Why Your Marketing Is About to Change Forever
Why the dramatic title? The traditional marketing techniques which have worked for the last 50 years are gradually becoming less effective. At the same time, new opportunities are coming along almost daily.
Before considering what’s coming, it’s worth looking at what happens at the moment. Much traditional marketing activity has been based on the “Interruption” model. For example, as you’re watching TV, adverts regularly interrupt your viewing. In a less intrusive manner, press advertising “interrupts” the reader (or at least makes a grab for the reader’s attention). This is based on the idea that if you interrupt sufficient numbers of people, a small percentage are likely to want to know more about your product, and a few of them will actually buy it. When you buy advertising like this you’re buying VOLUME.
However, this model of marketing is currently in a mess. Advertising revenues are tumbling and the pool of possible advertising channels is growing rapidly (digital TV, digital radio and the internet are all competing). So there’s less money going to more publishers. In the US newspapers are folding and at current trends there will be NO paper press left in the US by 2040.
In the past, many conservatory companies have been built on the basis of “collect as many leads as you can, then try as hard as you can to convert them”. This is fairly typical of the conventional “interruption marketing” approach. However, this is changing rapidly.
How Do You Advertise?
Many companies will use local press advertising, yellow pages etc as a key means to collect leads. Unfortunately, for anyone with the internet, the yellow pages is increasingly becoming irrelevant (and don’t assume that means the younger generation – over 4 million people over 50 have now bought something online). Again, in the US under 1% of people under 25 have EVER read a newspaper. They get their news online and increasingly on their mobile phone. That’s not a problem for conservatory purchasers (few of who are in this age range)-until their parents ask them to research a conservatory for them.
Where will you advertise when your local paper no longer exists?
Why Interruption Marketing No Longer Works
Actually, it might still work – but as mentioned above it’s hard to advertise in a paper which no longer exists.
Unfortunately, if you try and move your traditional advertising online there are two problems. Firstly NO-ONE will ever visit your website unless they know it’s there. They will find your web site in the following ways:
1. They WILL search for you via Google, Yahoo or MSN (the so-called “Search Engines”)
2. They MIGHT type in your web site address from a newspaper advert or a billboard
3. A friend MAY email them a link to your website
Magnetic Marketing and Pay-Per-Click
Google have revolutionised the advertising world. Rather than the “interruption marketing” I described earlier, they have focussed on “Magnetic Marketing”. Rather than interrupting a mass of people, you aim to entice relevant prospects to your products.
The idea with Pay-Per-Click is simply that adverts are only shown to people who have expressed an interest in them by searching for a specific term. You only pay for the advert every time someone clicks on a term, which means you get what you pay for. (This is a double-edged sword – see below).
As an advertiser, you can bid for a position – for example, if someone types in the word “conservatory”, you can bid to display your advert for a conservatory. If Google considers that your advert is relevant and your bid is high enough, your advert will get shown, for FREE. If a prospect clicks on the link, you pay for that click.
What’s the Catch?
There are actually several catches. Firstly, if you try to “buy your way to the top”, you’ll find that you run out of money VERY quickly. (The single word “conservatory” would cost you about £180K year). You’d get a lot of clicks for your money, but unless you can install anywhere in the UK you really wouldn’t want to do this. Also, Google is a competitive marketplace – the more people who bid for a term, the more expensive it gets.
Secondly, do you REALLY want to talk to everyone who types “conservatory” into Google? They may be looking for blinds, flooring, furniture, planning advice, heating etc. You’d bespending a lot of money trawling for prospects that don’t really want your product.
Why Niches Matter
Unless you’re a national company you’re already working in a form of “niche”. You’ll probably restrict your sales to a workable radius around your office. This was easy when using the paper press, billboards etc, as you simply identify relevant publications in your area. It all gets a bit harder when you start working on the internet. Google allows you to specify locations to target your searches, but this is not guaranteed reliable at present.
This means that you’ll then be competing with local companies plus the usual nationals - so you’re back to square one. However, there are other possibilities now.
Using Niches to Your Advantage
As an example, imagine that you’d installed a job for (say) a clinic. In doing so, there would probably have been things that you learned which other installers may not know. So next time you bid for a clinic (or a hospital/dentist etc), you’ll be in a better position and more likely to win business. If you’re in this happy position, you’re perfectly positioned to start targeting your audience. If someone searches for “Clinic conservatory” and you’ve targeted them, you’ll almost certainly appear at the top of the list (I just tried it and no-one’s there at the moment!). Now, you can appeal directly to that audience, provide them with information about your area of expertise and almost certainly improve your conversion rate. Not only that, because there are few other bidders, it won’t cost you much.
I’m not recommending this niche – there may not be enough business in this area to make it viable, but it’s the idea that matters.
Beware the Gold Rush!
As with any gold rush there’s a group of people eager to make money out of the fact that they have a little more knowledge than you. These people frequently talk about “Search Engine Optimisation" (SEO). Whilst there are some true experts in the area of search engine optimisation, they are VERY expensive and are almost all busy working with big business.
The only long-term effective way to get your website to the top of any list is to ensure that it contains content which is valuable to your prospects. Unfortunately this means hard work - there is no magic bullet for SEO. Some of these companies will use “clever” tricks which won’t last, and in the worst case may result in your website being blacklisted entirely for a period, so please be careful.
I would recommend that if you decide to ask anyone to do this, you need to make their remuneration directly related to your results. If you don’t make money, they don’t either!
What if you don’t do this?
Well, you could carry on as you do, but as time goes by, more and more niches’ will get taken. Each niche will take out a tiny slice of your market. I think the important question is “do you want to be left fighting for what’s left?” So at least consider whether there’s a niche (or niches) you can target.
“Niche” Doesn’t Mean “Small”
There’s something about the word niche which suggests “small”. Walmart (owners of ASDA and the world’s largest public company) markets to a niche audience, albeit quite a large one – essentially anyone who receives a weekly pay cheque. If a niche is big enough to support Walmart, it can be big enough to support you.
Interruption advertising can sometimes be quite effective – I run RPS, the developers of RoofWright. We provide software services to help our customers sell conservatories, improve efficiency and generally make more money. If you want to learn more, sign up to our newsletter.
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