Is Telemarketing a Valid Channel for Pest Control?
Q: I’ve been working for a pest control company for two months now as a telemarketer. Now, my concern is, I haven’t gotten very good responses. I call Tampa and Orlando and Tampa is generally more difficult, because almost everybody who answers just yells and hangs up. I’d like to know if telemarketing is the right path for this type of business, or if there is a better way to get to customers about pest control.
A: It’s interesting. There are two sides to telemarketing, in my opinion. On the positive side, recent Direct Marketing Association research reports that telemarketing now has the highest response rates of any direct marketing channel (average at about 5%, if you can believe it!). On the negative side, there is the growing customer attitude that you’re experiencing. People hate telemarketers…The growth of the National Do Not Call list is perfect evidence of this.
With that said, and probably because I have a fair amount of experience using outbound telemarketing successfully, my personal opinion is that it is a valid channel for pest control, or really any consumer service. I’m assuming that you’re following the rules and are only calling people who are not on state and national do not call lists. That’s a given. Here are a few other tips to increase your success.
- Make sure that you have done the work and are targeting your prospects correctly. I’ve experienced optimum success when I’ve employed a statistical approach for list selections. Perhaps you can build a model that clones current customers sourced through telemarketing. Try to find people that look exactly like those who’ve purchased through this channel before. If you do this, make sure that your data source contains lots of insight about the home the prospect lives in–I’ll bet that things like age of the dwelling and size of the home are key predictors of the types of prospects who might be most needing your services.
- Be clever in your calling tactics. For example, have you thought about the best time to call each prospect? Think about this: professionals typically are not home in the daytime and retired folks are. Make sure that you’re segmenting your list and calling people when they’re most likely to actually be there. Seems like a no-brainer, but most telemarketers don’t have the insight into their prospect lists to understand this key characteristic. Of course, the more people you can actually reach, the more efficient your outbound campaign will be. And, this type of segmentation works. I once had a client who sold services to consumers. When they employed a Best Time to Call strategy, results were boosted by 20%. 20%!
- Get a handle on actual results. I know it can be extremely frustrating when you’re making calls and getting negative responses. No fun, at all. However, be sure to quantify your results. If possible get an understanding of how much a customer costs to acquire via your telemarketing channel verses other channels. You may be surprised that telemarketing remains a low-cost acquisition channel. And, if it’s not, then it definitely is time to move your marketing dollars elsewhere.
Which brings us to the final part of your question, which is: Is there a better way to get customers? My recommendation here is to test all sorts of channels. Perhaps you can advertise on appropriate websites that cater to homeowners/home improvement. Consider inserts (either in newspapers or in local direct mail coupon mailings). Test standalone direct mail. Take a look at where your competitors are advertising. Look into social marketing–perhaps you should start a blog to build awareness of your brand, build credibility and increase website traffic. In a nutshell, be creative and test, test, test!