Home Service Tool Box Ep 33
Brian: Well, welcome everyone to today’s episode of the Home Service Tool Box we’re going be talking with Samantha, held a ‘Postcard Mania.’ Postcard Mania is a direct mail company that offers a suite of services including postcard design, printing, mailing services, website development and so much more. On top of all these services, their primary goal is to educate their clients with, free marketing advice which during these unprecedented times we faced, it could not be more important. So, today we’re going to unpack the significance of direct mail with marketing campaigns and how small business owners and home service providers can use these services to successfully promote their businesses during these uncertain times. So stay tuned for the thirty third episode of the Home Service Tool Box.
Announcer: Welcome to the Home Service Tool Box, a podcast dedicated to helping home service providers. Every Wednesday, your hosts Brian and Olivia will interview leading experts in both the home service field as well as companies who support the small business owner. Our guests will help you nail down what will and what won’t work to grow your business. Whether you’re on a job site or taking a break, there’s no better time to sharpen your small business skills.
Olivia: Well, hi guys, I don’t think Brian’s’ realize he still has his mic muted over there. But welcome to the thirty third episode of the Home Service Tool Box. I’m Olivia. And obviously you guys know Brian, Brian, how are you doing today?
Brian: I got my mute, unmuted now so.
Samantha: I’m just glad it wasn’t me.
Olivia: Right, right. There’s always a little bit of tech challenges every time we go live every week and there’s just like that new step we’re figuring out, so hopefully when we’re back in studios, instead of all being remote, it’ll be a little bit different. But, thanks so much for joining us today Samantha, how are you doing today?
Samantha: Doing really good, as you can see I am in the office so I know it’s kind of strange. Most of you guys are working from home, luckily enough we have been in the office so here I am.
Brian: Yeah, we were joking between a free pre-show that I think you’re the first one like in three months who actually has been in the real office. I don’t know what one looks like. So it’s kind of strange.
Samantha: I know. I will tell you it’s really nice being around people, we had for a little while there. Was definitely probably about a month where we had only about 30% of our staff that were actually here and most of those in our manufacturing area and some of us out on the floor, but for the most part, everybody was working from home. So, slowly over the last like probably two weeks, we’ve had people coming back into the office and I think we now have about 90% of us that are here. So it’s been nice just seeing familiar faces and kind of interacting a little bit more especially since all of us have been distancing as much as we have been.
Brian: Yeah, that’s probably enjoying for you Olivia, because like you’re the extrovert in our office, the rest of us on our office team are all introverts. So we are actually enjoying this. My guess is Samantha, since you’re mentioning that like you’re an extrovert. I’m assuming you like to be around people, us introverts are like this.
Samantha: Exactly. Plus, I will say I have two children, so for us on the weekends, it’s like most of the time we’re at home anyway, not doing that much. It’s not like we go out every night. So for us, it’s not really that different.
Brian: Yes, kid life and working remote has been an interesting thing.
Brian: But we’re not here to talk about kid life and working remote. We’re here to talk about growing your business. Especially during these unprecedented times. And, our history has been one that’s actually started in the printing world. We started 20 years ago, it’s a printing company, local print shop, obviously, nowhere near the size of your business that you work for, we love the print world, but we just kind of felt it was time to make that transition to fully digital for our own company. And so we sold that business off to another local print shop and they’re taking care of all of our clients, because print is still necessary. I would say it’s just changed, its developed and evolved through the year. So how long have you been with Postcard Mania?
Samantha: I’ve been here for 15 years.
Brian: Oh wow! You’ve been a whole, you’ve been yah!
Samantha: It’s hard to believe I’ve spent almost half my life here for the most part. But it’s been amazing. I started here when there was about 40 employees, I think, maybe 50 employees. And now I think the headcount is about 270, so we’ve grown a crazy amount over those years. So it’s kind of fun being there from the beginning and kind of watching the growth, it’s been pretty fun.
Olivia: That’s crazy.
Samantha: I know.
Brian: What are you seeing with the changes?
Samantha: What was that?
Brian: What have you seen with the changes from the start with printing, I mean because obviously it’s evolved and changed?
