It is easy in the worlds of spray foam, air sealing and insulation to get caught up in the idea that saving energy and chopping power bills are key motivators when it comes to getting people to buy what we sell. I would agree that there is a segment of those people out there. The downside is, they already know what they want, which means their only real question is … what’s your price? After all, if I already know what it is, and I want it, my only question is how much? Okay, that and, can I trust you?
Unfortunately, once we get to numbers, even if you claim you can "cut my bill in half," you’ve presented me with a very simple financial math test. All too often these tests become losing arguments. Let’s break it down.
For example, we’ll say my 2000 sq. ft. place needs better insulation because my bills are $400-$600 in the winter. If you can save me an average of $250 for three months in the winter, and maybe another $400 over the rest of the year, that would be almost $1200. Before you give me the price, you remind me the old fiberglass needs to be removed because we are closing the attic. You also point out there’s lots of ductwork and obstacles to get around, an 8/12 roof pitch, and ventilation during the install will be a challenge. Considering the removal is (hypothetically) $3,400, you put the total job at $15,500. This is great, you’ve given me a number, so now I can do math. I’m going to save $1,200 a year if I give you $15,500. That means it never pays for itself. Nope. Not doing it. See how easy math is when it comes to money?
This is when you start hearing statements like, "Wow, we didn’t realize foam was that much. Is there a way to make it cheaper? Maybe we should hold off until next year." I’m sure you can think of many more.
The problem isn’t the cost of the project, the problem is that buying decisions are calculated based on the motives behind them. Let me change subjects to illustrate a point. If you knew you had cancer and this great doctor was trying to hand you the cure, when you ask him how much it will be, it’s because you are going to do everything it takes to figure out how to make it happen. But in the example of my attic, we are only talking about saving some money and a few kilo-whatever’s. There is little importance. So, what is it that would make me want to give you $15,500?
My spouse, my kids, and my health. Yeah, now those are motivating. Years ago, I had a boss explain to me that the reason I was failing was that I was out there trying to sell aspirin, but I never proved to anyone they had a headache. I was actually trying to sell cancer insurance, but his point was entirely valid. I had to find a way to motivate the buyer, or I was going to be hungry and thin the rest of my life. Well, if you’ve ever seen me, you’d realize I found ways to find what motivates buyers.
This first thing to consider is, who is my buyer? What are they concerned about? Do they have a problem I can fix? And … Can I prove it to them? (Absolutely!)
If I want buyers less focused on price, then I need to find customers concerned about health, building degradation, comfort, eliminating uneven temperature rooms, and things like that. People who want less dust and better IAQ. Maybe they have safety concerns because they’ve been through a hurricane or tornado. These people are out there, but you have to be visible in that space, then advertise, and find them.
Did you realize that in 2020, 417 million people searched Google to find out if their home was making them sick? That’s an enormous market. For them, the first thing they want from you is a test and some result that validates their concerns or tells them their property is good. And when you test, if something’s really wrong with a structure, they want to be able to see it. According to Sam Raskin from the Department of Energy, if you show them infrared pictures of real problems in their home, they are five times more likely to fix it with you right away. You must test. I’ve said it for years, if you’re not testing, you’re guessing.
Look at the infrared image. If that were your mother’s living room wall and for years she lived with allergies and fought a living room full of dust, what would she say when she finally saw where all the contaminants were coming in? Finally, she has proof. Now the argument has changed from "how long will it take to pay for itself" to "I knew I was right. I knew this house had problems. Thank you for finding it. When can you fix it?"
If your mom had lost two houses to hurricanes and someone told her about how closed cell would increase the racking strength as well as giver her better indoor air quality, less dust, more comfort, etc. Think about the value she would place on the product then. Saving energy is one thing, but changing the quality of people’s lives ranks higher. Health, welfare, and comfort, motivate buying decisions.
Certainly, as insulation companies, new construction or volume jobs are what keep the doors open and trucks moving, but when you think of high margin, super rewarding work, targeting specialized buyers pays big dividends. When you start marketing to these groups, think of what they would be searching for. There are many opportunities to learn new marketing skills, as well as testing, but you need to market effectively to build the right pipeline of buyers. You should be blogging and creating strategies around consumer needs rather than trying to sell a product.
Today, more than 60 million Americans have asthma, allergies or a respiratory illness, can you help them control their building envelope? For people who now have two offices in one home, and they didn’t want to hear each other that many hours a day, can you give them some sound attenuation and maybe some peace? Your advertising should paint a picture of their problem, and maybe some free ways to combat it, while you offer an even better solution if that’s what they need. People want information and they want it free, but that is a subject for another story.