Mike Foti, Innovate HomeORG and Innovate Building Solutions
Mike Foti, Innovate HomeORG and Innovate Building Solutions
Are you overwhelmed by digital marketing? SEO, PPC, SEM, Social Media, URL. What the heck does all this stuff mean? How do you use it to grow your business? You’ve been told you MUST do digital marketing to survive, but where do you begin? Eleven months ago, I started a division of my company (it’s called Innovate Home Org) as a dealer of closet and garage systems and felt the same way about the home organization business as you do about digital marketing. Terms like HPL, TFL, MDF were blowing my mind. I thought a valet was a dude who parked your car (not a component for a closet!).
 
As I’ve become a self-professed D.M.G (Digital Marketing Geek) for my businesses over the last 10 years (my original company is Innovate Building Solutions), I know it’s entirely possible for an entrepreneur to drive leads and sales through digital marketing IF you’re willing to invest the time/energy to get your “digital act” together. Here’s 5 practical tips I’ve learned to make this happen.  
 
Tip 1 – A wise man/woman knows what they don’t know
In the “old days” (7 or 8 years ago) when PPC (pay per click) was not very crowded I used to run my own campaigns – with success. But as the competitiveness to bid on keywords increased (as well as the complexity of pay per click advertising) I have contracted this out to an expert (note - they also work with 40 other closet companies) to do it for me. In digital marketing as Kenny Rogers might say we need to, “Know when to hold ‘em (DIY it) and when to fold ‘em (subcontract the work). Where things are technically complex (like pay per click) I’d recommend to sub the work out. Where digital success is driven by your uniqueness and specialized expertise (blogging or videos about projects you’ve done and products you sell) I’d recommend you roll up your sleeves and learn how to DIY it (or at least a portion of it – more about this later).  
 
Tip 2 – Don’t be polyester Paul or Pauline – effective social media posting
Picture the creepiest salesperson you’ve dealt with. Do terms like pushy, sleazy or polyester come to mind? No one (and I mean no one) likes to be sold, sold and sold. We like people (and companies) who help us learn, grow, make money and make us laugh (yes laughter is an important skill in my opinion). As Theodore Roosevelt once said (although I always thought of this as Zig Ziglar’s quote), “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” …. I might add…. about them. Most companies’ social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) are terrible. Want to know why? They only PUSH their own stuff.
 
Social media is meant to be well – social – a give and take of ideas. When you choose the best social platform to grow your biz (I like Pinterest, Houzz, and Twitter best) you need to share other people stuff (i.e. content) also. To do this follow interesting blogs with topics your customers are interested in. Use “blog aggregators” (tools which put these blog feeds together) like Feedly, Buffer and Bloglovin to easily “find” content to spin out to your followers. Think through how you can be helpful to others – not just sell your stuff through social media.
 
Tip 3 – Create your own content and don’t suck! 
In the old marketing days, things were simpler. In my first in-home remodeling business (selling glass block windows) all we had to do was spend money on ads (I used to get tons of leads from the TV guide which would sit on everyone’s coffee tables in the 1980’s. Wow I’m dating myself now).
 
One key “jet fuel” of an effective digital marketing program is content (whether that content is blog posts, videos, imagery etc.). Content requires continuous hard work to make your efforts successful (unlike pay per click where you simply “feed the beast” spending money on digital ads and growing “Mr. Googles” bank account). Content creation is a long-term strategy which really grows your digital footprint. I have seen this from experience because today the blog in my base business – Innovate Building Solutions - gives me 2x the traffic of my web site today (but I’ve been blogging on it for 6 years as well). Here’s 3 practical ideas I’d recommend to grow your digital future through content.
 
Idea 1 – Pick one “platform” and be consistent – You won’t have time to blog and create videos (which IMHO – in my humble opinion) – are the best content driving approaches going today. Choose either a blog or videos and consistently crank out stuff. 
 
Idea 2 – Ask yourself- do I love to talk? Do I love to write? If you LOVE to talk, videos may be an excellent choice for you. Find an aspiring videographer from your local arts college and have them film and edit you at a cool job you’ve done (also talking to the customer- if possible). Talk about how to design a closet, or weird installation problems you know how to solve. If the thought of being in front of a camera makes you wet your pants, a blog could be your best choice. In these posts answer the questions customers ask you. Think about common problems customers have with their closets and garages and how you help to solve them (note – if you don’t want to spend the time writing, or aren’t very good at it, go to a site like www.upwork.com. Denise Butchko recommended this subcontract service in her Cabinets and Closet presentation. Talk to a contractor who can write them for you). 
 
Idea 3 – As Jim Rome would say, “Have a take, don’t suck” – Avoid being boring like the plague – We all have the attention spans of a gnat! Think about the last boring presentation you sat through where you kept checking your cell phone. In your content (video or blog) you need to provide “edu-tainment” (educating while being entertaining). Don’t be afraid to share who you are – no matter how wacky that is (yes – I resemble this remark). This advice also goes for in home sales calls as well. I would recommend reading a book by Kathy Klotz Guest called, Stop Boring Me, How to Create Kick-Ass Marketing Content, Products, and Ideas through Improv.
 
Tip 4 – Become magnetic
Have a “next step” so 99% or your prospects aren’t slipping through your fingers – In the sales process there should always be a next step (otherwise many of your leads just die on the vine). In the digital marketing process, you also need to have a “next step” because in most cases when people click through your digital marketing touch points (blog, videos, social media) to your web site they are NOT ready to buy (think about how many people sign up for a free design consultation– you’re lucky if it’s 1% who visit your site. What’s happening with the other 99% of the people?). This is where a “lead magnet” comes in. Give away some free content in exchange for their email address. You’ll see where this is going in tip 5.
 
Tip 5 – “Say hello to my little (should be big) ‘fre!” – email marketing 
Although I’m really not a violent guy I love when Al Pacino says, “So hello to my little ‘fre (i.e. friend)” when he brings out his shotgun in the movie Scarface. Nobody is going to forget him – or his little ‘fre – at that moment. But think about this. You and I are in a project business. Even if we do the best closet or garage installation in the world (and get recognized at the Top Shelf awards) people move on with their lives and forget about us (or just because someone clicks on our web site or blog once doesn’t mean they remember to call us when they are want to do the project).
 
So how do you become their continuous little ‘fre – the person providing them with input and insight on organization projects – their go-to guy or gal? The answer is you keep feeding them content (your own content preferably) on a continuous basis. Take the blog posts you’re writing (or having written-see tip 3) and send them out to your email list. For my business, my marketing company emails customers and prospects the blog posts I write and distributes these emails every Tuesdays and Thursdays (note – you can use a service like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Robly). You WILL become THE expert to this prospect. I will guarantee they will remember you over your competition because you keep providing them with useful information (you are becoming their little ‘fre!). You are staying top of mind (your competitor is probably being forgotten).
 
Conclusion – How can I help you? How can you help me? 
I hope the 5 tips above help you. While I’m not a digital marketing consultant (and I don’t play one on TV) – I’m into this stuff and would love to help you if I can. So, call me on my cell at 216-310-1074 or visit my company on line at www.innovatehomeorg.com so I can help you as I continue to learn. If you want to help me (I’m still a rookie in the home org biz) if I (or a member of my team) call you for advice please call me back (just like the Mayor of Hardware – Richie Demarco-  did for me when I started this business). I’m looking forward to getting to know you. You’re little future ‘fre – Mike Foti.