[ViewPoint] Tis the Season to Say Thank You

Columns - View Point

November 16, 2009


They say timing is everything. And certainly that’s true for lots of monumental things in our lives — having children, buying a home, starting a business. But it’s also true for the little things — baking a cake, running into a friend on the street, finishing a work project just under the wire.

When it comes to marketing your pest management business, the phrase rings true as well. If your termite control marketing campaign hits e-mail boxes even a couple of weeks late, you may have missed lots of opportunities for termite work. Or if the Yellow Pages book you advertised in is delivered two days after another big yellow book hits homes, your hard-earned dollars may end up in the recycling bin without a second glance.

Timing is everything with direct mail too. If I receive a coupon to a children’s clothing store days after I bought a lot of new clothes, then that coupon is trash. But if I get that same coupon a month before my kids’ birthdays, then it’s a whole new ballgame. What at one time of the year was useless to me is now a “golden ticket.”

A recent USA Today article about retailers tracking consumers’ habits online said the same thing. “Despite the increasing interest by marketers in social media, e-mail pitches remain a favorite. ‘What doesn’t work is to send lots and lots of e-mails to people, and they click the ‘report spam’ and weld their mailboxes shut,’ Stephen Webster, co-founder of the e-mail marketing company iPost, said in the article. ‘But when you send the right thing at the right time, they are absolutely delighted to get it.’ What’s wrong is typically deals that aren’t customer-specific, Webster says.”

That’s exactly right. So how do you ensure your messages are well timed and well received?

The timing issue seems like the easier one so let’s start there. RIGHT NOW you should be planning your springtime marketing plans and communications schedules. It’s the end of November so any holiday-themed plans already should be in the hands of your potential and current customers (or on their way). Your termite swarm materials should be well underway, if not wrapped up by now, so that they’re ready to go before the first swarm hits. (But not too early, of course!)

One way to try to ensure that your messages are well received is to keep your customers on their toes by sending them materials other than bills and marketing pieces. What about a good, old-fashioned thank you note? A handwritten note in your customers’ mailboxes among their credit card statements and grocery store ads could be the highlight of their day.

Cindy Mannes, PCT’s marketing columnist and chief marketing and strategy officer for Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, talks about thank you notes in her Mannes on Marketing column this month (page 84). She writes, “As I’ve spoken with many pest control companies of different sizes, a resounding issue for some of our smaller companies is ‘I can’t afford a marketing plan.’ But everyone can afford thank you cards.

“The ‘thank you’ marketing strategy can be a very powerful weapon.”

All it takes to make a customer feel special is a pen, a thank you card, a stamp and some time. And what better way to invest in your company’s future than to say thanks to the customers you already have?

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The author is editor of PCT magazine.