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View Full Version : Which marketing method works?


bobbyc1980
09-08-2010, 01:50 PM
I have just started a lighting company in Memphis. Im looking for ideas for marketing and the most successful ways. Are flyers, post card mailings, etc effective? Thanks




www.memphis.lightsbylighthouse.com

Alan B
09-08-2010, 05:17 PM
Nothing beats word of mouth IMO.

Word of mouth meaning:
- your customers giving you referrals.
-do one job in a neighborhood and network the area to get other neighbors (speaking to neighbors, talking to your customer and build relationship)
-networking with other contractors (lawn guys, pest control, etc) and develop a close relationship (s) with otehr contractors. Help each other and refer each other business.
-do whatever it takes to get known in the area as the goto guy for high quality lighting-- you are the guy that knows what he's doing and does it right.

Its not a specific road map but the general jist is... reputation is the best form of marketing... and reputation is built on how you interact with people (not advertising mediums).

People (esp in higher end homes) tend to choose contractors through referrals/recommendations when they can. In my opinion, try and break into nice neighborhoods with one job, then do your best to talk with the customer, get to know the neighbors, flyers after your done announcing the work you did at their neighbors, etc..

To answer your question directly, I'm not a fan or direct mail. I don't think you'll see the roi and I feel its time has passed as an effective medium for most businesses.

Good luck!

bobbyc1980
09-08-2010, 06:17 PM
Thanks for the info. But when first starting out, what is the best method to break ground with these neighborhoods? They have to start somewhere.

emby
09-08-2010, 08:19 PM
A demo kit is a must when starting out. There are many people here who have commented on previous threads about demos and how important they are.
Rather than give somebody else your money for marketing, invest it back into the business via a demo kit and go and do a couple of demos. I am pretty sure someone will say sure to a free lighting demo for a couple of nights.
Once you establish a few customers then word of mouth is very important. Your customers are now your sales people so ensure they get nothing but a top notch professional low voltage lighting design and system. With top notch service they will talk about you.
Read up on some of the old threads here as they have some very valuable information.
Just my 2 cents.

Ken

bcg
09-08-2010, 09:00 PM
I'm not sure I agree on needing a demo kit. I would have agreed 2 months ago but now I think that if you can describe to someone the effect you're going to create that most people that want landscape lighting are artistic enough to be able to visualize what you're describing. I think the most important thing is to be excited about what you're describing. If you sound like you WANT to do the job and you're describing a scene and an effect that the customer wants to achieve, a demo isn't going to be needed.

What a demo kit is good for is experimenting with how to create the effects you're after and to be able to setup various scenes to photograph for a portfolio but most local distributors will probably have one you can borrow so you won't need to buy one.

Classic Lighting
09-08-2010, 09:47 PM
Offer to install basic systems for friends/ family for material costs. This will help develop a portfolio. Advertise in the neighborhood after the job is complete. Encourage friends/ family to refer you to others. Truck lettering also adds to the professional perception. In the customer's mind, perception is reality.

Mark B
09-08-2010, 10:49 PM
In my simple opinion I think a demo is priceless when starting out. Once you have some experience then customers will since that in your sales spill. When you can show them pictures of your work I would start with a demo. Also you can suck up to as many mow & blow companies, along with the irrigation guys. I would say the LCO first get to hear about the customers needs first (in most cases).
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The Lighting Geek
09-08-2010, 10:52 PM
Well, this what I did and it worked and still works for me. Word of mouth is everything as Alan stated. You need to protect your reputation beyond all else. It is the foundation for everything you do.

Demo kits are absolutely crucial to a new business. Customers can't visualize what your talking about in the beginning. There is a specific vocabulary that you will need to develop that works for you in order for the client to see in their head a picture of what you want to do to their yard. Demo kits will buffer your learning curve and allow you to close jobs. I did a demo on every house that didn't say no. If they didn't buy, many times the neighbor did. IF you are in the right neighborhoods, a demo kit will make you money and teach you at the same time. Your vocabulary and sales technique will develop and the need for demos will diminish over time.

Every market is different. Your market may support a good ROI on postcards, magazine ads, television, or radio. It might not. I found that a combination of word of mouth, lots of demos, well marked trucks, home shows, and full color ads in home improvement magazines worked best for me. Doing work on home improvement TV shows has also helped. It is a combination of these things that makes it work, not one. Your combination may differ a bit, but the basics will be the same.

That is my 2 1/2 cents :-)

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-09-2010, 03:43 AM
All the posts above have excellent advice! It is possible to launch a new lighting business and succeed, but it will require a ton of commitment, passion, drive, and perseverance. (a bit of a bank roll would help too)

I started out with a $0.00 marketing budget. I borrowed some images from a colleague (with permission) and prepared a bunch of colour flyers that I posted on bulletin boards in all the local stores. A couple of weeks later I had my first lead. Upon completion of the installation, I began the process of gaining their referrals. That has been my 'secret' ever since. One referral after another. If a contractor/builder/architect is involved in the project make sure they see your work at night, and then go after their referrals too. When one good job generates several new leads, you are onto something. But, you have to deliver the goods too... treat those clients like they are family, or better. "New friends are Silver, but old friends are Gold." By keeping in touch, offering remarkable service, and continually impressing your clients you will gain continual referrals.

