What’s your reaction to the following marketing messages: “We will beat any advertised price,” “Lowest prices of the year,” “Exclusive offer,” and “Today only”? These phrases could be met with a bit of skepticism.

If you’re responsible for the advertising and marketing in your company, I’m sure you often take notice of other company’s marketing efforts when you see and hear them. Even when it’s outside of our industry, it’s always interesting to see how other people try to get their phones to ring.

I receive marketing material from two completely different positions. First, I receive it as a consumer and decision maker — as an individual who may be interested in the service or product. Additionally, I’m taking it in as a business person who is constantly researching ways to market and reach potential customers. Usually, my business side far exceeds my consumer side. In fact, sometimes I analyze an ad so much from a business perspective that I don’t even consider the fact that I may be a target audience.

Speaking of target audiences, when we use wording like the examples mentioned above, exactly who are we expecting to respond to these ads? Who are we targeting with messages that emphasize low prices and limited-time offers? People who are looking to pay the least amount of money and get the fastest service, right? Is this your target audience? I guess there are times when you might be trying to get anyone and everyone to call you. If it’s between seasons or you find yourself without work, you may be feeling a bit motivated to make the phone ring regardless of who may be on the other end of the line. But, is this really the type of consumer you’re seeking? Do you think you should have your coworkers spending the bulk of their days dealing with customers seeking the fastest and best service while expecting to pay the least amount possible?

After your business has been established for a period of time, you should start reaping the benefits of a well-earned reputation that yields repeat business. You should be in a place where you can start being more selective on who your customers are. If your business model is based on providing the lowest prices in the market, I’m not sure you’ll be able to support your overhead, continue to hire good employees, invest in infrastructure, or enjoy your life.

So, exactly who are you hoping will be at the other end of the line when all that money you paid to make the phone ring ends up doing its job? I’m hoping you’ve reached a point in your life where you recognize good work, strive to provide exceptional customer service, and enjoy being treated with respect. You’re probably the exact type of person you’re hoping will call your company. So, if this is true, shouldn’t you be putting out marketing material aimed to attract people like you?

I see it this way: There’s a certain amount of people who are going to have their HVAC systems repaired or replaced this year. A large percentage of these people are looking for a deal. They look for coupons, cut corners to save money whenever they can, and are not concerned with efficiency, quality, longevity, customer service, or long-term benefits. These are the guys who ask for a discount if they pay in cash “under the table.” These are the types of customers I think are a perfect fit for most of my competition. In fact, when they call us and make it known that they fit into this category, we’re happy to refer them to another company.

Fortunately, there is another sizable group of customers out there. These are the people who recognize the need to be a little discerning when choosing a service provider. They recognize the true cost of a product or service is a combination of price, quality, and customer experience. These people do not consider cost as their primary decision point. In fact; price is usually the last consideration after all other aspects are carefully thought out. There are lots of people out there who fit into this category. People end up with these ideas by being educated through efforts of their own, or, unfortunately, they learn this behavior by being burned or abused by other service providers. Either way, these are the customers you should be seeking.

So, if you’ve decided you’re the type of customer you want to target, I suggest you start paying attention to ads and marketing techniques that catch your eye. Start noticing where and when ads grab your attention and what tempted you to click through a banner ad. Are there some radio ads you listen to and some that you think are stupid? Do you ever stop and wonder why anybody paid money for that last ad you saw or heard? Exposure to the world of marketing is an ongoing lesson in what to do — and what not to do. If you pay attention, you can forever be planning and refining your own marketing program. If it turns out you’re not the type of person you want as a customer, then simply implement the type of ads you think are a complete waste of time and money.

Publication date: 11/9/2015

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