(Marketing Strategy)

Your First Year In Mass Media Branding: 12 Milestones and a Timeline

A roadmap of what to expect in your first 12 months of running a fully aligned marketing strategy from the Wizard of Ads™.

Jeff Sexton
Jeff Sexton
November 21, 2021
Your First Year In Mass Media Branding: 12 Milestones and a Timeline

I only have two types of clients that hire me:

  1. Clients that haven’t done any mass media advertising prior to working with me, and
  2. Clients that have paid to run low-impact ads on TV or Radio

And believe it or not, both types of clients are anxious about what to expect when they begin a branding campaign based on sound strategy and outstanding execution. So I thought it might be worthwhile to give readers a roadmap on what to expect, seeing as many of you might fall into those same two categories of prospective clients. Just keep in mind that while the milestones are reliable markers, their exact order and time-frames are variable.

The First 5-6 Months & The First 4 Milestones

If your ad campaign is conceived to get real traction, you’ll see these first four milestones within the first three to five months:

Milestone #1: Friends and Acquaintances Mention Hearing or Seeing Your Ads

If your ads are actually capable of cutting through the clutter and being noticed, your family, friends, and acquaintances will not only hear them, they’ll feel compelled to mention them to you. If that doesn’t happen in the first few weeks of launch, your ads aren’t what they need to be to drive serious results.

Milestone #2: Brandable Chunks or Earworms Get Repeated Back to You

A good campaign will have Distinctive Brand Assets baked into it, typically in the form of Brandable Chunks, ear-wormy jingles or audio signatures, slogans, etc. And if those are effective, you’ll have them repeated back to you by the audience. Could be little kids singing your jingle or customers repeating a catch-phrase or a friend teasing you about an ear-wormy brandable chunk. I know one colleague whose client had a brand “stinger” get repeated back to them by a bank teller, of all people. And this goes double if you voice or appear in the ads. As audience members begin to bond with you, they’ll feel compelled to repeat the stickiest elements of your ads back to you when and if they see you in person. If you don’t have this happen sometime in the first 6 months, your ads are missing out on developing proper “Distinctive Brand Assets” and are likely not cutting through the clutter and grabbing attention the way they should.

Milestone #3: Website Traffic Increases Along w/ Traffic from Branded Terms

As your mass media brand campaign progresses, more traffic should be searching on your brand name or branded term rather than generic keywords. In other words, not only will web traffic be up, but more people will come to your site by typing your url in directly, or by searching on your brand name. For example, people will search “Joe Schmo Plumbing” and not “Plumbing Repair”Not only does this leave your PPC-dependent competition totally out of the game, but it improves your SEO ranking with Google. But ultimately, this milestone means the branding is starting to “set” in the minds of your audience, as more customers think of you first and feel the best about you when they need what you sell, causing them to search for you by name.

Milestone #4: PPC gets a boost with increased CTR and decreased CPC

Although you ideally want people searching on your brand name or a branded term, there is also a half-step before that. The half-step is when they search on a generic keyword but positively recognize and respond to your brand in the search results. And this half-step leads to increased Click-Through-Rates for your ads. In turn, your better-performing ads get a boost in bidding, and that leads to decrease Cost-Per-Click over time. Of course, if you don’t know to expect this, it’s a fair bet your PPC manager will take credit for this boost in performance. But don’t let ‘em fool you: that boost came from your mass media advertising!

Months 7-9 and Milestones 5-8

Milestone #5: Phone Calls and Booked Leads Increase

This is the exciting part because it’s what many clients most want from their advertising: more phone calls and more leads. Of course, more calls is one thing, but more leads is another, and if your phone staff aren’t up to snuff or adequately staffed, one won’t lead to the other. But assuming you’ve got competent phone staff and excess capacity, you’ll start seeing an increase in calls and leads when comparing this month to the same month last year.

