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What works better for getting business? Ads or the Natural results?

It is very different driving calls into your company today than it was in 1995, or even 2008 for that matter. As we all know, practically no one uses the phone books anymore.

Two of the largest forms of internet marketing these days use either ads or the natural listings in Google. You see them all the time – the 4 ads at the top of the screen, Google Maps, and then there is what everyone uses, the “natural” listings below those ads. And of course Google is the king of the jungle of that game.

So which one works better for getting business? Ads or the Natural results?

For years, Google has reported that the ads outperform the natural results. However, in our company, we never found that to be true. We’d see a lot of clicks into a customer’s website, but not the phone calls. Plus, we’d ask people and maybe 1 out of 10 people would tell us that they use those ads. Most people don’t even look at them anymore. So the data that Google provided on this didn’t ad up, then they straight-up hide some of the data from everyone.

In 2014, Groupon – the giant online coupon provider – did a test for us all.  They shut down their website from Google, literally turned it off, to test how much of their internet traffic came from Natural results in Google. What they found was startling. They found that 60% of all traffic that Google would report as “direct” is actually organic search.  For the the full article, click here.

So what does this mean for all of us? It means that if you aren’t marketing the natural results, you’re losing out on the majority of business available for the internet. 

Where, after all, do you think the leads that the lead gen guys are selling you come from? The natural results and the pay-per-click ads.   


Dan York, Founder and CEO 


Water Damage Leads – Short-term or Long-term ones?

Should you buy short-term-pay-per lead water damage leads?  Or build your own long-term lead program?

Answer: Both

There’s the old “give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime saying”, this is the way leads are for the water damage business.

Lead Gen Companies like United Restorers, who generate water damage leads, have a great reputation for caring about their customers. They sell you leads at a certain dollar amount per phone call that comes in. This is valuable for the right-now business.  This is short-term thinking. You need this.

You also need to think long-term, that’s where we come in. We build your lead generation program, you own it and do not pay per phone call.  Will it get you calls tomorrow? No. But it will in weeks to months to forever without paying per call.

Doing one or the other is small-think, short-sighted and limited. If you are really serious about building a successful water damage company, you really need to confront that fact that you need to probably do both.  We’re two services out of many services you should probably be using in order do build a real marketing machine to get your company growing the way that it should.

What about retirement? selling the company?

What do you think the buyer would think if they asked you “where are you getting your business” and you told them only “we buy water damage leads phone calls from lead generation companies”. That isn’t that valuable to them, it is not proprietary, it can be turned off.  It is valuable to you, but looking at your future, they would see it as short-sighted.

You gotta play both games to really hit it big. I know, I’m working the ones who are hitting it big.

When should I get a new website for my water damage company?

When and why should you update your website?

It has to get done, yes. But when? How? How often? Why? Once a year? When your web guy says,”I don’t like it?” When I feel like I’m bored with it as a biz owner?

Nope, none of those.

The answer is simple – when it stops working. 

Now you have to be careful with that, though, because there are two primary reasons that your website will not generate business that you need to consider first:

1.) You are not ranking in Google, etc. At which point you need to make it rank high in Google before deciding to change your website, because no one is ever getting to your website in the first place to know whether it works or not,


2.) Your website is turning away people. NEVER assume you know how to design a website for your clients. The BEST marketing people I know, including myself, are always surprised to see what actually works. We’re always surprised at some point, even after 20+ years of doing it. We never assume. So you definitely shouldn’t either.

Now some web designers will argue, “there’s so much more than those two points above!” and they are right, there are a lot of different aspects, however, they all can be aligned to those two points.

So, if you are ranking well in Google, etc. and you STILL aren’t getting business or calls, now would be the time to discuss the design, etc. But if it is actually working…leave it alone to some degree. No one kills a successful marketing program more than what us in our company like to call “tinkerers.” They tinker and tinker, always changing something, why? Who knows, maybe they just feel like it. More successful web programs are killed by tinkerers and their whims than I would care to mention. Try not to get into that habit. If you did have something successful going on that was developing the business, and you are a sloppy tinkerer, you’ll lose what worked, not remember it, and then get lost in the many changes you’re making.  Then you won’t know what did what anymore.

