My past three posts explained why home improvement companies have such a hard time clawing their way to the top of the search engine rankings. If you haven’t (yet) read them, don’t despair. I’m finally getting to the point.
Here it is: Real responsibility for high rankings on the search engines does not rest with your home improvement company.
It rests instead with the owners of the brands you sell.
Why? Let me offer a bit of history.
Traditionally, manufacturers of home improvement brands have often looked to their dealers to bear much of the burden of marketing. Manufacturers have left it largely up to those dealers to know the preferences and peculiarities of their local markets, and buy the best possible advertising for those areas. Sure, manufacturers do engage in national advertising to support their brands (and ultimately their dealers). Occasionally, manufacturers might even run a few lead generation campaigns, but that has not been the rule.
When it comes to marketing, manufacturers have left it up to their dealers to do the heavy lifting, sometimes aiding them with co-op dollars or matching marketing funds.
For manufacturers, this took a great weight off their shoulders. It also kept costs to their dealers lower and enabled dealers to market in their territories in whatever way they felt best. Dealers generated their sales leads via local TV and radio, newspaper ads, direct mail and home shows—and it worked.
This was the model for success for decades. That is, until the Internet came along.
The disruption came about because the Internet actually handicaps local dealers of home improvement products:
- Their efforts to boost their search engine rankings are thwarted by highly skilled, deep-pocketed home improvement lead generation companies.
- The Internet is a completely new advertising medium. That means dealers have to learn from scratch about a rapidly evolving marketing channel.
How can dealers compete effectively on the Internet? The best answer is for manufacturers themselves to develop and implement effective national Internet strategies. To serve their dealers best, those strategies should focus on generating sales leads. Organic search, paid search, banner advertising, social media—manufacturers should leave no stone unturned in helping connect their dealers with homeowners searching the Internet for solutions to their home improvement problems.
Why? Manufacturers, not their dealers, have the perspective and the scale to implement national Internet strategies. They have the staying power to effectively compete online with the national lead generation companies. And aiding them is Google’s recent Vince Update that helps national brands rise in the search listings.
Today’s dealers should be focused on selling, installing and servicing home improvement products. The opportunities and challenges of the Internet have made it even more important to stick to what they do best.
So what should dealers do? They should lobby their manufacturers to ensure that those brands have effective online lead generation programs in place on a national level. It’s an approach that will not only help dealers, but the manufacturers as well.
To my knowledge, only a few national home improvement brands have embraced this opportunity. At this point, only one result is certain. If other brands don’t do it, their competition eventually will.