Merchant: Sharp Cleaning
Location: Southborough, MA
Platforms: Cidewalk, HomeAdvisor
Bottom Line: Small business owners would rather connect with new leads personally via email than funnel them to their websites.
For small businesses with limited resources, hiring in-house sales teams can be unrealistic. As a result, nearly half (47%) of small business owners now handle all marketing/advertising tasks on their own. Herminio Gomes falls into this group.
As the owner and president of Sharp Cleaning in Southborough, Massachusetts, Gomes has struggled to find the right salespeople for his company. Retention has been a problem, as has the high cost of paying someone to manage all of the sales platforms and tools he uses to acquire new leads.
Although Gomes has been relying on direct mail, flyers, and print newspaper ads to promote his company for years, he only recently started looking into mobile advertising options. He found the self-serve advertising platform Cidewalk based on a referral from a friend and soon decided to give it a try.
“We [thought] that the mobile phone would be a very interesting advertising tool because smartphones and social media have been part of people’s lives everyday,” Gomes says.
Using Cidewalk, businesses like Sharp Cleaning can create ads that appear as banners across the bottom of popular mobile apps. Businesses select the local regions where their ads should appear, and consumers who see the ads are prompted to contact the business via email for more information.
In the six months since he started working with Cidewalk — specifically with the goal of reaching local customers and generating new leads — Gomes says he’s had “very successful results.” He now gets a “substantial” amount of business through the platform.
“Unlike other advertising services, [Cidewalk] connects me with customers through email instead of simply sending them to my website,” he says. “Website traffic is not as useful to me as an email lead, where I can easily follow up.”
To determine which marketing and advertising channels are most successful, Gomes watches the “amount of business and feedback” he gets from customers. He doesn’t focus too much on raw numbers, although Cidewalk does provide businesses with statistics on when and where their ads are appearing.
Despite his recent successes with mobile advertising, Gomes estimates he currently spends just 4% of his marketing budget on digital channels. The rest is divided between direct mailers, newspaper ads, flyers, and commissions. His company also uses HomeAdvisor, a marketplace that lists pre-screened service professionals, but Gomes says he hasn’t seen any results in the few months he’s been using the platform.
Free advertising channels like social media and online reviews are much more lucrative to small business owners. Gomes says that’s because so many consumers use social media now, and it’s a very direct form of advertising.
“Online reviews are extremely important [as a feedback tool],” he says, “because we can know what our customers are thinking about when it comes to our service.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.