Welcome to another edition of “Your 9-Step Marketing Plan.” If you want to review the first 6 installments of this on going article, look to your past issues of ICS magazine or go online to www.icsmag.com.
So far we’ve covered:
- Step 1: Set Your Sales Goals. Break it down to the day.
- Step 2: Outline a “Description of Your Service.” What is the Unique Experience that you want to offer?
- Step 3: Position Yourself. What “position” will you take up in the marketplace?
- Step 4: Identifying Your Target Market. High-end? Value? Low-end? Commercial? Restoration?
- Step 5: Competition Assessment. What do others do that you don’t? What do they not do that you can capitalize on?
- Step 6: Pricing Strategies. Not just “how much” but how you charge. By the square foot? By the room? By the hour? Packages?
Step 7: "Packaging and Fulfillment"
This is where the rubber meets the road. When you and/or your crews actually deliver the service, what is unique about it? How will you stand out from your competition?
To really have an impact in this area, it needs to match your target market. I once heard a great message from a marketing company called Y2 Marketing; they stated that your company’s “outside perception” needs to match your “inside reality.” Your outside perception is what people think about your company. Do they think of you as the “Mercedes” or the “Kia”? And when you actually deliver the service, your inside reality takes place. Do they actually receive what they expect from your outside perception?
What I have seen in our industry is that we have larger companies, mostly in the value market, that have a big outside perception. They have clever marketing, but there is a big letdown when – or if! – they arrive.
On the other hand, our industry (probably you) has the opposite problem. People probably don’t realize how good your “inside reality” is. Maybe your marketing isn’t as slick as the next guy, but you treat your customers like gold. The bigger companies need to improve their service, and you need to improve your marketing. When you decide on how this improvement will actually look and feel in your marketing plan, you need to go back to your target market, how you want to position your company and what your UEP is.
As a reminder, your UEP is your Unique Experience Proposition. I created this term from the “Marketing 101” USP, or Unique Selling Proposition.
People have a choice of what level of service they want to choose a service. Example: Southwest Airlines is an icon in the world of business consulting when it comes to a company that lives and breathes its outside perception. Their goal is to offer you the absolute lowest priced air travel and have fun doing it. In order for them to make this an inside reality, they operate a different business model than other airlines. No meals. You get peanuts. No assigned seating. First come, first served. No long hauls. But what you do you get? Exactly what they promised.
If they want traveling on Southwest to be fun, they must hire fun people and have them be fun intentionally. I was having lunch with an associate yesterday and he reminded me of a story about a Southwest Airlines passenger. The passenger was quite the serious person, and just got put off by all the joking around by the Southwest crew. So, he wrote a letter of complaint to Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest.
Kelleher’s response was only four words: “We will miss you.”
You gotta love it!
A good example on the other end is Lexus. Lexus found Mercedes asleep at the wheel (pun intended), delivered on the promise and established a solid position in the luxury car market. And they will keep that position as long as they pay attention to the delivery.
In your marketing plan, what you want to do is completely describe the delivery system that will take place. Formulate everything, from the client learning about you all the way through the service experience to the follow up.
Look at everything with fresh eyes as a prospective client. My friend, business associate and fellow columnist Ellen Rohr has a great method for this: at each step, think about what could go wrong. Example: if you had a restaurant, get in your car and drive up to the restaurant. Can you see the sign clearly? Is the parking lot clean? Are there spaces available? Is it easy to park? When you approach the front door, what could be wrong? What about when the hostess greets you.
This process seems to get you to the “to do’s” much faster. In other words, think about your brochure and ask, “What could go wrong at this step?” The brochure could be butt ugly, for one. Maybe the message isn’t very good. The brochure could be all crinkled up and dirty. So, now you can take these “no-no’s” and turn them into “to do’s.”
Walk through every point of contact with your prospective or repeat customer:
- Point of contact
- Making the phone call
- Getting on the schedule
- Transferring the communication from sales to field
- The confirmation call, e-mail and letter
- Approaching the jobsite
- The presentation
- The delivery of the service
- The follow-up marketing system
All of this has to be managed intentionally. Remember that “work is theatre and every business is a stage” – The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore.
Until next month, my passion is your phenomenal success!