Now, websites are not some kids’ art projects, they are business development tools.  This is YOUR business’s tool to get in new clients in the modern day. Your website should not be designed by, or be the brain child of an out-of-touch person who “thinks” he knows your business, or some kid straight out of college who thinks he knows how to develop business. These should be strategically and somewhat scientifically approached by someone in your niche who knows your business. Lots of income gets left on the table by using out of touch people who do not understand the niche market you exist in.


So remember, if it is working, try and let it work. If there are any tweaks you make, catalogue them, when and why you made them so you can reverse it when your calls drop off.

And don’t “tinker”… 🙂


Sincerely, Dan York

How long should I continue a marketing method to find out if works for phone calls?

With so many forms of marketing, particularly on the internet, the question arises frequently, “How long should I do something to see whether or not it works?”

This is a multi- faceted question though and cannot be answered with just one answer.

You have to examine several major points:

  1. The expertise (or not) of the person doing it.
  2. How many points on the way there are right or wrong?
  3. Is it a fad or actually a workable play?


Let’s take up #1 first.  You have to separate out the form of marketing you are doing from the person doing it. For example, lots of people say today “SEO/Pay-Per-Click doesn’t work for my business.” But they neglect to gauge the credibility or the expertise of the person doing it. Did they have any proven results from prior companies in your industry? Did they know your industry and how to attract those particular kids of clients? You first must not rule out the lack of skill or credibility from the marketing you are doing first. If it is working for someone else, it can work for you too.


Now #2. Every marketing program is a relay race. You cannot expect to win the race (phone calls coming in) unless you win the first few legs of the marketing race. You have to reach your customers (be found where they are looking), say the right things and stand out to your customers and then make sure that you are easily contactable. So you cannot rule out a form of marketing unless you have perfected all of the earlier steps of that particular form of marketing that ends up in phone calls. I have a client that does north of $1mm per year form his internet reaches alone. Why can he and not others? He persisted and perfected the earlier phases of the relay race that wins with the phone calls on the last leg.


Finally, #3.  There are new forms of marketing that show up every year now thanks to internet marketing. You have to ask yourself whether it is a fad or a real method of how your clients are going to find you? For example, the social networking site Tumblr. What? Who? Have you heard of it? Will anyone go to Tumblr to learn about a water damage restoration company? Ask your customers. Have they heard of it? How did they find out about you? Would you ever use it for that purpose?


Marketing, although elusive and requiring patience, is more about logic than luck or throwing %&#$ to the wall and seeing what sticks. Getting phone calls to come in is not magic, it isn’t luck. It’s skill, logic, patience, persistence, all applied to how your customers will find you and reach you and ultimately call you.


Good luck out there!



Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarkeitng, Inc.

Want to get a highest-ever Income year in your Water Damage company?

As I’ve said before, I get to personally speak with water damage companies all over, every week, and from all different corners of this continent. And for some companies, this last year was one of their best years ever. But for some, not so great.


Now I know a lot of guys would just attribute that to a “good year”, better weather for work, location, etc. And although these are the “obvious” factors, I don’t find any of those to be the real reason why some companies have had their highest ever year. I wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve seen from the guys who have had an amazing year this year:


1. They didn’t do the same thing over and over and expect the same results.

They embraced and confronted change. This year I had a guy call me and sign up with my service saying, “I know what you guys do doesn’t work, but I wanted to give you a shot anyways. I think referrals are the only good calls, but my partner wanted me to try you, so…” How do you think that ended up? Like hell. For him and me. We were fighting him the whole time trying to make him “successful”. I know another guy who’s been in this business for 30 years. He’s winning like crazy. Why? He confronted and embraced that this whole business has changed and he changed with it. And another water damage company I know did amazingly well in 2008 when everyone else was dying from the stock market crash. Why? He stopped using phone books just before his competitors did and took all of his marketing online before everyone else did. These guys changed when they needed to and did not become the dinosaurs of the business.


2. They weren’t looking for things to blame like the weather, competition, etc. They were looking for more ways to get calls…constantly. 

