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Friday, August 03, 2007

Leads services, advertising, and hard work

This thread discusses one of the perennial issues for many contractors -- how to find qualified clients, and whether leads services really work. The services described in this thread are mostly relevant to residential contractors; but contractors serving the ICI sector also are invited to use services such as provided by McGraw-Hill, Reid and others. It seems, judging by the observations of people who have used these services, that sometimes they work, but often clients are disappointed.

I sense leads services are like advertising. Some advertising works (to find direct clients), most doesn't. (I continue to believe advertising has value in branding and more practically in maintaining/retaining current client relationships, but that is another issue). I think much advertising, like leads services, is sold with the hope that you will find an easy solution to your marketing problems. Just pay a few dollars, and customers will land in your lap.

In the real business world, this indeed happens -- if you know what you are doing, and have clear control over your business and its metrics. In other words, if you can properly analyze, manage, and control things, you should be able to find out soon enough whether leads services or advertising pay off. Trouble is, most contractors and sub-trades just fly by the seat of their pants; without a cohesive plan, strategy, or control mechanism to see if the advertising or leads services really work. So they 'try it', and usually end up disappointed.

The irony is that the solution of 'easy money' through systematic use of advertising and leads services is indeed available to you -- if you take your time, assess things, and ensure you measure your results properly. After some (perhaps much) experimentation, you will hopefully find a consistent and manageable system, which you can then tweak and improve. Once you get there, of course, you will find your marketing methodology becomes one of your most prized business secrets -- especially if the visible part is supported by behind-the-scenes leads and sales conversion techniques.

When you have this type of system in place, you can actually control your leads volume -- turning up the volume when you need more; and tuning it down when your ability to serve and manage your leads is lower.

But you will, indeed, have to experiment and make mistakes to get your system in place. That is the difference between a real business and the dream world.

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