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Why we do what we do transcends product and process. How we do what we do is changing. Ready to embrace new ways to achieve your goals and succeed in the PHCP industry?
In 2019, we will be well-served to accomplishing the following:
Spend more: Marketing depends on search, reviews and money. Gone are the days of sexy, clever and effective organic search engine optimization (SEO). If you don’t spend, you won’t be seen. While SEO is still part of the mix, it won’t get you on the first page of Google. And, when you are seen, your reviews better back you up.
Note that search also includes, “Hey, Google” and “Alexa.” Most of the time, we are using our phones to find people, places and things. It’s a lot to figure out. And the algorithms change as soon as you start dialing in what works.
Yes, you’ll need some professional help, and you may have to “kiss a few frogs.” You should learn enough to understand the lingo and participate in the strategy conversation. Prepare to keep one ear to the ground and one eye on your pay-per-click results — every day.
Go within: Your marketing focus should be inward as well as outward. Your employees impact your customer’s impression of your company. Employees may also be repelled or attracted to your company by what is happening, and being reported, via ads, social media, Google hire and other recruiting sites. The “parking lot” meeting is alive and well, and happening via a private (and sometimes not so private) chat thread or Twitter conversation.
The very good news is the great things you do for your team members will be authentically broadcast to prospective team members. And the harsh reality is an unhappy team member can do a lot of damage to your reputation in short order.
Leverage with social media: Yeah, I know you may be burnt out on Twitter and Facebook. Still, you are missing opportunities to market inward and outward if you don’t participate. Enlist a 16-year-old to be your Social Media Maven/Mogul. Be sure to document rules and procedures to avoid embarrassing missteps.
Don’t count on getting lots of calls from your updates. However, the goodwill you can create with thoughtful, consistent posts adds up. Bonus: One of your videos may go viral — a silver PR bullet! For good examples of fun, informative, positive business branding, check out https://twitter.com/spartantool and https://twitter.com/phcppros.
Get with GPS: You can track people with their phones via your dispatch/customer relationship management (CRM) software and trucks with attached transmitters. You also can keep track of tools. And kids’ lunchboxes. Is it Big Brother? Sure is. So, there’s that. But it helps keep things and people from going missing.
Wearable tech: Did you catch Steve Smith’s terrific article on wearable tech in the November 2018 issue of PHC News? As I was writing this column, my issue of PHC News arrived and he did a first-rate job of introducing, and encouraging, cool tools you wear, or access on your phone or tablet.
Like smart glasses and body cameras. They offer hands-free video conversation and recording, so you can use your hands to demonstrate and troubleshoot. Nice for training and on-the-job challenges.
Consider drones: Drones provide amazing opportunities to monitor job progress and safety protocol on your sites. You may want to wade in vs. jump in, though. Best to learn how to fly the thing before you trash three or four of them!
Such as any pricey, sensitive tool, you’ll have fewer problems if you develop and document procedures as you go. Yep, someone is likely to abuse drone access, so you might make it clear that the first (and every) offender will be subject to corrective action. Drone misuses can range from drone damage to privacy invasions to serious threat to life and property. Still, it’s probably worth it if you’re on jobsites for an extended period.
Keep electronic lists: Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Google Keep — these are great tools for making lists and prioritizing tasks. A list in your office, your notebook, or worse, in your head, means you are stuck with that project. A collaborative project management app allows others to participate. Delegate and get lots more done in 2019.
Explore energy: Such as electricity-generating septic systems and trash heaps. Decomposing waste is just one way energy opportunities are evolving. Sure, this isn’t a new thing, and there are problems with scalability and economic feasibility. But every day we are closer to breakthroughs and somebody may make a lot of money. Perhaps you? Check out my son Max’s column in this magazine. He regularly shares cutting-edge approaches to energy and sustainability.
Get smart: Smart grids connect homes to share energy and deliver more or less, depending on usage. It’s the next level of getting paid, albeit a pittance, to send energy back to the co-op from your home solar panels. Couple this with smart home technology — app-driven appliances, security and entertainment — and you find the need to bridge the gap between engineering and contracting. Interested in being the person who “gets” this and helps others play? There may be gold in them thar hills.
Respect the bots: Artificial intelligence works. Tristan Harris, who runs the Center for Humane Technology, warns, "Everywhere you turn on the Internet there's basically a supercomputer pointing at your brain, playing chess against your mind, and it's going to win a lot more often than not."
The good news is you can embrace the chess master, and automate marketing and sales processes.
The best website companies and CRM systems are doing just that. You know, don’t you, that those cool headphones you looked at once on Amazon are going to follow you around every app and site until you buy them. You can do the same by re-targeting your ads to people who have searched for “plumber” or “heating company” in your area.
Buck total automation: Technology works great — except when a human is better. Big corporations are spending millions of dollars analyzing the path customers travel when researching, buying and living with their purchases. Granted, there are a lot of variables to work with, considering the diversity of personalities and motivations.
Simplistically, we like using technology when it comes to basic customer service details. Don’t you prefer it when the fields automatically populate when you are ordering something online? However, when we need a special order or run into a problem, we want a real, qualified person to help us, stat.
Joseph Michelli, author of The Starbucks Experience, says, “Your future success will hinge, in part, on how well you provide technology-aided, human-powered experiences that seamlessly deliver when and how your customers want to be served.”
So, remember that personal relationships trump technology. Don’t neglect to frequently, daily, look your family members, employees, vendors and customers in the eyes and say something nice. Revive the art of the handshake. Share meals and conversation. Spend time together, unplugged and present. Tell them you love them. Now, and in the future, remember to be human.
What’s in your crystal ball? I love hearing from you! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources mentioned in this column can be found at: