Pest Control Marketing

A Guide To Dominate Your Competition

Long gone are the days of expensive sales reps and worn-out shoes that have hit the payment all summer long selling pest control services door-to-door. Although door knocking is still an effective way to get new customers for your pest control business, there are faster and cheaper options that if done right, will flood your business with new customers faster than you can open new routes and hire service technicians to fill them.

We live in a digital world

We live in a world of digital marketing and our society is conditioned to head to Google as soon as a problem arises be it a flat tire, a faulty water heater, and even a cockroach that has scurried across the kitchen floor.

Of course, traditional methods such as radio ads, billboards, and sponsoring your local high school’s home football games are still valid options when it comes to marketing. However, those are ‘top of the funnel’ marketing tactics that are best used for branding and not driving sales.

The strategies that you and your company pick will depend on your local market, the size of your marketing budget, & the technical skills of your team.

In this article, we will break down what options are out there for your business and what will be the easiest and quickest to get you a consistent flow of new customers.

Unique Challenges of pest control marketing

It is typically a quick sales cycle when you are selling pest control unless you work with a large corporate chain that wants all of its locations serviced. But for the average American, most phone calls to order pest control don’t last longer than 30 minutes.

The marketing equation is simple, your customer has a problem, and you can solve it.

However, because you offer a solution that will return their lives to normal, we must understand what motivates your customers to not beat out by your competition. Your customer will most likely pick the fastest, cheapest, and most effective option. By doing this correctly, we will beat out our competition and grow faster while increasing our margins.

Most homeowners want the problem gone as quickly as possible. For example, the thought of living with bed bugs sends shivers up their spine, and they typically were not planning for the extra expense of pest control. This creates a unique pain point as the homeowner is highly motivated to solve their problem and wants it done at the best rate possible.

It’s your job to design your marketing and sales strategy to not compete on price. Unfortunately, that tends to be a company’s race underbidding the other until half of the competition is out of business. We want to avoid this and build your strategy on sound marketing practices that allow your company to have healthy margins.

To do this, we will look at the marketing strategies available in your area and plan a holistic systems approach that will land you more customers and keep you and your team doing what you do best, which is getting rid of nasty pests.

How to grow a pest control business

Pest Control Marketing Strategies

Pest control marketing is unique because it isn’t marketing at all. You see, marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses branding, advertising, positioning, market research, and more. If we were to take a holistic marketing approach, then most of your budget would be wasted on branding and not generating new customers. Branding in pest control is something you do once you have the customer, not before — or a very, very large marketing budget.

With that being said, we need to be on the same page when talking about pest control marketing. Marketing in pest control, 99% of the time is advertising & sales.

Of course, your positioning, your branding in your website design, the words in your ads, etc., are essential. But let’s think of them as supporting pieces that will help our main drivers bring customers to your business, not strategies we initially want to focus on.
Using this definition, we can automatically rule out billboards, radio, and sponsoring high school sports. Don’t get me wrong, I love supporting local events, but I love getting my clients customers more.

The fastest way to drive customers to your business is through direct response marketing mixed with digital marketing that drives the best pest control leads.

Chances are, your target customers are using Google every day. They are searching for new restaurants or DIY tips on how to fix the leaky sink faucet. They are also searching for pest control, and you can reach them at the moment they have a problem using these platforms:

Of course, for pest control businesses in a region with a small population, there are few searches on Google for pest control and inbound marketing might not be the best choice. So this is one of the only times I would suggest using high school sports to bring you, customers, as small towns talk and hometown values shine through.

How Marketing and Sales Work Together

Before starting a marketing campaign, you will want to ensure that you have your systems in place. The biggest mistake I see local businesses making is spending money on Google Ads to have an untrained office assistant answer the phone and loose the sale. Don’t get me wrong, Google is an excellent pest control marketing platform but your internal operations have to tuned up to maximize your return on investment.

As more and more businesses are heading to Google or Facebook to run ads, the cost of those ads is rising. So our number one goal is to make sure that you see an immediate return on investment for your marketing so that your business can flourish.

Most people don’t know that the pest control business model is not about getting rid of bugs but having customers sign up for continual protection from bugs — a subscription model.

Initial services and treatments often require the most work and can even need a couple of treatments to match the hatching cycle when dealing with roaches and bed bugs. But, if you can get your customers to sign up on requiring services, you just turned a hundred and something dollar sale to over four hundred stretched throughout the year. That is 4x of your initial sale if your customer only stays with your company for a year and much more if you can keep them for multiple years.

This is where marketing, sales, and services come together to create the branding element of pest control marketing.

When running ads, your first goal should be to cover your cost and create profit for your business. Let me explain.

Performing a quick search for ‘pest control near me on Google Ad’s keyword planner, we can see that the average cost per click across America is between $6.74 and $27.00. Now that is per click, not per sale or conversion. I know those numbers can seem daunting but let’s break it down and show how we can create a marketing machine that will hurtle your business to the top.

Let’s take the average of those two numbers, which is about $20.00

Oh, I forgot to warn you, we are about to do some math, so buckle up, and I promise it will be over quickly.

Let’s say that we had an advertising budget of $1,000 a month. If we were to only target that on the keyword, we could get 50 clicks on our ads and, in turn, about 50 visitors to our website. 

At GrowthBound, we have an average conversion rate of 27% on all of our pest control campaigns, but the industry average is 8% for internet marketing. So let’s assume that you can double the standard by following our tutorials and guides and that gives you a 16% conversion rate or eight phone calls a month.

And because you are smart and have a trained salesman answering incoming calls from ads, you have about a 75% close rate. So that gives you six new customers that are looking for pest control for $1,000.

Now, I know what you are thinking. I said that we would create a marketing machine and not a way to lose money quickly. So here are the advanced tactics that will skyrocket your business ahead of your competition.

You charge $120 for your initial service and then a recurring fee of $100. That would net you about $420 a year per customer.

In your first month, you would make a return of -$280. However, let’s say that all 6 of those customers stayed on and signed up for a year subscription. Then we turned $1,000 into $8,640 or an 8.6x return on ad spend.

Now, that still doesn’t seem too great. But, I mean, you either need a massive advertising amount upfront, or you’ll need to run ads for years before you’ll grow into a robust pest control company that has captured a large portion of the market.

That is because, in our example, I used the highest cost keyword ‘pest control near me. Paying $20 a click is outrageous, and by doing so, you will slowly grow your business.

Instead, we can focus on lower cost per click keywords such as ‘cockroach removal’ or even ‘how to get rid of bed bugs.

You can see that we can get the cost per click for bed bugs down to 50 cents. And as you know, bed bugs are a high ticket item with services often going for $1,500.

By using specific keywords, you’ll be able to create more specific ads and web pages or landing pages that sell your services. That will result in not only a cheaper cost per click but also a higher conversion rate.

By finding the perfect match, you can see how quickly you can scale your pest control business by getting an instant return on investment.

What About the High-Cost Keywords?

Keywords such as “pest control {{your city name}}” are more expensive but are still very valuable. There are two ways to approach them: SEO or the long game.

The long game provides such exceptional service that the client stays with you for many years. However, this is risky because there are many factors outside of your control. A couple of these are that your customers could move, that they could pass away, or even a global pandemic sweeps the country. As a result, they no longer want people coming into their homes s they would rather live with cockroaches than a vicious virus (but that would never happen, right?).

As crazy as it sounds, people cancel their services for various reasons, and it is often out of your control.

That is why I always recommend running ads for easy wins and then building a solid SEO or search engine optimization strategy that slowly builds up strength in the background. Then, finally, you will be ranking in the top 10 search results, and everyday clicks will be free.

You can approach SEO in two ways, the first is local SEO, and the second is traditional SEO.

If you are starting, we recommend focusing on local SEO, as traditional SEO can take a couple of years before you see any results.

Local SEO is the map section that often appears when your search query has a local intent such as ‘food near me’ or ‘pest control near me.

Local SEO is affected by many factors, but as of writing, the top three or at least the easiest three to control are the quality and quantity of Google reviews, how close your business is to the searcher, and how optimized your Google My Business listing is.

You’ll want to follow this article on how to optimize your Google My Business.

And you can’t control your location, that is, unless you open multiple locations across your service areas. Some pest control companies will try and open up various P.O. boxes and list those on Google as a new location, and although it can be an effective strategy, it does go against Google’s terms of use and can result in a ban. It is always safer to play by Google’s rules than to try and outsmart the absurd amount of PHDs and Artificial Intelligence running their algorithms.

The fastest organic way to increase your rankings for high-value keywords is to get 5-star Google reviews with your targeted keyword mentioned in the study. This is why we created a review generator tool that got a pest control business 300 5-star reviews in just one summer from their actual customers.

Pest Control Marketing Ideas

After you have explored Google Ads and SEO options, you can start to look at some other non-digital marketing ideas that will bring you, customers.

Pest Control Referral Program

The first is to look at your internal customers for referrals. I love digital marketing, but I cannot deny the power of a strong referral — over 92% of people trust a referral from someone they know. The problem is that potential customers don’t often go to their friends when they have a pest control problem and referrals are extremely unpredictable.

To solve this, we need to get creative and incentivize your current customers to be advocates or, as I like to call them, missionaries for your business — this is another example of why branding happens after you get the sale.

Here are a couple of examples of great pest control referral programs


An example of this that works well is when you create a program where your current customers can nominate someone they know for a free pest control service. It works well because you are branding your business as a community member that cares about the locals. It also does wonders when it comes to the backbone of a good SEO strategy. It can generate backlinks from local newspapers and organizations when you send a press release announcing the program.

