No Thanks, I Have an Ad In The Phone Book

Yep. regular marketing is hard. You pound the pavement, pick up the phones, go to meetings, make ads, negotiate with ad companies, and so many other things that can takes tons of time, tons of money, and there is no guarantee of success. This is the old marketing: what I covered in my first post: “the 22 Immutable laws of marketing, and how to use them for your business” and it is also the entire basis for my business: making an online marketing plan that STOPS this crazy outflow of time, money, and energy that leaves you exhausted, overwhelmed, and often without any better results than simply focusing on JUST ONE of the methods I’ll teach you today in this post.

“But Charlie, you’re an online marketing guy, you don’t even KNOW if billboards, phone ads, or cold calling still works! you can’t say this in confidence”

Fair enough. I only do online marketing. I only work with clients online. Why have I done this? not because of a lack of knowledge of other venues, but BECAUSE of my knowledge.

I worked for years as a wealth advisor, and also as an insurance agent. If any of you are in this field, you know how you get business: Hit. The. Phones. You dial, and you dial a lot. That is your marketing. You also go to meetings, book appointments, drive to people’s houses, and then try and sell something they may or may not want, and god forbid you try and actually help them in a manner that makes sense to them….but lets not get into that for now.

so I’ve been there. I’ve cold called ( I used to make more than 100 dials a DAY. yes, a day) I’ve gone to Chamber of Commerce events, trade shows, and pretty much anything in between. These tactics work, and with appropriate promotion and marketing behind them can be exceptionally effective. But they still use up a TON of your most valuable asset of all: Time.

How many hours a week did I spend cold calling? probably 30. How many weeks at events, going to sales meetings, and the like? probably another 20. I haven’t even gotten to WORK at this point. That’s insanity. That’s not smart. Are you doing the same thing?

Most of my clients were. Or they’re sitting around scratching their heads trying to figure out exactly how to make this whole “online marketing” thing work. Its not hard. It ain’t rocket surgery.

In this post, I’m going to outline replacements for conventional, everyday marketing tactics that you probably use. I’m going to show you all simple programs, methods or systems you can use to replace these assumptions you’ve made about marketing and free your time, minimize your stress, and revolutionize the way you market your business

So let’s dive into it.

“No Thanks, I have an ad in the phonebook”

I was paying with my daughter on the playground behind our house the other day, and I introduced myself to another dad playing with his two kids. We played along with them for a time, and eventually let them go on their way and discusses our respective professions. I told him that I do online marketing for businesses. He told me he was a plumber. He then mentioned to me that he wasn’t using online marketing at all. I asked him why and he said to me “no I’m not really interested in it I just have an ad in the phone book.

That’s it?

The more I thought about it, the more it confused me. Why would a man who had spent years learning his craft, working under another plumber, going to school, getting certifications, building a book of business, becoming a pillar of the community, on and on, not want to PROMOTE his skill, authority, experience in the field, and all else? Why would he hamstring himself by simply leaving all of these opportunities by the wayside, instead of going ahead and leveraging all of these things he did to build an excellent business, and essentially see his profits hit the next level, while at the same time reducing his time spent on marketing SIGNIFICANTLY?

This might beg the question: Well what’s the issue with the phone book ad?

As anyone could guess, Phone book ads aren’t doing as well as they used to. back in the day, if you needed a plumber, you opened up the phone book, and you picked yourself a plumber. Today, if you want a plumber, you probably either a) google it, or b) ask your friends on facebook, or twitter.

How badly are they doing? well, an advertising agency did the leg work, and tracked the number of phone calls that a phonebook ad got a company, on average, from 2005 to 2007 Here are the graphs:

from 100 per call, up to nearly $900?! I hope you’re selling a complete new plumbing system with each call…..

The Answer:

Google Business pages is the first step. It’s free, it’s easy, and it gives you INSTANT exposure to people looking locally for whatever you’re selling. The best part about Google business pages? They act just like social media pages, so you can post updates, helpful links, and if you’re a plumber you can post up builds, testimonials…you name it. This becomes the page that people look at when they want to learn more about your business quickly. And they can find everything they need on Google. Easy.

What about the “online word of mouth” that happens on twitter, facebook, and the like? No way to manage that except a hearty handshake to your clients, and maybe offering a referral program, right? Wrong! Apps like


Google Alerts

and Mention will do just that.

These apps allow you to search for specific happenings in the social media world, and you can even localize. So our plumber friend will always be able to find folks near him complaining about stuffed toilets, expensive plumbers, and anything inbetween. Not only that, but he can easily spend his evenings just happily replying to these people’s problems, offering advice, and maybe even getting a client or two.

It doesn’t need to stop there, either. There are plenty of places to be “listed” as a plumber, or as an anything, that will help your business. Heres a list of a few.

This is a great site for anyone who is a contractor of any sort. Doesn’t matter if your a GC, a contactor, a plumber, an electrician, or even if you’re a “support” person (like myself!) you can use Contractor talk to get your word out there, and make more sales.

