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Hey guys,

Just got back from a wedding in Virginia and on the plane I was reading a really interesting article in INC. Magazine. Its about a guy who built his pond company into a $31 million dollar buiness. It also has some interesting ways to evaluate your bisiness to see if your even breaking even.

You can read the article here: Building a Marketing Juggernaut

Pgriz, I thought of you and your company when I read this article.

Its a long read but worth it.

-Nathan
 

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nwingate said:
Hey guys,

Just got back from a wedding in Virginia and on the plane I was reading a really interesting article in INC. Magazine. Its about a guy who built his pond company into a $31 million dollar buiness. It also has some interesting ways to evaluate your bisiness to see if your even breaking even.

You can read the article here: Building a Marketing Juggernaut

Pgriz, I thought of you and your company when I read this article.

Its a long read but worth it.

-Nathan
Thanks Nathan,

You are right, it's a great article. I have printed it out and am sharing it with everyone in the company. It touches on a number of very important points: Ownership by employees, extremely fast service, assisting your customers' business.

When I started, I thought my problems would be production-related. When I started talking to my customers, the dealers, it became clear they needed marketing help. We put together some marketing materials for their use. This helped some dealers, but not most. Then it became clear that many were lacking confidence in their installations. So we organized training sessions for installers, identifying best practices, how to avoid the time-wasters, and how to ensure quality. That got a few more on board. Next, we noticed that too many were depending on leads we generated, and did not generate enough of their own. That lead us to do marketing program reviews, dealer by dealer, to determine who they were targetting, what message and medium they were using, and how they were tracking the leads. Putting this into a formal program helped, but again not as much as we had hoped. A number of dealers continued to work at the businesses they knew and were not promoting our products, even though we knew they had much better margins with our stuff. So, we started looking at how the businesses were organized, what kind of profit margins they were making, and found out that most of our dealers were working on relatively primitive financial understanding. So we organized a course on business basics, pricing, and costing. This helped many realize that there was serious money that could be made! This lead to looking how the data for making financial decisions is being collected, and utilized. So I guess, we are also in the "franchise business without the franchise fee".

Internally, I've been working on how to get the front-line workers access to the business information that drives our business. I've always believed that decisions should be taken by the front-line workers, not by their supervisors or bosses, but the trick is to get the right information to the people at the right time. We're still working on this. Maybe this will turn out to be something described better as a journey, not a destination.

So thanks again for the article - it is great! I'll take any more suggestions you care to make, or information to send my way! :D
 

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Pgriz, Not quite a franchise, but "channel marketing".

Marketing is a big thing for me. I have obtained no degree but I have plenty of classes under my belt. Some computer, some marketing and many more to come (Like the construction management ones).

My strategy is saturate a specific area. My bosse's strategy is find a medium that works and use that medium to target a large area. We discuss, or argue, about this often. Driving 45 mins for a $3000 estimate isn't my style.

I think some of the techniques discussed don't work well for actual installers, but the fundemental idea is gold! Looong post.
 

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Grumpy said:
My strategy is saturate a specific area. My bosse's strategy is find a medium that works and use that medium to target a large area. We discuss, or argue, about this often. Driving 45 mins for a $3000 estimate isn't my style.
Shot-gun marketing (ie, a large area) is effective for commodity-type products and services, where low price is important, and brand recognition less so. Targetting a specific area over and over again allows creation of a brand image, and supports leveraging off existing installs in an area to get more referrals. Since people take up to 15 exposures to a brand before they start "trusting" it, it's a different type of marketing, and one that relies on consistency of message.

To me, working a large area is like foraging, while concentrating on a small area is like farming. Both can be effective strategies but not at the same time. If the density of prospects in an area is high, then foraging is effective, but if it is not then you're better off creating your own "density" of prospects by farming. Of course, "farming" an area requires much more investment (time, money, effort, thought) than the alternative strategy. On the other hand, it creates the potential of building up a loyal local following that reduces the usual consumer focus on price, and replaces it by one based on value, reliability and consistency.

Yes, I do write long posts. I'm not a big fan of "sound bite" communication because I believe we are exchanging ideas and information and these often cannot be compressed conveniently into a sentence or two. ;)
 

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I used to work for another roofing company. I worked in the office so answered alot of phone calls. When I asked how they heard about our company... some replied "Well I grew up in Highland Park." or "I live in Highland Park." Virtually everyone who owned or owns a house in this very upscale enighborhood has heard to the company. Their marketing strategy is a combination of the farm forage you were discussing. They spend tons on advertising and have sales reps who work specific areas only... but the highest class neighborhoods get the most attention when it comes to spend what where how.

Yes my idea is one of branding, but also one of less driving and not only will the locals be loyal to me but if part of my sales pitch is how I only market within this area, then they will feel I am loyal to their community.

I've gone so far as to find bumper stickers that say "I love Glenview" Since I live, and our office is in Glenview. To the people outside of glenview, they don't pay it much attention. To the people in Glenview they always get a kick out of it.

I personally hate driving. Especially when I have to drive an hour to go to a job that the customer is claiming went terribly wrong. I spend 5 minutes with them to explian that my workers aren't done yet and they are happy, but now i have to drive back to home in 2 hours of rush hour traffic. Or today I had to drive 30 miles this morning to my first appointment. Sure it was a referral, or I woulda never made a morning appointment 30 miles away.

As most of you know I have been secretly working on a business and of coarse a marketing plan. Part of my marketing strategy is complete saturation of an area at key times of the year. I will advertise in the most upscale church bulletins. The local newspapers. Small adds in the yellow pages. Door hangers. Direct Mail. I can't give all my secrets away but I have some zingers!
 
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