts your brand will set you apart. Instagram shines for remodeling companies in the consideration phase.


  

2. Hiring and Recruiting for Your Brand

Are you hiring?

Instagram is a remarkable recruiting tool for remodelers. Like showcasing your brand to homeowners in the consideration phase, Instagram is perfect for showcasing how great it is to work at your remodeling company! From smiling selfies to stunning projects, your Instagram can show off your craftsmanship, expertise, and awesome team.

If you’re actively seeking job applications, you could even include your “Contact Us” page as the link in your profile. You could post an image encouraging curious individuals to send you a Direct Message and hear from people directly through Instagram as well.


  

3. Storytelling with Video, Imagery, and Stories

Instagram is constantly updating its platform to optimize its ability to tell stories.

Now, rather than only posting single images, you can upload multiple images and videos to your Instagram. This allows you to post mini albums of completed remodeling projects by room, provide a walk through with one of your teammates, or even a quick video kicking off a social media promotion or competition.
The options are nearly limitless.

Instagram now also offers an element of its profile that is similar to Snapchat. You can take pictures on the spot, add text or other fun effects, and add them to your story very quickly and easily. This aims to add ongoing stories and daily updates, for example, which may not be finished products that you want loaded on your permanent Instagram profile. These images or videos only last for 24 hours before they disappear.

Another benefit of the time constraint is that it urges your followers to check in on you daily so they don’t miss an update, keeping you top of mind if you participate in this Stories option.

Storytelling is still an important aspect of Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing. People feel connected with stories they can relate to, aspire to, and appreciate.


  

4. Communication and Direct Messaging with Instagram

Instagram now offers direct messaging through its platform.

Previously, users would have to leave comments on images to contact a brand or company. Now, if a user browsing your gallery of beautiful remodeling pictures is interested, they can send you a message immediately through their Instagram profile.

With one less hurdle to keep in contact with users and brands, Instagram improved its user experience both for browsers and brands.

The only down side to direct messaging? Instagram has become yet another platform that you have to check constantly to make sure you’re not letting any leads slip between the cracks!

Instagram Marketing for those New to the Platform

If you’re new to Instagram and aren’t sure how to set up your profile, do hashtag research, and other optimization basics, check out this helpful video we put together.

What are your initial thoughts on Instagram for your business?

The Critical Lead Tracking Step That Most Remodelers Are Missing

If you are a part of Remodeler’s Advantage Roundtables or have been a part of Remodeler’s University for a while, you know the importance of lead tracking. Where are you getting the most leads? The best leads? (the leads that translate to design and construction agreements).

Most remodelers are doing the basics, and are at least tracking the following categories of leads (or something similar):

  • Word of Mouth/Referrals
  • Signage
  • Direct Mail/Print
  • Internet/Website
  • Events/Shows
  • Paid Media
  • Other

This is a great start, but there is a huge gaping hole in one of these large lead buckets: Internet/Website.

If you’re doing a good job marketing online, your website should be producing 20%-40% of your leads which is a big chunk of your overall lead flow. If you don’t have more insight into where those leads are actually coming from (SEO, PPC, Social Media, etc.), you are going to be throwing a lot of money out the door.

Let me explain.

Google Analytics Isn’t Enough

Most of you probably have Google Analytics set up, which is great. That’s the standard when it comes to website analytics, but today that’s not enough. Google Analytics does a great job of telling you where your traffic is coming from, but it doesn’t “close the loop.” Where are our leads actually coming from? Remember… It’s not just about visitors.

Let’s take a look at a quick example:
If someone finds you on Houzz, then clicks through to your website, and finally, that individual fills out your Contact Us form, what will Google Analytics tell you? It will tell you that you received 1 visitor from a Referral Website (Houzz.com). That’s helpful, but it’s not the whole picture.

Capturing Part of the Equation

Because this person filled out a form, you call them to see if they are a good fit to work with you. As a part of your Lead Intake Process, you ask how they found you. They say they found your website. Chances are good that they don’t remember they clicked through from Houzz (or any other website for that matter).

