How to End Your Pay Per Click (PPC) Addiction and Get Better Quality Remodeling and Home Building Leads with Content
I’m going to come clean right up front and tell you I HATE Pay Per Click (PPC). Paying more and more and more (isn’t that redundant?) for PPC ads with declining returns is a place I’d rather not be.
That’s why I was SO happy when I saw my PPC spending last month was a grand total of $59.48. This is because we paused all PPC campaigns for our remodeling, nationwide wholesale and home organization businesses earlier in the month. Our spending next month will be a big fat ZERO.
We have been ratcheting PPC down for a couple of years. I finally came to the point where I could stop paying ‘the man,’ or ‘Mr. Google’ (as I like to call him).
You may be wondering how could you do such a thing? Doesn’t every remodeling or home building business who wants digital leads have to buy ads on Google?
Well, this month our total ‘goal’ count was 1,192 (our goals are free estimates, phone calls, free samples and newsletter sign ups). They were up 33% over last year. Traffic was up 51%. Our digital lead volume is better than ever with virtually zero PPC spending. We’re going ‘cold turkey.’ We’re coming clean. We’ve gotten off the stuff (‘er the stuff would be the magic ferry dust of expensive Google generated clicks).
You know what’s even cooler? Me, my Marketing Manager Michelle Ruhe and our marketing consultant John Paglio of Flyte New Media aren’t geniuses either (my wife Rose will certainly attest to the fact that I’m not a genius!). We haven’t been asked to work at the Genius Bar in the Apple store at the mall either.
What’s even doubly-cool is I know you could wean yourself and your business off ‘the stuff’ (that would be PPC spending lining Mr. Google’s pockets) too? That is IF you’re willing to ‘do’ digital marketing with some non-traditional ideas.
You may be asking, “What are the non-traditional ideas you’re talking about? Are they even legal in these continuous 48 states?” Well, I have to tell you I’m not recommending illegal (black hat) concepts. In fact, I’m proud to say I’ve never been arrested even once (although the ‘Magic Bus” Winnebago trip to South Padre Island with 8 fraternity brothers in 1985 might have ended that streak if the cops had pulled us over. But, that’s a story for another day – ha! ha!).
In this article my goal is simple. I want to spell out ideas which can make your lead generation more effective (without wallet-draining PPC spending). I want to show you it’s possible to become an exclusive, one-of-a-kind company your prospects flock to. You can become the local building and remodeling ‘celebrity’ with better quality lead generation and a smaller budget. Sound too good to be true?
Well it’s not the easy road or the one well-traveled. It will it take discipline, energy and patience. There’s no free lunch here. But when has growing your remodeling or building business ever been easy street anyway?
In the article I’ll dish up 5 practical ideas which can not only end your addiction to PPC spending, but will position you as ‘da man or ‘da woman your kitchen or bathroom remodeling or new home building prospects won’t want to do without.
Does this sound crazy? Read on, then let me know at the end if you think these ideas will work for you.
Idea #1 – Recognize everything begins with content which helps your prospects learn
You’re buying PPC because you need leads.
You need leads because people aren’t finding your business for free (‘er that would be ‘organically’ to go a little digital marketing geek on you).
So – all you need is a strategy to get found for free. But how?
The how is by creating and/or sharing content. I will argue the best type of content is the stuff you (or someone hired by you) creates. It helps people (your prospects) learn. It shows you’re willing to give, before being fortunate enough for the customer to reach out to you for help. If you start ‘educating first,’ you’ll do an excellent job setting up ‘selling second.’ You’ve found the secret formula. This formula will kick your competitors butts. But how do you do it, you may ask? Here’s 3 approaches:
Approach #1- Blogging) In my case, I’m a crazy blogger. I write. I write (you’ll see an image of our original blog – News from the Block) below. Then I write some more (Michelle and I and John write, promote and manage 3 blogs right now). If writing ain’t the thang for you, take part of the money you’re spending with Mr. Google and find someone to do it for you.
In fact, I know a woman who does just that. Her name is Christy Murdock Edgar of Writing Real Estate. Is Christy the only one out there? Heavens no. Just know that written content helps you get found….
Approach #2 – Videos) If the idea of writing sounds as fun as a sharp stick in the eye, another – a better option can be video. Videos are growing like wildfire. However, you may be saying, “Mike, I have no doggone idea what to include in videos?” Here’s a few thoughts:
You could do a ‘how to install’ video showing your installation process (and explaining why it’s better than your competitors down the street – note – you’ll see an example of an How to Install video below) . Or shoot a video answering the frequently asked questions about a product(s) which are hot in the market (you’ll see below one we just did about FAQ’s new laminated wall panels we’ve launched in the U.S. – oops shameless plug there). Include a link on your videos which goes to a specific page on your site for more information. Once again, you get free traffic (without PPC spending).
