This will be the first post in a series of how I get started with a client. These questions help clients understand where they should target their marketing efforts.
Are you a product or a service company? Seems like a no-brainer. You either sell products or you provide a service. Duh. But how one markets a company depends on the answer to this question. Marketing a service is often marketing the intangible. You canâ€™t touch a service, hold a service, look at it and judge it the way you can a product. That isnâ€™t to say that marketing a product is easy, though. The product has to be in its best light and look as good as possible because a consumer will make a judgment just from a quick glance. So when designing your marketing plan, this is the first variable we consider.
The first thing we identify with a product company is what features are obvious in the product (colors, textures, what the main purpose or function is, etc.) and what features are not obvious (other uses, features that arenâ€™t used as often, etc.). This is so important because when communicating, you donâ€™t want to assume anything. Just because a feature is obvious to the manufacturer doesnâ€™t mean it is obvious to everyone. I once attended a Pampered Chef party and the person brought their pizza stone out of the oven using the oven rack that came with us. There were two of us in the room who had no idea that was what that was for and had been using it as a cooling stand. The designers at Pampered Chef would have been surprised!!! The lesser known features are just as important. I recently read an article where a woman mentioned that at 50-something, she had just learned there were tabs on the sides of her plastic wrap box to hold the roll in the box. Neither my mother nor myself knew this one either and boy, is that a help! If my brand didnâ€™t have it, I would definitely have tried a different brand as it eliminates a lot of the frustration with handling plastic wrap. This kind of feature can help tip the balance between one brand and another if the customer feels they are identical.
With a service company, we have to understand what the service is, why it is important, and why it is provided in the way that it is. The last thing a service company wants to do is set the wrong expectation for what will happen once a customer signs up. If Iâ€™m having my car serviced and Iâ€™m told part of the service is to get a ride back to the shop, I better get a call before 6:00 saying they are on their way to pick me up. (FYI â€“ my service provider actually picked me up in MY car so I could test out the repair with a tech in the car with me. Nice.) Next, weâ€™re going to have a long talk about what customers WANT and EXPECT. And if necessary, weâ€™re also going to talk to customers to make sure that is what they want and expect.
If you are both a service and product company, you will want to look at each side separately and blend the marketing approaches at the end. The idea here is to get a handle on what you sell at the very beginning. Later this week we will discuss Strong Company Brand vs. Strong Personal Brand.