The last two years were pretty good for marketers in our industry. While our colleagues in operations were drowning in backlog, agile marketing teams with effective strategies were able to crush their core responsibility of delivering leads at an effective cost. We enjoyed copious amounts of single-digit cost of marketing TV leads and rode the digital rocket ship to the moon, with myriad other lead sources breaking records.

Dawn Dewey

While the lead flow was strong, marketing teams didn’t get to kick back and relax. To ensure our marketing spend remained cost-effective, marketers had to shift strategies to help the whole organization manage through the COVID boom. For instance, at Dreamstyle our marketing team developed lead-gen-modeled recruiting strategies to expeditiously recruit call center agents, sales reps and installers to keep up with demand and compete in the tight labor market.

Fast forward to 2023, and the “it’s raining leads” party is over. Lead acquisition costs have increased, lead growth has slowed, and Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing predicts headwinds for home remodeling continuing through the first half of 2024. This means marketers must overhaul strategies again to keep driving leads at an effective cost.

As we make the necessary pivots, one essential element of every marketer’s strategy must be the pick and shovel. That’s right: It’s time to focus on mining that huge database we grew during the boomtime.

As you do, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Call-center culture shift: In larger companies with call centers, it’s likely necessary to retool the culture and mindset. In the boomtime, our call centers were so busy calling hot new leads, it was a struggle to get any dials in to leads/prospects older than 15 to 30 days. Outbound dialing to leads older than 30 days was a pipe dream. With average employee turnover, most callers have been hired within the past two years and have only known this experience. Now, we need to shift the caller culture to one focused on making appointments rather than taking appointments. Making appointments requires focus on dialing and scripting. Callers will need more training and coaching to adapt. Even hot leads might need more persuasion to schedule an appointment than six months ago. It’s time to get the ongoing training classes scheduled, launch some contests and get the competitive attitude flowing! If your business doesn’t have a call center, this logic applies to anyone who has a phone and can dial it.
  • Texting is imperative: In recent surveys, more consumers say they’d prefer to be communicated with via text than any other method. The properly crafted text could be just the thing to warm up that 14-month-old prospect and get them on the schedule. There are many companies who will manage this for you using automated technology to engage your aged lead and send them to you via phone call once they’ve gotten them hot again.
  • Make sure you’re TCPA compliant: This one is important and must be done before diving deep into the database pool. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and, from what I hear, suits from vexatious litigants (i.e., people who sue to make money) against home improvement companies are spiking. You’ll need to ensure you have uploaded a current Federal Do Not Call list and that your tactics generally don’t break any of the (often unreasonable) TCPA laws. Don’t skip this step.
  • What’s your hook? As always, you’ll be most successful re-engaging the prospects in your database if you have something to offer them. Whether this is an exclusive discount, gift card or tickets to a local baseball game for setting an appointment, giving the prospect a reason to set now will dramatically improve your set rate. This tactic also helps your call center agents to feel more confident in their approach; it is much easier to ask for something when you have something to offer in exchange. Consider pairing your calling campaign with a well-timed direct-mail piece with the same offer. Your callers can break the ice on their call by asking if they received the letter (or card) your company sent.

While the COVID lead boom has subsided, what it left for you is a gold mine of leads just waiting to help fill your appointment calendar if you can nail the call-center strategy. Happy dialing! QR

Dawn Dewey is senior vice president of marketing and business development at Dreamstyle Remodeling, a full-service remodeling firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dreamstyle is a Renovo Home Solutions Company.

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