Milestone #6: Some Brandable Chunks Take on a Life of Their Own

You can’t predict exactly what will end up going “viral” within your local community. But you can have a pretty good idea of what words or catchphrases might catch on. What at least has the potential to take off. So a good ad strategist and creative will bake a handful or more of those things into your ads, with the expectation that one of them will take off. In every truly successful campaign, I’ve launched this has always happened. Something in the campaign took on a life of its own.

Milestone #7: Sales Cycle Shortens / Average Ticket Price Increases

At this point, your share of mind and your reputation are really starting to take hold. Meaning that your people have added credibility from the get-go, simply by wearing your uniform and being associated with your brand. And that manifests itself in two ways:

  1. Your people have an easier time selling, as prospects arrive pre-convinced, and
  2. More customers select the “better” and “best” options, because of their increased trust and confidence in your brand, and therefore your people’s advice.

Milestone #8: Price Increases Become an Option

When you become known as a premium product or service, you attract customers willing to pay a premium price for your increased level of expertise, service, quality, etc. In other words, you’re attracting Relational rather than Transactional customers. That means you’ll enjoy increased price elasticity and can (and probably should) increase your prices to reflect your newly acquired “premium” status in the minds of customers. Now, if you began advertising as the highest-priced option in the market, this won’t apply to you. But if you’ve always been the best-kept secret of your industry, and therefore underpriced compared to your quality, then this definitely applies to you (and probably more than you’re comfortable admitting)

Months 8-12 and Milestones 9-12

Milestone #9: Employee Morale Improves & Bad-fits Self-select Out

Branding is as much a leadership tool as a marketing effort. At least when done well. So one “side effect” of good branding is an increase in morale from your people.

  • When the story you live internally matches the story you project outside your company, morale improves.
  • When people are given increased respect by customers based on their affiliation with the brand, morale improves
  • When your people find it easier to recommend options and sell needed services, morale improves.

Even better, the stronger your company culture, the more you will both attract the right people and repel the wrong people. And the strongest expression of that is when new hires who are a bad fit culturally self-select out before you even have to take action to fire them. Low performers always prefer to hang out in a company that tolerates mediocrity and will readily flee the company that insists on high performance and high standards. If that happens in your company, you know you’re on the right track.

Milestone #10: You Need to Hire More People & Run Recruiting Ads

In all honesty, this one might come in the first 6 months, rather than at the tail end of the year. It all depends on where you started from in terms of staffing and how good your recruiting options were outside of mass media. But sooner or later, you’ll want to turn to mass media to help you recruit great people [link] to meet increased demand. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself running recruiting ads often enough that getting them to do double duty as branding ads [Link] will be crucial. And if that doesn’t happen to you somewhere within the first year, something might well be wrong with your ad campaign.

Milestone #11: Revenue increases

I wrote earlier that “more calls and more leads” was what most every client most wanted from an ad campaign. And that’s true, but more in a “means to an end” way. What they really want is increased revenue, truth be told. And somewhere either before or during the last quarter of their first year of mass media advertising, they should see that increase. Seasonal businesses might need to wait until the next season starts, but even then, they should see increased revenue when compared month-over-year. And while this can be one of the last numbers to move, it also should move decisively by the time an ad campaign has been on the air for close to a year.

Milestone #12: Growth Feels Predictable and Inevitable

The final test of a great ad campaign is that it makes growth and lead flow predictable. You’re no longer suffering from Feed-the-Beast-itus and no longer feel captive to expensive digital lead sources. In fact, you’ve probably turned several of them off. Suddenly your aspirations for your business start to feel not only attainable, but inevitable — if you just keep up your ad campaign and continue to service your customers. And this is in stark contrast to how most businesses operate prior to launching an effective branding campaign, where growth is sporadic and market domination can feel like a pipe-dream rather than a goal.

12 Months Will Pass Anyway…

The block that keeps many businesses from experiencing all these great milestones is the daunting idea that they’ll have to wait a year before really experiencing the benefits. And while the main benefit of increased revenue can take that long, you should now see that many milestones bring with them valuable benefits much earlier than that. But the truth is this: the 12 months will pass anyway, regardless of whether you get started now. The only difference will be whether you’ve gained benefit and growth from those 12 months, or whether you’ll still be pondering whether you should get started or not. So… Would you like to get started now, rather than later?

