BDS Lesson 3 - Marketing

BDS Lesson 3 - Marketing

Creating value alone won't make the telephone ring. You often hear about how a company relies on word of mouth to get new business. While word of mouth is extremely important to every business, very few companies in practice maintain the constant volume flow of prospects to achieve financial sufficiency by referrals alone. Referrals are the most important new prospects because they are the easiest to convert into a sale. So, if not by referrals how else do companies find and convert new prospects to replace those who move away, die and leave because their cousin started his own business? The answer is functional marketing.


Someone once said that Marketing is part science and part art. Business instructors have been parroting the phrase ever since because it happens to be true. Marketing is essentially finding prospects that are interested in buying what you are selling. Functional marketing is a systematic approach to marketing. Marketing is one of the functions of any living business, just as the body requires a heart, lungs, immune system, skeleton etc. Without marketing a business will die. If your marketing is just mediocre the business will plod along like a cripple. The better the marketing the more prospects, the more prospects the greater demand, and the greater the demand the higher the premium you can charge.  


The best businesses in the world find ways to attract the attention of qualified prospects quickly and inexpensively. Newbies to business often confuse marketing with selling. Marketing is all about getting noticed. Selling is coming to terms and closing the deal with the prospect. The two get blurred because the whole idea is to speed up the process that leads from one to the other, form marketing to selling.


Seth Godwin, the millennial marketing guru said:


In an attention economy, marketers struggle for attention, if you don't have it you lose.


However, most of us are already overstimulated between the six hundred television channels, four hundred radio stations, Facebook, and other social media to visit.  We only have so much time to entertain ourselves.  So, the first rule of Marketing is that your potential prospect only has so much time and you have to grab their attention and make an impression quickly. At Happy Window Cleaning, we are vying for the attention of the cream of the crop, the Alpha's who can afford our services.  We have to earn their attention by being more interesting and useful than our competitors.

If attention is all you crave you could paint your body purple and skydive into Central Park. You are sure to be seen and talked about, but it is unlikely that you will make any money unless the tabloids pick up the story.  The point is that people must care about what you put out there, so you need to be directing your efforts toward the right audience.  When it comes to business, though some kinds of attention are toxic, you will need the attention of those who will ultimately purchase from you, otherwise, you are wasting your time.  Even huge publicity does not translate into instant recognition for your cause. Many of the former contestants on “The Voice” a television show aired nationally, have faded over time into obscurity.  Often broad publicity fails to generate the sustained interest necessary to capture sales.  Spending time and energy acting like a social butterfly actually reduces the resources that you have to devote to real potential clients. Consequently, we must learn to capture the attention of the people who will actually buy from us.


First consideration, people must be receptive to your offer.  While it is true that the majority of your target audience will not take notice of the offer until they have seen it seven times or more, there is a greater number of people who will never entertain the idea of buying your value proposition because it simply will not appeal to them.  No matter how talented the rap artist is, even if he names himself after a popular candy, some will not want to download “gangster rap” music songs.  Not everyone will eat sushi. The biggest part of marketing is figuring out who will buy your value proposition.  The four P's of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.  Selecting the right place to market is one of the fours keys to marketing success. Finding the right medium is an important process that must be approached with due diligence.


Most people ignore postal junk mail especially so if it looks mass produced. Chances are it will be thrown away. However, when we take the time to put a name on the envelope or hand write an introduction people take notice because it becomes more personal. People appreciate it when someone takes the time to hand write a note or makes an extra effort to show them genuine appreciation. Most people will at least open a hand-addressed envelope. However, the contents matter just as much. The offering inside must be compelling otherwise you lose the prospect's attention immediately.


Marketing must be remarkable. Great products and services get more than attention, they get remarks. In business, we must be remarkable!  Grabbing people’s attention has never been more important in business. Some things become fads more because they are “so remarkable” than even because of the functionality of them. Like the pet rock, zero value in functionality, at one time it was the conversational piece of the era. Vibram FiveFingers are a more recent product with phenomenal marketability. When you see someone wearing gloves on his or her feet you can't help but look twice.  People say they are pretty comfortable too. So, who knows? Maybe it is more than a fad.


