I rarely accept guest posts, but this text from Corey Philip of Gulf Coast Aluminum is solid enough to be worthy of publication (though I’ve pulled some of the embedded hyperlinks from Homeprosuccess.com).
Often, when contractors try to market for ourselves, we fall short on delivering a truly captivating message. It’s not because we don’t understand our own services, or our customers’ needs. It’s simply comes down to marketing tactics. Rather than telling your customers what you do, you need to approach their wants and needs. How can you solve their problem? This is how you have to look at marketing. Here are 12 questions to get you started on making a killer marketing strategy by moving to a problem solving outlook.
Who are you selling to?
Who exactly is your target customer? Are you a drywall expert? Let them know that you can get rid of those ugly water stains. Do you finish basements? Draw them a picture of their future life with a beautifully finished basement that doubles their living space. The point is, you need to know exactly who you are selling to. It’s important to know demographics, too. If you are a high-level finisher, then you’ll want to aim your marketing at higher income prospects.
This is crucial. Too many contractors market to everyone. It isn’t uncommon to see a contractor ad that lists a whole slew of services they specialize in, and then finishes off with a mention of working for both ‘home owners and contractors’.
Operating in this manner attracts everyone, everything, and nothing in particular. By identifying target services for your contracting business and the buyers for such, you can have a clear message, and effective campaign, which attracts the buyers you want. And this usually leads to optimal efficiency and profit.
What are their goals and dreams?
This ties in with the first question. Going back to the basement example – if you know most of your clients are finishing their basement for a man-cave, then show them the awesome things you can do with a blank space. Thinking of your customers as real people with goals makes your job as a marketer much easier.
How do they gather information to solve their problems?
This question gives you the answer to where you should focus your marketing. If you know your target customer spends most of their time on the internet, then you should focus your attention to your website and online ads (a good idea nowadays, no matter who your customers are).
On the flip side, if you’re targeting the baby boomer generation, then relevant print media and publications may be the best strategy to reach them.
The point is, you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on print ads if the people you want reading them don’t even get the newspaper.
What are some things that are important to them?
Do they value quality craftsmanship over saving money? Do they want a quick turnaround, or can they wait a little longer for a beautifully finished product? Do they want the sales process to be smooth and easy?
Consider what is important to your customer so that you can highlight that in your marketing.
Look to Carmax. Data shows that their prices are higher than average for the same cars. Yet consumers flock to Carmax? Why, because they make the buying process smooth and easy, without the traditional car salesman, and most importantly they make that clear to their target audience – who will pay more for it.
Do you know what the biggest unmet need is in your marketplace?
This is huge for any business. If you can identify what the marketplace needs and yet is not getting, you have a huge leg up on your competitors. Once you know what the biggest unmet need is, you can focus on delivering the solution to that need. Let everyone know that you can do it, and all of the sudden you’re the busiest guy in town.
What is the biggest pain point in your customer’s experience?
Let’s say you know that clean up is a big problem in your trade and many homeowners don’t want their home a mess each evening. You can highlight the fact that at the end of every day, their house will look as if there was no work going on. No one wants a mess in their house, so the fact that you make sure there isn’t one is a relief to most clients. Especially when the other guys aren’t doing any real cleaning until the job is done. This is just one example. Find your customer’s biggest pain point, and relieve that pain.
Here’s a headline example of how I use a pain point in the Facebook ads for my own service business. You can adapt it for your service / audience.
___ (#) Steps: To Getting _______ (your Service) Without ______ (pain point) So That You Can __________ (pleasure point)’
How hard have you worked to try to solve their problems in the past?
When you can show that you will work tirelessly to solve your customers’ problems, you instill trust. This goes a long way in marketing. Being able to show past examples of going the extra mile to please customers is a useful and powerful tool that that you can bring into your sales presentation which will lead to more closings. Essentially, you want to show that you take on the customer’s problem as if it were your own.
Why is the problem so hard for them to solve?
Is there something particularly difficult about a job that makes you uniquely qualified to take it on? Zero in on specific areas that you are especially good at, so that you can show those customers that you are the only one that can do that job. You can also use this question as a chance to figure out what your competitors are doing wrong, such as inattention to detail or lack of high level skills.
Who else is trying to solve the problem and how are they approaching it?
Again, you want to be familiar with your competition. Know who’s doing what you’re doing, and know how they do it. This is important because you can use this information as a way to approach the problem from a different angle. When you can show the fact that you have an industry unique process, it sets you apart from the competition and makes you more valuable in the customer’s eyes.
What does success look like to them?
Does your customer expect perfection, or do they just want the job to get done? This is an important question to ask yourself, because you will figure out what is really important to your customers. If the key to success in your customers’ eyes is to get the job done quick, then you know to highlight that. If success means a good job done on a budget, there’s your hook. Success may mean one thing to you and another to your customer. You have to put your ego aside and look at things from their perspective, because they’re the ones who pay you.
What might hold them back from buying a product or service?
Another major marketing tactic is to find the target client’s hang-ups, and destroy them. A classic example: let’s say your customer wants a beautiful new kitchen, but they just don’t have the money up front; you offer them an unbeatable payment plan that seems too good to pass up. You need to know what will keep your customers from saying “maybe later”. Find the biggest reasons, and then kill them.
How do they come to a purchase decision?
Are they snap-decision makers, or is this a long, well thought-out process. It really depends on your area of expertise. If you specialize in large scale additions, you know that your customer isn’t going to wake up in the morning and think “you know what, let’s add some square footage onto this house”. Another consideration is what they actually think about when deciding on a purchase. Again we return to the cost vs. quality debate. Are your customers looking for cheap or good? Or are they somewhere in the middle? All important things to know.
Take a second look at your marketing
These 12 questions should give you a great jumping off point to figure out the weak spots in your marketing. Use them, think them over, and make them work for your business. Remember, it’s about what the customer needs, not what you can offer. How does your service help them? Always approach your marketing from the customer’s perspective, and you won’t go wrong.