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  • small business marketing

    What's the best/most cost effective way to promote a small business

  • #2
    Re: small business marketing

    I'm assuming you mean a local service business that operates within a defined geographic area (e.g., county, city, town). I think the top three marketing tools for local services are:

    1) A Yellow Pages display ad when your typical customer is seeking your service based on some occassional, infrequent need (e.g., clearing a clogged drain).
    2) Direct Mail (Valpak), or Direct e-Mail (Groupon) when you're trying to get customers to contact you for some service most of them can use right now (e.g., carpet cleaning).
    3) Yelp.com when you have a lot of competition and need to differentiate yourself. Best way to get positive Yelp reviews is to ask your customers to post one after completing a successful job.

    Hope this helps!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: small business marketing

      Don't waste your time or money with Groupon or living social customers. They will always run back to that site for the next half off deal when they need a plumber. I advertised on living social $150 of plumbing service for $75. A homeowner purchased the deal from them and scheduled for me to come out and install three faucets. He would not be there but he'll leave a check with his nanny for me. I get there and on the refrigerator is this note attached.
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: small business marketing

        If I ignore the $600, math, and $750 scribbling...

        You're saying that you get paid $75 by the groupon customer to do the $150 work you advertised? So, the note says, in addition to that you're also getting an extra $25 check, too (total $100).

        Maybe I misunderstand because I've never advertised with such a site. Do you not know what you are doing before you get to the call (is there no communication)? Does your ad state - "$150 covers time to do (2) toilet repairs, or (1) toilet reset, or (1) faucet replacement, or (3) faucet repairs" - or some other verbage?

        Customers have no idea, or do have an idea and try to squeeze you for everything. He bought that $150 for $75 deal and there was no limit stated (that we know of). If there was no limit, whose fault is it really?
        ~~

        ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

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        • #5
          Re: small business marketing

          That refrig note was hilarious! Sorry you had a bad experience with Groupon, but probably a good lesson for better communication before you arrive at the site, as Punky indicated. I agree with your point that retail customers are becoming increasingly used to discounts and are always on the lookout for a promotion.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: small business marketing

            As a consumer/homeowner (I wish you had stated what kind of business you are in!), I would say your best $$ investments would be as follows:

            1. A sign on your truck, and carry business cards... both are reasonably cheap and adds well to the "word of mouth" path. Along the same lines, if you live in an area with smaller communities, leave your "card" with the local town hall clerk. Often people just check there, to get a suggestion. While I don't see that here in Binghamton (a medium-sized city, it is very much used back in Painted Post, which is a small village.)

            2. A listing in the Yellow Pages. Not sure what a special Ad there would cost you though.

            3. An Ad in the local "penny-saver" like mailings. Almost every village and city has those.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: small business marketing

              Originally posted by Sierra2000 View Post
              Don't waste your time or money with Groupon or living social customers. They will always run back to that site for the next half off deal when they need a plumber. I advertised on living social $150 of plumbing service for $75. A homeowner purchased the deal from them and scheduled for me to come out and install three faucets. He would not be there but he'll leave a check with his nanny for me. I get there and on the refrigerator is this note attached.
              About 13 years ago, I gave a repeat customer a price of $85.00 to come out and fix what was wrong with the disposal/sink (I forget what the problem was). Anyways, after I was done she had a list of things to be done for that same $85.00 as she said "well since I'm paying for the hour"...I stopped her right there and tried to explain "this isn't a buffet where you pay 1 price for all you can eat".

              Never heard back from her since then...and I'm fine with that.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: small business marketing

                Thinking back over the last ten years, I've hired plumbers for several small to medium sized jobs and each one used a different pricing model. The variations were:

                1) Flat service call charge for visit, then a charge for each job performed.
                2) Hourly labor charge based on actual hours worked.
                3) Book rate charge based on an industry reference list of services, regardless of actual hours worked.

                These different pricing models can cause misunderstandings even with well intentioned service providers and customers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: small business marketing

                  Originally posted by AverageHomeowner View Post
                  These different pricing models can cause misunderstandings even with well intentioned service providers and customers.
                  Boy ain't that the truth!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: small business marketing

                    Hey Flux, are those ivory grips and Federal Hydra-Shoks? What caliber?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: small business marketing

                      Originally posted by AverageHomeowner View Post
                      Hey Flux, are those ivory grips and Federal Hydra-Shoks? What caliber?
                      Sadly, this isn't my fire arm pictured. The bullets do look like Hydra shocks, and I'm going to assume this is a 45 but could be wrong.

