If you're anything like most pest control operators you spend a significant chunk of your advertising budget on yellow page ads. And, with new directories popping up every year, you're probably investing more of your marketing budget than you'd like.
This makes it more important than ever to leverage your marketing budget to its fullest potential…
Before I explain how to do this, it's crucial that you understand the true power of marketing leverage. Marketing provides the ultimate leverage for any business. By changing a single word in an ad, you can increase the return on your investment…sometimes significantly.
Let's say for a moment that you spend $5,000 per month on your yellow page advertising. That investment can bring you 10 calls per month, 50 calls per month or 500 calls per month. While your results can change drastically, your investment remains the same.
This is called marketing leverage and applies to all of your marketing efforts. Getting more results without spending more money is the name of the game. In this article I'll explain how to increase the amount of money you make from your yellow page advertising, without spending an extra penny.
To fully understand how to do this, you need to put yourself in your prospective customer's shoes when they pick up a yellow page directory.
Unlike Direct Mail, Television, Newspaper or other common advertising mediums, when a prospect sees your ad in the yellow pages, they're ACTIVELY looking for pest control.
This means they've already identified their need for pest control services and are at a point of taking action to choose a provider. This makes selling your company's service more important than selling the benefits of pest control - in general.
So, your prospect picks up their directory of preference and flips to the pest control section. What do they see? If you're in a major market, they probably see anywhere from 10-25 pages of pest control ads. Right? Maybe you're in a less competitive market - but the fact remains - your prospect is faced with a tough decision when they open the directory.
See, it's not the amount of pest control ads that makes it so difficult to choose; it's the lack of differentiating content in the ads that is troubling to your prospect. I don't care where you're at in the country, your yellow page directory is chuck full of hyperbole fluff that doesn't really differentiate your company for your prospects. Common statements like these fill the pages:
- "Residential & Commercial"
- "100% Money Back Guarantee"
- "Family Owned & Operated"
- "In Business For 25 Years"
- "Credit Cards Accepted"
- "FREE Estimates"
As you're beginning to see, when everybody is saying the same thing, it gets hard for your prospects to determine which company is best and whom they should call to service their home.
This causes a delayed buying decision and an increase in price shoppers. If there is no differentiation elsewhere, consumers will resort to price and brand recognition (i.e. the big national companies) to make their decision.
Here are 5 acid tests to run through to determine if your yellow page ads are any good:
1. The Name Swap Test:
Go through your yellow page directory and put a competitors name on your ad. How much of the ad (other than address and phone number) is different than your competitors? If a majority of your ad still applies with your competitors name on it, it has a lot of room for improvement.
2. The "Who Cares" / "Me Too" Test:
Take another look at your ad and see how many statements or claims you make that aren't relevant or important to your prospects. Also keep an eye out for "me too" statements. "Me too" statements are claims or statements that your competitors use.
3. The Cluttered Mess Test:
You'll see many ads (hopefully not one with your name on it!) that are so cluttered with pictures, starbursts, bullet points and so on that no message is actually conveyed. Make sure that it's easy to see what differentiates you, who you are, and what you want your prospect to do in your ads. If it's hard to find a call-to-action or any important information, your ad needs to be cleaned up.
4. The "What Next" Test:
Your ad needs a good call-to-action. This can be as simple as "Call 555-123-4567 For Free Inspection and $50 Off Your First Treatment". It might seem like common sense, but people need instructions on how to buy from you…especially if they've never purchased pest control services before. The stronger and more risk-reversed your call-to-action is, the more powerful it becomes.
5. The "You're No Help" Test:
You must help your prospects make their decision by providing quality, relevant and differentiating information. Many people think they're creating a fancy piece of art when creating their yellow page ads. They don't use a lot of words and over utilize meaningless pictures of cartoon bugs or critters. Don't get me wrong, your ad should and can look nice and include pictures or graphics that improve its aesthetic appeal, but don't be afraid to use lots of words in your ads. This is not an art contest - it's about selling and persuasion, which require words and communication.
If you passed the 5 acid tests, you probably have a pretty good ad that is generating a good response.
However, if you're like most owner/operators, you won't pass the tests. I urge you to do something about this.
If more opportunities, less price shoppers and higher conversion ratios are appealing to you, here are 5 secrets to help you increase the response of your yellow page advertising:
Advertising great Rosser Reeves once said that "A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen". What Reeves meant was that writing advertising is infinitely easier if you have something good to write about. Take a look at what is important to your prospects and consider improving current offerings or adding services to make your operation clearly better than your competition in town.
2. Make it simple to respond.
The easier you make it for your prospect to respond the better. Offer prospects the option to respond via extended telephone hours or scheduling service through your website. Some folks don't like to call because they're afraid of being sold by a slick salesman. If you give them an internet option, you'll get more responses. Others prefer talking to a live person but don't have time during the day. Use a good pest control specific call center to extend your hours to accept phone calls. Then, make these options pop out in your ad.
3. Make 'em an offer they can't refuse.
Good, risk-reversing offers are often enough to differentiate you from your competition. Make it as effortless and risk free as possible for people to buy from you. One of the best offers I've seen in the pest control industry is this: "Call 555-123-4567 To Schedule Your Initial Inspection. You'll Receive Your First Month's Treatment FREE, Complimentary Flea & Tick Collars for Up to 4 Pets, and Mosquito Repellant Wristbands for Each Member of Your Family." "Too expensive" you say? Consider the lifetime value of each customer and you'll change your mind. Your offers must make good business sense so you can limit them to do so, but don't be afraid to make bold offers.
An offer like this does NOT require you to sacrifice economic treatment rates. If you offer 1 month free, you still charge full price for your monthly treatment after the first month. By making an "irresistible offer" like this to new customers and generating more lead flow, you can be more selective in choosing the customers you want to service - working only with those who fit into one of your existing routes or target service neighborhoods.
4. Capture every opportunity.
It doesn't matter how many times your phone rings. If you don't answer the call and treat the person right on the phone, you're leaving untold amounts of money on the table. Seriously consider hiring a third party tracking company so you can see how many calls you get vs. how many calls you answer and convert.
5. Sell the right thing.
You might think you're selling pest control but you're not. You're really selling emotional benefits like: peace of mind, family protection, health, and investment security (in the case of termite protection), etc. You've likely heard the maxim: People don't buy a drill for the drill, they buy a drill for the hole it drills. The same is true for you. Selling the right thing is always a response booster.
If you use the tests and response boosting techniques discussed in this article, you won't be disappointed in the new found leverage in your pest control business. Some operators have doubled and even tripled their response by using these strategies without spending an extra penny!
Ryan Levesque is the president of Pest Control Marketing Systems (PCMS), an advertising and marketing agency dedicated to the pest control industry. For a complimentary Pest Control Yellow Page Ad Critique, Marketing-Strategy Session, and Marketing Tips Newsletter, call 800.434.8103; or visit http://www.pestcontrolmarketingsystems.com