A Field Guide to Modern Marketing (Harry Beckwith)
Browsing through the local Borders bookstore over the holidays, I was excited to find a new book by Harry Beckwith. Starting in 1997 with “Selling the Invisible” and following up in 2000 with “The Invisible Touch”, Beckwith taught us how to market services instead of products. Today it is estimated that 75% of Americans, including us in the cleaning and restoration business, work in the “service” sector.
The theme of this and many marketing books today is that of developing a relationship with your customer. You buy products based on your feelings about the product; you choose your services based on your feelings toward the provider of the service. You can almost feel the customer quiver as she sees Bozo Clean pull up in the driveway (or should I say, half on the driveway and half in the yard!)
First impressions are eternal. First impressions become self-fulfilling prophecies. We make immediate judgments about people and then we “fit” everything we see to conform to our “initial snap judgment”. Beckwith said that, but I think Steve Toburen has been saying the same thing for years in our Strategies for Success classes.
As we develop relationships with our customers, we remove the “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and doubt) factor. This boils down to a matter of trust. In 1960, 55% of Americans agreed, “most people can be trusted.” By 2000 the figure had dropped to 34% and the Enron scandal hadn’t hit the headlines yet.
Cheerleaders are the pinnacles of trust. They not only invite you into their homes, they also go out on a limb by personally recommending you to their friends.
Why has Starbucks’ totally dominated the coffee industry? Do they necessarily have better coffee than Caribou or Seattle’s Best? Could it be that people are looking for more than just a good cup of coffee? How can they charge $3.75 for a Caramel Macchiato? Does Starbucks’ sell a product or a service? Ok, enough questions.
Starbucks’ understands 2 basic principles.
#1) A service always involves more than an exchange of something tangible for money.
You must build more into a service. Things like: warmth, connection, friendship and
status. Starbucks’ created a place with a sense of community and coffee was the tool
used to bring the people together. Clean carpet is not just clean carpet. It provides a feeling of warmth, comfort and security. It also gives you a status that says, “You don’t
have to wait for a special occasion to clean your carpet. You can continuously provide
your family with a warm comfortable environment.”
#2) Loyalty does not come easily from customers. They have so many choices today, it is easy to be lured to the “dark side” by your competitors.
Loyalty comes from personal sacrifices. Don’t treat all your customers the same by mass
mailing the same brochure to your entire database. Remember the Pareto Principle, the
80/ 20 rule. The top 20% normally creates 80% of your revenue. They should receive
better treatment. In this time of “high-tech”, we have unfortunately become “low
Dump the voice mail or answering machine. Hire and train a person to make each phone
caller feel like they have a friend in the cleaning business. Give them a new title
“Director of First Impressions.” In these impersonal times, a handwritten note of thanks,
or a note about an upcoming special, or even a magazine article that meets your
customer’s interest is a powerful relationship tool.
There is a “Third Principle”. Respect people’s time. Answer the phone in one ring. Return a phone call in 10 minutes. Get to the job when you said you would. Be efficient in the home without looking like you are in a hurry. Ultimately, what do clients love according to Beckwith? Clients love quality. But in a service what is quality? Integrity is quality. When your promises (marketing) and performances match, you have integrity. Build integrity throughout your business. Hire for it, reward it, and demand it of your people and yourself.
Mark Twain summed it all up this way:
“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
Copyright 2003 Bill Yeadon.
All rights reserved.
Used here by permission of Bill Yeadon.