(Marketing Strategy)

Think Like A Guerrilla Force To Win The SEO War In Home Services

There's a fierce war happening right now on the Google Battlefield for keywords and ranking, and your home service is facing a monstrous foe.

Gary Bernier
Gary Bernier
March 28, 2021
Think Like A Guerrilla Force To Win The SEO War In Home Services

Customers always ask me, “What about SEO?”

They say I haven’t mentioned the SEO or local SEO and our digital strategy, and they want to know whether it’s essential or not. The reason I don’t present an SEO/Content Marketing strategy to them is that you need a Metric Shit Ton of Money to win at the SEO game. Not many people are ready to tell you that, especially those trying to sell the SEO services. The business owner often replies, “What do you mean I don’t have enough money? I thought it was cheap and easy to rank up in SEO?”

Let’s take a look at what’s happened in the last five years.

Let’s choose a plumber as an example. A business owner says “I want to show up when someone is looking for a plumber. Shouldn’t we use the “near me” expression because it’s up 500%?”_

plumber near me

Google Trends – Plumber Near Me

Yes, of course, you want to be recognized as “near me.” Those “near me” searches are up because of people’s mobile phone usage going up like crazy. You can see for yourself on Google Trends. So let’s look at what the search results page looks like for the term “plumber near me.” The first thing we see is Google’s paid advertising for Local Services. Then we get Google AdWords(more paid advertising). Then we get Google My Business rankings. Then we get to position one and you’ll notice I’ve underlined some URLs like Yelp. And then we get Featured Snippets.

mobile search

Plumbers Near Me – Mobile Search

On a mobile phone, it’s not very much different. And here you’ll see HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List showing up in the search results.

Those companies are aggregators.

They’re compilers. They bring together a whole bunch of home services. There are other aggregators out there, but we’re going to focus on the Home Services one because we chose the example of plumbing. Right now, there’s a war going on on the internet called the aggregator war. They’re all fighting it out with one another. We’ve got Google with their Google Local Services. Google with Google AdWords. Google with Google My Business. Those are all aggregation. Then you’ve got Angie’s List, Yelp, Thumbtack, HomeGuide, Houzz, and HomeAdvisor in the home services space alone. All are trying to aggregate and help you find the plumber near you.

What makes this one step worse is in May, Google updated the algorithm, and they’re favoring the aggregators.

How’s this war being fought? With money. The investor money is spent on content marketing. Content marketing is SEO marketing: build a page, get it to rank. They’re also spending the investor money on online and offline advertising. Specifically with Google AdWords online, they’re driving up the price of clicks. Now, if you do AdWords advertising and you’re up against an aggregator, you’re paying more for the same click than you were before.

Their whole goal is to dominate page one and spend as much money as they need to dominate page one.

Let’s take a look at one of these aggregators, Angie’s List. Angie also owns Angie’s Home Services, another publicly-traded company, better known as HomeAdvisor and HomeStars.

seo results

HomeAdvisor Content Marketing Search Engine Optimization

When you go to a tool like Moz.com you can put in one of these aggregator domains, and you’ll find out some interesting things like they rank 2 million keywords. That’s a crazy amount of content to be recognized for. And they’ve got 90,000 domains linking back to them. That’s a ton of backlinks.

So when your local SEO guy says, _“Yeah, we can create a little bit of content, and we can get some backlinks, and you’re going to rank up!” Nope, not against these guys.

Here are some of the keywords that they’re plugged into. You can see they own “plumbers near me,” which is why they’re my example. Here are their top search competitors. These are the people that are trying to fight for position number one with them. Angie’s List themselves. Home Guide (another aggregator). Yelp (another aggregator). And Thumbtack (another aggregator). Home Depot is a store and an aggregator because it also will help you connect with a plumber. But right now HomeAdvisor owns and ranks number one for “plumbers near me.”

competition

Here’s a Yelp page. You can see their focus on “near me.” The aggregators are taking the clicks and the eyeballs away from the small business. It is bringing them to the aggregator with the sole purpose of getting the shopper on their site so they can sell the lead to somebody else.

