In the last couple of days, I have spoken to two different local business owners who were interested in advertising on Google or Bing. Both of these businesses weren’t quite ready and I’ll explain why. Anytime I speak with a prospective client, I always ask the same three questions as part of my “qualifying process” to see if we’d be a good fit to work together. In this article, I’ll share what those three questions are and why they’re important.
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Here are my three questions:
1. Do You Answer Calls?
If you aren’t currently answering every phone call, you should not start running ads on Google or Bing. When prospective customers call, they are looking for two things: 1) a company who can service their home today or tomorrow and, 2) someone who is local.
What this question infers, is that you really care about customer service. First impressions matter. If you are unable to answer the phone because you are servicing a home, you will lose that prospective business. Once you miss that call, that person is moving on. Again, prospective customers are looking for same or next day service (in most cases), and they’re not going to wait around.
I’ve worked with groups where the local business owner attempts to call the lead back, if a call is missed. The issue is that it’s just too late and the prospective customer has moved on.
2. Do You Service Your Own Accounts?
If you’re a local business owner who is just starting out, chances are you are servicing your own accounts. That’s just fine! However, you can’t service accounts, answer every phone call, and effectively advertise. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a variety of hats. After all, if you’re servicing your own accounts it’s probably because you’re doing everything within your power to grow your business.
It’s rare that I talk to local business owners who service his or her own accounts and answer every call. Again, if this is you, I would recommend against running ads.
3. Do you have a Dedicated Marketing Budget?
When I speak to local business owners, I always ask what their marketing budget is. This is one of the clearest indicators as to whether or not they are ready to start advertising.
An established business responds immediately. A newer business responds with hesitation. When you’re just starting out, every penny matters and I know how important money is to run a business.
If you are holding on to every penny to pay bills and get through the month, my advice is to wait. Odds are, that means you’re answering the phone and even possibly servicing all or most of your accounts. Still, wait. Financially it’s the smartest thing you can do. Add some more accounts, and get your head above water before you let that capital go. I’d recommend a minimum investment of $1,000/month to spend on advertising.
If you’re a local business owner who is, answering the phone, servicing your own accounts and/or don’t have a dedicated marketing budget, wait. Until you have a minimum marketing budget of $1,000/month, wait to start advertising on Google or Bing.