I wrote this article to help roofing contractors understand and use some basic marketing activities and some unique customer insights to successfully grow their businesses. This is not intended to read like an academic textbook. But it provides the framework for what you need to know to move your business to a higher level. What follows are solid, proven insights and information that are effective and actionable for your real-world situation.
It has been my good fortune to have worked with numerous brands and global corporations across many categories. And in your industry I’ve worked with the wonderful and highly capable people at 3M Industrial Mineral Products Division for well more than a decade. All these eclectic marketing experiences have repeatedly confirmed what works and what does not, as well as how to really connect with consumers.
Since I’ll be talking about brands, it’s probably logical to get us all together in terms of a definition. A brand (your brand) is what you/your company stand for in people’s minds. If your brand is to maximize its success, it must stand uniquely apart (be differentiated) from the competition in the minds of consumers. Your defining difference must be relevant (worth caring about) and must be simple and easy to understand. Oh, and one more thing - you’ve got to deliver on your brand promise.
Please consider two interrelated components of my overall message:
- No one can buy (from you) what they do not know is for sale.
- The ultimate driver of successful marketing -that is, building brands, differentiating your company/services and growing your business - is knowing and understanding what’s in the customer’s mind and managing the relationship appropriately.
The evidence of my experience confirms unfailing guiding principles for managing forward businesses:
- Simple is good.
- Don’t over-think.
- Believe in and trust your “tummy logic.”
- Communicate a brand idea that matters to people.
- Utilize a little science and a little magic.
Now, back to the first concept of my message - the process of buying. You may recall the classic McGraw-Hill print ad with the compelling “I don’t know” questions. I don’t know: who you are; your company; your product; your reputation; and so on. And then the chilling query is posed - so, what do you want to sell me? Yes, it is necessary to build your visibility and presence in your market because your potential customers have a major lack of involvement in your category until they need to buy a roof. They’re uninvolved, infrequent purchasers. Consumers who need a roof will be attracted to names that have established marketplace equity. Ideally, you want to be the roofing contractor selected because you’re the one whose name comes to mind first (because of your visibility). You do not want to be hard to find when the prospective buyer needs you.
Think about closing sales by means of helping prospective customers buy with confidence. Think about your unique and ownable ways to accomplish the following:
- Make customers delighted and confident with you and your service.
- Make customers really care about working with you.
- Be smart, proactive and tuned in to pre-empt customers from having a competitor appeal to them.
- Very clearly and simply state and explain your competitive advantages and make those the most important components of choice (control the conversation).
Building RelationshipsAnd now let’s concentrate on the heartbeat of your successful marketing efforts - building the relationship between you and consumers to optimal levels. Great success will be achieved by learning to manage your relationship with customers according to what’s in their mind. I’m talking about the distinction between a loyal customer and a committed customer.
Loyalty refers to what consumers do. They may repeatedly buy a product or service because of widespread distribution or unavailability of a “better” competitive offering or even habit. But it’s possible to be a loyal customer and not a committed customer.
Commitment refers to what consumers feel. It’s a state of mind. Customer commitment is a strong predictor of purchase. Your challenge is to create committed customers. This means you and your expertise (the way you define and differentiate your business) have to matter a lot. Your job is to convince customers you are superior to your competitors.
Creating customers who are committed to you means real benefits for your business. Committed customers are less price sensitive - they are willing to pay more. Why? When customers become increasingly committed to you, price becomes less important in their purchase decision. Committed customers will continue to recommend you to friends and neighbors, which brings you more business opportunities.
The greater the number of your committed customers, the greater the number of business referrals you’ll receive.
I’ll conclude by inviting you into a business scenario that summarizes my overall message.
As a roofing contractor, you and your business are literally a new product to the consumer who needs to purchase a roof and who is most likely not infinitely knowledgeable about what you have to sell. Using a consumer packaged goods analogy, your prospective customer will improve their willingness to purchase via a trial of the product (a product sampling of you and your business) among competitive offerings. Of course, you don’t give away free roofs!
But you can present yourself smartly to make the prospect a believer in your expertise/knowledge (effectiveness) to knock out any competition. How? Communicate clearly and proactively, discuss the value of your service up front and help the prospect understand you are the choice to make. Ultimately, create a committed customer and another advocate for you.