ICS Magazine

The Four "M's" of Marketing

April 2, 2012
Are you breathing a sigh of relief that winter is finally over? Are you relieved that now your phone is ringing? While the doldrums of winter and the lack of phone calls is still a recent memory, let me encourage you to avoid the same trap next year by ramping up your marketing while you are busy.

Yes, while you are busy.

See, if people are cleaning right now, and you aren’t actively pursuing the clients who are in the market today and they use someone else, guess whose clients they will likely be next year?

You got it.

What’s worse is that your client is likely being seduced by someone else at this moment. If you aren’t marketing to them, someone else is!

Here are four things to think about in your marketing that most small business owners don’t think enough about:


The First M: Message

Have you heard of a USP? It stands for “unique selling proposition.” What’s unique about you? Why should someone use you over someone else? And if you aren’t the lowest cat around, why should they pay you more? Have you truly set yourself apart? Do you really understand how to do that?

Your cleaning method alone is not enough to truly set yourself apart. Anyone can copy how you do your cleaning. What will set you apart is your service experience and the education you provide.

But it’s not enough just to have a service experience or to educate your customers on the job; you’ve got to get that into your marketing message. Instead of a USP, I call this a UEP™. A UEP™ is a “unique experience proposition™.”

How well are you communicating your service experience and how well are you positioning yourself as a consultant rather than a cleaner in your marketing message?

It’s not fun to go to networking groups and listen to people drone on about what they do and how they do it. In fact, it’s downright painful. Why? Because they could be using that 60 seconds of “marketing real estate” to really tell you how they are different, but they usually say something like, “I’m Bob Smith and I clean carpet, furniture, rugs, floors and just about anything else you can think of. We do everything from soup to nuts, so give us a call...”

It’s not funny because it’s costing them a lot of money!

Your message must motivate your market to take action!


The Second M: Market

This is the second mistake - thinking that everyone is your customer just because they have carpet or upholstery. Can you think of a perfect customer? Visualize that person for a moment. What defines that person?

Are you more passionate about residential or commercial? Cleaning or restoration? High-end, middle, or low? What is the average income of your target market? How do they buy?

Are you focusing your efforts on the right type of target market, or are you just shooting in the dark?


The Third M: (Marketing) Method

When you get clear on your message and your market, and you are passionate about providing that type of service to that particular market, what are the best ways to reach them?

Do they buy mostly through referrals? Are they buying online (not just searching). Are they already on your client base, but you just aren’t in touch with them? (Sorry, I had to sneak that one in!) Have you discovered the very best ways to reach your specific, most promising, perfect prospect?

My target market is high-end residential and I know that they operate mostly through referrals. There are a few high-end referral books and online referral services we use too. But it’s all about repeat and referral.

If you are after the value customer, there are a myriad of advertising sources you can use, but remember you are competing with the big guys, so you better have a powerful value message.


The Fourth M: Money

How do you decide what you are going to invest in marketing? How do you decide when you are going to invest that money? Are you tracking your returns?

Do you even have a sales goal? Far too often, small business owners are “opportunity buyers” rather than “strategic planners.” Strategic planning doesn’t sound like very much fun, but it can make you wildly wealthy.

If you decide to go the easy route and try the next advertising scheme that comes down the pike (usually because you are hurting for business and you haven’t done the basic things you should have been doing all along), it ends up costing you money and you don’t get your perfect customer.

One of the things I see constantly with smaller companies is they don’t invest enough on marketing their business. When you see the puny line item on an income statement, there’s no wonder there isn’t any business.

You have to plant a seed to get a plant! And you have to nurture that plant to get fruit, and you’ve got to take the seed from that fruit and continue that process to grow a crop. And that’s what you need this spring: You need a crop. Not just a couple of puny plants that are about to dry up and blow away.

So, how much do you invest? Ten percent is a good number, and if you are going to do paid advertising, you may want to look at 20%.

I hope that helps! See you next month.