Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in a PCT e-newsletter titled “Targeting Bed Bugs,” which was sponsored by MGK.
There’s a continued opportunity — rather, necessity — for offering bed bug services. Savvy PMPs anticipate the bed bug information their potential customers need and address it in their marketing. Answer their questions, address concerns and share how you’re going to restore their peace of mind.
VISUAL EVIDENCE. Adhere to a simple marketing principle: “Don’t tell me. Show me.” Don’t say, “We provide superior treatment for bed bugs.” All of your competitors are likely saying the same thing. Instead, show them in words and pictures and examples of how you provide superior treatment. What makes you different from competitors?
DIFFERENT YET SIMILAR. Residential and commercial customers have different requirements and environments when it comes to treating for bed bugs, so it’s best to market to them separately. The basic messages to each are essentially the same and should only require a little tweaking. When prospecting commercial customers, demonstrate that you’re attentive to their unique needs and responsibilities, such as impeccable documentation that includes the information they legally require. Education is key to marketing bed bug treatment services. Potential customers, whether residential or commercial, are hungry for accurate information.
MESSAGES TO AVOID. Be sure you’re being responsible with your marketing language.
- Don’t use fear. Your marketing should be calming and emphasize you’re there to help. Dispel myths and fears. Be the expert resource.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be honest with yourself and know what your operation can and cannot handle.
- Don’t claim to have a quick or easy fix to treat for bed bugs. And explain why there’s no quick, easy fix.
- Don’t make guarantees. “We do not guarantee against bed bug reintroduction, and we cannot guarantee there are no bed bugs present or the property is cleared,” shared Nicole Kirwan Keefe, director of marketing, Clark Pest Control, Lodi, Calif. “We only state that there are no signs of activity. Because bed bugs can be easily reintroduced, we avoid making guarantees of that nature.”
EFFECTIVE MESSAGING. Consider these conversations instead:
- Everyone wants their bed bug problem addressed quickly and thoroughly, and to work with someone who can help them as soon as possible. Tell prospects your response-time policy or guarantee. He who’s fastest may win the customer.
- Prospects want to know what to expect. Tell them how you’re going to walk them through the entire inspection, treatment and follow-up process.
- Bed bug work isn’t easy. It requires time, attention and perseverance to succeed. Share with prospects how much time it could take, examples of how you’re detailed-oriented and your definition of success.
- Customers are part of the team. “The more you can educate your customer on their responsibilities — what they can do to help avoid the recurrence of a bed bug infestation — the better chance you’ll have of succeeding, and the more likely you’ll inspire the word-of-mouth that will bring in more business,” said Kirwan Keefe.
- Here are additional topics you might want to address in your marketing:
- What a bed bug looks like and their biology.
- How to identify that bed bugs may be present.
- What to do and not do if you think you’ve seen bed bugs.
- How to help prevent bed bugs from entering your home or workplace.
- What to consider when hiring a pest management professional.
- Describe your process for bed bug inspection, treatment, and the techniques and equipment you use and why.
REACHING PROSPECTS. There are many tactics you can use to market your bed bug services, many of which you’re likely already using.
“The best bed bug marketing we’ve seen has been sponsored, educationally oriented seminars and outreach efforts, directed toward associations and groups, to help them understand the intricacies of bed bug control, as well as set proper expectations for their collaboration, and the results,” said Kirwan Keefe. “We provide day-long seminars that feature information-rich presentations, arranged by topic, which spell out the kind of damage bed bugs can do, what our company can do to remediate infestations and what the attendees can do themselves to minimize the probability of bed bugs. We teach them why they need to choose the right pest management professionals with which to partner.”
CONDUCT SEMINARS. For commercial prospects, consider including experts in areas of interest to them, such as entomology, bed bug litigation and tenant litigation, as well as someone from the industry you’re targeting who’s already addressed a bed bug problem, and, of course, you, the pest management professional. You may be able to find sponsors to cover the costs for these types of seminars. Here are a few industry associations, businesses, institutions or groups to consider:
- Community centers
- Condo associations
- Food-processing facilities
- Food-service facilities
- Healthcare facilities
- Homeowner’s associations
- Hospitality organizations
- Human resources, departments and associations
- Manufacturing facilities
- Medical offices
- Office buildings/offices
- Property management
- Schools and school districts
- Senior facilities
Provide educational information in handouts or sell sheets, videos, on Facebook and Twitter, as well as your blog and newsletter. “For residential customers, including bed bug information in the mix of marketing materials they receive helps create awareness, and our technicians are prepared to answer questions our customers may have about bed bug treatment options,” said Kirwan Keefe.
Talk to your local media, whether print, TV, radio or online, and offer your expertise regarding bed bugs. Find out whom to talk to, introduce yourself beforehand and ask what information they’ll require. You’ll then need a reason to contact them so your information is relevant. (The following topics also can be used in any of your marketing efforts.) Consider calling them when:
- There’s a bed bug outbreak in your community;
- You’re entering the worst season for bed bugs — what to do to help identify and prevent infestations;
- It’s travel season — what can be done to help prevent bringing bed bugs into homes and offices; and,
- There’s an annual awareness month/week, such as NPMA’s National Pest Management Month or Bed Bug Awareness Week.