Posted by: Steve Marr on Jul 09, 2012
Tagged in: Untagged
As a business consultant, I receive calls from people who want to start a service business. My first question is: Why would someone pay you for a service? While this may seem like a simple question, the answer is more complex.
The first thing a service business owner needs to understand is that most services provide what people want, not what they need. Needs are things like food, clothing, shelter, air, and water. However, within every need is something someone wants.
Take water, for example. My tap water is hard water, full of minerals, and tastes terrible. I want water that tastes better. That’s where water services can help me. I can purchase a service that will deliver water to my house. I can take reusable containers to a refill station. I can buy bottled water. I can even buy a high quality water filter system. Each of these options costs time and money. A salesperson who sells any of these services needs to show me why I should spend my money on the service he offers.
Let’s say you are the water salesperson. You need to know what customers want and why. Customers who want the least expensive option will buy large bottles to refill at service centers and stores. Customers who want convenience sign up for home delivery, but it costs more. A quality water filter system is expensive up front, but less costly over time.
After you know what people want, you need to ask why someone would pay you for it. Thirty billion gallons of bottled water are sold every year, so there is a market. What makes you stand out? Do you have the lowest price? Is your system easier to install or use? Is it your water quality? Your stand-out selling point is your Unique Sales Proposition (USP). Target your customers using your USP. (You can read my earlier article on creating your Unique Sales Proposition here: http://bit.ly/kCQ1N7.) Your USP needs to be something people will pay for. Jesus taught about a man buying a pearl. “When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Mathew 14:36, NIV) We need to sell the pearl that our customers want.
The next step is to use your USP to focus time and money in marking your service. Mac Ross, a master marketer said, “If you build a better mousetrap but neglect marketing, you will die alone and broke with a garage full of mousetraps.”
Successful businesses spend up to half of their time on marketing. Effective marketing strategies are worth whatever it takes to learn and implement. Just working to provide a good service is a trap. Customers won’t find you.
I talked with a restaurant owner a few weeks ago who was running out of money. He had invested $700,000 in his business and was losing $25,000 each month. Within six months, he would be broke. The truth is, he did many things right. He did a good job on build outs and made good food that was reasonably priced. The issue was not customer satisfaction, but marketing. Since he had a poor location; I told him to spend at least $100,000, preferably $150,000, on advertising to get the word out. He said, “I can’t afford that kind of money.” I explained that he was investing the same amount as a four-month loss in a way that could turn his business around. A failure to market could cost him $1 million. $150,000 was a small price to pay to save his business.
Jesus taught, "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. (Luke 8:16 NIV) Marketing takes our businesses out of hiding in order to help customers see them and be drawn to them.
Does your service give customers want they want? Do you have a unique position among other businesses who offer the same service? Market it effectively to become the business that succeeds.
Steve Marr, your Christian Business Coach
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