For the record, I have done a demo.... once. It was an experience that I didn't enjoy very much and thought was an inefficient use of my time. I much rather take my prospects to a job nearby and have them walk through and experience the effects full on - another form of referral. Let your work do your bidding.

extlights
09-09-2010, 11:11 AM
I'm confused....your link goes to lighthouse. Aren't they a franchise, and if so don't they go over marketing with you? I know they talk about the demo. I agree it's important to get information from others in the industry, so I'm not knocking you about it at all, I just thought that franchises were marketing specific on a lot of things. Anyway, we still use the demo.....we like it because nobody else does it. It shows that we care about getting it done right and will spend the time with the customer to make that happen. Marketing is really tough right now because of the economy. It's a process of elimination sometimes, although you might try something now that works, and next time it won't. Being that this is a niche business makes it all more difficult. Good luck.

niteliters
09-09-2010, 07:06 PM
All the posts above have excellent advice! It is possible to launch a new lighting business and succeed, but it will require a ton of commitment, passion, drive, and perseverance. (a bit of a bank roll would help too)

I started out with a $0.00 marketing budget. I borrowed some images from a colleague (with permission) and prepared a bunch of colour flyers that I posted on bulletin boards in all the local stores. A couple of weeks later I had my first lead. Upon completion of the installation, I began the process of gaining their referrals. That has been my 'secret' ever since. One referral after another. If a contractor/builder/architect is involved in the project make sure they see your work at night, and then go after their referrals too. When one good job generates several new leads, you are onto something. But, you have to deliver the goods too... treat those clients like they are family, or better. "New friends are Silver, but old friends are Gold." By keeping in touch, offering remarkable service, and continually impressing your clients you will gain continual referrals.

For the record, I have done a demo.... once. It was an experience that I didn't enjoy very much and thought was an inefficient use of my time. I much rather take my prospects to a job nearby and have them walk through and experience the effects full on - another form of referral. Let your work do your bidding.

can't improve on this advice. We started with a relatives boss, no advertising and a lot of those 4 adjectives above. we also managed only one demo, didn't care much for it either. As James said, much good advice above. play with lighting design at your place, get that first job installed and I think the next steps will start falling in place. also, check into joining the AOLP. conference is in January, I think. it's held in Phoenix. Will put you face to face with some of the best disigner's/installers in the business along with those new to the business for about a week. www.aolponline.org
good luck

David Gretzmier
09-10-2010, 02:21 AM
bobby- a few years back I looked very hard at a lighthouse franchise and they have an excellent marketing program that is fairly well proven. If you paid the 20k plus for a franchise, I reccomend you use it. If you have any doubts, talk to Kim up in Columbus, Ohio, he is one of the franchisee's I talked to and was doing very, very, well with his marketing plan.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-10-2010, 02:44 AM
also, check into joining the AOLP. conference is in January, I think. it's held in Phoenix. Will put you face to face with some of the best disigner's/installers in the business along with those new to the business for about a week. www.aolponline.org
good luck

Hi Chris. I look forward to meeting you at this year's AOLP Conference (Scottsdale AZ, Feb 3 - 5). From what I can tell so far there is going to be a strong gathering of a diverse group of experienced lighting pros there. It would be a really good opportunity for a lot of the newer companies out there to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

Regards

Terradek
09-10-2010, 10:43 AM
We are in the process of finalizing the last few details of the 2011 AOLP conference agenda, but I can tell you this much...we will have a few sessions on marketing by some of the top pros in the industry. The 2011 conference agenda will be posted in the coming weeks at www.aolponline.org. Hope to see you there.

oscarwelch
09-11-2010, 01:28 PM
Look into Holiday Lighting as a good way to get into the neighborhoods you want. There's a lot about it on the net. Chuck Link is the guy that started me on holiday. chuck@floridaoutdoorlighting.com

niteliters
09-11-2010, 11:19 PM
Hi Chris. I look forward to meeting you at this year's AOLP Conference (Scottsdale AZ, Feb 3 - 5). From what I can tell so far there is going to be a strong gathering of a diverse group of experienced lighting pros there. It would be a really good opportunity for a lot of the newer companies out there to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

Regards

I think your correct about the group that is gathering, looking forward to seeing you again.

bobbyc1980
09-12-2010, 11:05 AM
Hello, yes I am a Lighthouse franchise. They do have marketing training. But i am also a broad thinker. Some ideas work but most dont when it comes to marketing. Memphis is a little different niche than other cities. You have pockets of higher income people, not so much whole cities. I have been told by many home service companies that word of mouth is king in those pockets. I have a feeling Ill be doing some at cost projects for a couple houses on the higher end part of the county. Thanks for all of the info guys

David Gretzmier
09-12-2010, 06:06 PM
I grew up 45 miles from Memphis, and my sister currently lives there. I would go to melissa data.com and spend a few hours doing some searches for memphis and surrounding zip codes, for homevalue on post office walking routes. pick the higher home value averages, check them out to make sure it is residential and not a commercial district, and those are your saturation postcard routes you need to key in on.

Memphis is listed at 670,000 population, so if you assume the top 1%, there are 6700 folks you need to market to regularly, and the top 3-5 % are possibles, so I mail those at least once yearly.

elegance_alex
09-12-2010, 10:48 PM
Marketing strategists say that in order to "reach" a new client with your message they need to see your logo or key idea 3-5 times. When we do a really nice home we put out a lawn sign (as permitted), hang doorhangers within a reasonable walking area, and do a targeted mailing of postcards to the neighborhood. When I really work it hard and get lucky - meaning no one else is targeting that neighborhood when I am) I usually bag at least one or two additional leads in the area.

Referrals are KING. I nurture those relationships BIG TIME. When somebody tells someone else how great you are it is vastly better than when YOU say you are.

Make lots of contacts and friends in the business. The AOLP is a great place to meet people and learn lots.