(Marketing Strategy)
Jeff Sexton
Jeff Sexton

Businesses either sell $5 haircuts, or fix $5 haircuts. I’m your guy if your company fixes $5 haircuts. Working together, we'll de-commodify your business, make pricing pressure a thing of the past, and grab the lion’s share of customers willing to pay a premium for your service or product.

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Frequently asked questions

Questions? We’ve got answers.

Who does the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors work with?

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors work with healthy and growing Residential Home Service Contractors hungry to grow by multiples, like you.

You are ready, willing, and able to grow your business. You are open to change and are seeking a distinctive angle of approach to gain the time and attention of a too-busy public.

You know that lasting relationships take time, patience, and good energy to nurture and cultivate. We carefully enter into every arrangement with the intention of working with you for as long as you own your business. You prefer lasting partnerships.

You are already a solid operator. You have successfully grown your business and appreciate the impact the right brand story will have to get to the next level in your operation. You know a strong relational message takes time to gain momentum, but it’s worth the one-time short-term discomfort for the long-term gains.

Marketing cannot fix a failing business.

We accelerate what’s already happening in a business. If your business is on the rocks, marketing will only speed up the inevitable.  

You’re focused on lasting change that leads to exponential, profitable growth, not just sales at any cost. Intuitively, you know that communication that enhances every element of your customer's experience and your employee's culture is the key to your success.

How does the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors charge?

Traditional marketing agencies are designed to capture the greatest amount of revenue from a client, regardless of results. Every last item is billed and expensed to the client. Typical agency fees can represent a whopping 55% of the entire advertising budget. That means a $5 million dollar advertising budget, you would spend $2.75 million on agency fees.

Think of Wizard of Ads® for Contractors as the Anti-Agency.

Our income is not tied to your advertising budget. Our income is exclusively tied to your growth. Our goal is to maximize your advertising impact with the lowest reasonable spend. This allows you to spend only what is necessary or to put extra horsepower into aggressively growing in your market.

The genius of this model is that it perfectly aligns our motivations as true partners for exponential profitable growth without the pain of being unaffordable. Ultimately, we are confident in taking the risk of being underpaid in the first few years because we know the results always speak for themselves.

Next, we do not accept commissions, referral fees, kickbacks, or other compensation from any service providers we recommend or engage for production work. Most agencies do. This includes the 15% agency commission for media buying. This approach is considerably different from the compensation plan employed by most advertising agencies, as it eliminates any potential conflicts of interest and allows us to focus our entire attention on helping you grow your business profitably as a true partner. For example, a $500,000 annual media buy would involve a $75,000 commission that we would have removed directly from your media providers' invoices.

This is the perfect pricing model for Residential Home Services.

By tying ourselves to gross revenue, we only have one motivation. Your motivation. We have no motivation to convince you to spend more money on marketing than what is necessary, and since we are a variable expense to sales, we NEVER become too expensive to have us on your team.

In almost every case, we end up lowering the amount of money you spend. We will stay within your planned marketing budget, including your media spend, production, and our Annual Fee. Add on the fact that you get any and all commissions back for media buys and various services provided by outside providers, and you will actually save money having us on your team.

Don’t forget, we have the largest buying power in North America for media buying, meaning for every dollar you spend buying media, we only spend 27 cents on average. This stretches your reach, impact, and frequency in a way no other agency (or yourself) can achieve on your own, saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars, eventually millions, every single year.

Clients who heed our advice and embrace our Marketing Strategy quickly add $1 million in incremental revenue to their business, making your investment a smart bet and a bit of a no-brainer.  

There is no longer any guesswork, hope, or fear that our marketing strategies are going to work. If our client’s are able to abandon any limiting beliefs about marketing, deliver operational excellence, and play the long game, our marketing strategy will accelerate their profitable growth.

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors pricing model is based solely on the topline revenue of your company. It consists of an Upfront Fee and an Annual Fee. These fees are inclusive of scheduled travel, services, and all other expenditures as outlined in the Consulting Agreement.

