About Adams Hudson
I was stunned beyond belief.
I had just sat down after a decently rigorous flurry of activity following the largest ‘Open Coaching Call’ we’d ever held. (451 Contractors registered; a phenomenal number of eager learners. More in this issue.)
I was going through the typical avalanche of emails following such, over-hearing a buzz of phone conversations, a regular flow of faxes hummed in the background. (Yes, still a significantly efficient form of communication.)
I’d had my ‘normal’ pre-call meal: a light turkey on wheat from Subway, loaded with vegetables.
Then it happened. Out of nowhere.
Every now and then, it’s good to be boss. Not during tax season, nor during that ‘uncomfortable’ chat with a certifiably insane ex-employee, nor when the quasi-charity people call you 32 times a day.
Yet it IS good when your lovable staff hits a goal or just deserves to have a little fun.
So, last week we all went to the movies. (Well, they went while I rigged security cameras in their workspace. Ha!) Actually this was my wife’s great idea, so I took credit for it.
We saw ‘The Imitation Game,’ and I asked all to watch for ONE marketing principle from that film. Since it was a WWII code-cracking movie, you might think this was difficult.
Not even a little bit. The movie was superb, yet their observations were astounding. There was one very brief reference to an easily missed nugget, yet SEVERAL people noticed it as their chosen principle.
I was amazed. So, this is how I’d like to work with you this year…
Remember your ABC’s? (My wife claims I still have trouble with these.) You can forget the old ‘A’ for apple, ‘B’ for boy and all that. Today “A” is for app, “B” is for browser, “C” is for content, “D” is for default settings, “E” is for egad… please just make it stop.
Unfortunately, this letter line-up reveals a problem many contractors overlook. The marketing plan that worked in the past is not working now.
We still find contractors using seriously flawed pre-2008 marketing budgets. Others wonder why their online rank took a nosedive after July ’10 and Feb ’14. A few believe email somehow ‘replaced’ real mail, despite the reversal of online giants (eBay, Amazon, Google, etc…) who are investing heavily offline.
Next year we’re celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. That is, if she’ll start behaving soon. (Camera cuts to me pleading, “No dear, I didn’t make any snide remarks in a public forum. May I peel you more sunflower seeds?”)
Since we’re going like way out of town, I headed to the post office to update my passport. Funny, my kids have been to Europe twice since my passport expired. Something is seriously wrong here.
And something is equally wrong with the United States Post Office. Yes, I realize they spent all their lunch money when Reagan was prez, but if you’ll look at this stupid sign at the entrance, you’ll see this is one of dozens of things very rotten about their message. And this same thing applies to you in your business. Check out the dumbest greeting sign ever…
We all went to Fort Worth last week, and lo! A full week before Thanksgiving, we saw Santa Clauses milling about and hear Christmas carols. There should be fines for this.
While hearing “It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas” at full volume, we hear a man shout from a hotel window, “OH SHUT UP WITH THAT!” Not exactly holiday cheer, but eerily close to my thoughts.
In business, timing is everything. You have 3 options: Too soon, too late, and just right. (Well, you can also make the dead-last choice, 4) Do nothing. Hope something breaks.)
Yet when you hit the timing right, you ride a wave of instant relevance and response. And so – right now – that holiday marketing wave is also giving you the wink. Download this list now…
Like many who are fond of their teeth, I go to my dentist every 6 months for a check-up. Basically, this is a $320 detail job and they don’t even shampoo the carpet.
The dental hygienist lady has a habit of referring to me as “we”. She’s either aware of my multiple personalities or lives a parallel life as a pre-school teacher. “How are WE doing today? Are WE having any trouble with our teeth?”
Worse, she half sings these questions, which is – or should be – punishable by death in many states, all of which I’d like to now live in. Soon she has at least three hands in my mouth, and I can barely make out “Don’t Worry Be Happy” straining through a 5” speaker covered in tooth dust.
Then she says this, which is a lesson in sales and marketing of the highest order. (You may want to floss before reading.)
After our move, my drive to work went from a 6-minute meandering to a 45-minute commute. In Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, my commute is called “A mere hop.”
Anyway, the drive begins in a neighborhood on a lake, then gets a little country, then a lot rural and – depending on my route – winds through a pretty desperate-looking area. Let’s just say the burglar bar salespeople do okay there.
That’s my route today. It’ll make whatever you were complaining about seem small. The area is a curious mishmash of businesses and homes that scarcely make the definition; lots of broken glass, far more broken dreams. “Vacant” applies to many things here. Looking up from my coffee, I see a sight that’ll flat-out get your attention. Like, now.