That’s how the aggregator makes money: they sell leads.

You might be familiar with some other aggregators like Expedia, UberEats DoorDash, Skip The Dishes, or Airbnb. You’ll recognize, none of these companies make anything or provide any service, except for connecting you with somebody else that does. That’s an aggregator. Businesses hooked on HomeAdvisor don’t like their leads because the leads get sold to three people simultaneously and they’re driving up the click cost. It’s like a vampire comes into your industry, sucks up the leads and the money, and leaves all the small businesses wondering what happened. Others are doing it too. In the mattress space: Purple’s done it, they’ve run a content play. Casper’s done it: they’ve run content play. Leesa’s done it, they’ve run a content play.

Your little mattress store around the corner is not competing for SEO with the mattress store down the street. It’s competing with these big online behemoths that are running colossal content strategies.

Do you think you can win the SEO content war with that little toy knife?

You need tons of content and more relevant content to win that war. And more and better backlinks as a minimum to win that war. You need a content creation team dedicated to continually creating and monitoring your content. And that’s to beat your new competitor, the aggregator. The aggregator is your competitor now, not the little guy down the street. And that’s to get you to the top of the search pile for an undecided customer. An uncommitted potential prospect clicks on your website. Wow, that’s a metric shit ton of work to get a click.

Or, you can focus on becoming thought of first and liked the most.

That’s what Wizard of Ads does. We help our customers get thought of first and liked the most. We direct everybody to your website through mass media marketing. So the visitor is arriving using your branded keywords. They’re already warmed up, and they’re friendly. **You’re their plumber.**They already know a little bit about you because they’ve heard about you in mass media marketing. You can make your website convert better for them if they like you more. So you answer the warmed-up visitor’s questions. We further the relationship using the embedded “brandable chunks” that we create for you. With “we believe” statements we help you create emotional bonds. We fiercely protect your brand online. We search engine optimize for your brand keywords. We win the bid wars on AdWords for your brand keywords. We buy all the other possible domains, and we block everybody else out that may try to rip you off. And then we build competitive Google Adwords campaigns to steal clicks from your direct competitors. Examples of brand keywords would be a company name like “SPL Parts” and then “company name and a keyword” to give you an idea of what brand keywords look like.

branded keywords

Grab the word “reviews”

Take this tip from this post. If you’re not buying this with Google AdWords or are not optimized for this keyword, you should be. You want to leverage your social media content for social proof to show off what it is you do, and you do it well.

  • You’re not afraid to show off your work: before, in progress, and after.
  • You’re proud of your employees. You’re an excellent place to work.
  • Your people are happy and they have personality.
  • You’re hiring more like them.
  • Customer testimonials/reviews.

These are great things to create social media content & social proof that gives your company emotional benefits and takes it from being a cold thing to a warm thing.

Protect your brand

Create congruence in the positive identity of businesses by embedding your “brandable chunks” and “we believes” across different elements of your marketing and customer experience. The moral of the story is, you should own your page one associated with your brand. You should have the top ad. Your social media should show up on those search results. And your business should show up with Google My Business_ at the top of any searches related to your broader marketing terms and brand identity you’ve carved out for yourself. There was a time, a long time ago, when the most accessed website — the number one website in the world — literally ran out of my apartment. But today, it’s not so easy.

(Online)
(Offline)
(Online Advertising)
Gary Bernier
Gary Bernier

The Wizard of Digital, Gary’s Internet experience extends back to guestbooks and site visitor counters and version one of the browsers (remember Netscape). He was doing Internet marketing before Adwords was a thing, and you could buy clicks for a penny. Gary’s clients are blown away by their success on mobile.

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Frequently asked questions

Questions? We’ve got answers.

Who does the Wizard of Ads® for Services work with?

Wizard of Ads® for Services work with healthy and growing businesses hungry to grow by multiples, like you.

You are ready, willing, and able to grow your business. You are open to change and are seeking a distinctive angle of approach to gain the time and attention of a too-busy public.