Approach #3 – Podcasting) If you feel you’ve got the ‘face for radio, not videos’ (I know what you mean, I don’t think male-model’s in my future either), you can set up a podcast for your remodeling or building business. Not sure how to do this?
Listen to Why and How to Start Your Own Podcast with Mark Harari and Victoria Downing. Your potential customers are listening to podcasts in the car or while running or walking the dog. A podcast builds street cred and you may even get a client because of it (I found my digital marketing company in Maine, Flyte New Media, by listening to Rich Brook’s (the owners) podcast for 2 years before we connected). His free education (and my feeling he and his company knew what the heck they were doing) greatly influenced us choosing his company (and I never even met his team until 3 years later!).
Idea #2 – Blow up the delusion that you’re going viral or will become a celebrity…. EVER!
Michelle and I are happy we’re now drawing 110,000 total visitors to our main site (90,000 of these visitors came to our blog each month and the other 20,000 come to our site). With all this exposure we’ve surely ‘gone viral,’ right? ‘Er wrong!
OK – this isn’t an image of me with shades, but you get the idea!
When I go to the grocery store with my daughter, I don’t have to wear shades to mask my ‘celebrity’ identity. I’m pretty much as generic a dude as I’ve ever been. I’m not even (yet) referring to myself in the 3rd person (and neither is Michelle, to the best of my knowledge).
The primary reason we get found is because Michelle promotes the living daylights out of content (our blog posts mostly in our case).
She’s does this through programs like MeetEdgar and Buffer which moves our content through LinkedIn, Facebook, and (oh do we love) Pinterest.
Let’s face it, you and I are in the niche remodeling business. We aren’t likely to become the next Joanna Gaines or blogger whose is also a paid ‘influencer.’ Sure – it’s possible. Should we count on it? No way.
The goal is to create content, then spin it out. If we ‘go viral’ or become the next ‘Joanna Gaines’ that ‘might’ be cool., Even if it did happen, we would be the ‘overnight sensation’ who made it after years of hard work (like most overnight sensations).
Create content. Distribute content. Then repeat. Use tools to keep your content consistently on the ‘social media highway.’ Include links (and lead magnets – more about this later) which drive free traffic and new prospects.
Idea #3 – Build a ‘fan club’ (AKA an email list)
Your best customers are your past customers.
They loved you once (assuming you did a nice job). They can love you again.
However, your best customers also move on in life. They get busy with their own stuff. They may not even remember (or know) you also do kitchen remodels or replacement windows or build custom homes.
You’re out of their consciousness.
The question becomes, how do you stay ‘top of mind?’ How do get them to know your services and products and remember your business when the timing is right for another project?
The best way I know is to build a fan club (AKA an email list).
When people sign up to get your ‘content’ (OK – we’re back to that again) you’re educating them. Over time they will start seeing YOU as the expert. They’re more likely to remember (and respect how you can help them) you when they’re remodeling or building a new home.
Not sure how to get them to ‘sign up for your content?” Well you need a better offer than a button on your web site which says, “SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER.”
How boring is that? Don’t most people get enough email junk already? Well I’ll answer that for you. Yes, they do.
So how do you get them interested in your content? How do you bring them into your ‘fan club’ with information they feel will be of value? You use a lead magnet. This is a ‘lure’ (to use a fishing analogy – although I don’t know carp …’er that would be crap about fishing). Create (or do what we do and have your digital marketing guy John develop) a lead magnet with a group of useful articles or tips which answer your prospect’s questions to earn email sign ups. They get information of value; you get the ability to continue to provide them with more useful information. They remember you and your company when the time is right.
This is the way to build your fan club. I was SO excited this month to go over the 20,000 people on our ‘fan club.’ We started with zero 8 years ago. It’s possible to stay at the top of your prospects mind for virtually no extra money. A fan club is built one person at a time. Have patience. It pays off. With your email newsletter list, you’ll get more repeat or referral business for free (that magic work again) because you’re top of mind.
Idea #4 – Don’t wait to be asked. Volunteer to build your ‘digital resume’ so people remember you
How do people become ‘celebrities’ (I’ll use this term loosely here) in their industry? I would argue one key thing they do is to raise their hands. They do stuff and stick their necks out when others stay on the sidelines.