A youngish clean-cut man is heading into a Pawn Shop, with a toddler in one arm. And a gun case in the other.
For some reason, I decided to ask 10 of my old college pals to come watch Alabama play Ole Miss at the lake. Ten guys with a weekend pass and pent-up lunacy recapturing stories that would incinerate a lie-detector test. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, other than Alabama not winning the game for us and accidentally hitting my neighbor’s house with a wayward potato traveling at 150 mph, nothing did.
Well, okay, there was this one little tiny incident that did happen. And it is happening to you right now.
Nearly every small business falls for this. They ‘hear’ it so much, they think “It must be true” so they follow the advice, making very false, very damaging business assumptions built around it.
You see it with the restaurant opened by someone who is a fabulous cook. And they close.
You see it with the very talented mechanic who has lots of work, but never any money.
You see it with the highly sociable, house-loving new realtor who can’t ever seem to close a sale.
And you see it with HVAC, plumbing, electrical companies – and most any other trade – that constantly struggle getting to that next level. They inch ahead, then drop back. Or they start off strong, and fade as rapidly. All due to the biggest business lie.
When I was in my 20s, I was invited to attend a “Young Men’s Business Club” dinner event. I felt quite honored, mistaking that half the invitation was a suggestion (or expectation) to join YMBC. It was a seated dinner, they met monthly and always had a speaker.
On my first visit, the speaker owned some franchise I’d heard of, but with none in my town, was unfamiliar. The guy’s name was S. Truett Cathy, which seemed odd enough. His company name was some poorly spelled version of Chicken Filet.
Yet the oddities had only begun. He actually told this crowd of young, eager, hopeful entrepreneurs this…
People love to beat up on Direct Mail, as if it has the dated un-hipness of Velcro sneakers. Those who feel that way may be in for a shock.
Amazon – who knows something about marketing – just launched a 4 million piece new customer acquisition campaign in Direct Mail. It’s doubtful that eBay is run by prehistoric fools, yet they just announced “…Direct Mail supports our long-term growth strategy”.
And guess who sent this “Most Effective ROI for Acquisition”?
It’s time for a new health aid to become fashionable. Many have made the leap, but one lingers…
Glasses are very fashionable, and the more you spend on them, the more fashionable they become. Make sure the logo is huge too. Soon I predict the logos will cover the entire lenses.
Braces – once a public admission that your parents wanted to socially torture you by chroming your mouth – are now sought after. In a cruel twist, parents are being begged for braces, stumped for plausible responses. “Oh honey, you look fine. Here’s some anchor rope so you can floss.”
Hats are mostly to shield the sun or keep your head from freezing like a butterball turkey in winter. Then there’s this genius who chose style over function…
It’s amazing really. A small dose of kindness can turn into friendship, or transaction, or whatever ‘merit’ you assign. Could it really be that simple?
Dr. Henry Cloud feels so. This best-selling author and lifelong behavioral psychologist agrees that kindness is key in personal AND business relationships among bosses, employees and customers.
But is there a limit? A ‘trick’ to kindness that does NOT turn into being taken advantage of? Turns out, there definitely is…
It’s a sickness. When I see old dilapidated buildings, I want to spend 4 times more fixing them up than a new building would’ve cost. Yet I get to write off these expenses since I’m doing ‘market research’ on contractors. (If you’re with the IRS – whom I admire greatly and kneel in your presence – this was my attempt at humor.)
Apparently market conditions are good for others to become afflicted, as multiple restorations are going on nearby. Yet one stopped abruptly on Thursday at 1:45 pm.
I became doubly ill when I heard a loud, violent and prolonged rumbling on my street. The noise actually shook our building. After a few long seconds, I see an eerie terra cotta dust cloud slowly form, roiling like a vagrant shadow over cars parked below.
After selling a couple of old cars for “selfless reasons in an effort to simplify our lives” (husbands take note), it was determined that I am a shallow schmuck.
I admit to a genetic defect that requires something with obscene horsepower, marginal practicality, and a tendency to snarl while passing Priuses.
So, after gaining my wife’s permission (!), I’ve recouped 420 attitude adjusting, highly therapeutic, manual-shifting horsepower. I am in lust. (Husbands quit taking notes).
Yet, as serves me right, my first trip in this thing was at night. In the rain. On an unfamiliar road. For 4 hours. Yet, the serious upside to all this is my 21-year-old son was with me.
