Anymore, the yellow pages are pretty useless. Flyers, door hangers, leave-behinds, etc. seem to be too low of a return for the expenditures.
I can launch a new company on the internet and start it ranking in the search engines and backfill with very well aimed & written Google Adwords and get new clients the same day.
We even tried an experiment with our new Miami restaurant hood cleaning company
. We posted an ad on Craigslist for free and within 48 hours we had 5 phone calls off of it and brought in 3 new clients.
Now, the tough part is getting a good return on your investment with Google Adwords. If you write your ads poorly or you allow too diverse of a list of keywords, you'll pay for crappy results and Google will charge you extra for the lousy quality (they call it the 'quality score').
In some categories in the cleaning industry, you can buy top spots in Google for pennies. But you have to bid at the going rate for your area and then be discounted according to the relevance of keywords, ad content, and the page on your website that they're going to land on. If all of those items are perfect, you get a massive discount on your ad costs.
I'm going to put together a training class specific for cleaning companies so that people can learn to take advantage of Google Adwords without getting fleeced. I have one friend that was paying $7500 a month to Google Adwords, was getting a 1.1% click-through rate and was averaging a cost of $31 per click. This put him at a Cost Per Aquisition (CPA) of $320 per new client. YUCK! When we cleaned it up, we got it to a 5% click-through rate and Google discounted his click costs to $10. This brought his CPA down to $49.
So the important thing was that his average service call was $385 (of which $320 went to Google). With the labor costs, he was losing money on every call his guys went on. With a $49 CPA, he was able to make money.
Last note: my buddy is a plumber. In cleaning businesses, we don't have as high of a cost on the click-through rates. But this gives you a pretty good idea of the different quality scores can make.