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Angie’s List, Free Publicity, and the PR Game

By Mike Coday •  Updated: 10/21/23 •  7 min read

Angie’s List sponsored this article a few years ago…
Roofing Scam: The Door-to-Door Salesman

The author, Mike LaFollette, highlights the very real bottom feeder techniques used by unscrupulous door-to-door roofing sales people with supporting quotes from a reputable contractor out of Charlotte, N.C.

Quick Summary

  1. Exposing Unethical Sales Tactics: The author references an article sponsored by Angie’s List that exposes the dubious methods employed by some door-to-door roofing salespeople, emphasizing the importance of this information for consumers.
  2. Value of Angie’s List: The article underscores the value provided by Angie’s List, where subscribers pay for access to reliable information, helping them avoid scams by hiring reputable services. The platform understands and caters to its target market effectively.
  3. Free Publicity for Contractors: The author notes that local, reputable contractors often contribute to these articles, gaining free publicity. While their expertise and integrity aren’t in question, the author challenges whether they’re fully leveraging the sales opportunities presented by natural disasters that necessitate roofing repairs.
  4. Critique of Passive Sales Strategies: Traditional roofing companies often rely on their reputations to attract business rather than proactive sales strategies. The frustration arises when potential clients are acquired by more aggressive salespeople, reflecting a reluctance to adapt to more direct sales approaches.
  5. Importance of Proactive Selling: The article emphasizes that “nothing happens until somebody sells something,” highlighting the necessity of active, direct sales tactics in contrast to passive reliance on reputation or publicity.
  6. Limited Impact of PR: While being featured in articles is good for brand image, the actual impact on sales is minimal compared to direct sales efforts. The author suggests that such features are more about vanity than substantial revenue generation.
  7. Strategic Use of Publicity: The author would utilize the publicity from such articles by distributing reprints as part of a door-to-door strategy, thereby turning this PR into an active sales tool, although he keeps the specific script confidential.
  8. Tools Don’t Replace Salespeople: Platforms like Angie’s List and the BBB, along with public relations efforts, are valuable tools but they cannot replace the effectiveness of a skilled salesperson. They should be used in conjunction with, not in place of, active selling.
  9. Endorsement of Angie’s List and BBB: The author clarifies that he supports platforms like Angie’s List and the BBB because they serve as useful tools for reaching target audiences and enhancing credibility. However, he emphasizes that these platforms shouldn’t be relied upon to close sales.
  10. Primacy of Sales Skills: The concluding thought is that tools and platforms are supplemental aids in the sales process. The real driving force behind successful sales is the salesperson’s skill and effort. Companies are reminded not to forsake direct selling for passive strategies.

Angie’s List

This is a really good article for the members (and potential members) of Angie’s List.

I think the author did a great job pointing out a very real problem that the Angie’s List community will find interesting.

Information like this is why their subscribers pay good money to be members.

The segment of society served best by Angie’s List eats this information up… all the way up! Angie’s List knows and understands their target market very well.

Free Publicity

I find it interesting that articles like this are always written with a few quotes pulled from a reputable, local roofing company who is always more than willing to grab a little free publicity.

I don’t doubt for a second that the contractor being interviewed isn’t reputable and local. I’m sure he’s a great person and very competent in his trade.

I’ve always said that most of the people I’ve met in this business are really good people. They’ll bend over backwards to help you… and that’s a fact!

What I do doubt is whether or not they are fully capitalizing on the opportunity right in front of them… that hail storm, tornado, or hurricane that just blew through their town… and brought in all the door knockers.

Here’s what I really think…

They desperately want to suppress proactive sales approaches like door-to-door because they don’t have a clue as to how to go out and get their own sales.

They are waiting for somebody to call them based on their stellar reputation… and they honestly believe that should be enough.

It drives them crazy to think about how many of their potential customers are being snatched up by somebody who doesn’t work for them, won’t make them a dime, and worst of all… probably doesn’t even know who they are.

Door-to-door sales people are a serious threat to their livelihood.

However, nothing happens until somebody sells something!

The PR Game

I can almost guarantee that the number of people who called and signed up with this contractor because of his Angie’s List article is a small, itsy, bitsy, tiny fraction compared to the number of people who signed up with another reputable, local contractor who used door-to-door sales people.

These types of articles are vanity plays for the contractor. It strokes the ego, but they don’t deposit many checks.

However, I would still congratulate him on landing the article. Personally, I would love to get an article like this written. The PR Game is very real and you’ll eventually want a few things like this in your marketing tool box.

Here’s how I would use the article…

Tools vs. Sales

I’m not against Angie’s List. I’m for it!
I’m not against the BBB. I’m for it!
I’m not against PR. I’m for it!

All of these things are tools, but only tools.

Not one of them will get you a sale on their own.

Since nothing happens until somebody sells something, just one good sales person without the help of any of these tools will outsell the best, most reputable roofing company using all of these tools who sits back expecting the phone to ring off the hook because they were just featured.

I’m not suggesting that these companies don’t have any sales ability, but they shoot themselves in the foot when they voluntarily take away the proactive marketing advantage of door-to-door sales in exchange for a little bit of publicity in front of a limited, albeit fiercely loyal, audience like Angie’s List.

Angie’s List is a great tool and I want my sales people to have access to the very best tools they can get their hands on.

I don’t want you to read this article and walk away saying, “Mike doesn’t believe in Angie’s List or the BBB.”, because that’s not true.

I strongly believe in them to help me reach the target audience they best persuade to do business with my local, reputable roofing company. If you’re not working with Angie’s List, you probably should be… same with the BBB.

…but I don’t trust them to make the sale!

Tools don’t make sales; sales people make sales.

Never forget that!

Peace,
Mike

P.S. Get yourself on the 101 Sales Tips newsletter right now.

Mike Coday

Mike started selling roofs in '95 while working as a youth pastor at a small church in North Texas. A decade later he transitioned to speaking at industry conferences and training outside sales teams. Today, he works exclusively as the premier consultant to roofing company owners who are driven for growth.