The Most Important Aspect of Business
June 1, 2006
In your community, I'll bet you can name a company that has been around many years but cuts many corners in the book of business. Perhaps they charge extra for pre-spraying, or they leave carpet (or walls, if a restoration company) wet after the job. But somehow these bad apples never seem to go out of business, and you can bet the owner of this type of company is making a decent living, even a killing.
See if this sounds familiar: the owner of the company hires bargain-basement subs who drive their own cars to the jobsite, with their own portable in the trunk along with the overpriced chemicals they had to purchase from the owner as a condition of their employment. If the sub doesn't have enough money, he simply fills his pre-conditioner jug with water and dish soap or laundry detergent. If he runs out of real protector, he uses water. These "technicians" have never had more than a couple of hours of on-the-job training and do a very poor job of cleaning. The company advertises low prices, and the technicians push the customer hard to try to make a $12.95-per-room job into a $40-plus-per-room sale.
Not a month goes by that we don't hear a horror story about this type of business model. This owner is the epitome of everything that should be unsuccessful in business, yet he thrives, not because he's a good businessman, but because he's a great marketer.
He doesn't care if he develops a bad name among other cleaners because they aren't his customers. He could care less if he ticks off customers because his sole purpose in business is not to create satisfied clients that will buy over and over again from him and refer their friends and family, but to get as many new customers as possible. He's a master at creating the perception that his company is the best, yet he's not anywhere close. His customers often complain about the work his company performs; his only saving grace is that he is a fantastic marketer.
Now, don't go telling your friends, "Rendall says it's OK to do crappy work because all I have to do is market a lot." That's not at all what I'm saying. What I am saying is, imagine how successful this guy would be if he ran his company the right way and excelled at not only his marketing but also in how he conducts business.
The truth is, great marketing forgives a lot of business sins. Let's analyze how we can become better marketers, but without sacrificing the quality that our customers have come to expect.
Five Profitable Sales Pointers
- Know Your Market. By understanding your market you'll know exactly where to spend your advertising dollars. If you define too broad a market, you'll end up wasting money. Have a laser focus on the type of customer you are seeking. If you don't know how to define your target market, conduct a survey of the type of clients you are seeking to attract. Ask questions like, "What did you like about us?" "What didn't you like about us?" "What made you choose us over the competition?" "How often do you usually get your carpeting cleaned?" These questions will be invaluable to helping you determine many trends amongst your typical prospect and customer.
- Know What They're Looking For and Deliver It. By knowing what your prospective customer is looking for, you can further define your target market. For instance, if you know that the type of customers you're looking for usually look for best quality over best price, you should certainly convey this in your marketing. If, on the other hand, you're a price-oriented company, then an image of offering good (probably not great) quality at a lower price will be your marketing position. One simple way to summarize this is to ask yourself, "What benefits are my customers looking for, and how can I fulfill them?"
- Know Your Costs and Budget. Before spending a dime on marketing, you should have a good idea of what you can afford and not break the budget delivering your marketing message.
- Use Unique Marketing Approaches. In today's business climate, it's difficult to get your message across to prospects and clients. They're already inundated with a plethora of marketing messages. Several studies have shown that the typical consumer is blasted with over 1,000 marketing impressions a day from billboards, newspaper ads, e-mail, TV, mail, radio, etc. Think of unique ways you can get your message to your prospects and customers. Personally, I love postcards. They don't require the prospect or customer to open them, and I know if I'm creative enough with graphics and text the prospect or customer will at least read it. Another useful and often underused tool is the telephone. With privacy laws in effect, one has to be careful and know the rules. Generally speaking, though, it's OK to contact businesses and past customers.
- Test, Tweak, and Try Again. Marketing is a never-ending necessity of business. If you're not keeping track of who's calling and how they heard about you, now is the time to start. Smart marketers know exactly what works, what doesn't, and when to scrap it and try again. The only way to determine this is by testing. I once sent out a direct mail piece to 200 commercial prospects. I tracked the disappointing results - one call out of 200 sent - and thought about scrapping the idea completely. Then I decided to try another mailing to the same 200 potential commercial prospects several months later, but this time I added a second page of text and talked more about the benefits of getting and keeping their carpet cleaned. That letter generated four bookings that returned more than $3,000 in sales, not including referrals and back-end sales to the owners, managers, and employees. Yes, it took more work, but I found a winning sales letter simply by rethinking and reworking my approach.
Superstar marketers make the phone ring. Superstar business owners make the phone ring and make their customers happy.