So, now you have 2 pieces of information that are sort of helpful, but they are giving you false information (or at least not the full picture). The true picture is that you got a lead from your website, but they arrived there from Houzz. The picture you have is that you got 1 lead from your website. Separately, you know you got a visitor from Houzz, but you don’t know who that visitor is.

We need to connect the dots. Why, you ask?

Because many of your online sources require either time, money or both. Using our current example, Houzz has a free version and a paid version. If you’re paying for Houzz, don’t you want to know how many leads it’s producing for you? Grouping all Internet leads together doesn’t do your marketing budget justice.

How to Close the Loop

So, how can we close the loop on our marketing efforts and get some more visibility into what’s happening on our website? It requires some extra tracking, but it’s not rocket science.

Here’s what it can look like if you’re tracking your website correctly.

  • Column 1 shows Visitors to your website for various traffic sources.
  • Column 2 shows Contacts (Leads). These are people that have filled out a form on the website.
  • Column 3 shows Customers. These are leads that have actually paid for services and done a project with you.

 

And if you want to drill in and see where those referrals are coming from, you can:

 

Above, you can see Houzz has generated 1,022 visits and 65 contacts (leads). We can also close the loop and see we’ve generated 2 new customers from Houzz.

By putting the tracking system in place, we can measure various online paid media channels we use (Google Pay Per Click, Facebook Advertising, Paid Houzz, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, etc.). When those annual contract renewals come up, it’s much easier to make the decision to continue or stop.

No more flying blind!

Next Steps

If you haven’t checked out our Perfect Internet Marketing System for Remodeler’s Cheat Sheet yet, that would be a great next step. It walks you through:

  • The Tools You Need and Recommended Options
  • Estimated Costs for the Technology
  • The Skills Needed to Implement a Full Digital Marketing Strategy

And if you really want to get into the weeds on this stuff, check out the full post I wrote for PowerTips over here.

Refill your coffee first – it’s a meaty post!

Are you closing the loop on your marketing efforts? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Domain Name Strategy: Protect Your Turf & Capture Lost Revenue

A strong domain name strategy is a key component of any business’s overall digital plan. Whether you are registering a new domain name, or have used your current domain name for as long as you’ve had a website for your business, there are critical things to keep in mind in order to protect your brand and in some instances, capture lost revenue.

When looking at your domain strategy, keep these 5 things in mind:

Typos, Misspellings, Plural & Singular versions:

It’s getting harder and harder to find information among the various websites, social media assets and mobile apps out there competing for clicks… and it’s easy for your clients and prospects to get lost on their way to finding your website, even if they have the URL. 10% of search phrases and manually typed URLs include typos and that number increases dramatically if your domain name includes any of these commonly misspelled words and phrases.

Help your clients and prospects find your website more easily by investing in a few additional domain names, park them and point them to your website. It’s a user-friendly way to help your audience find your website quickly without getting an error page, a search recommendation page or in some instances on your competitor’s website.

That’s right, there are companies out there that will grab domains that are close to yours and send them to their own websites. (see protect your turf below). The same thought pertains to singular and plural uses of your domain name; i.e. if SmithBrothersRemodeling.com was your primary domain name, it would also make sense to register SmithBrotherRemodeling.com as well.

Protect your Turf:

Most companies are ethical enough not to use this strategy but there are those outside of your industry that aren’t. This goes beyond a competitor stealing leads. There are companies that are “Typo-squatting” and registering names that are close enough for consumers to be mis-lead into clicking into phishing sites and other scam related endeavors.

Take a look at your domain name and protect your turf by registering, parking and pointing some domains to your main website… Grab “.com”, “.net” and “.org” for these variants, but don’t go crazy… domains fees are small but can add up quickly.

Long Domains and the “Dreaded Hyphen”:

Clearly, shorter domains are the goal here but tough to find after nearly 30 years of grabbing and registering names. In some instances entrepreneurs have named companies based solely on domain availability. Avoid using hyphens if at all possible. If you are faced with a long domain name, get creative.

Let’s use our friends at Smith Brothers Remodeling above as an example… More than likely that domain would be available but it’s cumbersome for clients and prospects to remember and then type in, not only to reach a website, but to send e-mail as well. I would search “SmithBros.com” or perhaps throw in a geographical reference if needed “SmithBrosNC.com” if say they were focused on doing business in North Carolina.

Keep an eye on domain expiration dates & policies:

There are two separate billing issues at hand, the fee to register & keep the domain and then the fee to host the parked domain… typically they can be handled by the same firm (i.e. GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc.) but not always.

If you are going to invest in additional domains for your business, make sure you keep track of expiration and billing dates. Most providers offer an auto-renew option, which is great however if you are using a domain for a seasonal or marketing campaign and no longer need it, allowing it to expire without renewing and paying for it again is optimal.

Vanity URLS:

As you are probably aware, 385 new top-level domain name extensions (.com, .net, .org) became available a few years ago and there are 280 more being released at some point in the near future. I refer to them as “vanity URLs” and while these are tempting to grab and use, especially the “.Builders”, “.Design” and “.Construction” extensions, keep a few things in mind:

  • They have been available for 3+ years and “.com” is still king.. really from a usage and SEO standpoint there is no benefit to use these new extensions.
  • Keep your target audience in mind… If you are marketing to the baby boomers that so many remodeling companies are going after, expecting your audience to recognize and understand these new domain name extensions is risky at best. More than likely they are going to throw their own “.com” on the end and get an error message.
  • If you must use them, be smart. Use them for a landing page or fun campaign of some sort. Don’t replace your well-established domain name for one of these and re-brand everything.
  • As with the tips covered above, if you grab some of these just don’t go crazy and keep track of renewal and billing dates.
  • One extension that you SHOULD grab is the controversial “.sucks” extension that rolls out “soon” according to GoDaddy… Can you imagine the damage that could be done to your business if the control of that domain were in the wrong hands?

Summary

Many of you already have a domain name in place so you are not faced with the daunting task of establishing a new one… but are you making hard for prospects to find you and more importantly are there others out there capturing your audience with similar domains?
Take a look at your website’s analytics and see where your traffic is coming from, type in some misspelled URLs and search phrases and see what comes up in the results, take a few minutes to make sure you are protecting your brand and explore a few ways to grab additional search traffic. And finally, grab the “.sucks” domain extension when that rolls out!

PowerTips TV Throw-back Thursday: “How to Stop Wasting Time on Bad Leads”

Since we wrote about “Mastering the Art of Qualifying Leads” earlier this week, we’re going to stay on topic and throw it all the way back to 2014 as Victoria covers techniques for handling and qualifying leads. Enjoy!

If you are a Remodelers Advantage Member (Roundtables & University), make sure you check out Chip Doyle’s upcoming telecourse, “When The Phone Rings 101: Mastering the Art of Lead Qualification“ which starts up in August.


Do you know how to identify a bad lead? If not then you are losing time. And time is your most precious commodity. I’ve already addressed the problem with “wearing too many hats” in a previous episode. There I discussed how critical it is for you to focus primarily on sales and marketing.

However, that doesn’t mean follow every lead you get. You must still effectively manage your time by doing the right things to move your company forward. And going on these no-hope appointments not only take your focus away from more qualified prospects; they also destroy moral because “you’ve lost another one.”

On this week’s episode I’ll show you how to separate the good from the bad by pre-qualifying the prospect at the very first contact.

How about you?

Do you have any great pre-qualification techniques that I forgot to mention? What has helped you identify the good, the bad and the ugly? Let me know in the comments below!


Free Download: Prospect Initial Call Questionnaire

Free Download Client Questionaire

Victoria recommended that you have a checklist to go through when pre-qualifying leads. More importantly she wanted to give you one that’s ready to use! So here’s the “special document” that Victoria mentions in the video. Enjoy!