How a Punch in the Face Opened the Eyes of This Business Owner

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Are you struggling to decide what’s the best investment for your digital marketing dollars? Read this small business success story and tips.

Are you struggling to decide what’s the best investment for your digital marketing dollars? You’re not alone. As a small business owner myself, I know first-hand that investing in online marketing can be a difficult process. You know you need to get the word out about your business, but paying for a new website, a robust email marketing program, or even hiring an intern to manage your social media presence can be a tough financial decision.

When every dollar counts, it’s tempting to stick to the traditional marketing methods you know best, rather than investing in Google AdWords or content marketing. For Toronto-based small business owner Brian Young, it took a literal punch to the face to help him see the errors in this line of thinking.

In 1987, Brian founded Home Painters Toronto and by 2000 he’d grown his company into one of the largest Toronto-based painting services. Then the Internet took off and everything changed. His would-be customers relied on Google and online review sites to find home painters, rather than the Yellow Pages. Overnight, Brian’s market share dried up.

Believe it or not, prior to 2012, Brian’s company did not even have a website; they were virtually invisible online. Despite watching his business’s market share fall each year, Brian remained committed to his traditional marketing tactics: canvassing neighborhoods, mailing out flyers and cold calling prospective clients.

Related Article: Measure Me: The 10 Must-Track Data Points for Digital Marketing ROI

Brian Gets Punched in the Face

“I was canvassing a neighborhood and a prospective client was really upset I interrupted his dinner,” says Brian. “He shoved me then punched me in the face. That hurt physically but more emotionally. I knew at that point, what I was doing for over 20 years was no longer working and I had to find a better way to market my business.”

Brian turned to local business consultant Mike Torgerson for help. Torgenson helped Brian not only get a website up and running, but also put together a robust digital marketing strategy including AdWords, content marketing and email marketing. In three short years, sales increased by 350 percent, the client database grew from just 200 to over 6,000, and customer satisfaction skyrocketed from 85 percent to 98 percent.

Brian’s staff grew too, going from being a one-man army with a handful of subcontractors to employing an in-house staff of eight and 25 subcontractors. Brian went from working over 90 hours a week to 60, all while steadily expanding his business.

Want your business to grow by 350 percent in three years like Brian’s did? Then take these lessons to heart:

Don't Be Afraid to Make a Big Change

Dedication and determination will only take your business so far. When Brian’s company started to struggle, he was still working 90+ hours a week trying to bring in more clients. By re-directing this energy towards an online marketing program, Brian was able to work smarter and see a greater return on his time and money.

Do Diversify

Once Brian dipped his toes in the world of digital marketing, he understood that a multi-channel approach was critical to success. Just as a single-minded marketing strategy like canvassing neighborhoods had let him down in the past, only building a website, for example, would have been equally insufficient.

That’s why Brian set up a robust email marketing program, AdWords campaign, content marketing program, and even got his company listed on major home improvement review sites. Don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket. As Brian’s story shows, a diversified inbound marketing strategy delivers the best results.

Related Article: The 5 Most Neglected Inbound Marketing Channels

Don't Go it Alone

Hire an outside consulting service to set up best practices for your business from day one. When Brian wanted to join Infusionsoft for his CRM, for example, he hired Kelsey Bratcher from Hired Gun Solutions to help automate his business. This allowed Brian to delegate more day-to-day responsibilities to his capable staff while Brian stayed focused on the big picture. That opened up time for Brian to think more creatively about his business and even participate in several makeovers for popular HGTV shows like Holmes on Homes and Custom Built.

Bottom Line

If you're new to online marketing or not getting the return on investment that you expected, don't give up. But don't keep doing the same thing you've always been doing and expect a different result, either. Consider hiring an outside consultant to set up best practices and help diversify your marketing channels. With the right balance of online inbound marketing tactics, you can build your brand and increase sales just like Brian did – ideally no punch in the face required.

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