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4 Effective Strategies to Help Pivot Your Integration Business in 2021




In 1884 in a small town in Hassroun, Lebanon an eleven-year-old boy, Thannous Michael Saadi, made the brave and pivotal life decision to leave his beloved country with his uncle to work in a soap factory in Egypt. This would be a challenging experience for anyone, let alone a child. Armed with a vision of better life, Thannous faced the challenges head-on.

At the age of 17, Thannous got word that a group of Lebanese people were leaving Egypt and heading to the United States. He decided to follow suit and set off to explore the world. Over the course of the next few years, he traveled across the country, ultimately visiting 45 of the then 48 states.

Upon finishing his exploration of the US at the age of 19, he once again boarded a ship and cruised to the Bahamas. Once settled, he briefly returned to Lebanon to marry his childhood sweetheart and return with her to the Bahamas. Together on the island, they created a family, complete with 14 children. One of their sons, Useph Baker, was my father.

My Grandfather Anthony Baker was an incredibly brave man and an exceptional businessman. His businesses included numerous commercial real estate properties and a popular hotel. His original store, founded in 1894, is still in operation to this day.

His ability to pivot and adapt, not only to a new country, culture, and lifestyle, but also regularly exploring new business opportunities was integral to his success.

As we now embark on a new year ahead, what changes will you make in your life and business to create future prosperity? How can we grow? How can we depart from the comfort of the status quo? What are the changes we can make to pivot?

The entrepreneur in me is regularly considering what changes I should make to my business to remain relevant, create future opportunities and generate further success with new and existing customers.

Here I will offer some smart and practical ways to pivot in the year ahead:


#1: Clean Up Your Image

Companies with good ideas and poor branding go nowhere. Your brand clean up can start with your logo, tagline, and business cards. It should be clear and resonate across ALL marketing related to your business. This is especially important on your website.

Consider the fact that the average click off rate for first-time visitors to a website is 7 seconds! If someone visits your website for 7 seconds, will they know why they should work with you instead of your competitor? The website should be visually pleasing, responsive, and very direct about who you are, what you do and why a prospective customer should work with you.

Don’t forget about your brochure. If you do not have a brochure, there is never a better time to create one. I created my first brochure in Microsoft Publisher, and I am not a graphic designer!

#2: Communicate with Your Existing Customers (More)

Many consumers have been considering enhancements to their homes during this current lockdown. This certainly includes technology improvements. Are you sending out newsletters (brochures) to your customers showcasing the exciting new technologies in our industry? Again, this does not require expertise in graphic design tools. Many email blast platforms are free or very reasonably priced and they offer great tools to quickly generate professional email marketing campaigns.

If you don’t want to blast emails out to your customers, pick up the phone and call them! Check-in and share the news about exciting new products. Categories like wellness, homeschooling, and home office enhancements are hot right now. The world is shifting to a more virtual approach and it is important to explore how your products can help enhance that experience.

#3: Develop New Revenue Referral Streams

I am constantly thinking about new revenue streams and ways to build my brand. For example, I benefit from the articles I publish by spreading awareness of my brand. You can also benefit in this regard by contacting your local newspaper or town newsletter to ask if you can contribute an article about technology. Increase awareness and visibility of your brand by exploring new methods to get your name out to a target audience.

Producing articles on subjects you are passionate about is certainly one way to gain visibility, but there are countless other ways to accomplish this such as email blasts and/or physical mailers.

Joining architect, interior designer, builder associations is also a great idea. Earlier last year I invested the time and money to become a CEDIA Certified Outreach Instructor. With my new training and certification, I am authorized to deliver technology training and education to the previously mentioned groups. Maybe this is something to consider for your market as well?


#4: Review the Products You are Offering to Your Customers

As with AirBnb, maybe you will discover that you need to widen your focus to include other target customers with a synergy that matches your expertise and some of your current product offerings. Much has been explored in the past about residential integrators expanding into light commercial. The trend in the last year is for manufacturers to modify their product offering to include solutions for home offices, retrofit applications, small starter systems for home automation and smart home technology.

My wife and I became empty-nesters last year and moved into a new home, with zero technology wired into the home. We did retrofit some technology but also had rooms that required wireless solutions. Many friends and relatives of mine are downsizing and moving into condos, MDU’s, or apartments. With these moves, the need for technology is still there. Do you have solutions created to target this audience? Maybe now is the time for you to consider offering some solutions.

You may also review your product offering this year and decide it is time to make some changes to ensure better efficiency in the deployment process, maybe due to reduced staff. Consider adding additional product categories to address the rising interest in health and wellness or other popular categories our world has shifted to during this pandemic.

When I was an integrator, central vacuum was included in nearly every project. I have not heard much about central vacuums over the past decade, but recently saw it mentioned in an industry publication as a key element to improve IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). I also noticed that security and surveillance is expected to be the second-fastest growth category for 2021 – exceeded by networking for the obvious reason that many people now working virtually from home. What new products or categories will you embrace in the year ahead? How can you create opportunities to sell more to each of your customers and increase your “wallet share” with them?

I do not have plans in the year ahead to change my name or the country I live in. However, like my Grandfather would, I do have numerous plans in action for the year ahead to ensure continued success. I would love to hear what your plans are to soar in 2021, please contact me anytime to share your thoughts on this subject.

Best wishes to you for great health, happiness, and BIG success in the year ahead!

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What Not to do in Email Marketing



What Not to do in Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.

With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.

Talk About Yourself

Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.

Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.

Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.

One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.

It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.


Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.

Email Without a Purpose

While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.

Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.

Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.

Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.

Over Generalize

Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.

Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.

It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.


Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.

Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.

Use Poor Subject Lines

Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.

As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.

A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.

However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.

However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.

Being Inconsistent

Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.


The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.

That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.

You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.

A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.

Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.

Key Takeaways

You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.

Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.

By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.


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