Do you know there may be 12 company-crushing killers roaming loose inside your business right now? We call them the Deadly Dozen. And I assure you, it doesn't matter if you've been doing business for 5, 10, 20, 30 years or more and have been getting what most people would consider pretty good results, we're here to tell you that these culprits are costing you a lot of money in lost opportunity and lost business.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that we have identified each one of these killers and outlined real-world solutions that will eliminate them from your business forever. In fact, the immediate results generated from removing these ravagers will be so great that once you experience it, you may think it's unbelievable. The goal is to put you in a situation where your business will be so different from your competitors that your sales team will hardly sell at all; you'll be the go-to authority for your industry.
We're not just saying this to catch your attention. Instead, with this series, we will share the insights that will help you objectively judge your own business and determine for yourself whether or not what we're saying has value and is accurate.
In each of these articles, we will expose four company-crushing killers, and provide a simple solution for ridding the culprit from your business forever.
COMPANY KILLER #1 - PLATITUDES - THE "EMPTY CALORIES" OF MARKETING
"Best Selection!" "Highest Quality!" "Best Service!" "Proudly Serving the Community Since 776 B.C.!"
Did your eyes just glaze over? Yeah, so did your customers'. Platitudes like these are so ubiquitous that no one sees or hears them anymore. Every marketing campaign seems to use them, but they're like the chips that come with your sandwich – empty calories to fill up the plate, but not a reason to order the meal.
And much like chips, the empty calories of platitudes are actually bad for you. Your customer, bombarded with similar claims from every source, begins to believe that the companies making these claims are all similar. Lacking any solid distinguishing information, they begin to base their decisions on price alone, disregarding any potential value your company has to offer.
Worse is the fact that you're paying for those empty calories. Advertising and marketing consultants are delighted to take your money and fill space with empty platitudes without identifying the qualities that make your company unique. They may not know what those unique qualities are, so they're depriving your prospects of the information they need, while leaving you at the mercy of ever-shifting market conditions. And today's market is merciless.
To defeat this enemy you need to replace empty platitudes with information. "100 years of combined experience" isn't telling your customer anything. (Combined experience of what? Fifty people with two years of experience each?) What can you quantify about your business that actually separates you from everyone else?
Tell your prospects why specifically they should go with your company. Highlight what makes you stand out above the competition. Are you the leading authority in your field? Do you have evidence to share, such as your on-time delivery, your project completion rate, your customer service rating, your record of on-budget completion or how much longer your product lasts? These are sound, fact-based reasons a prospect should choose your company. These are the antidote to platitudes.
Unfortunately, marketing and advertising campaigns are all too often left up to teams whose knowledge is all about marketing and advertising, and nothing about what makes your company unique in the marketplace. No one knows your business better than you do. You understand your market, your history and your competition. But are you effectively communicating to your customers exactly why you are superior?
Sit down with your team and get down on paper the quantifiable, measurable reasons you stand out in a crowded market.
COMPANY KILLER #2 - FRAGMENTED MARKETING - AKA CHAOTICA
Think back to the last advertisement or marketing piece created for your company – a brochure, website, printed ad, radio spot, etc. Who created the final product for you? Chances are the radio station created your radio spot. The magazine created your magazine ad. The print company created your brochure. The web design company created the website. The video production company developed the content for your video. Sound about right?
Now think about how fragmented that makes your marketing efforts. All those different companies have different ideas about your marketing message based on their limited knowledge of your business. Inevitably, they use platitudes (space and time fillers), perhaps seasoned with a dash of their medium's brand of creativity.
Fragmented marketing is one of the greatest wastes of money for businesses today.
Business owners often invest time and money in individual marketing pieces that can't be pieced together into any kind of effective process because they're usually produced by separate companies or teams without a strategic plan. And if they aren't part of a cohesive process, they are probably ineffective.
Random, unrelated ads, videos, emails and messages don't work together, don't lead the prospect to a clear and specific outcome and don't lead to success. Unfortunately, this is the most common marketing approach in business today. Everybody is doing it, but it's a killer just the same. (Hey, everyone used to smoke, too.)
Systematized marketing defeats fragmented marketing every time. A systematized marketing plan considers and develops the message first. It then incorporates the message into a comprehensive marketing system that drives the prospect's decision-making process. Finally, it chooses the best media (radio ads, television spots, video, email, etc.) to get those messages in front of prospects, actively generating leads into your business rather than relying on a scattershot approach.
You paid to have an advertisement produced or designed. You paid for the space or the airtime. Did you pay for the content, or was it just thrown together by the designer, production team or your sales staff? The message — your message — is the most important part of your marketing campaign, and it needs to be specific, coherent and based on your knowledge of your industry and company.
Most importantly, it needs to function as part of a cohesive strategy to demonstrate your superiority to prospective customers, regardless of medium.
COMPANY KILLER #3 - NOT USING HOT-BUTTON ADVERTISING
Generalized advertising is that annoying frat guy who propositions every girl he sees, figuring at least one of them will go out with him. It succeeds — occasionally — just because of the law of averages. Doesn't your business deserve better than that?
Hot-button advertising connects with your prospects in a personal way based on their individual needs and what is important to them. Hot buttons amplify a person's emotional state and offer concrete reasons for purchasing what you sell, including the real benefits customers get from your product or service.
For example, hot buttons for a homeowner may include getting overcharged or ripped off, or dealing with an unsavory or untrustworthy contractor. Worse yet, they may have heard horror stories of homeowners who started down this path, but spent all their money and were left with nothing but an unfinished concrete shell in the ground.
What do you currently do to comprehend the needs and wants of a new client or prospect? How do you determine why they're sitting across the table from you? What will inspire them to say, "Wow…I'm glad I went with you instead of their competition!" If you don't truly understand this, how will you know when you truly have a satisfied client?
If you aren't hitting the hot buttons, you're firing in the dark.
This solution is simple: Turn on the light so you can see where you're aiming. If you have no idea what your prospect's hot buttons are, it's time to find out.
Identify hot buttons by profiling your prospects to determine their pain points and desires. Whatever your customers' hot buttons are, your business can address them by emphasizing ways your product will benefit them by neutralizing their objections or concerns and highlighting your ability to do those things better than your competition.
If you hit these points during your presentations and advertising, you are already setting yourself up for success. But you can't address your prospect's major concerns until you fully understand them.
Is your company making that connection? Are your sales people simply reading from a script that highlights your product or service? Are they spouting technical jargon that does nothing but confuse the layman? Or are they analyzing and focusing on the prospect's hot button needs so they can offer specific strategies to address specific needs?
No more firing blindly in the dark! To conquer this enemy, make sure you see and understand your target.
That's all for now. Next month, we'll be back with more of the Deadly Dozen, including poor use of video, lack of strategic messaging and no followup.