If you blame things, right away, your attention gets diverted to something you cannot control instead of looking for new ways to grow your company as in #1. Blame is a losing game for the person doing the blame, always. The winners this year didn’t blame anything. They also wasted money, hired bad people, some had divorces with their wives, didn’t make any money on some jobs, but you know what they say? They say, “Lesson learned, on to the next.” And then I know guys who blame their ex-wives, old employees, Yelp, etc. and they can go on like this for years. The end result of that game is Broke. You’re broke!


3. They got and did bigger jobs. 

Now this sounds like the “unicorn” job (it doesn’t really exist) everyone wishes they could get and the increased call volume everyone dreams of.  You know – that one commercial call that pays $150-$400k! Well, guess what, guys DO get those jobs. I hear about them all the time. But how do you get those jobs? It’s actually simple: they confronted expanding their company, they found and did more and more marketing methods, which resulted in a higher call volume which landed them that “unicorn” call. See, it’s a numbers game to some degree. They get all of those small residential calls too, but in that they are getting a higher volume of calls, they haver a higher chance of getting those occasional big jobs too.


This sums it up: A client of mine called to thank me this year for two things: 1.) Helping him to stop relying on plumbers for referrals (he hated the whole highest bidder war) and 2.) for allowing him the opportunity to “cherry pick” the best jobs during the storm season. He’d never been in that position before.


Here’s to your New Year being the best so far!




Dan York

CEO and Founder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.



More Google Updates! What Happens to Your Website – What Do We Do About It?

Ok, so Google has announced another set of “changes”.  So what does this mean and how does it affect your company, your website, and your phone call volume coming from the internet? And more importantly, how do we as an internet marketing company fit into all of this?


1st, understand this: These changes not only will never stop, they will get more and more frequent. It’s just the way it is. So we all have to get used to it and adapt. Even if Google somehow becomes #2 and some other company becomes #1, it will still be this way.


Ok, next. What do these changes do? Well, this one could be up for debate, but MOST of them are to make your experience on the internet better, faster, more appropriate and more convenient.  And factually Google does pretty well with all of that. Go use Yahoo, Bing, or any other company for a day or so, they do quite well at providing good search results. Some of these updates are to stop web-spammers from clogging up your internet searches with garbage. But more recently, a lot of these Google updates are to simply boost their ads up so more people use them, too. After all, Google is also in business to make money and their ads are one of their main revenue sources.


So, how do these changes affect your website and call volume?


Well, simple. Your website goes up or down in Google, your Google map rankings go up or down. And if they are down, phone calls actually can stop, period. Hence the importance of staying on top of it. There is no such things as “set it and forget it” in this business of internet marketing. It is a game of survival. And the smartest most diligent win this one. Laziness loses every time.


So what do we do about it?


Well, this is our speciality. A lot of our clients don’t actually know that when Google updates happen, that is our job, believe it or not. So two things happen with Google that we have to handle for ALL of our clients:

  1. Google surprises everyone with an update.
  2. Google give notice of an update (rare).


The handling for both is really the same, although the execution of it differs in timing.

  1. If Google surprises everyone:  We have to do a ton of observation and testing over several weeks and figure out what changed and how we handle it. It’s simple in concept really. Google says certain things, but that doesn’t mean they are what we do. If Google told everyone how to game their own system, no one would be in business here would they? Once we know what to do, we have to roll it out to our entire client base. This is very time and effort consuming.
  2. If Google gives you notice: Well, here, we actually pay very careful attention to what Google says. We take this one with a bit less of a grain of salt. They are giving notice because they are trying to change something major and it needs to happen, and what they say in these types of announcements is pretty on point. The handling for us is the same as above more or less, other than we really take into account their directions.


In short, predicting, handling, and maintaining your internet marketing program is our job, every Google update is our job. It isn’t easy, there are ups and downs, some times damage control, but that is why you hire us in the first place….right? So you don’t have to keep up with it and do it!





Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.




What NOT to do When Finances Get Tough in your Company….

What NOT to do When Finances Get Tough in your Company….

This is a hot topic in any company. We, being a marketing company and having worked with hundreds of water damage restoration companies, have seen what we call the “kiss of death” when it comes to tough times in this business.

