Lately I’ve become more and more frustrated with local companies.
My family and I have lived in three different cities in the last three and a half years. Each time we move, we need to get to know a city and we always have basic questions.
Where do we grocery shop?
What are good family restaurants?
What is there to do here?
What are the best bike and running shops?
etc. etc. etc.
Now that we have lived in Charlottesville for awhile, we are starting to get to know the area, and we are getting to ‘know’ the local companies. There are a small handful of local companies that do a good job when it comes to brand awareness. They seem to have a great mix of SEO, television/radio ads, and other digital and traditional items as part of their overall strategy. As I search around in my day to day, I become more convinced a digital strategy is an absolute business essential for any type of company. I used to think this was reserved for certain business sectors and markets, but I argue now it is for every one. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional service or a commodity, people are going to the web first. They will find you above your competition, and are more likely to become a client based on where you show up in search results. Additionally, they will remain a client and refer you because of the experience you provide.
Don’t get me wrong, potential clients may see your traditional advertisement and gain interest, but they won’t remember your phone number. They will search for your name or go directly to your website.
Organizations have really come around in the last few years and realized their online presence is as important, if not more important, than their off-line presence. They spend massive amounts of time, energy, employee resource and money in order to deploy the perfect digital marketing strategy. They analyze keywords, make their site look great, focus on their brand and attempt to bring their sales process & value proposition online. Then what?
Over the past few months, I have done a massive amount of Google searching for local companies. I’ve searched for appliance repair, painting, general contractors, lawn services, and pest control. Each time, I did what over 93% of internet searchers do. I Googled my term and clicked on the first two or three results. I never went past the first page of results. Because all of my inquiries were fairly straight forward, I opted to fill out a simple web form instead of being stuck on the phone with a sales guy. My inquiry was simple, I have a problem and you seem to have a solution. Call me or write me back so you can come out and perform your service. It couldn’t be easier for them. I basically said, I have money and an immediate need. Come do whatever it is that you do, and I will pay you. The sale was done for them! Well, in every case, my first contact never responded so I had to go back and write at least one other company in order to get a response. It was frustrating.
This made me ask the obvious question. Why are these companies spending all of this money on traditional advertising, web development, conversion points (even as simple as an inquiry form) and SEO? Think of it this way - What would the owners of these businesses do if their sales people ignored leads that came right to them with wallets open? They would fire them of course. It seems pretty intuitive, but if you have sales forms on your site, make sure you follow up on them. Not only are you losing direct business, but your are also damaging your brand.
Hello, I would like to hire you...
As an example, there are two main pest control companies that advertise constantly. I’ve seen their ads on TV, heard their ads on the radio. They are everywhere. I had a need, and contacted both via their websites. In both instances, I got no response. To rephrase, I had a serious need, so I went back and found an email address and emailed them directly. Still no response. Next I took to twitter. My tweet was something along the lines of
“@CompanyA & @CompanyB I need your services and neither of you responded to inquiries. Do you want my business?”
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
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