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Get Off the Back Burner

January 1, 2007
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That’s it? It’s time to get a marketing plan in place, pronto.


So you’ve done it! You’ve bought the biggest, hottest, shiniest new truckmount and all the toys and attachments, and you are ready to be the next carpet-cleaning mogul in your area. Now it’s time for the phone to start ringing and for the dollars to start flowing in. Isn’t it?

You do realize that the difference between success and failure, or how profitable you are, is not determined by price, quality or value, don’t you? Many of the values we learned while growing up – hard work equals success, for one – are no longer the deciding factor of success. To make it in today’s competitive market we must not only work harder, we must work smarter than our competition.

What was the deciding factor in purchasing that fire-breathing monster that you selected? Was it quality, price or location? Or was it good old USA marketing? The fact is, preferences for cars, TVs, major appliances and almost all consumer purchases, including fire breathers, come down to marketing. The company that grabs your interest, attention and desire will grab your hard-earned dollars. Today, companies spend more on advertising than they do on research and development. They spend more on consumer marketing surveys than on replacing or updating capital equipment. Marketing has become king! Production minus sales equals scrap. Let’s face it: there really is not much difference between Coke and other colas. Now, some of you are screaming that yes, there is a major difference, and you’re an expert. How dare I insult your Coke? Far from being insulting, I’m saying look what a fantastic job of marketing Coke has done.

Let’s define marketing. Marketing is everything you do to promote your business. It’s a picture of you and your service; it can be as simple as wearing a shirt and tie rather than a t-shirt and jeans, or as sophisticated as a 15-second TV ad that costs more than $500,000. The common thread running through all effective marketing is that it creates interest, attention and desire. No matter how sophisticated your marketing efforts are, the very best you can hope for is to create interest, attention and desire.

Creating this trinity is not as simple as it sounds. The single most common mistake in marketing is over complicating the product. Trying to explain too much, giving too much information or giving the wrong kind of information are the most common mistakes made in service marketing plans. You are in a service business, and it is most important for you to learn how customers buy those services, not why you think they should.

Determine how you can create interest, attention and desire using as few words as possible. Most people do not read an entire ad. Fewer words and more pictures betters your chances of having your ads noticed. We want to tell the whole story, but no one wants to hear it. Think about the last marketing effort you remember: I bet it was simple, interesting and to the point, striking a cord with you on a personal level. All great marketing programs have these items in common: interest, attention, desire.

Most of you have tried some marketing ideas that have met with limited success. Some have tried ideas that have been barnburners. But remember this: continuing, regular contact with your customers is an absolute necessity for growing your business. A mailing, such as newsletter, should be sent to your customers at least every 30 to 60 days, with topics of interest that appeal to a wide range of personalities.

Start creating a “brand” for your company by having a logo designed for you by a specialist, and plan a campaign for enhancing the profile of this logo among your customers and customer-hope-to-be list. Explore the possibilities: work shirts with your logo; a fully lettered truck, possibly using one of the vinyl wrap techniques that feature attention-grabbing, informative graphics. To achieve some level of consumer awareness for your brand, it should appear in and on all marketing items you use.

Keeping your name and logo in front of your audience is a necessity, lest your customer forget whom it was that provided the superior service they experienced when they called you the last time. Things such as report cards and “thank you” cards accompanied by refrigerator/file cabinet magnets are part of the plan. You do have a plan, don’t you?

It’s not too late to start planning, but the days aren’t getting any longer, so waste no time checking out some of the business plans and coaching/mentoring available in the market today. And polish that big rig that is so essential to the harvest of dollars from your beloved customers. And always, always keep in mind the old adage: The company that fails to plan plans to fail! Now go get ‘em!

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