Find the people who will probably purchase what you have to offer.  Smith and Wesson appeal to mostly middle-aged men who can afford to buy a mid-range to upper range quality firearm.  It is unlikely that Smith and Wesson is going to spend money reaching out to pre-teen girls. However (going on a slight rabbit trail) one can never fully anticipate what opportunities for partner shipping might arise between established companies (and people). The Smith Corona building, tallest for many years in Seattle was headquarters to a merger between the gun maker and typewriter companies. Only the gun maker at the time had the skilled employees to do the fine metalworking required to manufacture the typewriter.  Now a retired Microsoft employee who is a millionaire leases an apartment on the top floor of the building.  Things are always changing.


Back on topic, finding the people who will probably purchase what you are offering prevents wasteful spending and failure! Attempting to cast too wide a net is a problem most entrepreneurs encounter at some point in our careers. With I tried to offer four hundred legal services.  Only fifteen of those sold. Don't ask what it cost me to find that out, it is painful to think about it.


People are preoccupied with their own shit. So, getting them to pay attention is a difficult task. The more your offer elicits a strong emotional response the better chance you have of moving the needle from disinterest to curiosity. There are subtle ways to do that without overstepping the line or spamming a prospect. What is more, prospects must be qualified. This means that not every potential paying customer is a good one. Some potential customers are more trouble than they are worth. 


Part of marketing is setting a price point.  Qualification is the process of determining whether or not a prospect is a good customer before they purchase from you.  By analyzing a prospect before they buy you will weed out those who are not a good fit for your business.


Qualification is also a function of a company's market position. Think about Progressive Insurance. That company sends a lot of time weeding out undesirable risk. They actually use very detailed questionnaires to evaluate their prospects, going so far as to recommend them better rates with the competitors if they do not want the clients for themselves.  For any insurance company, the name of the game is collecting as much as possible in insurance premiums while paying out as little as possible. 


Related to the market position is the point of entry. Johnson and Johnson sell a lot of baby products, so do Gerber, Toys R Us. It isn't a coincidence that newly minted families come home from the hospital maternity wing to a mailbox full of offers to buy baby stuff. Those crafty marketers have learned the right point of market entry to spend their advertising dollars.


Some value propositions are harder to market than others. This is a function of Addressability.  Remember Terrible addressability. One of the best-selling services was divorce.  Ever see what happens when a divorce attorney is asked what he does for a living? It usually goes over like a lead balloon at baby's 1st birthday party.  Trying to sell hemorrhoid medication door to door might get a few laughs, but if you do find someone who is suffering from hemorrhoids they still might be too embarrassed to admit that. So, for value propositions which have low addressability, it is all that much more important that the audience is chosen carefully and the point of entry is optimized. This is why doctors practicing the specialty of podiatry open offices next to large hospitals. Without good referral sources, they would be hard pressed to find their clients. The internet has certainly improved the addressability of many products and services, however, it has also intensified the competition.


If you have a choice in the matter it is far better to choose a value proposition that has a high addressability.  That is why the business I choose to invest in after was window cleaning.  Happy Window Cleaning is very easy to address. If the windows are dirty there is a chance the building owner wants them cleaned.


Marketing must provoke a desire. This is that part of marketing that makes people uncomfortable. Pop culture has framed a stereotype about marketing people being shady figures lurking to separate honest hard-working people from their money. In a sense, marketing is about making the audience desire a particular product or service over the others, but the thing is marketing should also be about delivering the full value promised in the value proposition.  And if people are buying what you have to sell it is because they really want it.  No one can really sell someone on something he or she don't want.  Besides if no one marketed, these products would have no new competition and there would be no incentive for improvements.  Marketing is a necessary part of life and marketers are talented people doing a job in the communication arts. Intelligent people understand that they should evaluate marketing messages with a cool head. And high-pressured sales are not the same thing as marketing. High-pressured sales are unethical, there are no two ways about that.


When people first decide that they need a new car they most often have a few options that they are considering. The car salesman wants to get the prospect behind the wheel to test drive a car.  He knows that this is the best way to get you to visualize the car as your own. Same thing with the real estate agent. He will have the seller (or another professional) stage the place, removing clutter and much of the present owner’s personal things from the home so that prospects might visualize the place as theirs.  Professional salespeople do these things because they work. If you understand how they work, you will learn to put your own value propositions in the best light.