As I fiddled with thoroughly unfamiliar wiper and illegible demisting settings, he asked me a question I didn’t see coming. I don’t know if ANY parents are ever ready for this one.
I rant about customer service a lot. We all do. We choose our restaurants, hotels, clothing stores and shops based largely on good or bad service. If poor, we quit using that company, tell our friends or even post negatively online for all to see. How costly is that?
Many paying customers QUIT their contractors. Not due to pricing, or technical skill, but due to one thing: Poor Customer Service. The treatment – actual or imagined – was poor, thus the experience was wrecked. And there goes the customer, referrals and reputation right along with it.
So guess what a large number of contractors do? Shocking answer here, plus some Top Contractor CSR Scripts.
As guys, we think we can make most things better, or fix stuff (including PEOPLE that don’t want to be ‘fixed’). And to avoid things like “feelings,” we just come out and say it. Ladies can do this too, but are more subtle.
Here’s an example:
LADY EXAMPLE: (to the guy in her life) “Are you going to wear that?” This is often said even if the man pretends to know how to dress himself. This is the “indirect” approach and hard for a man to understand. For clarity, I’ve translated it into guy language:
“That shirt wouldn’t be acceptable even if you were visually impaired. And with your shape, the gray pinstripe jacket makes you look like a mattress with arms. Change clothes now.” Can you see the difference? No matter our communication differences…
Here are 5 Things Women Are Right About Every Single Darn Time.”
First up, gather ‘round for another installment of “Inept Moments in Boating” where a mediocre marketer sets sail for new horizons of dumbness.
TIP #1: When you launch a boat on the first day of the season, and your helper is a dog – who for now can’t drive the truck or the boat – and the lady at the ramp is super-impressed you’re trying this with a 5,200 pound 375 horsepower boat basically by yourself, make sure that after you crawl deftly over the trailer to secure the bowline and re-enter the truck with cat-like agility to ever-so-gently launch your craft, that you’ve actually unhooked the boat from the trailer, or you could look like an idiot. And you wouldn’t want that to happen.
Signed, Me and Harry the Dog with #tailbetweenlegs. Click for photo of irritated First Mate plus the chilling connection to Customer Service issues that are possibly not suitable for younger readers.
After what felt like the longest winter since Mastodons were the main snow-blowers, spring may actually arrive. I’m at my “writing window” overlooking a lake, where my workmates force me to stay put once a week until words actually appear. However,
A squadron of bumblebees keeps smashing their little pollen faces into the glass. I look around the room to see if there’s a little honeybee brothel behind me or something. Not one. So I assume they’re either trying to make the editorial or it just feels good. (I imagine there have been late-night antics when this might’ve seemed normal, or even encouraged.)
“Why we do what we do” is why I do what I do. My job is to “change behavior.” Should be your marketing’s job too: To move a customer from not calling you to calling. From leaving you to staying. From complaint to a glowing referral. Here’s how you do that.
Your contracting business is about sales. If you do not sell, your business dies. You do not sell without leads. Your marketing and advertising's only real job is to produce leads or sales for you.
That simple connection of powerful facts is very important to both of us.
Hudson Ink exists to bring you more leads, in less time, from more people, at a lower cost. Yes, that's a tall order. But if you've been on this website awhile or read our other articles or books, hopefully you agree we're up to the task.
What would you do without your customers? Are you really trying to find out? All you have to do is forget about them – and let them forget about you. And if that’s what’s going on, it’ll be clear soon enough what you’ll do without your customers!
What’s your company’s biggest asset? (I said “asset” so quit looking in your chair.)
Some might say “equipment” and given the explosive costs for some of it, it’s big, but not THE big one. A few of you sensitive, caring types might say “employees”. Aww. True, another huge one for sure, but neither they nor the equipment nor your paycheck would exist without the real gold mine:
Faster than a speeding Moped, more powerful than a 60-watt bulb, able to leap small children in a single bound…it’s me, Market Man!
Ok, maybe it takes me two leaps, but children are growing bigger and bigger these days. Have you looked at the size of these things they’re calling kindergartners? It’s like they’ve all been eating their Wheaties…or else there’s something in everyone’s water but mine!
According to Internet Marketing Trends “…the rate of change in web marketing has exceeded business’ capacity to absorb it.” In other words:
Overwhelm. You simply cannot go chasing after every new web marketing gizmo and feature that comes out. You can’t spend the time or the dollars to test each new techno-tidbit to see if it works as “promised”. It’s too much. Plus, you’ve got a contracting business to run.You just want your web marketing do 3 basic things:
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