Free Marketing Ideas, Part 7

October 16, 2009

By Matt Michel

21. Speak At HOA Meetings
Homeowners Association (HOA) meeting vary from rigidly formal to loose.  Some are well attended.  Others are not.  However, all are attended.

Some HOAs feature regular speakers at their meetings.  Those without speakers probably would include them if it was easy to find someone with something relevant for the audience.  That someone could be you.  In the Internet age, almost any functioning HOA has a website.  Simply search for homeowners associations by neighborhood name or by town.  Some municipalities even list the HOAs with full officer contact information on their websites.

Offer the speak at each HOA meeting.  Send a letter or email to the officers indicating your willingness to speak and propose topics.  Here are a few…
HVAC:  The upcoming refrigerant phase out
Plumbing:  Water conservation
Electrical:  Advances in lighting technology
Pool:  Salt water pool systems
Pest Control:  Natural pest control solutions

Propose a length.  Generally, these organizations want to give speakers no more than 15 to 20 minutes.  In your letter, promise to follow up with a phone call (assuming you’ve got the phone number) and give the recipient your number if he or she wants to call sooner.

The same approach can be used with garden clubs and with other service and civic clubs.  Don’t worry about rejections.  Focus only those who welcome you.  Give everyone who attends a gift certificate with your company (remember, a gift certificate is little more than a coupon people keep).

22. Teach Home Improvement Seminars
Years ago, I attended a two hour home improvement class offered through the city’s parks & rec department.  I don’t remember the subject of the class, but I do reember who taught it.  The class was taught by a Home Depot employee.  It turned out that a number of classes offered by the city were taught by Home Depot employees.  I wondered if Home Depot was encouraging employees to teach these classes.  It wouldn’t surprise me.

So why would a big box retailer encourage, and maybe even pay its employees to teach home improvement seminars?  It’s simple.  Teach a home improvement seminar and you’re positioned as the expert by default.  Home Depot benefits by driving people to the store to ask for more information and to buy stuff.

Obviously, contractors have different objectives.  You don’t sell over the counter to homeowners, so you’re trying to stimulate future service calls, replacement leads, and project quotes.  You can be successful, but only if you avoid even the hint of solicitation when teaching.  People attend these classes to learn, so teach.  Offer reasonable DIY advice that any homeowner can manage. 

For example, an air conditioning or electrical contractor might advise homeowners to install outlet insulators for the energy savings.  Or the contractor might instruct homeowners to check the breaker box before calling for service.  Don’t try to turn the homeowner into a technician or plumber, but don’t be afraid of offering helpful advice.

Here are a few topics that might be appropriate for a home improvement seminar…
• How to build a pool
• How to select an air conditioning contractor
• Strategies for cutting home energy
• Water conservation strategies in the home
• Your home’s electrical system
• All about ants and other pest protection
• Conduct you own home energy audit

To find opportunities, start with your own community parks and recreation departments.  Next, see what opportunities are available at area home and garden shows.  Many host free seminars to help attract homeowners.  Some colleges and community colleges offer non-credit continuing education classes. 

23. Write Home Improvement Articles
With the Internet, anyone can publish today.  Add a blog to your website or create a free one using Blogger or Word Press.  Write about the homeowner problems you uncover in the course of your daily service work.  Tell people how you solved the problems.  If the problems are preventable, tell readers how.

If you are overly promotional in the body of your article, it will backfire.  People won’t read it.  However, it is okay to include a promotional paragraph at the very end.  Post your articles on the article sharing sites.  When posting on another site, Link back to your blog or website in your promotional paragraph.

24. Promote Your Writings
When you post new articles, let people know by email and by social media, such as Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, and so on.  

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2009 Matt Michel

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