Improvement Professional, President & Sales
Just read an article on marketing and advertising done by the American Marketing Association. Showed that the customer’s attention is at an all-time low these days. We are hit with over 10,000 brand messages a day, while we switch between our desktop, laptop, iPad, tablet and even our cell phones up to 21 times an hour. Yes, an hour. We pay attention to what we are seeing for about 8 seconds, very small window of opportunity to connect. In fact, it is said that out of the 10,000 or so messages we see daily, only about 12 get into our cerebral cortex, where they resonate.
The article said that the average consumer needs to see our message somewhere between 8 and 20 times before taking action. Many of the dealers I talk to tell me: I did that campaign/advertisement/concept last year, got no results. Which makes perfect sense if they didn’t repeat the campaign several times.
Another article I read this week talked about a Chinese Hot Pot Restaurant, HaiDiLao, which has over 200 locations all across the world. They have taken the concept of adding value to a new level. In Asia, you can get a car wash, massage, mani or pedi while waiting 2 or more hours for your table. Here in the states we feel special when we get a text saying our table is ready. They have opened up locations in Arcadia Ca and other trendy spots, where the cost of labor curtails some of the freebies done on the other side of the world. What they do offer are complementary phone chargers, restroom grooming kits, iPad ordering system, wipes for your phone screens and glasses. In some locations they provide a large teddy bear to sit at the table with solo diners, folks with infants can have a crib brought table side, they have brought the consumer experience to a new level.
One of the staples of a Hot Pot meal (which averages $30-$50, almost double what a typical Hot Pot restaurant charges) are the hand stretched noodles. Here the HaiDiLao again goes upscale. The server not only brings out the noodles, but does a dance at your table while stretching them out to perfection. Dressed entirely in white, they whip the dough around like one of those ribbons at a gymnastic performance. The noodles are great, the show is outstanding.
All of this brings me to my typical question: what does this mean to me? How can I apply the principle of standing out from the crowd to my HVAC/Plumbing/Solar business? So the answer is easy but not simple. Do what the others are not doing. Make your company stand out with benefits. That is what the consumer is buying today, solutions, not products. I heard years ago, you don’t go to the Home Depot because you want a new DeWalt, what you want and need are holes drilled in something. The DeWalt is the device that will do what you need done.
The consumer today has high electric bills, uneven temperatures in different rooms, allergies, humidity that is too low or too high, any number of things that are frustrating. We have solutions, using top notch products and accessories, along with unique guarantees and warranties that will separate us from the huddled masses at the foot of the ladder. Take an install. Many companies now offer “Red Carpet” installations. They literally roll out a red carpet. Some bag up the old furnace in a huge plastic wrapper to be sure no residue gets on the walls and floors as the old equipment is removed. Many send a bouquet of flowers to the home or office after the work is finished.
So here are some ways to stand out in a field of competitors, many of whom do not even know what their overhead is, or how to price out a job. First, create an atmosphere of incredible service. Answer the phones politely and quickly. Note: in many companies the phone answering person is the least paid. In reality, when they answer the phone, they are the company. Give them the training needed to do an excellent job, first impressions are critical. Next, make sure your service team knows how important it is to be engaged with the customer. Today, it is not enough to know the technical side of the business, now they must know the soft skills as well. Be polite, answer questions honestly, if you don’t know the answer, find someone who does, the list is long but vital to prosperity.
Today you have to be on your game in the technology sector. If we only have 8 seconds to connect, you had better be able to connect in many ways, be where the customer is. We know that today over half of internet searches are done on mobile devices. Is your website mobile friendly? How about your Facebook page? LinkedIn, Twitter, these are all social media connections we have all heard about, I want to unpack one that I have gotten to know better: Instagram.
Please don’t write me and share how Instagram is evil, not good for us, and all that. Just ride with me for a moment. Here are some statistics from an article in Small Business Trends (https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/05/instagram-statistics-small-business.html?tr=s-ep) from May, 2018.
- Instagram users like 4.2 Billion posts a day
- Instagram has 58 times the engagement of FB
- Posting a video at 9PM gets more interactions.
- 68% of Instagrammers engage with brands regularly.
- There are 16,600,000 Google searches for ‘Instagram” per month.
- In 2017, 100 million users signed up in just 6 months.
- 95 million photos and videos are uploaded each day.
- 52% of small businesses use Instagram (Clutch 2017 Small Business Social Media Survey)
- Pew Research Center shows that 31% of adults using Instagram earn over $75,000/year.
- 70% of Instagram users search for brands on the network.
My point is that here is a newer social media tool that has exploded, and it just may be that we cannot afford to ignore it. Or if we do, it may costly in market share. In a related article, there is Zoho Social (https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/04/instagram-using-zoho-social.html?tr=s-ep) who has a system for a small business to direct publish to Instagram, making it fast and easy to share news and photos with clients and potential customers. I Googled marketing plans, one site that came up was “25 new social media tools that you don’t know about”. There are ways to connect today that we have not seen in the past.
Sorry about the long article, I do realize most adult attention spans are 8 seconds, but wanted to share some concepts about where business is going today. For those of you who stayed with me, here is a bargain for reading to the end. My latest book: The Good Stuff, stories of faith/family and focus is available at a special friends and family price. I will even autograph, so it will be worth more when I am gone. A veritable bargain! Thanks for being engaged, we’ll talk later.