In the above example as the buyer walks through a home he can appreciate its spaciousness, the elegance of the tile work, finished carpentry and cabinetry. The experience of being in the home that could become your own taps into the emotional (right brain), in a way that looking at pictures and square footage online cannot.  Once the browser stops comparing and starts really wanting the thing that is offered, a sale is just a matter of time.  If you can get them to imagine what their life will be like with your value proposition then you will earn their business. Marketing is the process that gets that done.


Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Philosopher said: "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."


In a famous scientific experiment conducted by psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, participants were instructed to make a decision about medical treatment on behalf of six hundred terminally ill patients. They were given two options:


Treatment A would save two hundred lives. Treatment B had a 33 percent chance of saving all six hundred people, and a sixty-six percent chance of saving no one.  Both treatments are mathematically identical.  There is no real difference in the expected outcome from a purely statistical and realistic standpoint. However, there was a clear psychological difference between treatment A and B since seventy-two percent of participants chose treatment A and only twenty-eight percent chose treatment B.  The reason for this is the way the proposition is framed.


The psychologists studied further they repeated the experiment with two different treatment options.  Treatment C would result in four hundred deaths. Treatment D had a thirty-three percent chance that no one would die, but a sixty-six percent probability that everyone would die.  Participants overwhelmingly preferred treatment D, seventy-eight percent to twenty-two percent.


Note that treatments A and Treatment C are identical in a mathematical sense.  However, A was preferred, and C was not. The reason for this is in the way the questions are framed. The lesson from this study is how we present a proposal, the framing of it can make or break a marketing proposition.


Understanding why C was not preferred is just as important. People are averse to any form of loss. We don't want to lose anyone or anything. Loss aversion is a factor that must be considered when planning a marketing strategy. Our Happy guarantee is loss aversion counter-measure. It says you don't have to worry about coming out on the short end of the stick, we're going to take care of you. That is a big concern for clients. Overcoming loss aversion is also why referrals are so much easier to close than other sources of prospects. If someone trusts the company well enough to refer family and friends, then the marketing is working.


Framing is simply being mindful of what you are emphasizing and what you are minimizing. Truth is always the best policy so don't mistake framing a marketing promotion by being untruthful. Misrepresentation is a serious offense and will harm the company's reputation.  Being untruthful may help short term but in the long term, people who feel abused won’t become repeat customers.  Framing is simply keeping to the point about your offer and emphasizing the true value of it.


In Irwin's Business Law (textbook used in business schools for many years), an agreement requires a meeting of the minds. The three tenants of a basic contract are 1) An offer, 2) Consideration and 3) Acceptance. If both parties are of sound mind (not diminished due to mental incapacity nor drugs) then a contract is binding.  This is important because how you frame an offer might have legal consequences. For instance, if you offer to give a discount if the customer sends you five cereal box tops, and the customer sends them and you refuse to furnish the discount you have engaged in false advertising and you can be held liable in court for damages. As a general rule of thumb, anytime you ask a prospect to give up something or to give you something in exchange for your product or service, you have formed an agreement with them.  You can change your mind about what you will charge for a service for example, however, only if you do this after your client has gone to some trouble you might find yourself being served legal papers.  It is best to strive to exceed expectations and not split hairs over disputes that arise in the normal course of the business transaction. Think of those things that come up as a chance to earn goodwill with your customer. Never put yourself in the position where a client can make a claim that you didn't do what you said you would do. It is very difficult if not impossible to repair a reputation that is damaged in that way.


You wouldn't start off a sales call for window cleaning with: “Good afternoon this is Scott at Happy Window Cleaning I guess you don't have any grandchildren willing to clean your windows before the big reception at your place this weekend.”


Though that statement might also be true, it somehow does not frame the value that we offer as a window cleaning company in the best light, and it certainly doesn't make the customer feel any better about his decision to call us. Service is all about the experience of the customer.  This may seem simplistic even downright silly, but the fact is that people generally do not give enough forethought to what comes out of their mouths.  Knowing what is professional and what is not is half the battle in business. Think about what you will say and why you are saying it before uttering a word and you will be far ahead of many. Think about what your copy will read. Test it with actual people who think differently than you do.


