The spring season evokes thoughts of blooming flowers and warming weather. However, pest control professionals might think of something else when it comes to springtime: termites. Estimated to cause more than $5 billion in property damage in the U.S. each year, these “silent destroyers” pose serious threats to homeowners and require professional attention should an infestation be discovered. While these facts are well-known across the industry, we have a tremendous opportunity — and responsibility — to educate consumers as well. In doing so, companies can help ensure the safety and well-being of their customers while simultaneously helping to grow their own businesses.

According to a study conducted by the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), Generational Pest Control Research, only 35 to 41 percent of respondents across the millennial, Gen X and baby boomer generations indicated they would call a professional if faced with termites, underscoring the need to educate consumers on the threats an infestation can pose. Utilizing the following timely marketing campaigns and relevant outreach strategies can go a long way towards improving consumer awareness and spurring professional service utilization.

LEVERAGE PPMA CONSUMER INFO. Online content and social media have become the primary avenues for consumers to get their daily news and are increasingly influencing their purchasing decisions. To capitalize on these trends, PPMA produced two termite-focused consumer education initiatives in recent years: the Tiny Termite House and “Will They Eat It?” video series.

Released in 2018, the Tiny Termite House provides a never-before-seen look at how these voracious pests are able to systematically compromise the integrity of a home. More than half a million subterranean termites were introduced into the soil surrounding a miniature, built-to-scale dream home outfitted with real-life features such as insulation and electricity, as well as cameras to capture all of the action. From introduction to decimation, PPMA chronicled the incredible damage these pests were able to inflict on the house from the inside out, which typically remains hidden from homeowners until it is too late. Although the exterior of the tiny home appeared undisturbed, the project revealed the devastating impact the termites caused behind the walls and beneath the surface.

More recently, PPMA produced “Will They Eat It?” The six-part video series demonstrates that these destructive pests can chew through much more than just wood. Each episode featured fun and eye-catching gameshow-like experiments, placing everyday household objects into a tank of 100,000 hungry termites to find out, “Will They Eat It?” Termites operate out of sight, and the damage they cause, as well as the speed at which they work, isn’t usually something homeowners can see or are aware of. By revealing the damage these “silent destroyers” caused to items like shoes, books and even a fast-food meal, the project brought these hidden pests into the spotlight to help consumers truly understand the breadth of damage they can cause.

These unique and engaging campaigns were extremely successful, generating national media coverage and amassing millions of social media impressions, helping to increase awareness of termite dangers as well as the importance of professional pest control.

Industry professionals can leverage these compelling assets for their own marketing programs, with high-resolution photography, footage and much more available for PPMA investors via Mainframe, the organization’s digital marketing service. Companies can share the visuals on social media and their websites, utilize assets for local media relations outreach, and even equip technicians with digital content to use as educational and sales tools in the field.

GET SOCIAL, SAFELY. Approximately two-thirds of American adults get their news from social media, and a recent report from Statista noted that 77 percent of Americans are active social media users. Due to safety concerns amidst the ongoing pandemic, social media has become increasingly effective and widely utilized by companies to engage with consumers. According to a recent consumer survey conducted by the Harris Poll, 51 percent of respondents reported an increased usage of social media since the pandemic began.

Sharing highly visual content is one of the best ways to engage and connect with consumers. In fact, according to Wyzowl, people are twice as likely to share video content with their friends compared to any other type of content. In addition to static posts, companies also can leverage interactive features such as Facebook Live Chats to provide users with timely insights. Livestreaming is a great way to easily generate video content, boost brand awareness and highlight key message points. Whether it’s a technician answering questions about termite issues or showcasing termite damage in real-time, Live Chats can help develop personal connections and trust among followers by showcasing the hardworking people behind your company who keep the community safe.

When sharing content, balance education with entertainment to ensure your materials not only grab people’s attention but resonate with them as well. Mainframe subscribers have access to an expansive catalogue of professional and customizable marketing materials, as well as useful “how-to” guides on optimizing your platforms and presence.

TAP INTO LOCAL NEWS. Consumers turn to local news outlets to get the information most relevant to them in their area. By securing local news coverage, your company can get direct exposure to residents and customers, highlighting the pest issues that matter to them and positioning yourself as the local go-to expert. Commenting on a local infestation or warning residents about future termite problems in the area are great opportunities for your company to become part of community conversations.

While generating media coverage can be a cost-free tactic, it still requires time and effort. News outlets need a reason to feature your company, so it’s essential to provide them with something relevant and newsworthy to the community. Here are a few tips to help your company break into the local news cycle:

  • Do Your Research: Identify local journalists reporting on the issues most relevant to your business, such as home maintenance, safety and health reporters. Check out local news channels on television, look through the neighborhood newsstand and search online for outlets covering your area.

  • Build Relationships: Once you’ve gotten a sense of the landscape, look for contact information online and reach out to newsrooms with information relevant to their coverage. If you spot a home improvement story, reach out to that reporter with information about the importance of termite prevention around the house. Provide the media with useful insights and imagery to show them how you can help keep their audience safe.

  • Become a Resource: Journalists are always looking for expert sources to add insights and credibility to their stories, and who better to speak about termite issues in the area than a local company? Whether you’re providing termite prevention tips or insights on termite behavior, position your company as the local expert to ensure they go to you when they need more information.

Although the world looks quite different now than it did this time last year, termite habits and the threats they pose remain steadfast. This season, be sure to leverage the wide variety of modern marketing resources and unique materials at your disposal. By doing so, you’ll establish your company as the trusted local termite expert, ensuring the well-being of not only your community, but your company as well.

Cindy Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance and senior vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. Learn about PPMA at www.npmapestworld.org/ppma.