Marketing Reps Spinning Their Wheels

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Marketing Reps Stuck in the Sand?

I continue to be amazed almost every day at how many marketing reps, and even worse, business owners are excited about their perceived marketing success just because the reps are busy! The key word here is “busy.”

It’s sad they equate “busy” with “productive.”

I’m reminded regularly by marketing reps and owners of how much they have “going on” but when I quiz them, their response is almost always to tell their reps to Stop, Drop and Roll as a way to market and they usually have little to show for the effort.  Even very sharp business owners equate a marketer's 20 plus daily stops to drop off cookies, as a successful day for the rep.  It’s even worse when the rep returns to the office to regale the owner with stories of who they saw, how many agents or plumbers wanted extra cookies, or all the great chit chat they had that day. What a waste.

Here is the scenario I hear over and over:  there are about 250 insurance agents and 50 plumbers, total in your market. Your marketing rep has about 20 routes (one for each business day). They call on about 25 prospects each day – dropping off a bag of cookies and some flyer, brochure, advertising or promo piece about Fire Smoke Water or Mold. They engage in a little light banter and then move on to the next prospect on the route list.

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Shockingly, the owner is happy because the rep was busy. He thinks “someday those 25 prospects are going to send us jobs.”  Most are deluded and under the false belief that this “Stop, Drop & Roll” process will bring a great ROI. Lest we forget, the marketer’s role is to bring in jobs – lots of jobs regularly!

As for payola - sorry to inform you – but you can’t buy love!  Even those that practice “buying business” find out someone else will up the ante. It becomes unsustainable and ultimately fails.  Remember just a few years ago when you gave a plumber a $50 referral fee for sending you a job? Today that fee is $500 minimum, (and in some cities it's $1,000) and yes, some are paying 5% to 10% or more finder’s fee, (kickback, bribe, payola) based on the total invoice. Really? How sad and how likely this is going to collapse when we least expect it.  Already several states have enacted or have pending legislation to make the practice illegal, especially when insurance is involved. California was one of the first, and guess what, I know of a contractor that has figured a way to "circumvent" the law. Be forewarned.

At the risk of being repetitive, Busy doesn’t automatically translate into Productive. As business owners you must have productive marketers, no different than any other employee.  You don’t tolerate a production worker slacking on the job, failing to achieve their designated task. Don’t accept it from a marketer either! They must bring in work, regularly, and a lot of it. Each full time marketing rep costs you about $100,000 a year. They need to be generating about a million $$ per year in a measurable business.

As a consultant, I’ve encouraged owners to get rid of marketers we found to be unproductive. During the weeks or months it took to find, interview and hire a replacement, NO change was experienced in the number of leads or jobs from agents or plumbers!   This is similar to a client that spent $5,000 per month on the radio and then stopped that advertising campaign for more than six months with no noticeable reduction in business.

altGood marketing certainly is an investment in your short and long-term business future. You place you money where you truly get the best return. The rep you hire should be one that understands it’s completely about the customer – not about Fire, Smoke, Water or Mold.  They must understand it’s about Collaboration; it’s about becoming a Resource or Trusted Advisor to your prospects and clients.

If you are marketing to Plumbers (as an example), provide them with resources, training, education, and support that helps THEM become more successful. (Now you aren’t shelling out payola, and they are much more likely to stay loyal to you).  As business owners themselves, they want: more sales, greater productivity, skilled employees, profit, quality of life and more. All the same things YOU want as an owner. So give them what they want, not Fire Smoke Water and Mold services – they don’t care about those things.   Giving them training, coaching, teaching and education on ways to improve their bottom line.  This way you bring them far more value and create more loyalty than a $500 bribe (OK, you can call it a thank you spiff if you want).

A first class restoration supply house like Jon-Don understands this better than most in the restoration industry.  They work every day to bring you training and educational programs to help You be more successful, profitable, productive and much more.  I talk to contractors every week that tell me of their loyalty to Jon-Don who understands it’s not about cleaning chemicals, truck mounts or restoration equipment, but all about making their customer (you) more successful.

So don’t be fooled into thinking it’s about lowest price or highest referral fee. It is ultimately about providing value in advance that gets you repeat and loyal customers and jobs.   Productive marketers bring value in advance to their prospects by becoming a trusted advisor or go-to resource. Just being busy without productivity is like spinning your wheels in the dirt – it makes a lot of dust but the dust settles quickly leaving nothing.  It’s time to hire marketers that produce the best possible ROI.

Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant.  419-202-6745