                      As far as the grips go, this woman makes them and I think she's American Indian. She does nice work.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: small business marketing

                        Originally posted by Flux View Post
                        Sadly, this isn't my fire arm pictured. The bullets do look like Hydra shocks, and I'm going to assume this is a 45 but could be wrong.

                        As far as the grips go, this woman makes them and I think she's American Indian. She does nice work.
                        Cool. I always think of Patton when I see ivory grips.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: small business marketing

                          Originally posted by AverageHomeowner View Post
                          Cool. I always think of Patton when I see ivory grips.
                          Now that was a General! I love the movie as well.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: small business marketing

                            Originally posted by Plumber Punky View Post
                            If I ignore the $600, math, and $750 scribbling...

                            You're saying that you get paid $75 by the groupon customer to do the $150 work you advertised? So, the note says, in addition to that you're also getting an extra $25 check, too (total $100).

                            Maybe I misunderstand because I've never advertised with such a site. Do you not know what you are doing before you get to the call (is there no communication)? Does your ad state - "$150 covers time to do (2) toilet repairs, or (1) toilet reset, or (1) faucet replacement, or (3) faucet repairs" - or some other verbage?

                            Customers have no idea, or do have an idea and try to squeeze you for everything. He bought that $150 for $75 deal and there was no limit stated (that we know of). If there was no limit, whose fault is it really?
                            Customer purchases from living social $150 of plumbing service and they pre pay living social $75. I get $25 from that about a month after i complete a job.My job is to sell other service to make a profit, its a loss leader. I go to customer house to give estimate for work needed and find that he assumed he was a plumbing estimator by his note, assuming his $150 of plumbing service is enough to install three faucets. After the nanny showed me the note, and i write down the price to do this, i start to walk out the door and she tells me that if she doesn't call him and i leave without doing the work, he will get upset with her. After explaining to him on the phone that its more like $600-$750 to install these 3 faucets, he says he can get a handyman to install all three for this. I'm not a handyman mr customer, you called a plumber, there is a difference. Customer - how hard could it be to install them? You're welcome to install them, why did you call me to install them? Customer - you owe me $75. I want a refund! Contact living social about your refund, I haven't received any $$ for this. Customer still ranting over the phone, you owe me money, I'm going to file a complaint! File a complaint for what? Because I won't install your three faucets for $150? One of the craziest calls I've been on. I went on 3 calls from living social and they all were along these lines. After that I'd tell the potential customers when they mentioned their living social deal they purchased, that we are no longer doing work for living social customers and to contact them for a refund.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: small business marketing

                              Originally posted by Sierra2000 View Post
                              Customer purchases from living social $150 of plumbing service and they pre pay living social $75. I get $25 from that about a month after i complete a job.My job is to sell other service to make a profit, its a loss leader. I go to customer house to give estimate for work needed and find that he assumed he was a plumbing estimator by his note, assuming his $150 of plumbing service is enough to install three faucets. After the nanny showed me the note, and i write down the price to do this, i start to walk out the door and she tells me that if she doesn't call him and i leave without doing the work, he will get upset with her. After explaining to him on the phone that its more like $600-$750 to install these 3 faucets, he says he can get a handyman to install all three for this. I'm not a handyman mr customer, you called a plumber, there is a difference. Customer - how hard could it be to install them? You're welcome to install them, why did you call me to install them? Customer - you owe me $75. I want a refund! Contact living social about your refund, I haven't received any $$ for this. Customer still ranting over the phone, you owe me money, I'm going to file a complaint! File a complaint for what? Because I won't install your three faucets for $150? One of the craziest calls I've been on. I went on 3 calls from living social and they all were along these lines. After that I'd tell the potential customers when they mentioned their living social deal they purchased, that we are no longer doing work for living social customers and to contact them for a refund.
                              Doing 150$ of work for 75$ to me seems as if your telling your customers your grossly over charging enough to still make money at half your regular rate? Not trying to insult you or anything, I'm sure like many of us your a honourable ,reasonable plumber. But unfortunately we have some stereo typical image of being expensive. Getting a letter like that would piss me off with no extent. I hate when customers try and tell me what there job should cost. Anyways just my two cents.

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