BiggerPockets is a website for real estate investors, but it’s also an incredible resource for anyone looking to buy a home. Their discussion forums are in the top ten for traffic for the entire internet (yes, all of it) and they put on weekly webinars in regard to real estate deals, and how to get into real estate investing. You can list here if you’re an investor, a real estate agent, or just to learn more. Its one of the best resources for realtors on the planet. Period.

If you google search (my industry) forums you’ll find one of these for almost any industry you can think of. This doesn’t always mean that it will be a great resource for lead generation, but being a part of an industry discussion forum like this will give you insights you can’t get anywhere else, and might even get other tradesmen in the industry passing people your way because you’re a better fit.

Foursquare is more of a mobile app than a website, and it allows you to list your business by locale, and then you can have people “check in” when they’re there. More importantly, it will list exactly where you are, and anyone looking for that type of business nearby will not only see your business and your location, but they will also be notified of any special foursquare offers you might be running, that will be eligible just by having you checkin.

Yelp is one of the best known listing sites on the net. If you haven’t taken control of your company’s business site, you’re making a mistake. Get on there, curate your page, and interact with your patrons, whether they’re saying good or bad, you want to be part of the conversation so you can fix problems before they become BIG problems.  Remember: any upset customer can be transformed from “look at how bad this was!” to” it was bad, but look at their solution!” Use that.


But what about billboards? how could you possibly get that kind of exposure? Billboards must still be a stalwart of “old school” marketing, right?

I wouldn’t be so sure. Billboards are good– and there’s no doubt that they get you good exposure. When I look at a billboard, though, I find myself thinking “wow, they must have money to burn if that’s how they’re doing their branding!” instead of “That’s a good offer!”  That’s a lot of money to spend just to get your name into a person’s head.  I get names in my head all day long from social media and the like.

The obvious online counterpart to billboards would be banner ads. Banner ads are terrible. Nobody clicks them. Sites can charge a  lion’s share for the real estate on their site as well. They’re ugly, they make the host site look cheap (almost always) and unless they’re SUPER CREATIVE, they rarely get clicked.

How do you combat this? Google Adwords.

You see, google adwords is wonderful, and I’ll tell you why. Google adwords only charges you PER CLICK. let me say that again. Google adwords only charges you PER CLICK. If somebody doesn’t click your ad, then that’s that. If someone does, then hooray for them!

Google adwords isn’t just for search, though. It’s also for webpages. If you’re a blogger, a content creator, or you want clean, text only ads on your site that you get paid for, you can use something called Google AdSENSE (link) This is a special program through google that allows you to have a section of your site get targeted ads to your demographic (meaning what type of blog, or website you have)

How does this benefit you? you can setup your Adwords account to be a part of this action. Therefore, you can get ad space on not just one or a few industry specific sites, but a TON of them.  Imagine how many people you can get your message in front of if you’re on search, on the front page of a ton of industry specific sites, and on blogs pertinent to your company as well.  That’s a billboard, for literally a fraction of the cost: with proper (research) LINK you can absolutely have an ad campaign setup like this for your business for less than $100 a month.

Newspaper Ads: Those still work right?!

Sure. But they’re expensive, ineffective, and well.. you get the idea. Newspaper ads have always been a good way to get the word out about your company, especially locally.

Press releases, and newspaper articles are great as well. Write a good article about your company to the newspaper with a decent pitch, and a local rag will probably publish it. Great! now the public gets to read about the glories of your company.

For me: I haven’t looked at a local paper in years. I grab usually once on vacation, a copy of the New York Times. I read though it, laugh that it cost five dollars, and throw it away. Newspaper is not the future, and if anything, this marketing medium is losing steam faster than any other.

So what’s the alternative? You’re reading it right now. Blogs. Now that doesn’t mean you need to track down you local news or something like that, though. There are plenty of established sites that will allow you not only to advertise, but will also happily accept guest posts pertinent to your industry: especially if you’re an expert in your field.

Digg is a great site that just allows you to post up articles. period. So if you have your own blog: post your articles to digg. Its an easy way to add a backlink, and will also give you the added benefit of having the article “published” at larger site. Digg is a fairly social site, however, and you’ll get more out of it.

Reddit is another place that does a great job at collating news. Think its just a kids site because your son spends all day on there posting cat pics? Think again. Reddit has very active “subreddits” for anything from plumbing to realty to small business ownership. So if you’re looking for a place to get the word out about your business, this can be a great resource as well.

Guest Posting on Blogs

Blogs are the new periodicals and news sources that people flock to. People around the world are making livings exclusively on blogs. This means that real, professional writers are commanding real audiences that range anywhere from 500-600 super loyal fans to several million subscribers. This is the REAL way to get your name in the newspaper. Write for one of these blogs, get your name out there, and reap the rewards.

Here (link) is a list of the most popular blogs on the internet. You can also google most popular (industry) blogs and start from there. This is the perfect place for you to look into these blogs, start to comment on posts, and build a rapport with the author. From there, you’re just a great piece of copy and a few emails away from getting some serious exposure. Cost: $0

Actually come to think of it, all of these replacements to the Newspaper ad are all free. A lot of these are free and cheap…

Dialing for dollars: That can’t be replaced can it?