You know that lasting relationships take time, patience, and good energy to nurture and cultivate. We carefully enter into every arrangement with the intention of working with you for as long as you own your business. You prefer lasting partnerships.

You are already a solid operator. You have successfully grown your business and appreciate the impact the right brand story will have to get to the next level in your operation. You know a strong relational message takes time to gain momentum, but it’s worth the one-time short-term discomfort for the long-term gains.

Marketing cannot fix a failing business.

We accelerate what’s already happening in a business. If your business is on the rocks, marketing will only speed up the inevitable.  

You’re focused on lasting change that leads to exponential, profitable growth, not just sales at any cost. Intuitively, you know that communication that enhances every element of your customer's experience and your employee's culture is the key to your success.

Our advertising model works best for services who have a long purchase cycle and sell a more expensive product like jewelry, furniture, luxury products, and automotive.

How does the Wizard of Ads® for Services charge?

Traditional full service marketing agencies are designed to capture the greatest amount of revenue from a client, regardless of results. Every last item is billed and expensed to the client. Typical agency fees can represent a whopping 55% of the entire advertising budget. That means a $5 million dollar advertising budget, you would spend $2.75 million on agency fees.

Think of Wizard of Ads® for Services as the Anti-Agency.

Our income is not tied to your advertising budget. Our income is exclusively tied to your growth. Our goal is to maximize your advertising impact with the lowest reasonable spend. This allows you to spend only what is necessary or to put extra horsepower into aggressively growing in your market.

The genius of this model is that it perfectly aligns our motivations as true partners for exponential profitable growth without the pain of being unaffordable. Ultimately, we are confident in taking the risk of being underpaid in the first few years because we know the results always speak for themselves.

Next, we do not accept commissions, referral fees, kickbacks, or other compensation from any service providers we recommend or engage for production work. Most agencies do. This includes the 15% agency commission for media buying. This approach is considerably different from the compensation plan employed by most advertising agencies, as it eliminates any potential conflicts of interest and allows us to focus our entire attention on helping you grow your business profitably as a true partner. For example, a $500,000 annual media buy would involve a $75,000 commission that we would have removed directly from your media providers' invoices.

This is the perfect pricing model for services who sell goods with a long purchase cycle.

By tying ourselves to gross revenue, we only have one motivation. Your motivation. We have no motivation to convince you to spend more money on marketing than what is necessary, and since we are a variable expense to sales, we NEVER become too expensive to have us on your team.

In almost every case, we end up lowering the amount of money you spend. We will stay within your planned marketing budget, including your media spend, production, and our Annual Fee. Add on the fact that you get any and all commissions back for media buys and various services provided by outside providers, and you will actually save money having us on your team.

Don’t forget, we have the largest buying power in North America for media buying, meaning for every dollar you spend buying media, we only spend 27 cents on average. This stretches your reach, impact, and frequency in a way no other agency (or yourself) can achieve on your own, saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars, eventually millions, every single year.

Clients who heed our advice and embrace our Marketing Strategy quickly add $1 million in incremental revenue to their business, making your investment a smart bet and a bit of a no-brainer.  

There is no longer any guesswork, hope, or fear that our marketing strategies are going to work. If our client’s are able to abandon any limiting beliefs about marketing, deliver operational excellence, and play the long game, our marketing strategy will accelerate their profitable growth.

Wizard of Ads® for Services pricing model is based solely on the top line revenue of your company. It consists of an Upfront Fee and an Annual Fee. These fees are inclusive of scheduled travel, services, and all other expenditures as outlined in the Consulting Agreement.

The Upfront Fee covers the intensive Uncovery Process, the first year’s Media Buy, the Creative Process, and the Market Research while the Annual Fee goes toward implementation, ongoing creative and consulting, and next year's media buy. You get a team of 3.5 people, with direct access to a top tier Creative Lead and Media Buyer, and on-demand access to me as your Master Strategist. You will also have a full-time Account Manager keeping everything on track.

