Every water dealership must engage in marketing to bring a continuous flow of leads into its pipeline. To do this, each needs to utilize many channels to get its name front and forward in its market.

Lead generation marketing channels include:

  • Email marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing
  • Online lead generation
  • Search engine marketing
  • Pay per click advertising on social media, such as Facebook
  • Trade shows
  • Door-to-door

Using each of these channels is important because people need to see a dealer’s name, hear its message and relate to its business in more than one way. Different people respond to different mediums. People who reply to direct mail may not open the door if the doorbell is rung. People who are Facebook aficionados may never answer a landline.

Facebook is just one of many marketing channels every dealer needs to test and the one we will focus on in this article. It may give a dealership access to selected consumers in its market that it might not be able to reach through any other medium.

Step 1: Create a Facebook page

The first step to advertising on Facebook is to create a Facebook page for the business. Learn how to set one up at facebook.com/business/products/pages/.

Once the Facebook page is up and running, create Facebook ads to reach different audiences and meet specific business goals. Globally, 1.591 billion active users exist on Facebook, with more than 169 million in the U.S. With such massive audience reach, Facebook is an attractive platform for many types of businesses, although it is generally regarded primarily as a business-to-consumer-focused (B2C) marketing channel.

Step 2: State goals & create budget

Start by establishing goals, and then decide how much money to budget to reach them. If the goal is lead generation, decide how much each lead is worth. Use this as a guide through the Facebook advertising process.

Like Google AdWords and many other social advertising platforms, Facebook uses an auction system for determining which ads are placed where and when. For example, it costs more to place an ad in the center of the page than on the side, but the dealer can test and tweak the strategy, turn campaigns on and off, and maintain control of the campaign budget, which can be set on a daily, monthly, per-ad or per-campaign basis.

It is easy to spend a huge amount of money on social media. While it is exciting to plan these ads and post-boosts, it may not be as exciting to see how many people clicked, how much money was spent and how many actual leads were generated. Many experts suggest  that it is best to start with a low budget as the business learns the ins and outs of Facebook advertising.

Step 3: Define a target audience

Who are the dealer’s best customers? Can they be defined by demographics, needs, life stage or lifestyle? Where are they?

Many experienced business owners know who their clients are and can rattle off a customer profile the same way they can deliver their elevator pitches. Others I work with tell me that they target “anyone interested in my services,” which is code for “I really have no idea.”

Facebook does a lot to help marketers find their ideal audience online. Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies, believes the targeting capabilities on Facebook are far more advanced than any other social media platform. She suggests that Facebook allows people to get in front of their perfect audience on a more egular basis.

For example, she said that if a Facebook business page has been built up and has a few thousand fans, start by targeting them. It is the cheapest way to target on Facebook because it does not charge as much to target a page’s fans versus a cold audience.

The next thing to do is create a look-alike audience of the business’ own fan base. Tell Facebook about these fans, and request targets who are similar in likes, interests, activities and behavior. Facebook will provide an audience that is very similar to the one already attracted to the page.

Also, target fans of other Facebook pages, such as the business’ competitors or people who are aligned with the business. It takes patience to find these sites, but keep experimenting.

Businesses can target audiences based on demographics (age, gender, home ownership, education level, income), interests (activities, hobbies), online and offline buying habits, and other information.

Because many water dealerships target a specific geographical market, they can use Facebook’s options for selecting users by zip code, city or a radius around a given location.

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Step 4: Shape the message

The driving force of any social media campaign is solid marketing content that contains a relevant message targeted to a specific audience.

In the water treatment industry, dealers can post content that focuses on family health and well-being or local water treatment issues. Participating in programs such as World Water Day or National Drinking Water Week and incorporating that involvement into subject matter gives dealers a chance to look bigger than they are as they become part of a national initiative.

Consider creating a post that offers statistics about the amount of water an individual should drink each day to stay healthy and hydrated during the summer months. As part of the message, discuss quality water in addition to quantity, and frame the dealership as the expert in providing that quality water. This is the kind of information fans might like and will share with others.

Make the most out of posts and re-purpose content from the business’ blog and website. Lastly, remember the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” In Facebook advertising, the picture is what gets noticed first. In terms of copy, the simpler and shorter it is, the better.

Step 5: Plan a campaign

In terms of campaign objectives, Facebook offers many different ways to advertise, ranging from boosting the reach of individual posts to using ads to increase conversions on the business’ website. Setting up ad campaigns has also been streamlined and simplified, so it just takes a little practice.

Looking back at an article posted on Facebook about the amount of water an individual should drink to stay healthy and hydrated during the summer months, the marketer can boost this post, which means paying Facebook to put this post in front of different Facebook users. The dealer can also advertise the post to its fans, look-alike audience and those consumers it has already defined as its target audience through the Facebook demographic targeting options.

Facebook will also provide a suggested bid per click that does not have to be used, but the dealer can start with the minimum bid as it gets its feet wet. A dealer can set its budget as well. When learning the way around the system, be cautious with the spend until consistent results are seen.

Step 6: Measure results & refine program

Facebook advertising and digital marketing in general offer marketers easy access to campaign performance data that can be used to help tweak and refine a strategy.

The campaign reports provide real feedback that will tell the dealer what is working and what is not. Information from these reports can also help refine a program.

Thinking back once again to the post about drinking water for health and hydration during summer, the campaign goal was to increase lead generation. When the post was boosted, the dealer saw an increase in visits to its website, but the reporting shows no conversions, meaning no one completed the lead generation form. While it is great to have a lot of new people visit a site, if they are not completing and submitting the lead generation form, which was a stated goal, change course. Review the form, make sure it is working correctly, test different versions and try to improve its response.

Test and tweak, test and tweak. When a magic formula is found, invest more of the marketing budget towards Facebook advertising.

To learn more about advertising on Facebook, visit facebook.com/business/products/ads/.

As one final caveat, know that every business is different. Facebook advertising might not be the best marketing channel to generate leads for a water dealership. It could be a total bust and send a dealer back to more traditional lead generation channels such as direct mail, but the only way to know is to try.

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Dale “DataDale” Filhaber is president and listologist supreme of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based direct marketing company founded in 1981. She has trained water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques. She is a WQA member and a guest lecturer at the annual WQA conference. Her new book Lead Generation Made Easier will help kick-start lead generation programs and boost leads. She may be reached at dale@datamangroup.com or 800-771-3282.