Samantha: Totally. I think the number of services that we provide has really expanded, like originally we were doing postcards and it was pretty much like print and mail. We started offering more in the digital world, so we started offering website services, we’re doing social media, like Facebook, Google remarketing, email marketing. Obviously I think that a lot of people, it’s like they need direct mail, but they also need all of these other services. And instead of just being a postcard company, we wanted to really be a marketing company, that was able to offer a lot more. And, there’s only so much control we have in results, when it’s just direct mail. So when we start offering all these other services, we really can help on a much larger scale and really kind of helped control like the follow up and tracking and things like that. So I think that’s kind of one of the biggest things that we’ve seen growth, we’ve also inherited or purchase three new digital printing presses. So instead of doing just like offset printing, we’re now doing digital printing and just the expansion, we are constantly growing and improving.
Olivia: That’s incredible. I mean it sounds like having your hand in a lot of different pies so to speak. And I mean, once upon a time before I started working for our company, not only will we print, but we just did website design, so to see how companies constantly evolve and expand and look at where you started 15 years ago and now how much has changed. It’s just incredible. What was your initial role when you started off at Postcard Mania?
Samantha: I was mostly just an admin person, I started this job, I thought it would be fun. It seems like a cool company, I had a cool cultural. I started out as an assistant and I worked my way up, I was working in sales and working under a sales rep you, kind of see and learn the things that they’re doing. And I just really enjoyed working with small businesses. So, I did a good job and I really wanted to expand so I moved up to be a consultant. So I did that for probably about 10 years. And then just recently, I’ve moved into the role of the manager over our corporate relations department. So it’s been pretty fun. It’s kind of an interesting job because you do work with so many different types of industries like we work with over 300 different industries. And I’ve learned a lot in the mortgage industry, buying a home and different types of mortgages you can get, I’ve learned a lot about the home service industries and heating and air conditioning companies and installing ACs and things that you wouldn’t necessarily learn unless you’re actually going through them as like a homeowner or working with that industry directly. So it’s been interesting.
Brian: What are some of the things that you’ve seen over the past few months? Obviously every business has been impacted by COVID, but what have you seen with businesses that have been using Postcard Mania, how have things changed? Have they not changed? Are they doing something different? Has there been an increase or decrease? What’s been happening kind of boots on the ground?
Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of the things that we found is that, a lot of the communication on our postcards that we’re sending out, I mean it’s definitely different, people are highlighting some of the safety measures they’re taking. If they’ve had to pivot and change and do things differently, they’re promoting that. I mean even just promoting the fact that they’re open, I mean it’s hard to believe that you would even have to promote that. But there are so many uncertain things right now and rules and companies that can be in business or not. So I feel like it’s one of those things where the communication on the cards has been changing. We did see a decline I will say probably when this first started happening was like mid-March, we definitely saw like a decrease. We weren’t doing about half as much of revenue as we usually do. And it was a little bit scary, it was kind of like okay, ”How long is this going to last?’ What are we going to do?” And we just kind of changed the focus as far as what industries that we were going to be working with because there were so many that are closed and different states, which obviously have stricter regulations. And like California and Michigan, like those areas are still so shut down. We just kind of changed the focus as far as who we were going to be targeting. And I mean, we’ve kind of come back from it. I mean, the last probably three, four weeks, we’ve been back up in a normal range of what we normally produce. So I will say that things have turned in a much better direction.
Olivia: I mean, that’s so reassuring to you were able to sort of pivot your direction. That’s something I feel like we’ve said in plenty of podcast episodes, these past few weeks. Is that so many people are being forced to pivot and realign their goals, refocus to accommodate to the season of change, since we’re constantly adapting every day? Specifically, regarding home services provider since you work with so many different types of clients, how have they been adapting during the season of change? What have you seen within Postcard Mania and have they been responding? What surfaces have they been capitalizing on or cutting back on?
Samantha: Honestly. We haven’t in the home service industry, we haven’t seen a whole lot of change and lucky that most people are able to still provide the service they are essential businesses. So for most of them, they’ve still been able to work. So I think it’s been a change, like I’ve heard some companies where if they were going to do estimates for floors, they’ll actually teach them how to, like measure their rooms so that they can do an estimate over the phone or through a Zoom Meeting or Facebook and things like that, so that they can still provide a service. There’s a lot of landscaping companies which obviously they work outside so, homeowners are home right now. So I feel like it’s a great time to be promoting to them, because of the fact that now they’re realizing all of those things that they need to get done or wouldn’t have time to meet somebody at their home to do an estimate. So now that they’re there all the time. They have the money to be able to do it. It’s a great time to be promoting to let them know that you’re there and still operational.