While the upfront does have an initial pinch, it is easy to amortize the investment over the many years we will be working together to grow your business. Wizard of Ads® retain clients for 10 years, on average. The sale of the business is the number one reason for termination. We actively terminate the bottom 1% of clients who are unwilling or unable to follow our strategies.

Wizard of Ads® for Services believes that all rewards should be directly correlated to the success of our clients. This means that the Wizard of Ads® for Services only receives a raise when the company achieves growth. For example, if your gross sales for the year have increased by 25%, the Annual Fee you pay us in the following year will also be increased by 25%. Likewise, if your gross sales decrease, our Annual Fee will decrease by the same percentage during the following year.

This is an exceptionally easy and fair way to track and reward success. This model was developed by Wizard of Ads® over 35 years ago and has served us well because it serves our clients well.

As a rule of thumb, we take the risk of working for considerably less than our actual value in the first few years as we help accelerate growth. This means you need to be willing to pay us exceptionally well when you start doing even better.

When should I engage The Wizard of Ads® for Services?

There are four key revenue stages for engagement with the Wizard of Ads® for Services.

  1. Under $3.6 million in revenue
  2. Between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue
  3. Between $10 and $20 million in revenue
  4. Over $20 million in revenue

Under $3.6 million in revenue is an investment in your brand. This will serve you well in establishing your brand story early on and help you with your name, logo, and truck wrap design. It's easier to create pictures from a story than it is to make a story based on pre-drawn pictures. You'll be glad you did. Everyone on a fast path to growth is.

Most clients start with Wizard of Ads® for Services between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue. They have often seen a natural ceiling with their leads for demand service and are looking for ways to push past the ceiling. This can only be done with a properly executed brand strategy, specifically in mass media with a sticky story.

Between $10 and $20 million in revenue, Wizard of Ads® for Services has some natural economies of scale. This is a sweet spot where Wizard of Ads® for Services can offer some added value in getting the ball rolling.

Over $20 million in revenue is actually the lowest cost point of entry as a percentage of revenue, but not the cheapest time to start with the Wizard of Ads® for Services. Leveraging all economies of scale aside, we have been left out of the upside along the way, so engaging when over $20 million in revenue means we have to mend a lot of fences damaged along the way. This is also where clients see significant savings in their media buys and production costs.

There are also three market sizes to consider.

  • Primary Markets are the top 50 cities in America.
  • Secondary Markets are the smaller cities in America.
  • Tertiary Markets are the more rural trade areas in America.

When considering an engagement with The Wizard of Ads® for Services, consider what size market you are in. For example, a $3.6 million company in a Primary Market will struggle to get the necessary reach needed to make a splash. You either have to be more patient than a larger company or spend more money to accelerate your reach.

Alternatively, a $5 million company in a Secondary Market will look like a pretty darn big fish in a medium-sized pond.

A $20 Million company in a Primary Market will feel like a $50 million company using our strategies to potential customers.

The key to remember is that the earlier you start with the Wizard of Ads® for Services, the lower the investment to get started. As they say, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Are production costs included in your fees?

Offline, the Wizard of Ads® for Services Creative Lead will create the ad copy, cast the voice actors, source the production house, direct the performance, pick the music bed, manage all the edits, and provide you with the completed ad for final approval before sending to air on your behalf. This is included in our fees.

You pay for the production house, actors, royalty-free music, and jingles directly to avoid any potential for markups, commissions, or management fees.

We have many friends in the industry that give our clients good deals due to the large volume of work we provide them. We will introduce you to them.

Online, the Wizard of Ads® for Services Digital Lead will either coordinate production in-house or work with your preferred digital vendors. The scope of work will be determined and fees will reflect the scope of work to be done.

How long before a brand-forward strategy starts working?

In approximately three months of activation, we’ll just be getting live on air. In six months (3 months on air), you’ll be getting anecdotal feedback from people that you are being heard, but there will be no direct line to revenue.

