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Opinion: How to spot difference between good, bad deals

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The other day, our Zoom Drain marketing expert Andrew and I were having a conversation about online marketing. I asked, “What causes people to click on an ad?” He said, “People want a good deal. Our job is to help them identify a good deal from a bad deal.”

Don’t you love it when someone says in a few words what you have spent years trying to articulate?

This language – “good deal/bad deal” – facilitates a simple, transparent way for team members to communicate with each other and our customers. When value exceeds price, it’s a good deal. Otherwise, it’s a bad deal.

Pricing strategy
Andrew continued, “Online ads help customers find us when they have a drain or sewer problem. I look at the words they are searching. I study our competitors’ ads and messaging. When I search ‘clogged drain,’ I find a lot of deals: $49 any drain deals. $99 deals. 90% off deals. Ninety percent off of what? I saw a $7 drain cleaning deal. How is that possible? That can’t be a good deal. But how does our customer make sense of this?”

Andrew said he called to ask about the $7 deal. “The person who answered said, ‘We have a dispatch fee of $160. If we can do the job easily, the price is only $7 on top of that. In other words, the price could be a low as $167.’”

Is that a good deal or a bad deal? If they’re not going to be upfront about the pricing, what other bafflement lies ahead?

There are so many awesome contractors in our industry who do quality work and really care about their customers. Why is price the first thing mentioned? Many ads include words like honesty, trust and integrity. That messaging is at odds with bait-and-switch pricing.

“Match up your words and your actions, starting with your ads,” Andrew advised. “We comb through our Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List and Home Advisor ads, and all our marketing, to have consistent, straight-forward messaging and branding.”

If companies do this successfully, prospective customers may click their ads. The education continues.

Online forward
No-brainer navigation is a good deal. Make it easy for customers to contact you any way that works for them. Customers may schedule work from the office and may prefer not to call. Same goes for parents with sleeping kids. On every page of your site, prominently display your phone number, live chat and, perhaps, a scheduling app.

Be sure to link your reviews to your site. Those five-star reviews are encouraging to prospective customers. They like it when others share their experiences (good deals) via comments.

So many of our competitors’ sites are lined with coupons. Andrew asked, “If you are fairly priced, why would you offer a discount right off the bat? And why make your customer take an extra step for a good deal?”

Good point. “Mrs. Fernwicky, unless you mention the online coupon, I am going to give you the bad deal.”

With pictures, videos and succinct copy, lay out the ways you are going to do right by your customers and solve their problems. If you do this well, they’ll contact you.

Then it’s up to you and your team to deliver on your promises.

Bottom line, our customers are counting on us to help them make a good deal. And it just doesn’t have to be all about price.

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at


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