Brian: Well, that’s great. So thinking about print when clients will talk to us, they always realize in some ways, it’s a dinosaur. And so we’ve had to adapt and change. How have you guys brought the tracking mechanisms and digital into the printing piece? I know, you mentioned earlier email marketing, things like that, but if I’m going to be a company that’s going to use mailing, to engage with potential customers, what are some of the things that you guys have brought into that to really provide the data that customer need to have to be able to engage with people?
Samantha: Yeah, so we have a program called ‘Everywhere Small Business’ and we launched it maybe five years ago now. I want to say and what it does is, it takes your traditional direct mail piece. And we mimic that postcard design and we promote it on Facebook, Google. So it’s pretty cool because we can take the same mailing lists that we’re mailing the postcards to and actually match up those individuals on Facebook and follow them around and show ads. So it’s really nice to get something tangible in the mailbox and then see that same ad online as they’re going and browsing the internet and looking at their Facebook feed. It’s just like another way that you can be marketing to these people consistently over and over again. And just like, I mean, the same age you need so many touches. So to have this program, it’s great. And then we can also track the number of times that people are actually clicking on these ads. And going to the website and calling, we set up call tracking numbers because it is important to know that your marketing is working. So if you can track all of these things, then it’s much easier to reinvest back into something that’s working. So with having this program, we’ve seen people getting an increase of like a 40% additional response rate to what they’re generally getting with direct mail just because of the fact that they’re able to do the online stuff as well.
Brian: So for those that just are kind of new to that, basically you’re taking a mailing list, and you’re able to match that to the data that’s on Facebook. And so, you’re not only sending them a physical ‘snail mail,’ postcard in their mailbox through their home. But then on social media, you’re able to reengage them because you said there’s multiple touches for someone to be able to take action is that correct?
Samantha: Exactly. And the great thing is that a lot of people in the home service industry, they’re dealing with homeowners and consumers and we get hit so many times with so many different types of products and services, it is really important to make sure that your name is in front of ‘mind.’ So that’s one great thin and then also, most consumers use Facebook. So it’s just another great way for you to be able to promote for heating and air conditioning companies, you never know when somebody is going to need a new unit or realize that their AC isn’t blowing as well or their heat isn’t doing as well. So it’s just like nice to kind of stay in front of them and be there all the time so that when they are thinking about using the service, the ads already promoting to them.
Olivia: That’s great, because it’s so important to touch so many people. For our listeners who might be a little bit more unfamiliar with direct mail marketing campaigns or they don’t know where to get started with theirs’. What do you suggest is a good starting point for them besides like, their contact list, how do you think they can successfully launch something entering this new season of business as we start to reopen and re-acclimate and find a new common ground in this new normal?
Samantha: That’s a good question. I think the thing is really narrowing it down to the right type of person. Every industry is a little bit different, if you’re looking for a campaign for lawn care to promote out to homeowners, we can narrow it down specifically to homeowners. You can do certain home values and income levels. And I do think that it is really important to look at your customer database and see who is like your top client or your best client and then try and replicate that. So finding a mailing list that can narrow down to those types of groups is going to just provide you with a much better client and mimic those that are your best so that you can be producing at a better level and that’s just going to grow your customer database as well.
Brian: So It sounds like what you’re saying is, you can take a traditional postcard mailing and you can actually narrow that down. And I think probably most people are not even really familiar with that. You can narrow it down by? People will can probably imagine by zip code and things like that. But you can narrow down by some other things. Can you, talk about some of the other ways that you can do narrowing and filtering for a mailing list?
Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. I mean these days it’s actually kind of crazy the amount of things that you can narrow down, you can target based on purchase history and mortgage data. So square footage of a home so if you’re trying to do home renovations and you want to target somebody who has a certain amount of square footage you have that ability, you can target age of home, so if you’re wanting to target older homes, because they might need a new roof or a new AC unit, assuming that they bought it and it was built a little while ago, you can target income levels. And like I said, home values, there’s so many different things you can try. You can even target the age of the person living there. So if it’s that most people that are ages 55 to 75, that are owning a home are more likely to hire somebody to do work for them versus the younger generation, then you can narrow that down even further and target it just so that instead of blasting out to everybody and anybody, really can be specific towards who you’re going after. So at least the marketing dollars that you’re spending are going towards basically your ideal client.
Olivia: That’s great. To sort of pivot a little bit, do you see the print world taking another change as we find our new footing in the season of business? Do you see print, having another like, I guess metamorphosis for lack of a better word, since obviously, we have to have a blend of the physical and the digital, do you think given the virus that it’s going to take another shift? And we’re going to see a different direction with print in the next couple months?
