KBB recently asked our KBB Designers Network on LinkedIn about using social media and other advertising techniques to draw customers.
The following is a constructive conversation among three members of our group with some useful input and tips to succeed:
Paul McAlary, Main Line Kitchen Design, Narberth, Pa.
We post and use paid advertising on Houzz, Facebook and YouTube. We pay money to belong and advertise on Angie’s List and pay for review updates and listings on Customer Lobby. We post on our Twitter and Instagram accounts and have a listing on Yelp and dozens of other listing sites. We post and maintain a LinkedIn profile and company profile and participate in the groups we belong to.
The list goes on and on and includes Google+, Klout, Pinterest, Scoopit, Median, The Garden Web and Home and Garden. Add to the social media sites the money we spend on PPC advertising on Google and Yahoo and what we spend on SEO and our website and the “chat box” on our website, and you are talking a huge financial and time-consuming undertaking. And we haven’t even mentioned the organizations we pay to belong to like multiple NARI chapters, the NKBA, the BBB, etc. All these thing make your business visible and findable on the web.
Anne Harvey, AKBD, Fresh Kitchen & Bath Design, Cary, N.C.
Of all these avenues, which ones have brought you the most business?
Paul McAlary: Besides referrals, the best investment to least: The chat box on our website, our website itself, Houzz free listing, Houzz paid listing, blogs, Facebook dark posts, Youtube, Customer Lobby, PPC Google ads, PPC Yahoo ads, Remarketing Ads, Home Adviser, NARI Memberships, Yelp, Angies List. After these there is little determinable ROI on our other efforts, but even so our efforts on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc., help us come up better on internet searches. In comparison, we monitored a large Yellow Page ad for a year and received zero leads.
Anne Harvey: Being a natural skeptic, I have come to some conclusions regarding social media; mainly that their main objective is to make money, not help me be successful – although they are more than happy to take my money and make empty promises about how paying for their service will get me more clients.
We have a society of window shoppers and DIYers. Many users of social media are not out there looking for professionals no matter what the “pros” tell us. They want free ideas they can execute themselves or as cheaply as possible. I don’t answer the phone when I see Houzz, Home Advisor, etc., on my caller ID. The most successful designers and trade professionals get all their new business via referrals and stay booked months in advance.
Paul McAlary: There is no question that referral business is the best, but no business can grow or even remain static without non-referral customers added to their pool of customers. Getting fresh customers from varied sources also makes a business more sustainable during tough economic times. Advertising – even if it’s simply putting out flyers or signs on lawns – is essential. And the best ways to advertise change yearly.
I am the biggest of skeptics but also try to be open to new ideas, products and advertising trends. Mastering using social media to create business is difficult, and most people selling their services to help you do it won’t succeed unless your business is a very common type that there are known techniques for. And you must excel at any type of advertising to make it work. I know business owners that do incredibly well using Houzz, Home Advisor or Angie’s list, but they put a huge effort into making it work for them,
Denise Butchko, Butchko & Co., Chicago
Not having a presence on social platforms is equivalent to not having a website in today’s market. Your online presence and image are researched by customers to develop trust before they contact you. These platforms are not created to help fill the top of your sales funnel, and you can’t “spend your way” to leads. You can, however, support your organic efforts with paid efforts to increase the qualified leads that can come to your business. Yes, all platforms will accept your money. That doesn’t guarantee business any more than a Yellow Page ad or even a print or TV campaign guarantees leads.
Anne Harvey: I may not be a fan, but it is a necessary component in today’s world. I have a website, Facebook page, etc., write a blog, create customized flyers and have lawn signs. I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t use social media.
Paul McAlary: Here’s a funny story of how bad advertising won’t help you. Thirty years ago there was a tool company that advertised in the Yellow Pages across from my ad as a general contractor. I know from the size of the ad that it cost $500 per month in 1986. The advertisement should have read: Whatever your needs may be, we have what you are looking for. Unfortunately, for five years before they went out of business, it read: Whatever your needs, maybe we have what you are looking for.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net