Do you really need a marketing plan to survive in business? Do
you really need a marketing plan to thrive? You may be able to do okay without
one, but having one will make your business even better. And if you are struggling,
if you aren’t getting enough clients and you aren’t getting the kinds of
clients you want, then you need a marketing plan!
Far too often in our industry,
instead of “Ready, aim, fire,” it’s just “Fire!” And worse, it’s fire only
once. If it doesn’t work, you give up. You did not stop to think that perhaps
you implemented the strategy the wrong way!
Setting your “Sales and Marketing
Goals” was Step 1 of this series (check www.icsmag.com for details). Step 2 was
documenting your “Description of Service.” In that article I discussed
outlining your Unique Experiential Proposition. You need to be clear on what
you are really providing the client. You are not just providing cleaning or
restoration. Anyone can do that. What is unique about your service? That’s what
creates demand. And that leads us to…
Step 3: Positioning
What do I mean by positioning?
According to the classic (and highly recommended) book Positioning by Al Ries
and Jack Trout, positioning is about taking up a “slot” in your prospect’s mind.
Like a file cabinet, a product or service will take up a slot in the mind of
consumers unless that file is full with another product or service. In that
case, you must create some room.
When I say Mercedes, that product
goes into a file called “luxury automobile.” When I say Saturn, that product
goes into a file called “value automobile.” And when I say Kia, that goes into
a file labeled “low-cost automobile.”
Now the interesting thing is that
Kia is on the move, much as Toyota and Honda years ago. Believe it or not,
there was a day when Honda was a joke! A Toyota was a toy! Now look: Not only
has Toyota passed up GM, they also created a new brand – Lexus – that caught
Mercedes (wait for it) asleep at the wheel!
So what does all this have to do
You will take up a position in the
marketplace. You will be positioned in the minds of those in your community
that count. Do they see you as the Mercedes? Do they see you as the Saturn? Or
do they see you as the Kia?
Here’s how you know: What kind of
phone calls are you getting? What kind of customer are you attracting?
If your UEP is wrong, you won’t
attract the right kind of client. If you don’t deliver, you won’t keep your
position. If you want Mercedes clients and you are advertising where Kia
customers shop, it will not work! There are no shortcuts in positioning.
So, what position do you want to
take up? If you say luxury, that’s great, but are you willing to do what is
required to attract and keep the high-end client?
If you say value, I hope you have
plenty of money. Here’s why: While the value market is the biggest market, it
also has the most competition. And the value customer is not necessarily loyal,
where a luxury client typically is. When the value customer sees a better
“deal,” they jump. Sure, you can out “wow” and “out service” the bigger
companies, and if you market smartly to past clients, you can get them to refer
your service and use you again. But can you thrive on the margin?
If you have to charge 25 cents a
foot to compete and your advertising expense is higher, where does that money
come from? From the good ‘ole “Hip Pocket National Bank,” you betcha!
Now, if you want to be aggressive
and build a large company, you may be able to compete with the big boys. But I
wouldn’t bet on it.
Finally, if you want to go after
the low-end market, you best keep your expenses very low. A lot of guys go
after the big retail chains; usually they end up with a job. Then, when you
figure out you have to raise your price to have a real business, they find
someone cheaper. If you are going to target apartments and low-priced,
commercial-type work, be prepared with a good business plan to keep your
operating costs low and to help you grow big. That’s the only way you are going
to have enough leftover at the end of the day.
So, how do you position yourself
You do it by managing
communications every step of the way. Do you have a message that communicates a
brand consistent with the type of client you want? If you want to attract Mercedes
clients, for example, you don’t do that by price advertising.
The message you put out into the
marketplace has to be the right fit. Second, as you deliver your service, it
has to be consistent with your message. You can’t send out Bubba and his kin and
expect to deliver the most outstanding service experience!
Now, let me step up onto my
Those that read industry magazines
such as this and that are a part of the “Independent Professional” sector of
our industry - not the large franchise company, and not the bait-and-switch
type company, but one that has integrity and one that wants to serve your
clients well – are selling
themselves short. And it is costing you dearly.
You want the high-end client, but
you are not willing to do the basic things you need to do get there. Like
ditching the blue jeans and dressing for success. Like shaving. Like losing the
earring or ponytail. Like actually putting on a sport coat and going out to
network and build referrals. Like actually rehearsing your message and telling
a compelling story that resonates with high-end clients. Like answering the
phone with an out of the box, enthusiastic greeting like “It’s a great day at
(your business); how may I assist you?”
Instead, we never change. If you
do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.
My prayer for you today is that
you will wake up and smell the high-end coffee and begin to plan your business
for phenomenal success. And that is my passion.
Next month, Step 4. Until then,
know this: building a phenomenally successful business is up to you and you
alone. No one is going to do it for you.