After 6 months on the air, you’ll think you made the biggest mistake of your life signing up for this branding nonsense. After 9 months on the air (12 months in) you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

At 12 full months on the air, you’ll know why you did this branding thing. Two years from now, we'll be clinking champagne flutes as you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.

How long before we’re live?

The general guideline is 70-120 days, depending on the level of production needed and if there is a name change to your business.

This includes an onsite visit, a deep dive into research, and getting things created, negotiated, approved, produced, and live on the air.

  • Uncovery - 15-30 days based on travel. 1-2 days onsite.
  • Research - 30-60 days based on the scope of work.
  • Creative and Media Buy Process - 45 to 60 days
  • Offline Production - 15 days for radio. 30 - 60 days for television.
  • Online Production (if switching) - 60 days

This means planning for roughly 90 to 120 days in the proper development and production of a completely unique Marketing Strategy before anything hits the airwaves.

Are you exclusive?

Creatively, yes. During the term of this Agreement, all Creative Partners assigned to your Account shall not engage, directly or indirectly, as an employee, officer, manager, partner, consultant, agent, owner, or in any other capacity, in any competition of the client, including any company engaged in marketing consulting.

For clarity, the Creative Partner is defined as the individual Wizard of Ads® Partners who is responsible for creating your creative strategy and ongoing creative copy. Competition is defined as companies that engage in the same industry and business units (e.g., Furniture, Automotive, etc.) as you. The market area is defined as the area where the marketing message naturally reaches through DMA or 60 miles from the city center of the client's service area(s).

Naturally, we exclude any potential future competition in markets where you are not currently active at the date of signing.

We do not limit Media Buyers in any market. Media Buyers get better deals for larger volumes, making it beneficial for the client to have the Media Buyer available to do as many buys as possible to secure the best deals on the client’s behalf.

Do you do digital marketing?

Wizard of Ads® for Services can provide a host of digital marketing solutions for services. Wizard of Ads® has specialized Partners that provide digital services that serve services effectively. Under no circumstances will digital marketing services be offered without Wizard of Ads® for Services core solution.

It is most likely that Wizard of Ads® for Services will work with your existing digital partners and suppliers. If you do not have a reliable digital provider, we would be happy to introduce you to a number of great providers that play nice with Wizards.

Do you do jingles?

Wizard of Ads® for Services can assist you in getting a jingle for your business. Like any other tactical element of a marketing strategy, we do not produce a jingle for the sake of a jingle.

If you do not have a story or a strategic reason to have a jingle...or an ad campaign to tie it to, do not waste your hard-earned money on a jingle. You are wasting your time and money.

When you do build a single unified marketing strategy that incorporates a jingle for a specific (often scientific) reason, we have a Jingle Wizard who has studied the art and science of jingle design.

He will score you an original, royalty-free jingle, including professional singers, musicians, and producers. He will not knock off a generic jingle from a publicly available music bed that sounds like everyone else's jingle.

Your jingle will serve a very specific reason and produce a very specific result. Have you guessed how much we love jingles yet?

Who owns the copyrights?

Wizard of Ads® for Services owns copyrights for two very specific reasons. We also provide a fair use clause in all contracts to ensure you are in no way limited to the access of your creative works, whether you are working with us or not.

The first reason we own your copyright is to ensure that we do not have to go up against our own creative works in other markets we serve. This means you are not allowed to lend, give, borrow, tweak, rent, lease, or sell your creative works to any other company at any time.

The second reason we own your copyright is that we can establish a one-time value for your creative works in the event that someone steals the content. Upon selling you the copyrights, you can go after the perpetrator for theft and make a considerable bounty in a slam dunk case.

Here is how Wizard of Ads® word the fair use of your copyright for as long as your business is in operation:

All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. Wizard of Ads® for Services hereby irrevocably grants you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
How do I measure brand results?

There are a number of interesting ways to measure results. Some people like to get unique identifying telephone numbers, or create branded URLs that redirect to landing pages or the website. However, much of this is a waste of time and energy as it never tells the true story of the brand journey and how it affected the decision-making process.