If you want to get better known in the digital universe for your expertise don’t wait for someone to call you. In the beginning you’re nobody. OK -that’s probably too harsh. At least to your Mom you’re the greatest and to your spouse you’re at least OK most of the days. However, if you take the time to ‘become known’ you’ll get the benefit of waaaay better quality leads than PPC can ever deliver. Here’s 2 things you can do to make this happen:
- Write down what you know.
- Let the right people know where you can help.
I’ll give you an example of how I used this process. Two years ago, I started a home organization division called Innovate Home Org in Columbus. We do custom closet, pantries and garage cabinetry. In this industry I was a rookie (well, at least with designing and installing organization systems). I wasn’t a rookie about digital marketing. So, what did I do?
I volunteered to write about digital marketing in the industry publication Closets and Organized Storage. The editor (who probably was desperate for some free content anyways) gave me a try. This writing earned our business links to our site (a win for our Search Engine Optimization). I’ve even gotten referral leads in my local area from closet companies in other markets whose customers have moved to Columbus Ohio. These types of ‘influencer’ leads aren’t possible even with unlimited PPC spending.
So, my lesson for you is to raise your hand to write, speak or contribute digitally what you do know. Even being a rookie in a new industry (me in the closet biz) you can get some ‘digital love’ if you’re willing to mix in some good ol’ fashioned guts.
Idea #5 – Add a little ‘Hans and Franz’ and Pump, Your Content Up!
I don’t know if this is before your time, but it was pure fun hearing the characters Hans and Franz on Saturday Night Live in the late 1980’s saying it’s time to “Pump You Up!!!” If you’ve never heard Hans and Franz, I’ve included a clip below (hey it’s always a good time for mindless entertainment).Right now, you’re probably asking why I’m bringing up Hans and Franz in this article about ending your addiction to PPC and getting ‘free leads for your remodeling or building business?
Well, the reason is because most content (blog posts, videos or podcasts) sucks (IMHO) because it’s boring. Sure, we might try to read, view or listen to boring content if we have to. However, most of us have the attention span of a gnat and click off ‘boring’ ASAP.
Your content has to have personality. It has to (as Hans and Franz say), “Pump You Up!”
Have fun with your videos, podcast or writing. Don’t be afraid to be your wacky self. People see fake news and boring content a mile away. Don’t write or speak or go live on camera with a bunch of flowery-corporate-sounding B.S. jargon. Don’t be ‘fully engaged,’ talk about ‘touching base’ or say ‘at the end of the day’ (add your own meaningless corporate phrase here).
Remember that ‘edutainment’ and storytelling are far more effective ways to inspire action than ‘educating’ in a boring way. Remember your favorite teachers or professors in high school or college and I’ll bet the PPC money you won’t be spending they weren’t boring. They were fun, entertaining and smart.
Be you, but work to pump people up. Have fun with your content. Fun content will generate leads (and a personal connection) which paid PPC is incapable of.
After reading these 5 ideas to end your addiction to PPC spending and start getting free leads through content are you game to give it a try?
Why or why not? I’ll bet you money most people will do NOTHING with this article. But, here’s what I’ll tell you.
The people who will reallocate money away from PPC and put it into content creation, content promotion, building an email list will get a far higher return on investment than playing the PPC bidding war games with their competitors.
Does this mean you should completely eliminate PPC? I don’t think that would be smart. What I would say is you need to start creating and pushing content to get out of the ‘rat-race’ of run-away PPC spending. Slowly wean PPC down as the results of your content program improve.
You know when it’s the best time to get this strategy moving? I’d argue right now.
Are you willing to take the plunge? What are you waiting for?
If you’d like to debate PPC spending vs. content creation and distribution (or just get some input on how you get started on this ‘content train’) I’d love to ‘talk digital marketing geek shop’ with you.
If you’d like to improve your bathroom remodeling or new home offerings with simple to install, sharp-looking shower and tub wall surround materials and possibly become a shower wall panel dealer (hey- I’ve got to plug my business sometime – after all my kids’ education bills need to be paid!) call 877-668-5888 and ask for Mike (or that wacky dude who writes those articles).
I’m looking forward to getting to know you and sharing my wacky self with you (and maybe even being your Hans and Franz and Pumping you up!’).
If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn, you’ll find me https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikefoti/
If you’re into Twitter follow me @Mike_Foti or my companies’ @InnovateBuild and @InnovateHomeOrg.
Tags: blogging for home builder leads, blogging for remodeling leads, content marketing, content marketing for builders, content marketing for remodelers, content marketing vs. PPC, email marketing for builders, email marketing for remodelers, fun content marketing, growing remodeling leads, interesting content, podcasting for remodeling, reduce PPC spending