Spring is finally here. It’s been a rough winter in most parts of the country including the first ever “polar vortex,” which included wild swings in temperatures in parts of the country — from 7 to 65 degrees in three days. Cold winters in traditionally warm markets have made it a difficult environment for us who sell residential and commercial services to get out there and serve our customers. But finally it’s SPRING!
I know that as a pest control owner or manager, you have many competing priorities. For our purposes today, I’d like to ask you to put on your marketing hat for a few minutes.
As you begin your spring marketing programs, let’s take this opportunity to look at all of your messages across all platforms and channels of communication to your customers to make sure they are consistent. Why does this matter to you and your company? Consistency of messages and continued repetition can lead to a stronger return on investment of your precious resources. Sending mixed messages to your employees and your customers can lead to customer and employee confusion and ultimately, lost sales.
One key to ensuring consistent messaging is communication. Previously, we discussed that once your marketing plan and strategy are complete, you’ll want to communicate the plan to all employees in your company so they know what message to share in the field. If you recall, all of your messages, strategies, objectives and tactics should reflect your mission and vision statements.
Let’s look at an example. You decided to offer your customers a January “special” on your website, and forgot to take it down. Meanwhile, you’ve communicated your new February “special” to both your internal and external sales team. Unfortunately, your customers are still calling about the January special because it’s still out there. You get the idea.
It’s important to remember that the first touch point a customer receives from you can make or break a sale. This touch point could be the person who answers the phone, your outside sales force or outbound telemarking sales team. It also could be your website. No matter what the touch point is, that person or website represents your company. That first interaction is your opportunity to create a positive customer experience that hopefully will result in acquiring a long-term customer.
Ensuring that all those touch points have a consistent message keeps both your employees and customers informed, which ultimately leads to a more informed and loyal customer.
I also encourage you to use the “less is more” approach. If you are a smaller company with limited resources, you may want to have quarterly messages instead of monthly, which may make it easier to manage. You may want to thoroughly communicate your messaging to your employees, but take baby steps with your customers and potential customers. In other words, do it right and build on it. When you developed your mission and vision statements, in reality, you also developed your value proposition. Take your value proposition and develop your messaging around it. Also consider limiting the number of marketing channels you use, until you get the basics where you want them.
Once you’ve created your marketing plan, you’ll want to create a marketing calendar, which goes hand-in-hand with your plan. Your calendar includes what you are focused on, your messaging and the channels of communication with your employees and customers.
So what’s in your marketing calendar? Everything you are doing as a company to market your services. Since consumers use many different forms of media to get their information, it is critical that all of your messaging is in sync.
Your Marketing Calendar.
Your marketing calendar should mirror your marketing plan. No matter the size, it’s a great tool for you and your employees to refer to regularly to ensure that everything is up to date. Also, as a company your “tone” reflects your personality and your competitive advantage. Make sure all of your communications are consistent with your tone. And remember, your mission and vision statement are at the heart of everything you communicate.
So let’s look at a spring calendar. Here’s what may be included:
- Your company’s message and sales focus
- Direct mail and target audience
- Public relations
- Community relations
- Traditional media
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- All other ever-emerging opportunities
Once you’ve invested both your time and resources, it is critical you track your successes so you can see what worked for you. Going forward, this will help make your marketing decisions easier, and will help you utilize your resources in the best way possible.
While you are still wearing your marketing hat, we all know how tempting it is to try the “latest and greatest” but again, as we’ve discussed previously, an integrated approach with a consistent message always gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
I’m looking forward to spring and summer; it’s our strongest season as an industry, and there are lots of opportunities out there for us. Just remember that your marketing initiative is “selling one to many” so your sales folks can sell “one to one.” Keeping a consistent message delivers a stronger return on investment and will help to grow your business.
The author is chief marketing and strategy officer for Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.