By Amanda Crangle

Two has always been my lucky number. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls on the second of the month. Maybe it’s because it shows balance in the way it has both curved and straight lines. Maybe it’s because it was my number at the first horse show I won as a little girl.

Regardless, to me, this number will forever be associated with luck, which is precisely why I was very excited about 2022.

In many ways, this year lived up to my expectations, bringing record growth for both our clients and our agency. Beyond the realms of dollars and cents, personally, it brought peace and joy to my heart in many ways.

Still, somehow, I look back and see things I should have done differently. This year was the first year I saw clearly that the way we’ve worked as an agency in the past is not sustainable.

Empowered by the Internet
For many years, we’ve operated as our clients’ “lead generation machine,” working hard to bring in cost-effective, quality, predictable inquiries through the web. However, 2020 and 2021 acted as a catalyst, causing even those who steered clear of technology in the past to embrace it. This shift from “let me find an expert who can help me get the right answer” to “I can figure it out on my own” has changed the way people buy and the experience they expect online.

People started to realize how truly empowered they are by the internet, and they have grown quite fond of putting more credibility on a stranger’s Google review than on what a neighbor swears by.

Behind the false privacy of our screens and in the comfort of our own homes, people can become “experts” on any topic and feel quite empowered to share their newfound wisdom with any social troller who crosses them.

What does this mean for marketing and the water treatment industry?

We must make it a key objective to effectively use technology to be more transparent, work hard to meet people where they are instead of where it’s comfortable for us, and work together to help people understand the importance of point-of-use and point-of-entry water treatment sold and maintained by ethical businesses.

Transparency Starts at Home
Culture begins with its leadership, and we all have the oppor­tunity to lead regardless of our position.

While there are plenty of great tips and tactics you can use to improve your company culture, there is no bandage strong enough to hold together a company with poor leadership.

Jim Collins, in his famous book Good to Great, describes these actions as demonstrating Level 5 Leadership Qualities:

  1. Develop humility. When things go right, give credit to your team.
  2. Take responsibility for your and your team’s actions. Place the blame squarely on your shoulders when things go wrong.
  3. Ask for help. Recognize and admit your limitations, seeking help from those more experienced than you.
  4. Develop discipline. Look at your locus of control and identify how you can be less reactive and more proactive.
  5. Find the right people. This is much easier said than done these days! However, you can build a great team over time with intentionality and patience.
  6. Lead with passion. Has your company committed to a purpose beyond itself?

Without a strong culture, you’ll have to keep reinventing your marketing and your story.

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Know; It Matters Who Knows You
In 2023, you must make it a priority to get more high-quality reviews, respond to those reviews whether they are positive or negative, and integrate them into all forms of marketing and sales.

Google has started placing a “new” tag by recent reviews. If your last review was months ago, your competitors with recent reviews are going to stand out even more. According to a blog by Qualtrics.com, 93% of consumers say online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.[1] No amount of money thrown at Google Ads or SEO tactics will drown out limited or old reviews.

Focusing on getting high-quality reviews will help bolster your reputation and can improve your business’ organic rankings. With search engines constantly changing their algorithms, you may or may not be surprised to know that 45% of updates to local search engine results pages were related to reviews.[2]

Customer Experience Will Determine the Strength and Longevity of Your Brand
How are you delivering on your promises (your value proposition) at each touch point with your customer? From first impressions online to phone calls and in-person communication, how are you ensuring your brand image and reputation are being both upheld and improved? The strength of your brand is directly dependent on the aggregate experience of your value proposition.[3]

According to Qualtrics Global Consumer Trends 2022 Report, consumers are switching away rapidly from companies that provide poor experiences as the cost of changing businesses freefalls towards zero. They also state that 9.5% of your top-line revenue is at risk by not offering exceptional experiences to your customers.[1]

From the very first interaction someone has with your company and every touch point thereafter, you are building a brand. Having your finger on the pulse of what truly matters to your target audience and crafting an experience at each interaction with them will help you build a strong brand over time.

When It Comes to Your Website, Focus on Proven Principles—Not Shiny Objects
Whether your site is old and outdated or you’ve just invested in a new online presence, here are a few tried-and-true principles you can implement to get more leads and sales for your business.

1. Define and measure your goals. You cannot improve what you don’t measure. If you do nothing else in 2023, at least set up the proper measurement processes for your marketing. Ideally, tracking form submissions, phone calls, and live-chat engagements through to the sale.

2. Ask questions, listen to web visitors, and act on their needs. Marketing is not all creativity and pithy headlines. Find out what’s important to your target audience, and show them more of what they like and less of what they don’t.

3. Simplify user experience. Make sure it’s easy to contact you from every page on your website, and ensure people will be able to find what they need quickly without having to click multiple times to get there.

4. Build trust by leveraging reviews and third-party certifications. Let others show off how amazing you are! It builds trust and gives credibility to your claims.

Fuel Your Flywheel
The traditional marketing funnel consists of a few different segments: attracting, nurturing, and converting. The goal is to find people who you can best serve, draw them in, nurture and educate them, and finally convert them into customers. The goal of most funnels is to generate sales.

On the other hand, the flywheel is a closed-loop system that has the customer at the center, causing the goal to shift from sales to serving the customer at each step on the journey. In turn, your customers will start sharing your business by word of mouth.

The secret to building momentum in your flywheel is to define its components based on your unique business. While some companies may have similar components, how you express these should align with your company values and goals, making them unique.

A component is a high-level input that helps create self-sustaining momentum. In Jim Collins’s monograph “Turning the Flywheel,” he prescribed no more than six components and no fewer than four attributes to your flywheel.[4]

Here are a few examples of a flywheel’s components:

1. Efficient, effective, environmentally sustainable products.
2. Socratically built, value-driven team culture.
3. Customer-first marketing and sales.
4. Exceptional, craveable customer experiences.

As you build out your components, think about how each com­ponent impacts the others. Could you have a value-driven company culture if you didn’t offer an efficient and effective product? I’d argue that your culture would not stay positive for long.

The 2022 takeaways discussed here play into your flywheel, and I encourage you to begin thinking about your business more holistically in the year to come.

Together, as water treatment professionals, we can be the voice of the industry, bringing quality information, products, and services to consumers using digital and traditional methods to meet the changing marketplace.

References
1. Kaemingk, Diana. “Online Reviews Statistics to Know in 2022.” Qualtrics, 18 July 2022, www.qualtrics.com/blog/online-review-stats.
2. Patterson, Corey. “How Marketers Can Adapt to Google’s Local SEO Changes.” Search Engine Land, 23 Feb. 2022, searchengineland.com/how-marketers-can-adapt-to-googles-local-seo-changes-376371.
3. “Brand: The Aggregate Experience of the Value Proposition.” MECLABS, meclabs.com/education/brand-and-value-proposition. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
4. Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t. 1st ed., HarperBusiness, 2001.

About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.

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