One of the groups I follow on LinkedIn had a question posed by a guy in the home remodel business.
“….the economy is in the tank. Anyone have any suggestions how I might promote my business?”
There were lots of suggestions, advertising, networking, trade shows, social media, etc.
No one mentioned referrals! I felt bad for the guy. He’d been in business for twenty years. After that long in business he should have a huge bank of satisfied customers, each one a source of referrals.
But maybe not…
I still get amazed at the vast difference between selling (and marketing) goods vs. services and how seldom folks recognize that difference. It’s common in the service industry to misunderstand the nature of the product they deliver. The service is not just the product of the firm’s particular expertise. The delivery process is equally (in some cases more) important.
It’s a shame how many businesses don’t reach their full potential or even fail because of this blind spot.
How many times have you heard someone say: “Oh we’re really happy with what he did for us, but he sure can’t keep the deadlines he promised? He’s pretty disorganized”
Not exactly a glowing recommendation. And that works out to negative marketing
For example, let’s say you run a home remodel service. You made a sale and secured a contract that promises to bring in a nice chunk of cash. You walk away from the appointment awash in the satisfaction of success. It’s time to celebrate!
What you should be hearing is a tiny inner voice saying “Danger Will Robinson Danger!
Any business relationship (especially one in the service industry) is at its most perilous after the sale is made. The buyer has given something precious her trust.
And she’s having second thoughts! Buyer’s remorse is stalking your relationship.
You’ve given her a promise.
Every moment between the promise and its fruition is a clock ticking away eroding the trust you’ve been so careful to establish.
In a service business it’s important you have a “systematic method of work” that can show her you intend to live up to your promises immediately… Not a month from now.
It might be something as simple as emailing a timeline for the work then providing regular progress reports.
Trust in business relationships is like a checking account. In closing the sale, you’ve written a huge check. Trust-wise you’re overdrawn. If you’re smart you work like crazy to build the trust balance up to make up for the bumps that are sure to come down the road, (the more complicated the job the more critical that balance becomes.)
Why should you care about this? After all your client is getting what she ordered. Her needs so carefully unearthed during your sales calls are fully met after you delivered your service.
In the service business everything you do is marketing.
If you’ve been around for a while you might realize that marketing the service business is really tough. You can spend a ton of money on ads, get a state of the art web site and hire someone to do social media… And you will never come close to the results that come from good word of mouth marketing.
In the service business marketing is much more like farming than hunting. Unlike retailers who hunt new customers by media presence (ads etc.), you grow your customer base by nurturing your current and past customer customers and harvesting the referrals that come back to you.
The goal is not just a satisfied customer, but a pleased customer, better yet one of Ken Blanchard’s “raving fans”.
How do you do that?
Not by following some stupid clichéd saying like “promise a little deliver a lot” or the “giving 110% effort. Promise a little and you won’t get the order and if you run your business with 110% effort you’ll soon run out of energy, business is a marathon not a sprint.
You succeed by delivering exactly what you offered after painstakingly digging out the needs of your customer. And you have a process of delivery that takes into account your buyer’s need to fight off her buyer’s remorse.