When money is tight, things get stressful, hectic, some poor decisions get made, and understandably so. Stress can cloud good judgement. We’ve all been there. Ask anyone who has been married for a long time what financial stress does to their relationship. Ok, point made.


So…the kiss of death…what is it?


When finances get tough, they shut down the front end of their company. Like what? They lay off their marketing managers, cut off their marketing programs, let go of a sales person or two, stop focusing on advertising, focus more on saving money than on making it. That’s the kiss of death.


Obviously when times get tough, frugality and economy need to come into play. There’s less money, so of course it does. But cutting off  the front-end of your company is the opposite of what you should be doing. One of my top and favorite clients, every time things slow down which they inevitably will, he really pours on the coals on the front end, and rightly so. And he does very, very well. 80% of his focus goes onto the front end of his company in those tough times. He doesn’t cut it.


Here’s some tips on do’s and don’ts for ways to win through the tough financial times:



  • Spend a majority of your time focusing on the front end, new business, of your company.
  • Market and advertise, and do it more, in more places.
  • Terminate any employees that are not helping to expand your company. The people that you’re unsure about, or make you tired all the time, or always “steal your attention” should be your major targets for termination.  You know the good ones who make your life easier. You can feel it.
  • Work harder and longer, complacency will kill you. Doing nothing about it will let the death of your company occur.
  • Remember all of your successful actions that got you where you are today, slam them in.
  • Fire the clients you wish you didn’t have. You know the ones I’m talking about. You don’t need their money and they factually are holding you back from making money from good clients who need you.



  • Terminate the people who your company survives on the back of.
  • Cut marketing programs and advertising that gets you in front of new people.
  • Freak out and do a bunch of things that don’t work – the “shotgun effect”. Stay calm, collect, do what you know works, what has always worked.
  • Spend 80% of your time on the 20% of your clients who scream the loudest. Spend your time on the clients who are excellent, pay on time, etc. Fire those clients who do not.
  • Keep sales and marketing people who tell you about how good they are, but produce nothing of value for you. If they are worth it, you’ll see it in their numbers.
  • Get advice from anyone who is less successful than you.
  • Blame your situation on the economy, other companies, competition, etc. Those thought processes won’t help you solve the situation.



Tough times are just that. But some of my biggest clients were the survivors of 2009-2010, and they got bigger than ever and it was by doing the things mentioned above. Don’t take my word for it, make friends with other Water Damage Restoration biz owners, bigger and more successful ones, and let them tell you what I’m saying.




Dan York

Fonder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.


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Cleanfax Live Interview – Are Google Ads affecting your call volume?

What has Google done with their ads and how is it affecting your Call Volume?


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What are the Big Water Damage Companies doing that you’re not?


Specializing our work towards water damage restoration companies and literally working with hundreds upon hundreds of them, you start to notice what the big companies do to get and stay big and what the little companies do to keep themselves small.   I could categorize most of it into 2 categories – attitude and activities.

Here are my observations of the big company/small company attitudes and activities:


Big companies: Spend 80% of their time and attention on getting new business.  Their noses are down in their marketing campaigns, actively working at it, every week.
Small Companies: Only focus their attention on marketing for new business when the season slows down (too late) and there is no work coming in. Then they feel like they are “forced to do it.”


Big companies: Are trying to be everywhere. They are trying to be in front of everyone, everywhere, every magazine, radio channel, internet location, billboard, etc.
Small Companies: Are trying to find that “magic” marketing spot.  That magic marketing action that they heard about on some internet forum from some guy they don’t know whose company “exploded from doing it.” But they neglect everything else.


Big companies: Are extremely persistent. They keep at what they are doing, they don’t try one thing and move on to the next, move on to the next, etc.
Small Companies: Are sporadic. They try things here and there but do not stick with any activity really long enough to make it work.



Big companies: Always seem to be worried about the future. They always are working on expanding fast, to avoid and “what ifs” in the economy.
Small Companies:  Get complacent with where they are.  When things are good, they forget about the future, until the season slows down, then they worry, again too late.


