The #1 Myth of Getting More Leads

October 14, 2011

By Adams Hudson 

I hear it all the time. And it is flat-out wrong. It comes out in coaching calls here. I see it posted on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and nearly every Contractor Discussion board.

Contractors, understandably wringing their hands, want to know something like, “Hey, do postcards work?” Or, “Is your website getting you leads?” Or, “Anyone tried radio?”

They focus on the thing that “costs”, that is, the media. They’ve been brainwashed by the media salespeople who all claim “theirs” is best, cheapest, fastest, blah blah. It’s all a crock of crack.

What “sells” is the message. Always has been, always will be. A rotten message in any media you choose is still a rotten message. According to Clayton Makepeace, America’s highest paid copywriter and marketing strategist:

"The media doesn't make the sale. The message does. Therefore,
the way you persuade people to buy never changes."

You can drive thousands to your website using sophisticated SEO strategies, or rise to the top through Google paid listings. Yet if your message is poor, the traffic comes and is gone, leaving you with one very expensive revolving door on your website. Same with 10,000 letters, a dozen billboards, and the glitziest TV ad ever shot.

It’s not the media, it’s the message. Get that right and the market will respond. The media is merely the delivery vehicle. So, what makes a good message? In the last 11 years of focusing on contractor sales messages and selling a few billion dollars of equipment, this is the gold list.

  1. Familiarity. You must ‘relate’ to the problems faced by the prospect. If all you do is brag about you – like 90% of the ads we see - they don’t care and they’re gone. If you speak in terms of ‘their’ problems, issues, concerns and how you have a solution that works, they’ll listen. Most contractors brag first, hope second, complain over bad results third. Better to look at what actually bothers customers about home repairs and contractors, fix those, promote knowingly. Related…
  2. Get the Target Right. It is their problem, their home, their money. Just because it’s your ad doesn’t mean you’re the topic. Use “you and your” four times as often as “us, we, our”, you’ll do fine. It’s not, “We have” it’s “You get”. It’s not “Visit our website where we tell how we…” It’s “Visit now to learn how you can solve…” See? Same message, different focus, better results. Now, realizing #1 and #2…
  3. Craft a Compelling Headline, Subject Line, Landing Page, or ‘Opener’. If you’re still using your company name to lead off any of the above, you’re doomed. Current consumers don’t respond to ‘you’, they respond to ‘them’. (Seeing a theme here?) The headline, et al, still RULES results. Recently sent two emails, same list, same EXACT offer. Changed the Subject line, got 154% higher response. Grab a Free video on better emails here.

    There are 7 headline ‘families’ and they are still the most powerful emotional triggers of all: Anger, guilt, greed, fear, anxiety, status, loss. The ‘inverse’ of those are also strong (meaning, instead of ‘anger’, ‘peace’, yet the negative outpulls its positive counterpart. I don’t make the rules.) Make your headline, opener, subject lines ‘speak’ to the prospect about what’s important to them.

    Related, you must tap into…
  4. DRE or Dominant Resident Emotion. This is where your marketing “corners” the prospect’s problem and arrests their emotion. The ‘old’ marketing messages are about equipment, trucks, hardware, experience, which lead to low response.

    So, instead of saying something common and ineffective like, “We service all makes and models of furnaces. We’re very prompt and efficient and have been in business for 28 years.” Everyone says a version of this, so it has become boring. Better to get your same points in by attacking the “real” problems like this - -

    “Sick of waiting around for a <TRADE> technician? Tired of paying full price for a half-done job? When you call <COMPANY>, you’ll be greeted by a friendly voice ready to send a prompt service tech in a fully-stocked truck right to your door. Unlike some others, you won’t be charged for trips to the supply store, nor made to ‘guess’ at your price. That’s because…”

    See? The entire level of comfort has been raised. There are 7 DREs in the above by the way. Directly related are…
  5. Risk Reversals. This is your guarantees, warranties, or ‘big’ promise that put YOU as holder of risk, and the prospect as beneficiary. Saying, “Our systems save money!” is wimpy and overused. Better to say, “You’ll save 22% on energy or get a refund for the difference.”

    Saying, “Our plumbers are on time and care about your home!” is really nice, but has zero credibility. Try instead, “Your time is valuable! That’s why 91% of our calls are handled in the same day. And you’re either 100% satisfied or you don’t pay.” The more power in your guarantees, the more calls, period. Sure, a couple jerks a year might abuse your generosity, but the numbers of good calls and customers will far outweigh. Send the losers to your competition.

The beauty of the above list is massive response AND applicability. The modern presentation can easily jump media, like this - -Your YouTube videos can lead with the opener, share a problem homeowners have, point to the solution on your website.

Same with your emails. The subject line is the head, the SHORT body copy shows familiarity and targeting, then the solution (DRE) is the call or link to your landing page for that problem.

FREE SAMPLE OF “Jumping Media” for Better Results:

  • Click to see a super-short video on 'How to Boost Email Results' here.
  • The above video will take you right to a completely Free Report “17 Email Tips All Contractors Should Use”

So the above shows you the exact way to do this, letting you leap past competitors, PLUS gives you a pretty cool report.

You can do the same thing with direct mail. You can make a complete offer in a Direct Mail letter, drive the prospect to the phone (still our #1 method of lead generation) and use a QR code for more information, the above video, or a ‘Refer a Friend’ coupon for more savings.

For all, the guarantee is the power behind the offer. Takes it from mere ‘talk’ to confident expression backed up in writing.

Keep this editorial. Forward this message to your colleagues. Heck, post it on discussion boards. We see enough “hurt” out there for contractors who are NOT generating the leads they deserve. It’s time to get serious, and focus on the real issue.

Modern media allows wonderful interactivity, but it doesn’t – and never has – trumped the power of the message. Get yours right.

  • Look at your marketing. What is the SINGLE unifying message? If it’s about you, it’s wrong.
  • What would happen if you spent the exact same on media as a percentage of sales, but doubled the response rate? We see this happen literally hundreds of times each year. Change the message.
  • Did you see the ‘media jump’ video yet? This is a ‘behind the scenes peek’ at how Hudson Ink gets readers to a video, then to a report. You can use the EXACT same method in your marketing to drive traffic.


Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. PHCC members can get a free report "Upsell Your Way to Higher Profits" by emailing their polite request to or faxing company information to 1-334-262-1115. See other marketing reports at or call 1-800-489-9099.

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