The Upfront Fee covers the intensive Uncovery Process, the first year’s Media Buy, the Creative Process, and the Market Research while the Annual Fee goes toward implementation, ongoing creative and consulting, and next year's media buy. You get a team of 3.5 people, with direct access to a top tier Creative Lead and Media Buyer, and on-demand access to me as your Master Strategist. You will also have a full-time Account Manager keeping everything on track.

While the upfront does have an initial pinch, it is easy to amortize the investment over the many years we will be working together to grow your business. Wizard of Ads® retain clients for 10 years, on average. The sale of the business is the number one reason for termination. We actively terminate the bottom 1% of clients who are unwilling or unable to follow our strategies.

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors believes that all rewards should be directly correlated to the success of our clients. This means that the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors only receives a raise when the company achieves growth. For example, if your gross sales for the year have increased by 25%, the Annual Fee you pay us in the following year will also be increased by 25%. Likewise, if your gross sales decrease, our Annual Fee will decrease by the same percentage during the following year.

This is an exceptionally easy and fair way to track and reward success. This model was developed by Wizard of Ads® over 35 years ago and has served us well because it serves our clients well.

As a rule of thumb, we take the risk of working for considerably less than our actual value in the first few years as we help accelerate growth. This means you need to be willing to pay us exceptionally well when you start doing even better.

When should I engage The Wizard of Ads® for Contractors?

There are four key revenue stages for engagement with the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors.

  1. Under $3.6 million in revenue
  2. Between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue
  3. Between $10 and $20 million in revenue
  4. Over $20 million in revenue

Under $3.6 million in revenue is an investment in your brand. This will serve you well in establishing your brand story early on and help you with your name, logo, and truck wrap design. It's easier to create pictures from a story than it is to make a story based on pre-drawn pictures. You'll be glad you did. Everyone on a fast path to growth is.

Most clients start with Wizard of Ads® for Contractors between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue. They have often seen a natural ceiling with their leads for demand service and are looking for ways to push past the ceiling. This can only be done with a properly executed brand strategy, specifically in mass media with a sticky story.

Between $10 and $20 million in revenue, Wizard of Ads® for Contractors has some natural economies of scale. This is a sweet spot where Wizard of Ads® for Contractors can offer some added value in getting the ball rolling.

Over $20 million in revenue is actually the lowest cost point of entry as a percentage of revenue, but not the cheapest time to start with the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors. Leveraging all economies of scale aside, we have been left out of the upside along the way, so engaging when over $20 million in revenue means we have to mend a lot of fences damaged along the way. This is also where clients see significant savings in their media buys and production costs.

There are also three market sizes to consider.

  • Primary Markets are the top 50 cities in America.
  • Secondary Markets are the smaller cities in America.
  • Tertiary Markets are the more rural trade areas in America.

When considering an engagement with The Wizard of Ads® for Contractors, consider what size market you are in. For example, a $3.6 million company in a Primary Market will struggle to get the necessary reach needed to make a splash. You either have to be more patient than a larger company or spend more money to accelerate your reach.

Alternatively, a $5 million company in a Secondary Market will look like a pretty darn big fish in a medium-sized pond.

A $20 Million company in a Primary Market will feel like a $50 million company using our strategies to potential customers.

The key to remember is that the earlier you start with the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors, the lower the investment to get started. As they say, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Are production costs included in your fees?

The Wizard of Ads® for Contractors Creative Lead will create the ad copy, cast the voice actors, source the production house, direct the performance, pick the music bed, manage all the edits, and provide you with the completed ad for final approval before sending to air on your behalf. This is included in our fees.

You pay for the production house, actors, royalty-free music, and jingles directly to avoid any potential for markups, commissions, or management fees.

We have many friends in the industry that give our clients good deals due to the large volume of work we provide them. We will introduce you to them.

How long before a brand-forward strategy starts working?

In approximately three months of activation, we’ll just be getting live on air. In six months (3 months on air), you’ll be getting anecdotal feedback from people that you are being heard, but there will be no direct line to revenue.

After 6 months on the air, you’ll think you made the biggest mistake of your life signing up for this branding nonsense. After 9 months on the air (12 months in) you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

At 12 full months on the air, you’ll know why you did this branding thing. Two years from now, we'll be clinking champagne flutes as you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.

How long before we’re live?

The general guideline is 70-120 days, depending on the level of production needed and if there is a name change to your business.

This includes an onsite visit, a deep dive into research, and getting things created, negotiated, approved, produced, and live on the air.

  • Uncovery - 15-30 days based on travel. 1-2 days onsite.
  • Research - 30-60 days based on the scope of work.
  • Creative and Media Buy Process - 45 to 60 days
  • Offline Production - 15 days for radio. 30 - 60 days for television.
  • Online Production (if switching) - 60 days

This means planning for roughly 90 to 120 days in the proper development and production of a completely unique Marketing Strategy before anything hits the airwaves.

Are you exclusive?

Creatively, yes. During the term of this Agreement, all Creative Partners assigned to your Account shall not engage, directly or indirectly, as an employee, officer, manager, partner, consultant, agent, owner, or in any other capacity, in any competition of the client, including any company engaged in marketing consulting.

For clarity, the Creative Partner is defined as the individual Wizard of Ads® Partners who is responsible for creating your creative strategy and ongoing creative copy. Competition is defined as companies that engage in the same industry and business units (e.g., HVAC, Plumbing, etc.) as you. The market area is defined as the area where the marketing message naturally reaches through DMA or 60 miles from the city center of the client's service area(s).

Naturally, we exclude any potential future competition in markets where you are not currently active at the date of signing.

We do not limit Media Buyers in any market. Media Buyers get better deals for larger volumes, making it beneficial for the client to have the Media Buyer available to do as many buys as possible to secure the best deals on the client’s behalf.

Do you do digital marketing?

In rare circumstances, Wizard of Ads® for Contractors will provide specific digital marketing solutions. Wizard of Ads® has very specific Partners that provide digital services that serve Residential Home Services effectively. Under no circumstances will digital marketing services be offered without Wizard of Ads® for Contractors' core solution.

It is most likely that Wizard of Ads® for Contractors will work with your existing digital partners and suppliers. If you do not have a reliable digital provider, we would be happy to introduce you to a number of great providers that play nice with Wizards.

Do you do jingles?

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors can assist you in getting a jingle for your business. Like any other tactical element of a marketing strategy, we do not produce a jingle for the sake of a jingle.

If you do not have a story or a strategic reason to have a jingle...or an ad campaign to tie it to, do not waste your hard-earned money on a jingle. You are wasting your time and money.

When you do build a single unified marketing strategy that incorporates a jingle for a specific (often scientific) reason, we have a Jingle Wizard who has studied the art and science of jingle design.

He will score you an original, royalty-free jingle, including professional singers, musicians, and producers. He will not knock off a generic jingle from a publicly available music bed that sounds like everyone else's jingle.

Your jingle will serve a very specific reason and produce a very specific result. Have you guessed how much we love jingles yet?

Who owns the copyrights?

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors owns your copyright for two very specific reasons. We also provide a fair use clause in all contracts to ensure you are in no way limited to the access of your creative works, whether you are working with us or not.

The first reason we own your copyright is to ensure that we do not have to go up against our own creative works in other markets we serve. This means you are not allowed to lend, give, borrow, tweak, rent, lease, or sell your creative works to any other company at any time.

The second reason we own your copyright is that we can establish a one-time value for your creative works in the event that someone steals the content. Upon selling you the copyrights, you can go after the perpetrator for theft and make a considerable bounty in a slam dunk case.

Here is how Wizard of Ads® word the fair use of your copyright for as long as your business is in operation:

All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. Wizard of Ads® for Contractors hereby irrevocably grants you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
How do I measure brand results?

There are a number of interesting ways to measure results. Some people like to get unique identifying telephone numbers, or create branded URLs that redirect to landing pages or the website. However, much of this is a waste of time and energy as it never tells the true story of the brand journey and how it affected the decision-making process.

Other indicators of brand effectiveness include tracking new customers, reactivated customers, or running a brand equity survey to get a sense of your share of mind. Digitally you will see direct search increase, which cannot be affected by anything digital, as well as branded keyword inquiries increase. You’ll, of course, need to get your digital people to add these to your campaigns if you hope to see an increase in conversions.

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors tracks the simplest of indicators. Top line revenue. When your branding takes effect, and the company responds in kind from the phone call or form fill-on, top-line revenue will increase. Efficacy is plotted on a T12, and total lead volume from all sources is tracked.

12 things you should know before signing up.
  1. Quality relationships take time. Branding is a long-term strategy. That’s why most contractors do it wrong, or not at all. There is always a lag between the start of the new campaign and the time it takes your customers to connect the dots. You MUST BE READY, WILLING, AND ABLE to endure this lag period. In our experience, the lag is typically 6 to 9 months, depending on how competitive the marketplace is, your company’s reputation, your budget in relation to reach, and the eight uncontrollable environmental factors. During this time, we will be helping you implement a transition plan to ease the pain. The good news is that this lag only happens once.
  2. Decisions by Committee. We completely reject the notion of decisions by committee. We work with a single, courageous decision-maker. We welcome decision influencers, but we only look to the Owner for the final decision. All decision-makers and influencers must be involved in the Uncovery and Marketing Strategy Presentation if they want to offer input in the future. It is critical that we have a 100% fully approved plan that can be defended and championed by all leaders in the organization.  
  3. Proven Strategy. That means we are not the low-cost provider. With nearly 200 home service clients and a book of strategic devices, tools, and tactics, this isn’t a guessing game for us. We know what to do to make your externally triggered grudge purchase appealing to your potential buyers. If you can deliver the goods, we can continue building relationships. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that you are paying us less now so that you can pay us considerably more once revenues allow, please do not commit. We intend to be your true partners, in sickness and in long as you own your business.
  4. Automatic Payments. Everything is on automatic payments. If you struggle with managing cash flow, figure that out in your business first. We accept all major credit cards and ACH payments.
  5. We Cause Problems. If you don’t have a capacity issue now, I promise you will in about 9 months. Let’s deal with recruitment out of the gate as part of your comprehensive marketing strategy.
  6. We Own the Copyrights. All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. We irrevocably grant you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
  7. Brand Building. We will be steering you to limit the use of discounts, rebates, coupons, and sales to attract clients. We know this feels counterintuitive to many, and we will clarify our reasoning. Rest assured, we have considerable experience in creating similar offers that are not damaging to your profitability, your brand’s integrity, and your preferable long-term client relations.
  8. Creative Authority. We must have creative authority over the words. You can accept copy as written or reject it outright, but you cannot modify the words yourself. If you do not like something as written, we are happy to discuss it and make the necessary change to maintain the integrity and intention of the words chosen. Alternatively, we will scrap the concept and create new copy that you are happy to get behind 100%.
  9. Proprietary Algorithm. The media buy must be structured in a very specific way, including running a full 52-week schedule. It is based on brain chemistry, not P&Ls. Once we have committed to the buy, it’s important to avoid adjustments unless they are calculated additions.
  10. Knucklehead Factor. You should expect knuckleheads. For example, when you start running ads that are certain to get attention, you need the courage to continue running those ads, even when you receive complaints. We celebrate complaints. It means we’ve made people feel.
  11. Digital Weasels. In about three months from the time your advertising campaign hits the airways, your digital marketers will show you a marked increase in direct and organic traffic. Some Digital Marketers will mistakenly claim this success as their own. Done properly, you can continue to spend less and less on digital lead generation by increasing your branded keyword online presence.
  12. Annual Marketing Meetings. Travel permitting, we prefer to hold Annual Marketing Meetings (AMMs) outside your city. Years of experience have taught us that we get better results when decision-makers are outside their sphere of influence, away from the day-to-day distractions of the office.

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