The linen and uniform industry isn’t the most fluid of business arenas. A standard business agreement lasts about five years, so it’s rare that anyone is searching for a new service. Prospects can be few and far between. And worse? The window of opportunity closes fast. A potential client will only be looking for a new linen or uniform service for 7-14 days, long enough to do a few Google searches, talk to their friends and make those pivotal calls. Then, they’ve signed another lengthy agreement. These prospects don’t have time to waste, so if your sales reps are the first to get in touch with them, you’ve basically closed the deal.
So, how do you reach prospects the moment they’re ready to buy? That is, literally, the million-dollar question. Lucky for you, the answer won’t cost you nearly as much: Prospects will tell you themselves. At first it may not seem feasible, but in this digital age of expansive search resources, comprehensive analytics and advanced marketing platforms, reaching potential clients the moment they’re ready to buy isn’t actually an impossible goal. Here’s how to be in the right place at the right time.
Using Inbound Marketing to Find Prospects at the Most Auspicious Time
Inbound marketing lets you respond to someone’s question or need the moment they decide to ask about it. In terms of lead generation, inbound marketing is priceless.
Google was founded on September 4, 1998. Since then, Google has answered so many trillions of questions for people worldwide that “google” is now a commonplace verb. Just yesterday, the mega search engine logged 3.5 billion searches. Thousands of these searches come from business owners in North America who want a new linen or uniform service. And they don’t want that service three months down the line – they want it now.
For a second, try to imagine that you’re a potential prospect in need of a new provider. You log in to your computer, open up your browser, and google. See those five links at the top of the page? Those companies are getting all the calls and form submissions from prospects who are ready to sign on the dotted line.
PPC and SEO Can Have a Huge Effect on Your Bottom Line
Hopefully, now that you’re at least 300 words into this article, you understand the positive impacts that search engine marketing can potentially have on your business. But how do you capitalize on this information?
There are two ways to take advantage of inbound marketing: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Let’s take a closer look at both of these strategies.
PPC advertising is the fastest way to stake your claim at the top of the search results page. Keyword targeting is the basis of PPC advertising. For example, inputting the keyword “laundry companies” means that search engines will display your ad when someone searches a similar term. Then, you’re charged every time someone clicks on one of your ads.
While this all seems easy enough at first, it can get complex very quickly. Without the right training and industry knowledge, before you know it, you’re paying way more than you can afford.
For example, we were working on a campaign using the keyword “laundry service.” Unsurprisingly, it performed well, until Shakira outperformed us both onstage and online with her album “Laundry Service.” We wasted money on clicks from hundreds of thousands of people who were searching for pop music, not sheets and towels. There were no refunds. Lesson learned: PPC is an expensive game to play, unless it’s continuously optimized and monitored by an expert who understands the intricacies of the system.
SEO takes longer than PPC, but it can also get you those fresh, valuable queries from businesses looking for a commercial linen and uniform service. With this strategy, the clicks are free, but SEO requires a lot of long-term effort. It could take months or even years to generate quality traffic for your website.
The SEO strategy is all about achieving those top search results organically. By optimizing your website to cater to the algorithms that search engines like Google and Bing use to decide which results get placement preference, you can climb higher on that results page and grab those quality leads.
There are 3 Options to Creating an Inbound Marketing Campaign
The first option is to try to do it all yourself. This choice is alluring because it’s obviously the cheapest and you’ll have total control over your campaign. But before you take a leap into the vast digital abyss of PPC and SEO, take some time to consider a few things. Successful SEO and PPC advertising requires a tremendous amount of work, money and time. For PPC, you can expect to spend up to two years looking over information and optimizing your campaigns for hours every day before seeing results. Also, make room for a couple thousand more dollars in your budget to pay for the data you’ll need to optimize your campaigns correctly. SEO is a bit easier to do yourself, assuming you have the time to continually research the latest search trends and correctly optimize your website. Plan to be writing content and optimizing your website for at least a year, because you’re not going to start to see results before then. So, if you have way too much time on your hands and a burning, deep-seated desire to learn everything there is to know about digital marketing, the DIY strategy is the one for you.
Or, there’s a second option. You could hire an SEO or PPC specialist. The best thing about this option is that only one person would be responsible for your campaigns and that person would also understand all of the aspects of your business. However, hiring your own specialist isn’t cheap. An expert with at least ten years of experience will easily cost you $80,000 a year, if not more. And, even though they might know their way around PPC and SEO, they’ll still need to become familiar with your company and industry. Then, they’ll need to optimize all of your campaigns, which will take a significant amount of time. You still might not see results for a good six months.
Finally, your third option is to hire a digital marketing agency. They’ll have a thorough understanding of all inbound marketing strategies and will cost you significantly less than a full-time employee. While this appears like the perfect solution to your time and budget problems, some digital marketing agencies are dirtier than the linens that pass through your facility every day. The easiest way to find an agency that can deliver on their promises is to talk to a few of your friends in the industry who use a digital marketing agency. They’ll be able give you an honest review of their agency’s business practices and methods. With a few good referrals, you’ll be able to find a quality marketing agency that can get your linen or uniform service on the digital map.
Whether you decide to do it all yourself, work with your own specialist or hire a digital marketing agency, the landscape of the linen and uniform industry is changing. Directing those online searches to your business is more important than ever, because prospects are just one click away from choosing a competitor’s company. Using inbound marketing could help you summit the elusive peak of that search engine page. It’s not a downhill stroll, but the leads are worth it.