Samantha: That’s a good question. And I mean, I’ll be honest, like we’ve been in business for 22 years now. And we’ve always done direct mail that’s always been our specialty. So it kind of seems like no matter what’s going on, direct mail is still relevant. It’s like, you’ll still see big companies like Bed Bath and Beyond and Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods, sending out all of these coupon ads, and they’re still using print and still using direct mail and they wouldn’t if it wasn’t successful. So I just think that with direct mail, it will always be there. It might just be a matter of kind of promoting new things or messaging being a little bit different to convey different things. So I feel like, in the next upcoming months, the biggest things that we project are going to be things like letting, people know that they’re back open and what their hours are maybe how things have changed what their process is going to be like, retail stores, if you can only allow a certain number of capacity there and things like that. I feel like it would just be a change in that. But I do think that direct mail will always be here. It’s so many people are using direct mail, there is one thing that I feel like is coming, that we will be probably implementing pretty soon, and that’s called “Informed Delivery.” So some people may already be signed up for that through the USPS. But that is a way that you can actually see what’s in your mailbox before even opening it and touching your mail. So there’s a way for you to get a notification of what the mail piece is. That’s arriving in your mailbox. So there are a lot of users that are using this now just for their own at their home. But this is something that we should be implementing, I think here in the next six months where we would start doing that with our direct mail campaign, so we can offer that to our clients. So when they mail out a postcard, we’ll create a designed ad that will look just like the postcard, so that when somebody is signed up for informed delivery, they’ll be able to see that in their email before they even touch their mailbox. So it’s kind of exciting.
Brian: Yeah, so we just moved and I don’t know if we got that informed mail as a free sign up with redirecting mail, but it was kind of crazy seeing all of our mail coming into our email. It was nice, because we live on four acres now. And so our mailbox is not like right outside our door. And so now we know when we have to go to the mailbox or something important. But you mentioned messaging, and I think messaging is critically important. But back in the day, when we were doing print, everyone wanted to stuff as much information on the printed piece. And we had to help them understand why that was a bad idea and create whitespace for people to read and understand all that. So, how do you help people understand the process of what to choose to put into a printed piece? Because I’m sure you probably have same newbies that are like wanting to stuff everything on a small piece of paper.
Samantha: Yeah, that’s interesting because of the fact that there are customers that are very particular and they want what they want, which is fine. We do try and guide them against that, but it is important to make sure that your headline supports the picture. It’s like you want to have something that really is going to grab their attention within about like 10 seconds, it’s like you literally have somebody who’s going to pick up something, look at it, read the headline, decide if it makes sense for them and either toss it or keep it. So it is important to make sure that the headline communicates what you offer immediately. You have some picture that communicates the service, if it’s roofing have a picture of a roof on there, it’s like you don’t want them to have to guess what service it is or try and be funny and clever because then it just confuses the person and they don’t really have the time to sit there and read through everything. So while information is good, it’s important to really list out the benefits of what a person is going to gain by getting that product or service. For a heating and air conditioning company, not everybody wants to spend, $8,000 or $10,000 on a new unit. So it’s trying to figure out, how you can offer benefits that kind of get them to see, “okay does this make sense?’
I want to do it now.” It’s kind of like answering some of their questions without having too much information. There’s also a lot of things that we’ve learned over the years as far as like a call to action, and really making sure when somebody has a card in their hands, we want to drive them to do exactly what you want them to do. So if that’s pick up the phone and call, ‘it’s called today,’ and it sounds so simple and easy, but a lot of people forget that. And they’ll have their phone number hidden on the piece and you have to look at it multiple times trying to figure out where the phone number is. And it’s just those are types of things that that really do increase the results by driving them to do what you want. And having some of those calls to action in different colors so then, that way it’s things that pop off the page. So those are all things that we work with the client on it. Every business is so different and offer something just like a little bit more unique. So it’s highlighting those things that are unique about them. That then, make them different that makes somebody want to use them, so we spend a lot of time on design.
Olivia: I feel like you just summed up what I do on a daily basis. I’m our content writer, and I feel like my life revolves around, “Okay, how do I make this engaging?’ How do I not make it so structured that I’m going to send someone to sleep?” Because I’ll just fall asleep, typing behind the screen sometimes. And I’m like, “oh, man, we got it we got to spruce this up, Olivia, it’s not working.”
Olivia: So for people who aren’t familiar with content and might not know how to promote their most engaging services. How do you please the customer? But how do you pivot them to say, “hey! your annual maintenance contracts are actually what you want to talk about right now” because not everyone has the time to shell out a brand new HVAC for summertime?