Let me tell you a little story about cold calling: When I started this business, i started looking for business the only way that I knew how: hitting the phones. So I opened the yellow pages, and started dialing away. I found the same thing to be true that I had realized in wealth advice: people just don’t like to get called by random people anymore, especially in an age where email so neatly replaced that medium.

“But charlie, email is hard! nobody responds!”

Wrong. You haven’t offered any value yet, so of course they don’t respond.

I’ll get into this in another post ^

But with the HOW aside, let’s talk about what can replace hitting the phones.

Mailchimp is an email list system that is simple to use, and super ethical. Every email signup is done through a double authentication, so that you never get bots signing up, or someone signing up who isn’t sure about whether or not they want your content. This is the system that I use for my email. If you want to learn more about it, and see how I sell using email ( low pressure, no spam, and with more than 90% of all my material given away free via email) then sign up for my email list.

Aweber is the alternative to mailchimp. I know that a ton of super successful bloggers swear by it, and it’s another great option for building an email list.

But how do you build this email list? Its really not that hard. If you already have a business with clients, I guarantee that you’ve collected a TON of email addresses from former and current clients, and even prospects that you’ve worked with. Get them together, and send them a great email that will add a ton of value to them. Plumber? write an article about heating efficiency this winter, and new incentives for upgrading your hot water tank. A realtor? what new changes are going on in the market? You get my idea. Add that value, make people want to open your emails, and THEN sell. Sell once, sell easy, and get straight back to value. That’s it.

once again^ more on this later.

How to build that email list, though? There are many tools. Assuming that you already have a website set up, making an email capture system has never been easier. Here are the tools I use

Appsumo is, at its core, a collection of WordPress plugins that allow you to add email signup popups, a scroll box, or their new product “welcome mat” which allows you to easily make an email capture landing page. This is also a great place to quote appsumo founder Noah Kagan  (paraphrasing)

“if you want to start an email list: take a picture of yourself, and make a fb post that says “hey guys, I’m starting a blog on (x), if you want to learn more about this, shoot me an email! Email address”

people who are interested will sign up.


Email list selling is amazing in this regard. If you imagine and develop your funnel correctly, you’re only subscribers are going to be people who want, and will benefit from, your product or service. Nobody else (except maybe your mom…good ol ma.)  That means that when you’re writing, you can simply start writing to a person who is interested. You know how good it feels to find someone through phone prospecting who is genuinely interested, and then start giving them the information and help they need? Yeah, that’s email selling. All the time.

If you want to learn more about email writing, and learn some of the tricks I use to write better, check out, which is one of the best blogs I’ve ever read on writing Copy. The Gary Halbert Letters is another resource that will also help you write better, stronger, and to sell. Check them out.

Personal Branding

For many small business owners, personal branding is probably your face, your name, and getting out in the community. Good! that’s something that online marketing will never replace. Spending time volunteering in the community, going to community events, and being an active member of making a local community better is something that really can’t be replaced. But you can use the internet to further promote brand: you. And it’s not sleazy, it’s not pushy, it’s just you.

instagram is the new selfie capital of the internet. its a place where people share photos, short videos, and small updates. This is a perfect place to happily share your personal brand. Its the most casual of all social media, and will give you a great place to share picture of yourself, your business, your clients, and the results you’ve gotten. This is an invaluable tool for contractors, plumbers, and the like, because you can rapidly post up pictures of builds, happy clients, and other such things. Don’t skip this!

Personal branding is something that should be fun. So imagine how you want to look to the public, and then create that image using social media. There are great tools to do that as well, but that would be another entire post. Coming soon.

Television Advertisemsnt

TV advertisement is still alive and well. Superbowl ads now cost well into the millions of dollars, and people still keep the beloved screen on many hours a day in the living room. But there are many better ways to advertise online that still use video as a medium, and will give you the ability to do it at a fraction of the cost of eral television advertising.

Youtube is the second largest search aggregator on the internet. Not the largest video search, just search. Its one of the most heavily visited sites on the planet.  And anyone can upload a video. This means that if you have a cell phone wiht a decent camera, or a laptop with the same, you an probably make a video promoting your brand, or your business.

Vimeo is another great site that allows anyone to upload videos, but gives the user a lot more control. Want to hide the length of the video? no problem. How about hide the video title? sure. Vimeo’s customization makes it a great tool for uploading videos on your own website, as you can make them work exactly how you want.  There is a fee for this customization, but its often worth it.

Also, if you want to hire a company to build a video for you to advertise, there are plenty of professionals to hire to help you make that video, and often times for very little money. Hit up craigslist, elance, odesk, or other places and find a video creator.

If you’re looking for something polished, clean, creative, and made by the guys who make Google’s videos, check out

These guys make some of the most viral videos on the net, and have been doing so for over 5 years. So check them out if you want to get serious about viral video marketing.

So there you have it. Online marketing can replace just about anything you do “oldschool” for way less cost, and way more results. You just need to know how to go about it.

If you found this post helpful, share it with a friend! I always love to help others!

Welcome to Mountain Man Digital, has your practice been relying solely on word of mouth for too long? Let our team of seasoned professionals build you a marketing system that get 10-30 new patients in the door every month, consider Working with Us.

Read more of our blogs.