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Building Your Company's Brand Promise

A marketing plan for any company is a detailed set of ideas internally, externally, and even operationally, which are aligned, to develop a brand for the company. Media is easy, we all know and love that. Yet internal marketing is a form of communication we often overlook, and the processes clients interface with, such as call center, are key in how we answer phones and book calls. They all are different areas of marketing but need to be aligned and work together or else we can generate leads but mess up the conversion.

Some of these areas include a market potential/share analysis, a company SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, a brand strategy, a theme, an external advertising and media plan, and internal communications plan and tying together how business processes such as booking calls, or website contact forms, all affect a client experience. Add to this sales process, pricing, strategy and even product choices and positioning, and it gets detailed quickly. So we need to slow down and ask, what are we trying to accomplish? And the answer is – build a brand, and deliver on our brand promise.

In fact, there are so many varying aspects to a marketing plan which touch any company, but in this brief article we will focus on one key aspect of contractor marketing that is often difficult or confusing to many.

We are going to focus on the brand promise.

Why? Well, the brand promise is the deliverable we want any client to experience, so in many ways, it is both simple and complicated, since many areas of contracting will interface with the concept.

A brand promise is exactly as it states: It is our promise to any customer of what they should expect to receive from our company. Which means it is not a slogan or theme, but truly a stated promise.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to creating a brand promise. However, there are certain elements of a brand promise that should be present, such as the capability to be measured for successful delivery.

Examples of Brand Promises:

  • Same day service or it’s free
  • Service on time, or its free
  • In 15 minutes we will save you 15% (GEICO)
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee or your stay is free (Hilton Garden Inn)
  • Delivered in 30 minutes or less (Domino’s Pizza)
  • Lifetime guarantee on ALL service repairs (my contracting firms)

The key to making an effective brand promise is making it stand out in the crowd noise of thousands of contractors, yet still being able to deliver it for the client. So, you should consider that as part of your external media and advertising approach. You will likely have a theme or slogan; the brand promise can be this part of your messaging if you want it to be, or you can have both.

The brand promise has to be measurable. Themes or slogans do not – they are designed to be memorable.

Many contractors have a theme/slogan and it is not strong enough in the sales message to get a client to react to an advertisement. Part of what we want to do as a marketing platform is realize, I have to get people to call; this is the primary measure. Then convert, which is also a marketing issue but more internally focused.

Evaluate your marketing, and ask yourself, do you have a great brand promise like these?

Examples of powerful brand promises:

  • Nike - The Nike brand promise goes way beyond its famous tagline, “Just do it.” Nike’s brand promise is: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” The asterisk in the brand promise says that if you have a body, you’re an athlete.
  • Starbucks - Starbucks positions itself as a company that brings more to the world than a great cup of coffee. It sees itself as a lifestyle brand and the promise it makes to consumers backs that up: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
  • Coca-Cola - “To refresh the world. … To inspire moments of optimism and uplift. … To create value and make a difference.” While the Nike and Starbucks brand promises imply the product they create, Coca-Cola’s doesn’t mention a product or service at all. It aims for a mindset.

Create a strong, effective, measurable brand promise and, as you can see above, they enhance the tagline. Taglines are memorable, brand promises are deliverable.

In my digital agency, our tagline is:

Dedicated to Contractor Success

Our brand promise is:

Delivering Innovative Digital Solutions

Consider what your main theme is and how a strong, effective brand promise can help you create leads but, most importantly, measure and convert them to sales and profits.

The State of the Over-Marketed Consumer and How to Stand Out

Peter Drucker, management guru, said: "Business has two functions – marketing and innovation."

Let's talk about marketing. We'll start by defining a few words:

"Branding" is positioning yourself in the prospect's mind.

"Marketing" is all the activities executed to get and keep customers.

"Advertising" is creating and maintaining awareness as well as retaining customers and promotions for lead generation to create new customers.