Samantha: Yeah. And that’s the thing, it’s really looking at our past case studies I will say that’s one thing that kind of makes us a little bit different, is that we catalog all of our results. So any customer that raises their hand and says,” Hey, I got a good response, this is what I got.” We even do digging to and double-check with our clients and see how everything’s going, we catalog those so we can actually look at postcard designs that have produced results. So I feel like using some of those to show clients and actually say, “hey, look, this has worked better, don’t you want to use something that’s proven versus just winging it?” It does help our case a little bit as far as urging them to do certain things. But also the other thing was something just like you had mentioned, like not everybody wants to shell out that money but if you can get your foot in the door so offering something that can at least get them interested enough to call and reach a little bit to do, like a service agreement or maintenance program or something like that. I mean somebody can spend eighty-nine dollars for a tune-up, that’s a lot easier to confront doing versus a couple grand or 10 grand and then it’s a lot easier to upsell them on other services. So that’s something for sure we do recommend, is trying to push things that are a little bit less of a dollar value, just to make sure that we’re getting people interested enough to reach.
Brian: So with content and the price, you talk about lower price points for people to kind of absorb that. Do people have to offer some sort of special work coupon to be successful work or because there’s plenty of companies that are coupon driven? But then there’s companies that are not coupon driven.
Brian: So can you be successful without a coupon?
Samantha: You can. I mean there’re still recommended things that you can do to still drive some kind of urgency and that could be like a free white paper. So it’s like, go to the website and download a report on ‘how you can save money on your energy bills’ or things like that. There’s still ways that you can generate a lead of somebody who you think you could warm up to a hotter lead. But I do recommend creating something that would give that card value to have people hold on to it. Because you don’t want it to just be informational. People don’t necessarily respond to just informational these days and it doesn’t really give them urgency to call or take any action. So it is a matter of kind of looking at that. And I’ve had some people that will do, like if they get an estimate for let’s just say flooring. If they do an estimate with them, they’ll give them a gift card to a local restaurant or something like that where it’s an incentive. It doesn’t have to be a large amount, but it’s something cool to offer them and at least it’s kind of like okay if I was thinking about getting my floors redone, I might as well take advantage of this now, because of the fact that I can get a coupon to someplace too. So you can kind of play with it a little bit or even offering like an additional free service. Like if you’re going to redo the floors, maybe hire a cleaning company to come in and clean the floors, if they’re just going to spend like, having, I don’t know, $5,000 with you, maybe hire a cleaning company to come in and clean their whole house afterward, which may cost you 100 bucks. It’s something that doesn’t really cost a whole lot, but it’s like an added additional service. So those are kind of things that we can work with you on.
Olivia: Yeah, you definitely got to sweeten the deal and make it worth their while in order to get that engagement rate. I totally understand that all the time. And that’s just something I have to plug into all of my content on a daily basis. So since so many of our audience are in the home service industry, what are some of your home service clients promoting right now and their direct mail campaigns that you think our listeners could potentially benefit from?
Samantha: Yeah. I mean it’s so interesting because there’s so many different types that it’s hard, but I think a lot of people are utilizing the outdoor services that they can provide just because if the homeowner is a little bit nervous or scared because they don’t want a stranger coming into their home, there’s still plenty of things that they can do. So, like window washing, pressure washing, roofing companies, pest control, landscaping, even a heating and air conditioning guy can work outside, there’s so many different things that they can promote. I think at the end of the day, it’s just realizing that you never ever, ever stop marketing no matter what’s going on. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing that Postcard Mania has learned. We were here in 2008. And obviously, when the whole economy crashed with the real estate ‘Joy,’ the owner of Postcard Mania, she decided that based on what her advisors were telling her was cutting back her marketing. So then that way she would save a little bit of money and from doing that she went against what she believed in. And I mean, our statistics were just crashed, it’s like there’s no way that you can survive if you’re not promoting. People still need to hear about you. So that is one thing even with now, when we went through those four weeks of making half of what we normally make, she never stopped marketing. She told the sales team she said, “Okay, guys, this is what I demand of you, I need you to make enough money for payroll because I’m not laying anybody off.’ And I needed to make enough money to continue our marketing budget and I’m not basically taking away any dollar from that marketing budget.” So I think, from that we were able to come back a lot stronger. And even just this month, I mean, we’ve had highest ever month like, we’ve never done as much revenue in the month of May as we have been right now so, I think that’s the one biggest thing that I can tell business owners, in general, is no matter what your service is just promote it and just continuously promote it all the time, no matter what’s going on.
Brian: Earlier, you mentioned this, how many times that someone has to be touched or engaged with, to be able to get them to take action. And I think you’re continuing the conversation about always marketing. So what are the expectations that people should have when they jump into maybe a print campaign, most people, sadly, even people that done marketing before, they still think, okay, if I put money in, I’m going to get money out immediately. And that’s not always the case and so with print, do you normally get an immediate response, or do you feel like that they need to do a sequential type of campaign, month over month or every six weeks or whatever kind of speak about that the frequency to deal with to see some success?
Samantha: Yeah, it’s one of those things, you definitely can get an immediate response, it’s a little bit different than online. Because if you do have somebody that is searching for your services, they obviously have a need right now. So you are going to get more of an immediate response that way. With direct mail it’s like you’re making them aware that they might be interested in doing it. So, like flooring for example, they don’t wake up one morning and say, today’s the day I’m going to buy flooring, unless they’ve thought about it for the last little while. So you do have those people that do have an immediate need, but we do find that the response rates from what we’ve seen is that it does take like I would say, three to six months of mailings to really get that ball rolling where it’s producing as well as it could. So sometimes it’s like, that ‘snowball effect’ because you’ll have some people that respond off the first mailing. And then by marketing to them again, the second time to that same list. Again, you’re scooping up more people that maybe saw it the first time but just didn’t take action. Then the third time, you’ve got more people that recognized it. They saw it they were interested, but they weren’t ready. Now they’re scooping up more and more people. So it’s just kind of one of those things where even if we stopped mailing our postcards today, we probably would still see phone calls coming in for like the next six months because we’ve been doing it for such a long period of time. But I would say one of the intervals that we usually recommend is about every 30 days because it’s enough time where you can stay on top of mind. You’re not bombarding them or wasting your money by hitting them like once a week, but hitting them once a month, you’re at least able to be like “okay, maybe something’s changed in their life where now I’m ready to do something about it.” So most of the campaigns that we suggest and recommend are, I would say probably three-six months, campaigns to start and then looking at mailing out on a monthly basis. And then from there it is really important to make sure that you’re monitoring and tracking the results and seeing what has changed in your business. I think a lot of people forget about that. It’s like they think that they can just do the campaign and kind of forget about it. But it is important to make sure that you’re monitoring the phones and seeing what’s happening, making sure people are tracking where it’s coming from, because you don’t again, want to invest the money and have it not work out. So I think it’s one of those things that you do have to be consistent with it, to see the best return. But again, we’ve had people that have done a one-time nailing have seen results.
Olivia: It’s crazy how different every single field can be and how those results can be altered, even with the slightest campaign. And I’ve always kind of wondered because when I go through the mail, there’s certain things that definitely tend to catch my eye more so than others. Do you tend to notice that certain things feed visuals or color tones? Even that amp up customer engagement versus others because that’s something I’ve always just wondered about, I’m like, “why do I like this campaign with another one? What is it that tends to grab my eye, especially now that I’m in the marketing world that I didn’t know, just as consumer before entering this field?”
Samantha: That’s a good point and it comes down to, I do think that’s important. There’s little things sometimes if you look at a card with somebody, let’s just say there’s a stock image and it’s looking off the page and the contents over here. For some reason, you just find yourself not wanting to read the text, or if you look at somebody that’s actually looking at the text and content, your eye goes towards it. So there’s little things like that, making sure that the colors are something that’s not soothing, but it’s relevant. If you’re a landscaper, you’re going to want to use green. It’s just one of those things that makes you think about grass. So it’s like there’s weird things like that, that I think do make a difference. I think also personalizing it in this day and age, especially with what’s happening in the pandemic. I think that a lot of people want to make sure that they’re supporting local business owners. And I think that it’s important to put pictures of the staff on there because it’s actually showing that they’re real people and they want to help those people and you are kind of building a rapport, just by seeing something that’s like, oh, man, they seem like they’re nice to work with. So I think it’s something like even just being here today, working with you guys face to face, it’s like immediately you just like want to work together more because you’ve now seen that person. So I think those are important things to put on the card is things that will kind of set you apart and make them feel more comfortable dealing with you.
Brian: So what is something that you’ve learned and you said you’ve been doing this for almost half your life or a little more so what is something that you’ve learned, over the past 13 years, that is a little surprising that you just didn’t expect to learn or this was unique?
Samantha: Man, that’s a good question.
