Simple Marketing Plan Helps Strutggling Company

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Adams Hudson

Simple marketing plan helps struggling company

“ A defined sense
of direction will generate add sales. more leads and


Dutch Conner sent this semi-humorous postcard to his customers and had five calls within hours of when the piece was delivered.

o put it bluntly, I was at the end of my rope.” With credit cards maxed out and a business flowingred ink, things looked dire for Dutch Conner of Tucson, Ariz.-based Code Blue Plumbing. “I knew I was a good plumber,” Conner added, “but economic realities were killing that dream right before my eyes. As a small shop, it’s hard to juggle all of the parts. I was stressed out most of the time. I felt if I could get the phone to ring more, many of my problems would go away.” During a late-night Websearch, Conner zeroed in on marketing ideas to help his new business grow. “I couldn’t afford an ad agency, so I had to do the research myself. Soon I became obsessed with two things,” he stated. Those two things may seem obvious to the casual reader, but it’s the implementation (or lack thereof) that separates fortune from failure. “All I could think about was lead generation and customerretention,” Conner said. “I want to get the new customers in and keep them forever. This was a huge eyeopener to me.” Thankfully, things changed. The path to quick profits was short: Here’s a brief version of Conner’s action plan. This plan of attack can help any plumber, anywhere in the country, so take notes on how his lesson applies to you. • Direct-response marketing. Instead of the poor marketingmethods most plumbers (including Conner) had been trying, Conner was coached to make the switch to direct-response methods. “We chose a threepronged attack with email, direct mail and the community newspaper,” he explained. Why the newspaper? Most contractors overlook small newspapers, but they generate an incredible bang for the buck.

• Customer retention newsletter. Conner needed to “circle thewagons” so no current customers would leave. That meant a turn-key newsletter with real informational value and only slight pushes through psychological sales triggers. These were scheduled to touch customers four times a year. This gave Conner some directresponse tools that said, “Call me now,” while working with retention tools that said, “Call me later.” It was a perfect combo. • A reworkedoffline and online Yellow Pages ad. When asked how well his Yellow Pages ad did for him, Conner responded, “I have to be honest — it stunk.” He was tired of the Yellow Pages rep “hijacking” his ad. After a critique that came back with many corrections, the ad was redone and shifted toward direct response: smaller, listed benefits and a clear call to action for callers. Did any of this work? “We senta semi-humorous postcard showing a bald man with the headline, `Sure. I need your free plumbing inspection like I need a free comb,’” Conner said. “Within hours of the customers receiving the postcard, we received five calls. I couldn’t believe it.” Conner then ran two direct-response newspaper ads for two weeks each and received more calls and more sales. The new Yellow Pages directory featuredConner’s completely reworked ad. “I was blown away by the leads,” he stated. “Within days I had 34 qualified leads and booked 22 of those. I closed 100 percent of them for $10,991 in generated revenue. The Yellow Pages ad alone paid for all of the marketing and generated a nice profit. To say that I was happy would be an understatement. I went from zero cash flow one month to $11,546 in profit thenext month.” That was only the beginning.


Plumbing & Mechanical, October 2011

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9/22/11 7:52 AM

Photo credit: Adams Hudson, Hudson, Ink.

Customer retention obsession: “I believe in customer retention,” Conner said. “However, most plumbers just take their chances. I didn’t want to do that. When my first newsletter went out, I...
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