The Overmarketed Consumer – Information Overload

Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day (TV, radio, digital, newspaper, magazine), with 50% of them being advertisements, and switches between computer, tablet, phone, and television screens 21 times an hour with an attention span of just 8 seconds (about the same as a goldfish).

According to Media Dynamics, Inc. (MDI) in 1945, a typical adult devoted only five hours a day to radio, magazines and/or newspapers. Today, with TV and digital media in the mix, that figure has more than doubled, rising to 10.6 hours a day, and 1.84 of those hours are spent being exposed to brand messages and advertisements.

It's no wonder many people suffer from what we call "shiny object," "squirrel," or "butterfly" syndromes, where the littlest thing becomes an attention-robbing distraction.

If we take a conservative estimate and say on average a person is exposed to 5,000+ advertisements and brand messages per day, we can apply MDI's study findings to extrapolate the idea that only a small fraction of the messages break through:

  • Average number of "ads only" seen/heard per day: 362
  • Average number of "ads only" noted per day: 153
  • Average number of "ads only" that we have some awareness of per day: 86
  • Average number of "ads only" that made an impression (engagement): 12

Fifteen years ago, it took 4 exposures to affect a purchase, and today it takes 16 exposures.

Engagement is the Holy Grail of marketing and advertising.

If you say the same thing as everyone else, you've said nothing at all

How is a company supposed to gets its marketing message to cut through the clutter and be seen, heard, make an impression, generate engagement and get someone to act?

Your advertising and marketing MUST rise above the fray to get noticed and more importantly be remembered and most importantly get responded to.

How can you make this happen – GUARANTEED?

The answer is quite simple and will cost you no more money than you are already spending, and probably let you spend less money or spend more effectively in the long run.

Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad said: "Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable." STOP MARKETING AND BE REMARKABLE! Stand out… don't fit in. Simple and obvious is good.

Does your marketing create buzz in the marketplace?

David Meerman Scott, marketing guru, said: "How people do business has changed. How companies market has not."

Effectiveness of marketing on people in the market to buy a product:

  • 1% responded to a cold call from a telemarketer or salesperson
  • 2% responded to direct mail
  • 15% responded to seeing mainstream media ad reply
  • 100% clicked a search engine ad
  • 95% bused social media, social proof, email, text, site form to inquire about a product

Most companies target the top 3 media and don't do digital well.

Creating Engagement

Align your marketing with the way people buy. Share information with people so they can make an informed and intelligent decision that they feel good about. It's not what a customer spends that determines their happiness with the company, product, and buying and ownership experience, but rather how they FEEL about what they spend. Sharing is more than selling.

Your online marketing should be constructed as follows: 85% share and engage (industry opinions, tools, engage conversations and connections); 10% original content (blogs, articles, videos, podcasts); and 5% promotion (chat about yourself, your company, your life and your thoughts). You are what you publish, so publish great content. You're great! Content is your link between you and your buyer's persona.

Companies need to realize that the sales cycle is NOW the buying cycle, and consumer control the timing. They are not wanting to hear the same story a company tells everyone about how great their company is and how their products and services are the right solution for everyone. They want to share their story and have a company representative tell them the story they want to hear that is customized around their lives. Don't sell. Let people buy.

In sales, the person that loves the product ends up owning the product. Fall in love with your customers and the process, not your product. Nobody cares about your product except you. People care about their problems.

People have emotional buying triggers that, when tapped, get them to act. Here are a few triggers for discussion in a future article -- avoidance or removal of pain; desire for gain; fear of loss or danger; comfort and convenience; security and protection; satisfaction or emotion that they made the right buying decision; vanity/pride/status/respect/arrogance/ego; humility; anger; guilt; greed; exclusivity/rare/limited; anxiety; salvation; peace of mind/assurance; innocence; generosity; inclusive/common/boundless; calmness; ruination/deterioration; saving time and money; making more money; looking more attractive; learning new skills; living longer; being more comfortable/healthy/safe/efficient/green.

