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"One of the most underutilized marketing channels is email," says Leap Partners VP of Marketing

Alex M

Image: Alex Malone

Alex Malone, VP of Marketing at Leap Partners, the Nashville-based home services platform, shared with Homepros his thoughts on brand-building, why email is underutilized, and how contractors can win on a tight budget. 

The big picture: Malone has worked with some of the world’s biggest consumer brands. “The brand-building playbook was developed by the big advertisers in the old world of traditional media. Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and Coca-Cola built their brands with eye-catching billboards, and print and television ads,” he says. 

  • “We spent so much because consumers had so many choices and shopped for deodorant or shampoo a few times a month,” he added. 

  • “They go to a Target or Walmart and stand in front of an insanely crowded shelf. Since the purchase decision happens quickly in store, you had to build a relationship with that customer before they got to the shelf.”

“But home services are different. You might have a homeowner who needs you only once every one to two years. So, following the same playbook to have your brand top of mind for that one instance is really, really expensive.” 

When Leap makes a new acquisition, he observes that owners are investing “too much in high reach media channels like radio and out-of-home, at the expense of conversion-driving channels like search and social.”

  • “It reaches a ton of people,” he noted, “but you have limited real estate to sell yourself and no opportunity to drive conversions or track its effectiveness. I think investing too much of your budget on reach and visibility is a mistake.”

  • “In digital media channels, the tracking is so much better. You can re-target unconverted leads, A/B test different landing pages, and closely track your return on investment. You just get much more real-time feedback.”

On Google: “From a cost-per-lead perspective, we love Local Services Ads. However, we spend probably a quarter of what we budget every month. Unfortunately, it’s a crowded space with little opportunity to differentiate based on merit,” he says. 

  • “We invest a lot in paid search, but very little [on branded keywords] because we invest heavily in performing well organically. I’d rather not spend $150 for a lead that I know would have just clicked an organic listing anyway.”

  • “You don’t need to be an SEO expert to win at organic search. At a simple level, I think you just need to understand how Google is incentivized. The main way Google makes money is through advertising. They sell advertisers user engagement, and the way for them to get user engagement is through relevant content. So Google’s currency is essentially credibility and relevancy.” 

Gold mines: Malone noted, “I think one of the most underutilized marketing channels is email. It’s a very affordable way to build a relationship with your customers over time. If your techs do a good enough job collecting information and entering it into your CRM, that [becomes] a gold mine for setting up engaging, targeted email campaigns.”

  • “If they tag houses with allergies in the family or air quality concerns, you can set up an automated air quality campaign over a long period. Slowly, you’ll build value to the point where they’ll reach out and say, ‘Hey, we’ve been thinking about air quality for some time. We’d love to have you come out and give us a [whole home air purification] quote.’”

  • “I think a lot of companies miss the mark on that because the data collection involved can seem tedious. Also, the customer information is reliant on busy technicians who have a long to-do list on each job. So, unfortunately, this always gets pushed to the bottom or forgotten.”

How can you win as a contractor on a tight budget? “Having a profile listing on all the major sites — Google, Yelp, Nextdoor, Facebook — and then generating reviews on those sites is low to no cost but highly valuable. If someone hears about you, they’ll do a credibility check on you and use those reviews as a proxy for your quality and reliability,” Malone says.

  • “There are a ton of existing [website] templates. You don’t have to hire an expensive agency or developer to build a flashy website. Google and customers don’t really care that much about flash. They care more about the content and layout,” he added.

  • “Then lastly, I’d say train your technicians on how to wow your customers with a highly engaging customer experience — everything from how CSRs answer the phones, how you provide appointment slots, to how accurate you are at showing up at those times. Those are all very cheap things you can do to quickly rise to the top.”

The bottom line: “A lot of times, companies think marketing and sales are the same thing, so they group them together and forget to sell. I think marketing is one-to-many, and sales is one-to-one. Sales and marketing rely on each other, but they are separate activities,” he says. 

  • “For every new install, [contractors should] have somebody check in with the customer 24 hours after — and maybe even a couple months after. It’s a one-to-one activity and can be labor-intensive, but you’d be so surprised by how much revenue and customer referrals our branches that do it well generate just from those check-in calls. That kind of stuff is so valuable.” 

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