I have a new respect for business owners, because with working with these guys, I mean, you get some small businesses calling in that are struggling. And it’s sad to hear, when they’re just calling in for help. And it’s something that I think you don’t realize, unless you’re working with the business owners how much they go through and how much responsibility they have for their staff. It’s like they put their heart and soul into these businesses. So I think for me, that was one thing I didn’t initially think that “Oh, yeah, I’m just working with businesses, this is cool.” This is a different industry I’m learning about, but I do like these business owners are putting so much into it that I have a new respect for them. And I appreciate them more. And I have just like, I always want to offer advice and help and anything that I can do, if I think of an idea for them. Whether it’s a product or service that I can offer, I’m still like, “Hey, what about doing this? How about signing up for this? I heard this was a good idea” and just being able to offer as much as I can to them because I think that we need small businesses. So I think it’s, that was probably the most surprising thing I learned.
Olivia: Going off of that offering advice. So many of our viewers are sort of either finding themselves may be in this in between and need that extra push that motivation, that advice, and we ultimately want this podcast to be a resource for them. So what do you think would be a valuable piece of advice or maybe it’s a nugget or two or a five-step thing, whatever that you think they would find valuable as they’re beginning to shift and find their footing and how do you think they can still keep going, even when sometimes they’re facing those walls in their day-to-day?
Samantha: I would say to constantly just use this time to educate yourself. It’s like with this, I feel like people have had to force themselves to change when normally they wouldn’t, or learn new things that they wouldn’t. I feel like using this time to actually educate yourself on anything that you feel like, “oh, man I don’t really know that much about social media or online stuff, or SEO or website stuff” or just like anything. I feel like maybe new techniques that maybe they’ve been putting off because they’ve been so busy. I feel like just learning as much as they can during this time period is probably the best thing that they can do, because then they’re more equipped and I feel like you, kind of cope through this whole thing and when this is over, you just want to come back stronger. So I would say, just find resources, sign yourself up on mailing list of competitors and see what they’re doing, find out different marketing stuff, read books. I mean that’s probably the best thing that I would recommend right now.
Brian: Speaking about resources, you provided us a link to be able to share with our listeners and the viewers of just some case studies and resources, that you guys have provided, what is that link? and I’ll get it on the screen for us to look at.
Samantha: I think its postcard mania.com slash home service toolbox.
Brian: Right, let’s see if we can get this on the screen. And so, what are we looking at here?
Samantha: So, this is our case studies from home service industries. So as you go through these you can just see, there’s all sorts of different stuff on there, we’ve got the handyman, we’ve got landscaping. Those are great because it actually shows you the card, it shows you what actual results that they got. So I thought that would be helpful to go and look at but you can also even scroll over to the designs and see stuff specific for plumbing or specific for heating and air conditioning. Yep, so you go to more industries there, we’ve got a list, like I said, we’ve worked with like over 300 different industries. So there’s just so many different types of businesses. Just gives you some good ideas as you can see a lot of different versions and ideas. We do all custom stuff, though. So anything that you like on there, that’s great, but we also usually do custom stuff to work specifically with the individual based on their business. But I encourage you to sign up for ‘Joy’s newsletter’, she sends a newsletter out. I believe it’s like once every week and she just goes over all sorts of different ideas. We had a resource going over businesses and what they can do to like apply for the loan. And I’ll actually email Olivia that if you want to send it out, but it’s super helpful and she was just doing it to offer advice to business owners so that they would be able to kind of navigate through this whole COVID stuff. Which I thought was a place kind of cool.
Brain: Is there a place that they could sign up?
Samantha: If you go to the Learn marketing page, and I believe it’s thee, where is it?
Brain: Was it this Joy marketing blog?
Samantha: Marketing blogs, yep. So you can go there and see all our past and then you subscribe right there.
Brian: Right. Well Yeah, I think just being a resource for companies is so important today. That’s the whole reason why we have our podcasts even out here. So we want to be a resource to everyone.
Samantha: You guys, are doing an amazing job at that too. I love all the different topics you guys have been covering. I think it’s pretty cool that people can come here and have like a nice place. I mean, 45 minutes to go over content and information and ideas. It’s amazing. So good job.
Olivia: Well, thank you. We love what we do. And it’s always so wonderful getting to talk to so many people from across the country. I mean, last week, we talked to someone who was in Central Coast time and just teased out in the middle of nowhere, and is specializing as a chief of economics for “Angie Home Services.” So it’s just incredible, the amazing people we get to talk to such as yourself and the fact that we’re all literally one giant community all working towards the same goal of helping our customers and promoting awareness. It’s just, it makes what we do and getting to talk to you is so rewarding. And we’re always learning something new every week. So we really appreciate what you guys are doing and the Postcard Mania as well.
