A few months ago, I booked a flight to the east coast for my wife and told her she would get a confirming email. She smiled and said, “I hope the email says I’ve been upgraded for free.” I thought, “Well, who doesn’t wish that?” That thought stuck with me as our team began planning extra benefits for 2013. From day one, our core philosophy has been to improve the Diamond Certified Program every year, and this year is no exception. So, I’m very pleased to say that for 2013, all Diamond Certified companies have been UPGRADED!
The first part of this upgrade is the creation of a new Directory Update series. Going forward, Diamond Certified companies will be presented in their areas’ new quarterly print and digital update editions of our popular Diamond Certified Directory. Before this upgrade, each Diamond Certified company received a full-page profile in our main directory (distributed every April). Now, they get that profile plus an enhanced listing in each of our new quarterly editions mailed and emailed in July, October and January, which more than doubles their area’s directory circulation. This means we’ll publish a new book each quarter with fresh information and mail and email it to Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer members and additional homeowners with incomes above $75,000 per year.
The idea of the Update edition is to add what I call, “strength to strength.” We’re sending more of our strongest feature, our directories, to our strongest users, our 48,000 consumer members plus above average income homeowners. The table to the right provides the circulation and geographic scoping for each edition. As you can see, we have 10 geographically scoped editions for the full profile directories and four editions for the quarterly listing directories. In the Update editions, company listings will appear within their specific county section.
Upgrade #2: Contribute Expertise to Local Consumer
The second upgrade we’ll be making in 2013 is our introduction of a new initiative that’s designed to help Diamond Certified companies use their industry-specific expertise to benefit local consumers and themselves. Our vision is that by 2017, in addition to being seen as top-rated for quality, Diamond Certified companies will be widely known by consumers as the most helpful local experts in their fields.
This expansion is actually Phase 4 of the development of our Expert Program. As the table on the right details, in Phase 1 we presented consumer articles from Chris Bjorklund, in Phase 2 we worked with each Diamond Certified company owner to create a series of articles for their Company Report page, and in Phase 3 we created expert articles for consumers on each local industry and posted these to relevant category pages and excerpted snippets for our Facebook and Twitter Diamond Certified Tip of the Day series. As a result, in 2012, organic search traffic to our website increased 40% and our Facebook fans jumped from 500 to 6,100!
This expansion is a major undertaking, but like all of our upgrades, there will be no additional fees charged to Diamond Certified companies. We know they’re super busy, so we’re aiming to design the creation of these personal expert articles and videos as turnkey as possible. Our plan is to have our professional staff interview each Diamond Certified company and do the heavy lifting of creating key expert articles and videos. To accomplish this, we’ll be adding a manager specifically focused on this initiative, plus additional editorial and video staff. In the first half of 2013, we’ll undertake the design and programing of new major sections to our website. We will “soft launch” this Diamond Certified Expert Manager phase during the second half of 2013 with 20 to 50 company owners and test new community outreach formats. Toward the end of the year, we’ll roll out the whole program to all Diamond Certified companies.