Enter to Win

An enter to win campaign is very similar to the nomination strategy, except instead of giving a free service to a non-customer, you give a chance to win something to a current customer in exchange for a referral.

This works well when you give away something that is outside of your business. This could be an Xbox, Apple Watch, a two-night stay at a close-by destination, or even gift cards at a place like Costco.

Support a Local Cause

When you create a campaign to support a cause, you get to rally your community together to make a difference, and you receive the publicity, the branding, and maybe even a tax write-off.

Although I am not an accountant and I am providing no financial advice (for legal reasons), the benefits of supporting a local cause are wide and numerous.

Typically campaigns follow a similar pattern where every referral that a current customer provides counts for a certain donation amount, such as $10. You can even turn it up a notch by creating a competition between 2-3 causes that your customers care about. The benefit of this is that the cause with the most referrals will get an extra $500 donation, and referrals are flooding. 

Guerilla Marketing For Pest Control

We can dip into the realm of guerilla marketing with some out-of-the-box ideas that will drive attention to your business. However, it is important to note that most guerilla marketing techniques are top of the funnel, or they will drive a lot of attention and do an incredible job with branding but are not designed to drive direct sales. That is not to say that you will not see an incredible boost in sales, just that the main target is to drive awareness.

Guerilla marketing works well when it is authentic, it doesn’t break the bank, your target audience least expects it, does not replace your consistent advertising plans, and it is perfect on the first go.

As a side note, make sure that you are not breaking any laws and have the permits necessary to perform your campaign.

Create a Scene in Down Town

The first rule of guerilla marketing is to create a scene that the press cannot ignore. Sure, your goal is to get the people’s attention in the immediate vicinity, but if you can capture attention from local news outlets, then your message will be carried far and wide.

An example of this could be to order a costume of an insect and set up a pop-up kitchen in the middle of downtown. You could have signs everywhere that say “Too many legs in your kitchen?” or “Bugs don’t belong in the kitchen.” Then you would have the mascot cook some delicious food that is handed out to bystanders, such as yummy crepes, or if you are concerned about the costume catching on fire, a frozen treat like ice cream.

You can take this idea and modify it into a game show. You can have two very popular local food trucks park downtown and host a cook-off but with a twist. You, as a mascot, are trying to sabotage the food by adding ingredients that don’t belong. To defend the food, the food truck chefs have to slap you with a fly swatter, and every time you are hit, you have to spend a couple of minutes in a penalty zone.

Although this idea might not be for you and your company, the important thing to note is that you can quickly create a low-cost method to draw a lot of attention to your local pest control business. These types of spectacles work well when you partner with a well-known brand such as a university or restaurant.

Create a Scavenger Hunt For Locals

When partnering with the city, local college, or even local high school, you can create a scavenger hunt where participants have to find and take pictures of various objects around the city. They then have to post them to Instagram or Facebook with certain hashtags.

If done correctly, you’ll create a craze of people running around trying to accomplish this scavenger hunt and win the final prize. If you do this on a smaller scale, then it is a good idea to target high schoolers. This is because most adults don’t have the time to take the day off and run around the city, but high schoolers will flock around it. The key is to involve the parents in some way in the scavenger hunt as they are your true target market.

Which marketing strategy is best For Your Pest Control Company?

That is hard to say because I don’t know your business, the demand in your area, and what creative minds you have in your office. However, I can tell you what I would do if I was in your office right now as your outsourced CMO.

Guerilla marketing is fun, but it is also hard to pull off. Getting referrals is incredible, but it also takes time and a significant customer base to provide an instant boost in customers.

When we at GrowthBound Marketing work with a new pest control company, I always take a look at their resources and what we could do that would provide an immediate boost in sales and customers. This typically is Google Ads. It is a pay-to-play model, and our agency is really good at getting results.

However, if you are new to marketing and are looking at launching a Google Ads campaign yourself, then chances are you are going to make some mistakes along the way. It is often better to hire a professional marketing agency with proven results in the pest control industry as you can pay them to get immediate results or pay Google more than it should cost while you learn how to get results yourself.

I can’t promise that GrowthBound Marketing will be the perfect fit for your pest control business, but I can promise that if we are, we’ll apply over ten years of industry knowledge and won’t sleep until you are profitable and enjoying the flood of new customers.

If hiring a marketing agency with a retainer is out of the question, then I suggest you look at GrowthBound’s A la carte options as you get the expertise of a marketing agency without the recurring costs. You’ll be the strategist, and we’ll be the workforce to make sure the technical aspects of marketing are handled by industry experts.

Lastly, if you are just starting out, I suggest you focus on Local SEO and door knocking. Build your base and create cash flow. Once you have enough to make some initial investments, then I would head to Google ads for a predictable flow of customers.

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