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So, what place came to mind first?
Just now, your mind responded to the “image” of the description, then “matched” it with your choice of restaurants. Our minds do this constantly, aware or not, while choosing brands, products, and services. Your company image is a powerful tool that — like a hammer — can build or destroy.
What is the image that you want for your company? Does it “match” that image represented in your marketing? If not, you’ve already lost. Why?
Because in your service area, you might have 1 to 3 percent of the market. If you’re in a small town, maybe 10 percent. Yet in either instance, the vast majority of the market only knows you by one thing … your image.
That image was not built for them as a customer; it was built by your marketing. If they see a sloppy truck and unprofessional amateur ads, you automatically become “sloppy, unprofessional, amateur.” Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
Same holds true with your pricing. Ever see a “2-for-1 Rolex Blowout Watch Sale”? Didn’t think so. If you want premium pricing, but your image is cheap, you will not sell to the level you want due to this inconsistency. Period.
The inverse of all of the above is also true. The higher the image, the higher the price and the easier it is to get it. Now, onto an advanced strategy that comes from a great image.
Businesses don’t link image to referrals much, but this is faulty thinking, especially in contracting. That’s because I can go to a greasy spoon and have a good meal, and recommend it with that warning. Same thing with a technician in my home who does good, cheap work but is unprofessional and basically gives me the creeps. I can recommend them, but it comes out like this: “They do good work, but are kinda slow, and a little unprofessional, but they’re cheap.”
See, “cheap” becomes the equalizer as to why you’d put up with substandard service. This is the balanced “match” our minds created before.
Stay with me here: What if your image was higher, yet your prices low? You’ve just zeroed in on Target’s success versus Walmart. That’s a dangerous zone of razor-thin margins, and not one I’d recommend except for a high-volume commercial contractor. I favor positive economics over volume.
Remember: High image gets higher prices and more price-independent referrals.
Where Does Your Image Come From?
In marketing terms, your image is associated with your brand. Your brand is the set of qualities — values, purpose, mission, character, etc. — that define who you are as a company. This brand holds meaning on multiple levels — emotional, rational, functional, experiential. Your image is improved or disproved in every interaction as well as every media choice you make.
• Website — A clean design with clear navigation and compelling copy says that you’re professional and competent. Promoting benefits and risk reducers gives a reason to call. Also, a system of response including autoresponder email to inquiries and follow-up contact says that you’re, well, responsive and reliable.
• Local Search Presence — Nearly 70 percent of contractor purchasers begin online, so if you don’t have a local listing presence or it’s not being optimized, you are losing money and customers daily. Perhaps hourly. If search terms being used by prospects don’t bring your company into the top few results, you won’t be found.
WARNING: Since more listings are being claimed, those unclaimed are slipping further behind. Lack of regular maintenance (optimization) means a listing that’s ignored by the company … is also ignored by the search engines. Regular activity counts for relevance, rank, and results. (We can help you get claimed, optimized, and to the top of your local search rankings. See the end note for how to get your local listing grade at no cost.)
• Mobile Enabled — This is great for image because contractors aren’t as likely to be here as, say, retail giants. Your online image must now fit in your prospect’s palm. Being able to do so says that you’re current, savvy, and have a technical knowledge that is certain to translate into the
way you conduct your work. I recommend www.markethardware.com for simple mobile enablement for contractors.
• Video Marketing — It’s a hierarchy of image: Video ranked higher in image than audio, audio ranked higher than text with images, which is higher ranked than text alone. We created 12 contractor specific videos that were such a hit we’re adding 12 more.
• Image Ad Campaigns — The scary stuff: A low-quality ad campaign (done to “save money”) generally costs you the investment to make it, plus the media, plus the low image points and correspondingly low results. Some savings. Even an average campaign can have some merit and profitability, but excellence establishes a higher image that builds the basis for your pricing structure.
Let Image Sell for You
Image is not one thing you do, but everything you do. As you take steps in every area — print, online, signage, and personal contact — your overall brand becomes associated with the type of quality that earns higher prices without having to sell higher prices.
Get a complimentary “Local Listing Grade Guide.” With this guide, you simply submit your web address and a 41-part analytic will give you a numerical and letter grade of how your listing fares against the competition. Just make a polite request via email to freeNEWSstuff@hudsonink.com (include your company information) or call 1-800-489-9099.
Publication date: 12/17/2012