As someone who has been helping home builders and contractors with their marketing for the last 20 years, it stands to reason that I spend a great deal of time talking with business owners about the success of their campaigns from every angle. Part of what I do involves sitting down with people and figuring out what is working and, more importantly, what isn't.

Trying something that ultimately doesn't pay off isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it's nothing if not an opportunity to try something fresh and new that may be a little more in line with your target audience. But at the same time, I've worked with numerous SMB owners over the years who tell me that they've tried this marketing method or that one and, after only a month or two, have come to the conclusion that it "just doesn't work at all."

Take Pay-Per-Click marketing campaigns, for example. These are exactly what they sound like - a business model where your company A) places an advertisement on a website, and B) you pay money to the host of that website whenever a user actually clicks on the ad in their browser. Generally speaking, you must spend enough money to get at least 100 clicks to determine if your ads are working.

"I tried it. It clearly didn't work at all. In fact, it was a complete FAIL", one recent customer told me, after he said that he spent $250. Now, it's absolutely true that not every technique is appropriate for every type of business out there. But the fact of the matter is, in this case the customer didn't spend enough money to get enough clicks to even know whether his Pay-Per-Click campaign was working in the first place.

I've heard customers say the exact same thing about direct mail over the years. They tell me that they used targeted mailing to narrow down their list and designed "perfect copy," only to see a response rate that left a lot to be desired. "Direct mail is over anyway," they usually tell me. "It's all digital now, who cares about print marketing?"

Setting aside the fact that about 54% of people say they actually want to receive direct mail collateral from businesses that they're interested in, you also need to keep in mind that it takes an average of six impressions for people to see your business' name before they will remember it and then they have to have a need in order to call you. This means that, as a contractor or home builder, if you only send out ONE piece of direct mail collateral and call it a day, you may as well have not sent anything at all.

It's not that direct mail doesn't work - it's that you didn't give it the chance it needed to succeed.

I always tell my clients they should give their marketing campaign a minimum of twelve months but depending upon what it is, six months might be more appropriate. Sales are influenced by many factors and just because you didn’t get results one month doesn’t mean you won’t the next month.

Take for instance, holiday weekends like President’s Day. It has always been my experience that the week before and after a three-day weekend will provide a lower marketing response rate than other times during the year. Perhaps that is because where I live in Colorado Springs everyone is heading to the mountains to ski. It could be different in your area. But if you don’t have year to year statistics, how would you know?

Additionally, when you employ a pay-per-click campaign, your ads need to be adjusted using A/B testing to hone in on the best results. This takes time.

The same thing with your website. You had a new website built and you aren’t getting any leads from it. Have you looked at your Google Analytics to see if you are getting any traffic to the site? If you are getting traffic have you looked at the results from webmaster tools to determine which pages people are reading and where they are exiting your site?

Now as the owner of the company I don’t expect that you will be doing all this analysis, but someone with expertise needs to.

Marketing can be a full-time job. Having the proper tools in place to track your metrics is important. And I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to track your leads and sales against your marketing spend. As a matter of fact, it’s so important it is something I practice as well as preach. To this day and for the last 20 years, I keep track of every marketing campaign I run, how much I spend on it, how many leads I get and how many of those turn into closed sales. This helps me to know what marketing is profitable and which is not. Tracking my leads also allows me to identify new product opportunities and new sales scripts.

Tracking Generates Data, Data Generates Insight

If you want to make sure that you're tracking the numbers associated with your marketing campaigns in the most complete and accurate way possible, the number one piece of advice I can give you is to not even attempt to do this in your head. Instead, you need to have a real tracking document that allows you to compile actionable data in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way similar to this sales and lead tracking sheet.

If you have a receptionist or admin assistant who answers the phone, they should be asking everyone who calls in how they found your company and logging it before passing the call to you or your team. If you have salespeople in model homes, they should be asking the question and tracking their leads.

As the lead becomes a sale, you’ll update the sheet. If the lead is lost or disqualified, track that too. At the end of the year you’ll be able to know the total leads received from your different marketing methods and the number that turned into sales. You can then determine your cost to acquire a customer and make fully informed decisions regarding where to spend your marketing dollars.

"There's No Such Thing as an Overnight Success"

In the end, maybe the most important thing to remember is that "Rome wasn't built in a day." In other words, marketing is not necessarily an "instant gratification" situation. Your campaign, along with your brand, needs to grow and build its own momentum, and that will take time depending upon the marketing method.