Other indicators of brand effectiveness include tracking new customers, reactivated customers, or running a brand equity survey to get a sense of your share of mind. Digitally you will see direct search increase, which cannot be affected by anything digital, as well as branded keyword inquiries increase. You’ll, of course, need to get your digital people to add these to your campaigns if you hope to see an increase in conversions.

Wizard of Ads® for Services racks the simplest of indicators. Top line revenue. When your branding takes effect, and the company responds in kind from the phone call or form fill-on, top-line revenue will increase. Efficacy is plotted on a T12, and total lead volume from all sources is tracked.

12 things you should know before signing up.
  1. Quality relationships take time. Branding is a long-term strategy. That’s why most services do it wrong, or not at all. There is always a lag between the start of the new campaign and the time it takes your customers to connect the dots. You MUST BE READY, WILLING, AND ABLE to endure this lag period. In our experience, the lag is typically 6 to 9 months, depending on how competitive the marketplace is, your company’s reputation, your budget in relation to reach, and the eight uncontrollable environmental factors. During this time, we will be helping you implement a transition plan to ease the pain. The good news is that this lag only happens once.
  2. Decisions by Committee. We completely reject the notion of decisions by committee. We work with a single, courageous decision-maker. We welcome decision influencers, but we only look to the Owner for the final decision. All decision-makers and influencers must be involved in the Uncovery and Marketing Strategy Presentation if they want to offer input in the future. It is critical that we have a 100% fully approved plan that can be defended and championed by all leaders in the organization.  
  3. Proven Strategy. That means we are not the low-cost provider. With hundreds of service clients and a playbook of strategic devices, tools, and tactics, this isn’t a guessing game for us. We know what to do to make your goods and services appealing to potential buyers. If you can deliver the goods, we can  build the relationships. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that you are paying us less now so that you can pay us considerably more once revenues allow, please do not commit. We intend to be your true partners, in sickness and in health...so long as you own your business.
  4. Automatic Payments. Everything is on automatic payments. If you struggle with managing cash flow, figure that out in your business first. We accept all major credit cards and ACH payments.
  5. We Cause Problems. If you don’t have a capacity issue now, I promise you will in about 9 months. Let’s deal with recruitment out of the gate as part of your comprehensive marketing strategy.
  6. We Own the Copyrights. All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. We irrevocably grant you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
  7. Brand Building. We will be steering you to limit the use of discounts, rebates, coupons, and sales to attract clients. We know this feels counterintuitive to many, and we will clarify our reasoning. Rest assured, we have considerable experience in creating similar offers that are not damaging to your profitability, your brand’s integrity, and your preferable long-term client relations.
  8. Creative Authority. We must have creative authority over the words. You can accept copy as written or reject it outright, but you cannot modify the words yourself. If you do not like something as written, we are happy to discuss it and make the necessary change to maintain the integrity and intention of the words chosen. Alternatively, we will scrap the concept and create new copy that you are happy to get behind 100%.
  9. Proprietary Algorithm. The media buy must be structured in a very specific way, including running a full 52-week schedule. It is based on brain chemistry, not P&Ls. Once we have committed to the buy, it’s important to avoid adjustments unless they are calculated additions.
  10. Knucklehead Factor. You should expect knuckleheads. For example, when you start running ads that are certain to get attention, you need the courage to continue running those ads, even when you receive complaints. We celebrate complaints. It means we’ve made people feel.
  11. Digital Weasels. In about three months from the time your advertising campaign hits the airways, your digital marketers will show you a marked increase in direct and organic traffic. Some Digital Marketers will mistakenly claim this success as their own. Done properly, you can continue to spend less and less on digital lead generation by increasing your branded keyword online presence.
  12. Annual Marketing Meetings. Travel permitting, we prefer to hold Annual Marketing Meetings (AMMs) outside your city. Years of experience have taught us that we get better results when decision-makers are outside their sphere of influence, away from the day-to-day distractions of the office.

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