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After 43 years of being active in the pest control industry, I have observed quite a few interesting trends develop and take shape. Some good, and some not so good.

But, here I want point out a particular trend I think has had a major detrimental effect on many pest control companies from the standpoint of marketing…especially marketing on the internet.

Let’s go back to 1962 when Rachel Carson wrote her remarkable (and controversial) book titled “Silent Spring.” In it, she basically suggested that pesticides and pesticide use were destroying the planet and if we didn’t stop using them, life as we all knew it was going to vanish from the earth.

Her book set off a firestorm of controversy and sent emotions freewheeling. This eventually led to the environmental movement and ultimately the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It also began to change the way the public viewed the pest control industry and pest control operators. Or at least, we believed it did.

As the environmental movement began to take shape and take hold, many PCOs began to re-think the way they advertised and marketed themselves. They were fearful of being perceived as “the bad guys.” Some even changed the names of their companies and dropped the words “pest control” and “exterminating” in favor of less direct titles such as “pest services” and “pest solutions.” This was sometimes encouraged by lawyers who led us to believe that those words carried less liability than the more traditional ones.

PCOs began to shrink away from calling themselves “the bug man” and opted for such titles as “pest management professional.” I’m not saying this is bad, but I’m going to show you how it may have had — and continues to have — a detrimental effect on sales for some companies.

Now, I’m a firm believer in this mindlessly simply strategy: If you want to know what someone wants, just ask them and they’ll tell you. It’s simple and it’s powerful. It cuts to the chase. No beating around the bush.

Which leads me to this question: Do people really want “pest control” or “pest solutions”?

I decided to check it out. I decided to ask people what they really wanted. I did that by going to Google and taking a look at what they were searching for. And what I found was what I suspected all along, although it was not what many PCOs are going to want to hear.

I used Google’s “Keyword Planner.” It is a tool that allows you to enter certain key words and phrases and see how many times they are searched for on Google. It is invaluable when it comes to choosing the right words and phrases to use in your internet marketing campaigns as website titles, video titles, article titles, etc.

By “right words,” I simply mean those words and phrases that people are searching for. If you use them, people will find you much easier when they search.

Here’s what I found (the numbers indicate the average monthly searches on Google):

  • Pest Control — 165,000
  • Exterminator — 60,500
  • Pest Solutions — 880
  • Pest Services — 390
  • Pest Elimination — 110

FACT: People are searching for “pest control” vs. “pest solutions” an average of 187 to 1.

They are searching for “exterminator” vs. “pest services” an average of 155 to 1.

And, before you give up on the title of “bug man,” know that people are searching for a “bug man” 14 times more often than they are searching for a “pest management professional.”

If you want to know what people want, just ask them and they will tell you. They did for me!

FINAL THOUGHTS. It’s important when selling that you speak the language of your buyer. If they speak Spanish, you need to speak Spanish. If they speak Greek, you need to speak Greek. If you don’t learn to speak the language of your customers, it makes it much more difficult to persuade them to buy from you.

Does this make sense to you? I hope so.

On one hand, the internet is an entity of infinite complexity. On the other, it operates on a premise of mindless simplicity. You can find out exactly what people want to buy simply by taking a look at what they are buying. If you listen to them — and learn to speak their language — you will make more sales, close more deals and get a lot more customers.

Many consumers are searching for pest control, exterminators and bug men. That is the language they speak!

The author is a pest control marketing consultant and president of Coleman Services, Roswell, Ga. He can be reached at www.pestcontrolmarketer.com or by calling 770/993-0004.