Computermaus in MausefalleIt’s no secret, dealers and remodelers are jumping onto the blogosphere in droves for 2013.   As buyers start their journey online up to two years in advance of their purchase, these savvy businesses are generating leads from their website before they ever walk into their competitor’s showrooms.

And it’s not just consumers – it’s contractors, home builders, multi-family projects and more.  Why? Because behind each of your prospects is someone just like you.  And that means they use the Internet just like you.  They shop just like you.  And they research new vendors and partners just like you.

But when you dip your toes into the sometimes icy waters of digital marketing for the first time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the number of things you can do to help drive interest, and ultimately leads, to your website.  The part that really gets my goat, however, is the amount of dishonest and misleading information local marketing companies have  spread to get into the pockets of dealer and remodeler executives.

Below are the Top 5 traps to avoid on your next digital marketing endeavor.

1. SEO

SEO Charlatans in just about every other industry have disappeared – and I think they all ended up in our cabinet industry somehow.  So here’s the real deal: each year, Google changes its search algorithm over 500 times. While most of these changes are minor, every few months Google rolls out a significant update to its algorithm that affects search results in huge ways. Paying for someone toSEO your website is like paying a shaman to help you learn how to channel the undead.  You’ll be paying forever with no real results.  A better bet is to accept that Google will use its $50B in cash to always stay 500+ steps ahead of your SEO vendor’s quackery.  Therefore, a better strategy is to focus on content production and building a community of raving fans.  It’s also a good idea to have a “loose keyword strategy” in place to guide your writing efforts, combined with a philosophy of rapid change and flexibility.  In the end, if you create content people will love, everything will happen on its own naturally – no SEO swindlers needed.

2. Link Building

Similar to #1 above, this usually goes hand in hand with SEO voodoo.  The problem with link building is all the tricks have already been tried – and punished.  Paying for “friends” doesn’t work in real life and it certainly doesn’t work online.  It’s much more effective to write content that is really memorable and your community will share it.  Once that happens, you’ll have more links than you know what to do with.  Another great technique is to connect with other bloggers in your community and build real relationships together.

3. Advertisements

Until you get a significant amount of content created and a community built, paying for advertisements is a bit silly.  Why? Because you’ll be forced to totally SWAG at the words you should be targeting – which means you’ll be using poor performing keyword advertising like “home remodeling houston.”  Remember – visits mean little to nothing these days, except that maybe they can make you feel good.  The real metric are conversion rates, meaningful dialogue with prospects and closes.  Digital advertisements (i.e. Google, LinkedIn, facebook, etc.) are best used as exploratory vehicles after your community is established to help you uncover interesting areas for content production to drive real visits and conversions.

4. Website reviews

While your website may need some improvement, the person unhappy with it is probably you.  And vendors like to capitalize on this to get that wallet of yours opened up.  Most websites perform poorly because they lack a lead capturing mechanism beyond just a “contact us” page.  Resist the urge to redesign your website once again.

5. Graphics and photographs

One of the hardest things to do online is to deliver your brand, along with appropriate graphics, photos, video, colors, etc.  This can become extremely expensive when redesigning your site and usually does little to affect conversion rates.  Your website visitors don’t necessarily need to feel like they are stepping into the Ritz Carlton for the weekend.  Instead of glitz, glamor and expensive portfolio pictures littered across your website, opt for a cleaner look with a focus on getting your target customer to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily. Use social media channels for showcasing project work, and tap into the power of video – sometimes an iPhone can accomplish the goal you are after without the need of hiring professional photographers. Remember, you’re not making a movie – your goal is to connect with customers.


Why repeat what so many others have said so eloquently?

  • “There is no black magic to successfully attracting customers via the web.”
    -Rand Fishkin, Founder, SEOmoz
  • “Great Content is the best sales tool in the world.”
    -Marcus Sheridan, Author, The Sales Lion Blog
  • “Nobody cares about your products except you.  Create interesting content!”
    -David Meerman Scott, Best-Selling Author
  • “More contact means more sharing of information, gossiping, exchanging, engaging – in short, more word of mouth.”
    -Gary Vaynerchuk, Best-Selling Author & KBIS Keynote
  • “Let your originality – your specialness, your brand personality – come through in your online content.”
    -Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman, Author, Content Rules 
  • “No matter what, the very first social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.”
    -Chris Brogan, Founder, New Marketing Labs
  • “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.”
    -Brian Halligan, CEO, Hubspot
  • “It no longer makes economic sense to send an advertising message to the many in hopes of persuading the few.”
    -M. Lawrence Light, Former Chief Marketing Officer, McDonalds

And my personal favorite:

  • “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing.  If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”
    -Guy Kawasaki, Former Chief Evangelist, Apple