With a little work and discipline, you can become a more knowledgeable and successful marketer.
Marketing plans will differ depending on your specific location, the media that are available to you and what stage of business you are in. However, there are elements of your marketing plan that are strategic mainstays and not dependent on those things. Below are six essential elements for building a successful, high-ROI marketing plan.
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1 Know Your Audience
It’s important not to make assumptions about the target audience for your cleaning service. Instead, get to know them. For example, don’t assume that your target market is the wealthiest in your territory or lives in the largest, most extravagant homes. That’s not always the case. Although it varies by location, at MaidPro, we find our average client lives in a dual-income household with combined earnings slightly over the median for their area. These families are strapped for time, but have enough expendable income to pay for services that can give them some of their life back for things other than cleaning. For a new business just starting out, it can be difficult to identify the demographic criteria that will make up your ideal target audience. In this case, begin marketing to a slightly wider audience at first and then refine down as you gather more information. For example, if you believe your target audience has a household income of $100,000 per year, try marketing to twenty percent below and twenty percent above that number and see if your assumptions hold true. You might be surprised.
2 Create with Your Audience in Mind
Once you have defined your target audience, make sure your marketing message speaks to them. In other words, don’t develop your marketing plans in a vacuum. Seek feedback and test new advertisements with your target consumers before rolling them out wide scale and investing too much time or money in a campaign. Something that you feel is a homerun when you see it in your office might not resonate with your prospective clients in the real world. Effective marketing involves incremental testing. Utilize A/B testing to identify the message, offers and designs to which your audience responds. The trick to an A/B test is to change only one variable at a time. If you wanted to test a new marketing headline, keep the design, offer and recipients of the advertisement consistent. This way you are able to isolate a single factor and make reasonable assumptions that any change in response from one campaign to another was related to the variable being tested.
3 Develop a Strong Online Presence
Start your marketing efforts online first. Consumers are already searching the internet for cleaning services in your area. You need to make sure that your company is among those they have the opportunity to hire. These “online searchers” are the warmest leads you are going to find. They are already actively looking for services. They just want to find the right company to come into their homes and provide them. Cultivating a strong online presence that can amplify your marketing message takes time and money, but it is crucial. You should devote a significant chunk of your marketing resources to activities that build and support your company’s brand online. The consumer’s ability to find your site is also important, so you’ll want to spend some time on search engine optimization (SEO). If you are not sure where to start, you can find many great SEO tutorials online. Try searching for ‘SEO tutorials for small business.’ You’ll find a treasure trove of good information. Optimizing your online presence takes time, but the return is well worth the effort.
4 Manage Your Reputation
In today’s socially connected world, customers and previous clients are talking about your company online on a regular basis. You need to be part of that conversation. Make sure you are actively monitoring review sites and social channels so that you can respond quickly to comments, whether they are critiques or praise. When you respond, avoid ‘corporate speak,’ which will come off as stiff and impersonal. If you receive a complaint, don’t jump to the defensive. Hear the person out. Did your company’s service fall short? Were expectations not set properly? Is there anything that your company could do to fix the customer’s problem? Be professional, but make sure you are connecting with the customer and not just moving through a complaint-resolution process like a robot. Being human and going above expectations to make things right can turn a customer from a normal client into an avid fan. There are a number of free and paid tools to help you track what people are saying about your company and your brand. One free tool that is quick and easy to setup is Google Alerts. Using this tool, Google will notify you when they find new content that includes the keywords you are interested in. If you already have a Google account, setting up an alert for your business name takes about a minute.
5 Be Consistent
One of the best things you can do to build brand awareness and improve inquiry rates for your company is to market consistently. Sound obvious? Unfortunately, consistency isn’t practiced as widely as you might think. In most cases, a dollar-cost-averaging approach works best. This means making a steady marketing investment regardless of seasonality and/or moderate fluctuations in demand. In most cases, this works far better than a big, expensive seasonal marketing bonanza. Also, if business is slow, don’t pull back too far on your spending when it comes to marketing. That is a surefire recipe for suffocating your business and prolonging the down period for revenues. Determine your core media channels and work them regularly over time. A consistent marketing approach also provides some insurance against poor performing campaigns. Comparing marketing performance data month over month allows you to learn what is working best and what is not. Understanding these trends allows you to adjust your spending accordingly. If a big marketing blowout falls flat, would you know what went wrong? Would you know what to do differently or change for next year?
6Crunch the Data
Marketing should be the most closely tracked department at your company next to accounting. You should know exactly how much you pay for customer inquiries and new customers as well as how much those customers are worth over time. Be sure your salespeople are trained to capture marketing data. Teach them to dig a bit when talking to a new customer or lead. Many consumers will say, “I found you on Google” as their default answer to the “How did you hear about us?” question. The real questions are: did they get a postcard first? Did they see your office sign? Did they receive some other marketing message from you before finding you on Google? Collecting, storing and analyzing accurate marketing data can be a challenge. It might require training your salespeople or creating a new system for capturing and assessing this information. Over time, though, these practices will pay huge dividends.
Marketing is a learning process. Media channels change and so might your audience. It is important to regularly take a step back from your business. Make sure that you have a clear marketing plan in place and that you are tracking performance data accurately. This will allow you to become a more knowledgeable and efficient marketer over time. Following through on these six tips is a great place to start, as they are essential for any successful marketing strategy.
James Doyle is the Vice President of Consumer Marketing for MaidPro Franchise, Inc. MaidPro is a franchisor of home cleaning services with more than 150 locations throughout the US and Canada. For more information about MaidPro, click here.