“Ground Game,” a Key Component of Marketing for Home Services

  • February 25, 2022
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This article about marketing for home services is by Geoff Henshaw, a marketing advisor to home services franchises and former VP of Marketing of O2E Brands (1-800-GOT-JUNK, 1-800-WOW-1DAY- PAINTING, ShackShine). 

Ground game, boots on the ground, local area marketing — whatever you call it, it is one of the highest ROI (return on investment) ways you can rapidly build brand awareness. Even better, you can focus it on your exact target market — the literal homes and their owners that you are looking to reach.

Yet, the majority of home service businesses avoid it and many others go through the motions. Why? Because it’s hard and it takes persistence and buy-in from your team.

This article will explain what I call ground game, why it’s important, how it can be done well and how you can use it as a critical part of your marketing mix and book more home services jobs.

What is Ground Game?

Typically it’s things like lawn signs, door hangers and mailers, where the purchase of media and/or installation is not necessary.

Next level ground game would include great vehicle wraps and team uniforms. For the purposes of this overview, it is not PR stunts or anything that requires more than one person to make happen.

Why Ground Game is Important

Brand awareness: It allows you to build brand awareness in the communities your target market frequents. The only other tactics that are potentially more effective are non-linear TV and direct mail.

ROI: It is an incredibly low-cost form of awareness building. Ground game is low cost considering the targeting that it enables and the number of impressions it will generate (especially versus non-linear TV and direct mail).

Adjacent benefits: It can have a positive impact on your other marketing tactics and channels. Good ground game can lead to online searches for your brand when your target market is considering your service. This will often be attributed as direct traffic, as a Google Business Profile view or branded search session. These are high intent, low-cost leads.

How to Do Ground Game Well

Right creative: think from the perspective of your target customer and how you want your brand to be perceived:
Keep your creative easy to read. No one driving by a lawn sign is going to remember a phone number or a website. Speaking of lawn signs…bigger is better and make sure they are double-sided!

Try to make your creative memorable and always ensure it is high quality. Spend the time on this to make sure that your brand stands out from the clutter.

Right people: If you know the profile of your target customer, use that to identify high potential ZIP and postal codes. Focus only on those postal codes with your ground game efforts. See more on the importance of this below.

Right time: Know where you are in the buying cycle, ground game should be a tactic used before peak season to begin to build awareness amongst your target market before they move into the consideration phase.

How Ground Game Can Be Done Poorly

Poor creative: Cluttered, low quality, bland — if you are putting anything out that checks any of these boxes, it might be worth reconsidering.

Poor execution: Details matter, and putting up lawn signs that are crooked or mailers that are crumpled reflects on your brand.

Wrong neighbourhood: At best, rolling out a ground game campaign in the wrong area is a waste of money, but at worst it could send confusing signals. For example, if you offer a mobile oil change service and you are putting up lawn signs in a neighbourhood where people typically roll up their sleeves and do it themselves, this could be confusing for residents and for your ideal market who might happen to drive by and assume it isn’t for them because of that association.

Poor timing: Ground game is an awareness builder. Get on your target market’s radar before they consider getting a job done. A classic example is early springtime for residential painting services. If you miss this window, your target market may already be considering or even booked with competitors.

Team engagement: The elephant in the room. Teams don’t generally love putting up lawn signs and door hangers; so making it fun is critical! Share with your team the importance of ground game. Empower them to lead best practices and optimization for your organization.

Gamify it! Offer incentives to teams who get the most material out into the market. Lead by example, get out there and give it a shot yourself, share what you learned with your team.

Additional Considerations for Marketing for Home Services

Integration: If you are running multiple tactics as part of your marketing strategy consider how your ground game fits. This is especially true for PPC marketing. Ensure that you are bidding on your brand terms. People will be searching for you online.

If you are bidding on more general keywords associated with your industry you also may have the advantage of brand awareness when it comes to getting clicks.

Tracking: Before you launch your ground game campaign think about your target market and the specific ZIPs and postal codes. Establish benchmarks for those areas and then track the incremental impact your campaign has on those neighbourhoods.

Learning: Approaching from the perspective of your target customer there will likely always be things to learn and improve upon when it comes to ground game and this is critical to stay one step ahead of your competitors.

Budget: If your focus is on growing your business, consider spending up to 2% of your overall revenue on ground game.

Ironically many home services business owners ignore ground game as being too simple to be effective. But it gives you the ability to target specific households with specific messages. When you look at it that way, it starts to sound better than even the most sophisticated digital tactics.

That said, it has two major differences. If done right the ROI is significant. And it isn’t easy. But with the right attitude, consistency and practice it can become a key part of any home services business’ marketing mix.

To speak with Geoff about how to grow your business book time with him here.