Samantha: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s pretty cool. It’s kind of fun. It’s interesting to see how people now are like using Zoom and using Facebook Live and things that. They wouldn’t usually do. But it’s a way for us to all stay just like you said, connected as like a community. So it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you can kind of still be socializing, it’s good. We need people.
Brian: Yep. And I think there’s going on what you said, “never stop marketing.” And I think the businesses that are choosing to engage with customers in a new way, during this season are going to find themselves in a much stronger position. When all this is said and done, because the businesses that are closing right now, yeah like it’s sad, and it’s painful, but they were already there. And so if you were doing well, and we’re continuing to get the message out. But, this is going to pass. You’re going to get to the other side, but I’m glad you mentioned that the loans and the resources. If you’re a listener and you’ve not taken advantage of that, just take advantage of it, even if you pay it back and you don’t end up needing it, that’s okay. But if you don’t take it, then you can’t use it to benefit your company if you do need it. Because, like for us we’ve actually been okay. But we don’t know what’s going to be in six months when all the businesses are catching up with their finances and what’s going to happen in six months. I think some of the, ponderings are what’s going happen in the future. And I think that, we need to be just prepared for any of that. But I think your message that you said earlier this keeping, keep marketing, keeping your message out there, in all different ways is going to be really important.
Samantha: Exactly. And I had a couple of graphs I wanted to show you really fast, just so.
Brian: Oh, sure.
Samantha: So this is our total number of leads. And you can see that dip right there was like mid-March when it got a little bit crazy, but you can see now, this is like the beginning of May. So it’s just climbed right back up, like I said May, we’ve had a really good month but here’s also our revenue. So you can see it kind of matches, it was like dip down there in mid-March and then it’s been climbing back up. So again, it’s important to track to know what you’re doing. But I like I said, I think it was all the additional effort. One thing I would say to that doesn’t even cost a whole lot of money. But if your staff aren’t as busy as they normally are, management here basically had everybody on the phones just calling out to anybody in their database. And just, I mean, basically trying to reach anybody that they possibly could. And I would say that’s one thing, if you don’t necessarily have as big of a budget to be able to promote as you normally do, there are other ways that you can market for free, like posting on Facebook and calling out to your database, call all of your past customers, see how they’re doing, just check in with them, even if it’s not necessarily to sell them on something, or maybe they don’t even need it, just call them and check on them, it’s still a touch. And I will say that’s going to go a long way for you just in the future months, they’ll remember that you reached out to them and just checked in on them. So I think that’s super important. And that’s something where it can be an all-hands-on-deck. Send emails out, people don’t realize how cheap an email is. So write up something really nice and send it out and do something that’s not, the ‘COVID-19’ email that we all got the bulk email, we do like a personalized email and just like, do the extra effort to reach out to people because again, those things will go a long way and I think that’s important, it doesn’t cost too much. So that’s a recommendation.
Brian: I think it’s a great recommendation. And unfortunately, I think some employees don’t realize how hard it is for the business owner. And so I think if you’re an employee and not the owner of a company listening. I think the more that you can do to support, your business, because they are the ones that are bearing this burden. It’s great that you have a CEO that said, “we’re not going lay people off and we’re going do this.” But that’s her burden that she has to bear and if employees are not sticking together and realizing that it’s their responsibility to make sure that they have income so they can get paid. It’s certainly not going to be as easy to keep them on employed, if they’re not put pitching in so it’s a great encouragement. So well Samantha, thank you so much for being on our show, appreciate you encouraging our listeners and being that we’re so much in digital, it was great to be able to go back into the roots of where we came from and talk about the print and how important it is to be able to touch people in multiple different ways, to be able to get people to take an action.
Samantha: Definitely, it’s been great. I really appreciate you guys inviting me on.
Olivia: Well, we’re really glad you came. Thank you so much. It was so nice chatting to you face to face after many email correspondence and as always guys, if you like our podcast, please subscribe to us. We put up our podcast every Wednesday, you can find us on Facebook Live, Spotify and Apple podcasts. So until next time, we’ll see you guys.
Announcer: Three times over. But thanks for listening to the home service toolbox. Keep your marketing toolbox up to date by subscribing to our podcast. We’ll be here every Wednesday hammering out solutions to help your business.