If you want to learn to win the game than you had better learn how to frame!


Ever notice the people at Costco and Sam's Club handing out “free samples”? They do that because it works. People like free stuff and this is a good strategy so long as the stuff being given away is subsidized by subsequent sales. The construction of this kind of marketing must be carefully considered from a financial perspective. In other words, think about how much you can afford to give away and aim at a target that you can hit. For window cleaning, you can get a lot of play from an offer to clean the windows at a beauty parlor for free in exchange for the owner allowing you to leave your cards on her counter in a nice card holder. When the salon clients see your card if they are in the market for window cleaning they will be sure to ask the salon owner about you, and they can see the work that you do for themselves. This strategy is very effective. At the same time, you must be careful not to bite off more of an obligation than it is worth. You might do this with a single location but serving an entire chain of Salons over the region for free could be a losing proposition. There are only 168 hours in any given week. “Time is money is really a misnomer” (time is actually much more valuable than money) so use time well.


When it comes to marketing it is always best to focus on quality rather than quantity. Marketing isn't just a numbers game. It is both art and science. Putting out large volumes of mediocre fliers is no substitute for a well-tuned campaign. Remember the better the marketing the better the return on your investment.  There is a lot of emphasis in today's pop culture on getting permission to solicit an offering. Of course, it is best to have permission. Once a prospect is on the hook (responded to an effective promotion) we have collected a lot of information about them. We don't sell that information and we protect the clients. We also ask for permission to stay in contact implicitly, by delivering a great service and following up regularly but never so much as to wear out our welcome.  We don't want to be accused of spamming. 


It happens, prospects get a hold of us, ask for an estimate. We do the estimate and some just don't bother to communicate after that, so we follow up, and doing that pays dividends. We have a system in place to remind us to follow up. Inevitably some do forget they gave us their number or filled out a form online. After we follow up a few times they get annoyed and accuse us of spamming. It isn't true. We were given implied permission to follow up when they asked us to give them a free estimate.  This situation doesn't happen very often, when it does, don't sweat it. Just politely remind the prospect that if we have their number it is because they gave it to us.


A “hook” in marketing terms is a statement that describes the offers a primary benefit. With marketing, it pays to keep things as simple as possible.  If complicated or long-winded it is likely to be forgotten.  The jingle at Port City Trade got a lot of attention and it stuck.


“Made in the shade at Port City Trade, we buy gold and silver, the highest prices paid”


“Modernistic Simple and Quick, we're the first in experience and quality” those are good jingles and that what is needed for a good hook.


 “Make your windows happy” is our latest Happy Window Cleaning hook.


Apple used a great hook to launch the iPod. “A thousand songs in your pocket” At that time everyone was carrying around bulky CD players, so hooks can go global if they are truly innovative.  In under a year, Apple sold a quarter of a million units to” early adopters”. Early Adopters are the first people to make use of a new product or service, they become the cheerleaders for the company and the rest eventually follow suit.  A point of critical mass is when enough people start buying that the breakeven point is surpassed, and profitability is increased. The biggest segment of people are the ones in the middle who buy after critical mass generally when the price per unit starts to drop a bit.  Sometimes, like in the case of Apple iPods and Nike sneakers, people still continue to buy at the high price point, because the want is just that intense. Newer models are developed to again catch the early adopters, but the value proposition had better keep up or eventually, the product will lose some ground.


The call to action goes hand and hand with the hook. This simply means that the offer must have a sense of urgency. A call to action says, “call now”, it doesn't just say the restaurant has great food, it is an invitation to get your butt down there and try it.  Motel 6 has a great call to action. They promise: “We'll leave the lights on for you”.  Well if they can do that for me the least I can do is stay with them when I am town.


Every company has a story, and people have been telling stories for as long as we could communicate. Communicating why your company does what it does is perhaps the most important aspect of your marketing and the most important job that you have as it's a leader. We are Happy Window Cleaning and now that you have come aboard with your blood sweat and tears you are helping us to write our narrative, our story is as much about you as it is about our clients. We hope that our story will continue to be told for many decades to come.



 Happy customers have the best views.

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5355 Northland Dr. NE Suite 210

Grand Rapids MI 49525

Tel. No. 616.914.0720