People don't want the things you sell. They don't want the features and benefits. They want their problems solved. They want something different, better, more, and unique. They want the life impact the product provides and a new life experience they didn't enjoy previously. This is what they buy. They happen to get the things.

Peter Drucker said: "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself."

Marketing and advertising doesn't just offer the right product to the right consumer at the right time. It gets the prospect emotionally motivated to investigate and ultimately to buy the advertised product or service. That's why engagement has become so important.

HVAC Marketing, Branding & Lead Generation

Today’s marketing landscape for contractors is vastly different than the 1990’s or even early 2000’s era. We are now planted in the digital age, ruled by search engines like Google, and mobile devices for homeowners to conduct immediate searches for information like reviews and our star ratings online.

Over 77 million (and growing) smartphones now exist, all attached to the Internet. Every aspect of our lives has changed, and this isn’t even counting social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and review sites like Yelp, Angie's List and more.

And to top it off, Google Home Services is entering the lead generation space, organizing in many markets and soon able to sell us leads, similar to how Home Advisor has approached this endeavor.

What is a contractor to do?

The answer is a resounding “Get educated on all of it!” Develop a contractor marketing plan designed to maximize your “Brand” while getting the required leads and reducing your cost per lead.

That sounds so easy in a vacuum, but it doesn’t include all the confusion, the misinformation, and the competition trying hard to steal our employees and customers.

There is some really great news though: Service is so poor, in most cases, across service businesses in the United States that creating a brand promise and delivering it makes you stand out.

And creating leads is actually easier if you know what to do and how to do it. Follow the 3-step process below and understand the marketing chart in this article, and you can enjoy growth in your leads, your own company wealth and your brand.

  1. You need a Marketing plan that defines your lead requirements.
  2. You definitely need to become focused on digital as the centerpiece of that brand and lead plan.
  3. Finally, you need to track and measure the results.

What Goes Into a Brand & Marketing Plan

  1. The Company Vision & Purpose - Mission
  2. Company Core Values and Behavioral Definitions of those Values
  3. Company Brand Promise – The Deliverable to the Market and Clients
  4. Company Goals – Sales and Financial Goals for Year
  5. The Company for Sales Mix by Segment – How Many Leads per Year/Month
  6. Marketing Goals for Year (Aligned with Financial Goals)
  7. Key Marketing Strategies for Company this Year
  8. Company Marketing Model – Target Markets & Audiences by Segment
  9. Existing Customers/New Customers
  10. Unique Selling Propositions – By Segment-“What makes you unique?”
  11. The Pricing Strategies and Models – Service/Mtc/AOR/Comm.
  12. The Digital Strategy – Internet SEO/SEM/Social Media/Reputation Management/Review Development and PR
  13. Traditional Media Choices-Placement & Timing Plan
  14. All Media -Alignment-Balanced Choices-Budget
  15. Promotional Plan – Promotions for Seasonality-Shoulder Seasons
  16. Internal Communications Plan with All Company Team Members
  17. Tracking and Measurement Systems-Lead Source & Cost per Lead
  18. Action Plans for Executing Each Marketing Goal – The How and What

Support for the Plan — Appendices:

  1. Environmental Analysis – Competitors and What We Do Well
  2. SWOT-Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats
  3. Strategies List–28 Marketing Strategies – Choose the Priority Strategies
  4. Market Analysis and Potential -Residential/Service/IAQ/Commercial
  5. Consumer Demographics – Who is Buying and Why
  6. Media Data

By developing a plan that answers some if not all of these questions in your company, you can go to market with a more focused approach and likely get a higher quality lead, by targeting the right type of client for your company brand.

In addition, if we are using a philosophy of a balanced approach to media and marketing, we realize that training and coaching our internal team members carries as much weight as a media blitz, since closure rates and call bookings matter just as much as generating new prospects and leads. They carry equal weight, so we need that plan as well.