Big companies: Hire the right people, fire the wrong ones. They know that their business will only expand if they have A players that can grow things. Business is business and people will either expand their areas, or they won’t. They generally aren’t staffed with family and friends.
Small Companies:  Don’t hire enough people, don’t fire enough people. They sit on people they are unsure about because they are afraid to fire them (for whatever reason) – people that don’t get their production in the company rising. Sometimes they even fill their company up with family and friends who aren’t productive, complicating firing them even more and turning the business into a dramatic family event.


Big companies: Track their statistics, finances and growth.  They know how many calls they got and from where, they know where their month is revenue-wise compared to last year and they have software programs that are very organized to see all of it.
Small Companies:  Fly by the seat of their pants. They don’t know where their calls are coming from for sure (although they say they do), they are running their whole business out of one bank account that can be a mess and growth is unknown other than “How much money did I make this month?”


Big Companies: Delegate.  They hire people to do the small stuff so they can focus on making more income – marketing and sales.
Small Companies: The owners usually try to do everything themselves to “save money.” And while being so busy “saving money” on not hiring people, they now have no time to spend on sales and marketing and do not grow as a result.


Big Companies: Are usually very optimistic.  They go into things knowing they will work and will do what it takes to get it done once they’ve decided to do it. When things didn’t work, they still learned important lessons and saw opportunity arising out of that “failure”.
Small Companies: Can sometimes be pessimistic. They want to see how something will fail first, before jumping into anything, and then, if it does, they were right in the first place.” But that is if they made the decision to do something in the first place, which they often don’t. Then they don’t learn any valuable lessons from those losses and don’t see any opportunities either.


Think and act like a big company, become one of them. Think and act small, stay small.



Dan York, Founder and CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.



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Are all these new Google changes hurting your call volume?

Are all these new Google changes hurting your call volume?

Over the last few months we’ve seen some serious Google changes. Alarming ones as a matter of fact. What have they been?

  1. They got rid of the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads on the right side of the screen.
  2. They now show 4 PPC  Ads on the top of the screen.
  3. They moved all of the Natural Company listings and map listing below the screen, where they cannot be seen right away.
  4. Then they changed the Ads to look like the Natural Listing that people actually used.
  5. And finally they changed everything to the color green, as the Ads used to be yellow in parts to separate them out from the natural listings.


Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 2.25.47 PM

Why are they doing all of this and is it hurting you?

To understand why they are doing this, you only need to think one thought – sell advertising. Everything makes sense if you align all of their moves to that thought. Let me explain:

Google is a publicly traded company and they make their billions from selling ads. One of the major sources of their ad sales are from Pay-Per-Click  (PPC) Ads, those little ads that someone pays for every time someone clicks on the ad.  Every single move they made, numbered above, was to sell more ads.


Google saw that people were clicking their PPC ads less and less every year. They also knew that the Natural unpaid listings at the top of the page,  would be clicked more often. So their strategy was to force everyone to click their ads by moving all natural, unpaid-for listings below the screen where you now have to scroll down to see it. To make it even worse, they colored everything green and got rid of the yellow that we were used to seeing their ads colored in and made the ads “look” like natural listings in order to trick people into clicking them. Like I said, everything they just did makes sense when you align it towards selling ads.

Now, I’m not against making money in business, on the contrary. But when you have to force people to use something that they do not want to use and start screwing the very people who use your service, that is going to come back around and bite you at some point, but I digress…(but if I had a nickel for every time a Water Damage client of ours said “Google is bleeding me dry from their Pay Per Click…”)


So now you understand what they did and why, but is it hurting you?


The answer apparently, as we’ve seen it is…no.  We’ve seen the contrary.  We’ve been getting more and more reports of businesses doing fine and call volume being not only good, but good quality.

Ask yourself this, are you going to click on their ads now that they’re trying to force you to?  I know I haven’t. And most of the people I’ve talked said the same thing, no.

So all in all this was bad news that resulted in…good news.

Google, being blinded by advertising revenues and not focusing on good innovative service (which is more profitable in the long run),  has missed the boat in all of these moves they’ve done in order to trick and force people into clicking more ads.  What boat did they miss? Trust. Trust is why people prefer the Natural listing to Ads, they always have and they always will, no matter how forced advertising becomes.




Dan York, Founder

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc. and

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