In this article I am going to focus on those that hire professional marketing companies or are considering it.
As a business owner there is absolutely no one in the world that will know the ends and outs of your business, products and services better than you. You have been there from the beginning and have made the company in to what it is today. Unfortunately as a business owner you are not always in the best position to make marketing decisions because you are too close to your business, brand and personal preferences.
A good marketing partner will know your customer as well, if not better, than you do. It is not enough to simply know your customer, you have to know what types of language, concepts and imagery that your potential customers will engage with. Most companies spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to tell the market how great they are, how many certifications they have, how long they have been in business, how wonderful their customer service is, etc etc etc. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your prospects don’t care about any of that UNTIL they have recognized that you are a company that can solve their particular problem or need.
Think about the last time you had to hire a professional to perform a service. I like to use the plumbing as an example as I am a terrible plumber! Do you care that the plumber has been plumbing for 35 years and they have great customer service when you first call or do you just want the plumber to come fix your leaking toilet?
The problem is there is a disconnect in many service industries where the consumer doesn’t originally understand the difference between Sweep Company A and Sweep Company B and why your certifications, training and expertise are so important. At the time of their original call they just want their problem fixed. It’s only AFTER your potential customer recognizes you are a company that can potentially solve their problem or need that they will then begin to care about everything else.
Take our plumbing example and imagine you have received an advertisement from a plumbing company in the mail. How long are you doing to keep reading the bullet list of this company telling about how great they are? We must remember that marketing is simply a vehicle to introduce a seller to a prospective buyer and our messaging should be as simple. You have a need that we can solve. Once your prospective buyer has engaged with you as a company that can solve their need, then it is time to make them feel amazing about the great decision they made in calling you.
One of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make when hiring a professional marketing firm to help them grow their business is when the business owner tries to micro-manage the process, content and concepts. There’s a fine line between giving direction and managing that direction. It is extremely difficult for a business owner to let go of some control when it’s around the image of their company. Trust your decision, you did the research and you know your Marketing Agency is expert in their field, allow them to use their expertise to advance your business. If we put the shoe on the other foot, would it make sense for you to allow your Marketing Agency to give you direction on the proper way to sweep a chimney or install a liner?
I am going to end this article with two specific examples that I personally hear on a regular basis that may help put this article into perspective. First we are going to look at the “Keeping Up with the Jones” mentality of marketing spend. And finally, we are going to look at the proper way to use coupons.
MY COMPETITION DOES IT, SO SHOULD I!
How nice would it be to have endless amounts of marketing money in our budget? If we had unlimited financial resources we could advertise in every single place any of our potential customers could ever dream of finding us. The reality is we should be spending 8% – 12% of our projected annual revenue on marketing initiatives. Larger companies can spend a lower percentage, of as low as 5%, as they will have larger budgets with which to work. Regardless of your annual revenue and marketing budget any and all initiatives should be tracked and measured against ROI. Often we see advertising by our competition in a channel that we had not considered and we quickly feel compelled to follow suit. However, it is most important to determine the effectiveness of this type of advertisement. Just because they are spending the money, does not mean they are getting the return. Your marketing initiative must be effective against your budget and business. Do not allow the competitions actions to lead you astray
Everyone loves a great deal, right!? A ‘great deal’ is an individual buyer’s perception of the amount they paid in relation to the product or service they received. A ‘great deal’ does not mean the lowest price or the heftiest discount. One of the number one complaints we hear from owners in the service industry is how can they maintain margin and sell at a higher price while still staying competitive, because all their customers want to try and commoditize their product down to price with no regard to the expertise, level of service and certifications that make their value higher.
We are looking for the customer that is going to value our expertise, certifications and experience and will trust and execute our post inspection recommendations. If we are targeting the buyer that will do business simply because we saved them $20 on an inspection with a coupon, do we really believe that is the same buyer that will spend thousands to buy our recommended solution?
Coupons and incentives have their place and time and can be used to encourage previous customers to initiate a repeat transaction and should be used to encourage previous customers to execute a transaction when WE want them to buy, not when THEY want to buy. Use coupons along with forward scheduling and off season specials during the times your cash flow is hurting the most due to seasonality.