Winning the ultimate marketing battle is having a better strategy than your opponent.
This involves planning and the implementation of a strategy that helps you change the nature of the battle. I have shared that, for some in the industry, the battle for the hearts and minds of your customer is about deception.
Yes, the loss leader marketers’ deceptive messages are that cleaning prices are dropping in the marketplace. I would like to discuss strategies about how you can get back into the game without breaking the bank.
I realize you can cover your van with branding messages that purport that you are the best. But, van signage alone is incapable of changing the predominate philosophy of cheap carpet cleaning prices. To be successful, you must find ways to increase awareness of your marketing message. In a positive way, of course.
Value-based companies can do this by realizing the high value of their current customer base. Although loss leader companies that provide cheaper services outnumber you, you can still win the marketing game.
If you are willing to join the silent majority and change the course of price wars, I would like to share five tips that can help you get a better foothold in the battle for new clients.
#1: Control client perception
Sadly, clients erroneously believe that all carpet cleaners are uneducated, wear suspenders and drive around in beat-up vans that can’t pass a smog check. They may even view unlettered vans as dishonest businesses trying to work below the radar.
As a carpet specialist, it’s your job to change this perception. You are a professional who runs a legitimate operation and you deserve to be perceived as such by your clients.
In order to change the course of the price wars, you must change your perception about the clients you wish to attract to your business. Your client won’t pay more than the advertised prices you present in your marketing.
I recommend that you remove all pricing information. Do not print your prices. Create a reason for an inquiring client to call you, and then give compelling reasons they should use your services.
Charging higher prices will attract clients who are willing to pay more, if the value you charge for is based on your ability to provide superior cleaning.
I can say with confidence that the perception a client has about you is based on the inner perception you have about your own company. If you are a cleaning specialist, then you’ve paid thousands of dollars for your education. You have paid 10 times that for equipment that helps you provide better cleaning. I believe you should get top dollar whenever you touch a piece of equipment to clean.
It’s a matter of how much you believe you are worth. The higher the perception you have of your worth, the higher the perception others will have about your worth.
I have never met an IICRC “Master Textile Cleaner” who charges paltry money for their services. Laws of attraction are clear; you will attract clients who are willing to pay for your unique talent. This can only happen when you place higher value on your services.
#2: Create first-class business values
What comes to mind when your clients see your name in print? How does your marketing portray the image of your services? It matters if you plan to keep your quality clientele.
Client’s perceptions are etched in stone within one minute after visually reading or seeing your company’s marketing. The first perceptions about your company are created by the marketing you send them.
If you advertise cheap prices, you attract customers who want cheap cleaning. Clients can also associate company names with cheap advertised prices. I recall reading on a van “Fly By Night.” This was a service company with a name that implied that they are a fly-by-night outfit. Why would any company want the reputation of being here today and possibly gone tomorrow?
The name you select for your company is very important. “Fly by night” is ineffective — if not counterproductive — branding. This is not the kind of message you want to give a client about your company. It’s difficult to create a portfolio of quality clients who want to do business with you when your name portrays the wrong impression. Couple this with the onslaught of marketing of low prices and you can see why this combination is a recipe for low pricing and low profits.
The good news is that the clients will automatically associate quality services to a service company that uses “value-based marketing.” I recommend that you review how you deliver the message in your printed marketing and with the lettering on your vehicle.
#3: Find clients who love your services
If you are trapped with a core business of discount-seeking clientele, gradually replace “loss leader marketing” with “value-based marketing.” Change the look and feel of your marketing to attract clients who places quality services ahead of price.
You’ll know when it’s time to drop “loss leader marketing” when you are spending more time on quality seeking clients than with clients who are unwilling to pay more than $150 to $250 minimum for you just to show up. You’ll also see a shift in the questions and attitudes of new clients who call you based on the quality services you offer them.
At first, you may feel nervous as you learn to shift your thinking from, “How much is this going to cost?” to “Do you also have time to clean my area rugs?”
As this shift occurs, be sure not to interject price into the conversation with clients. It is second nature to slip into discounting mode when you sense that your client has objections. Objections are not always price related. You could inadvertently downgrade a client’s perceptions and relegate your services to cheap pricing.
Lastly, invest in a much needed facelift to your website. Cheap looking websites cost you money. Hire a professional to create a new website or invest in a major overhaul of your current site. Make sure to change all printed media to reflect the direction towards clients seeking value.
#4: Create a three-tiered marketing plan
Discounts are habit forming and it is a tragic love-hate relationship you must abandon as soon as possible. Many of your clients that call are also hooked on cheap prices.
I recommend implementing a three tiered marketing plan. This is so any low prices you might have been charging is purposefully driven toward your introductory prices.
This move will enable you to hold on to your existing clientele as you shift to a more value seeking clientele. You can convert the price sensitive customers over a period of time as you expose them to optional cleaning services that are value based and are higher priced.
The introductory category of your cleaning services will be called “Basic Cleaning” and will be the preferred domain of your discount seeking clientele. This is a wonderful way to shift to more realistic higher prices without gutting your existing clientele.
Create new pricing structures that will separate the discount seeking clients from the new clients that are attracted to your value based marketing. Be certain new clients that call on the loss leader advertisement are aware that they will receive a “Basic Cleaning” and enumerate the characteristics of “Basic Cleaning.” This is an important step in the process and will set the tone for an a la carte approach to services once you have arrived at the job.
Once you arrive at their home, present the other packages for cleaning. Don’t be like an uncaring salesperson on the hunt for a commission. When you are sharing information, in a relaxed manner, the client also relaxes and will be more likely to be open to the options presented.
Allow the client to choose which service is best for them. Make certain your technicians have printed material to make this happen. Make sure you set a new pricing threshold on your new “Deluxe Cleaning” and “Premier Cleaning” packages (or whatever you wish to call them).
This approach will give you a much needed increase in your revenue and will help identify valuable clients.
#5: Implement direct marketing
Many loss leader marketing campaigns are centered on getting new clients. Very few loss leader marketers invest advertising dollars in retention campaigns. One reason is because they have nuked the battlefield with disappointments.
You can set your company apart by making certain that you contact your existing clientele. Give them compelling reasons to stay with your company and never take them for granted.
Far too many companies don’t contact a client after they have cleaned for them. They wrongly assume that they will always remain a client. If you want to block others from poaching your clients, you must implement a follow-up program.
Once you begin contacting your clients monthly (or even every other month), you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
To get started, mail a simple card to your client base. This helps verify the accuracy of your client database. Data purging is important. You want correct data. Anything else is a waste of money.
Try shifting your marketing dollars from unproductive advertisements to mailing quarterly newsletters. Send reminders. Engage in social media and other marketing platforms that better promotes your business.
Winning the battlefield for the hearts and minds of your clients in very important, if your desire is to grow your business.
If you don’t act and fight back, you will continue to see an erosion of your business that will slip away to the “dark side” where loss leader marketers promote cheap prices.
Michael Morrow is a weekend consultant for Goldmarc, speaker and an IICRC approved instructor. Morrow lives in Scottsdale, AZ, with his wife Leslie. He can be reached at (480) 388-4742 or MichaelDMorrow1@Gmail.com.