There is no silver bullet in marketing, no secret to positive brand recognition or a constant stream of leads. And whatever tricks work today will not work An awful amount of money is wasted on advertising largely due to poor marketing, money we should put in our pocket. Here are three concepts that roofing companies should use to mold their marketing plan for success.

Marketing Concept I:

Guerrilla Marketing

In his book, Jay Conrad Levinson invented the term “guerrilla marketing” to describe how small efforts using proven concepts in strategic places can yield overwhelming marketing superiority.

Here are a few tactics:

• Publicity is free marketing:Every bit of positive news about your company, employees and customers’ testimonials should be shouted to the masses. Social media is the perfect Guerrilla Marketing venue. Use it daily.

• Personal and professional are the same thing:When Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic, he knew there was no way to out-market the industry leader, British Airways. Their marketing budget was far greater than his. So, Sir Richard went on a personal quest to gain publicity and free marketing for his company. Every extreme stunt or charity event he engaged in, Virgin was written all over it. Now the Virgin Group’s more than 20 companies are in everything from beverages to space flight.

• Don’t spend money:Spend time, energy and imagination.

• Measure your marketing results in profits, not sales:I hear roofers describe their perceived success in the number of homes completed, employees on staff or sales achieved. This is a bad habit that needs to be broken. The global energy company Enron had 22,000 employees and sales of $101 billion when it went bankrupt in 2001. Profits create a sustainable enterprise, not sales.

• Focus on past customers, not new ones: Focus on increasing transactions with existing customers by offering bolt-on products and services that complement your main business. Upsell when able to increase profitability. The only new customers you should be going after are referrals from existing clients.

Marketing Concept II: Focus

One of my favorite explanations of focus is the Hedgehog Concept described in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. The Hedgehog Concept is a way to ensure that every business decision made is the right one. Sometimes as a business leader it is lonely and the pressure is great. It helps to have a sense of surety. By testing each decision with the Hedgehog Concept we can be sure the company will continue on the path of success.

The first step is to determine the company’s focus. This is done by answering these three questions:

1. What can we be the best at? Not in the world, just in the market you serve. For instance you could say, “We can be the best re-roof roofer of flat roof systems under 10 squares in size on residential homes.” This alone will help determine your market. Combine it with the steps below to create a dominant position.

2. What are we deeply passionate about? Passion is any powerful emotion of desire. What do you want your company to be known as? Is it price, service, 24/7 availability, the best products used or most friendly employees? Dig deep, this one is personal.

3. What drives our economic denominator? Although the title is a little strange to understand, it’s actually the simplest of the three. Basically, how can you charge differently for your products and services? If all your competitors charge customers time and materials for service work, charge one set price instead. Or create a “Will Not Exceed” limit. Do something different that allows the chance to charge more for the same service while giving customers a good feeling about the expense. To use the Hedgehog Concept properly do this exercise:

• Take a blank piece of paper and draw three large circles on it. Make each circle overlap the others so that there is a common overlap area in the center.

• Label the outside of one circle “What can we be the best at?” Label another circle “What are we deeply passionate about?” Label the last circle “What drives our economic denominator?”

• Inside the circles write the answers to each question.

• Label the center overlap area “Hedgehog Concept.”

When you are faced with a business decision, especially a marketing one, refer to this page to ensure that the solution fits squarely inside your Hedgehog Concept.


Marketing Concept III: Differentiation

Marcus Buckingham’s book title says it all: First, Break All the Rules. Your marketing message is actually easier to remember when it doesn’t follow the expected. Being different is a way to stand out and separate yourself from everyone else. Industry standard is standard. If a competitor is doing it one way, do it another way. Then market the difference. Never give the customer the ability to compare “apples to apples.”

Another way to look at this concept is detailed in Blue Ocean Strategyby W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. They compare the roofing market to an ocean. Where competition is fierce, many companies fight for the same potential customers like sharks feeding on prey. They turn the ocean red with the bloody remains of the sale. Position your company and your marketing message in a blue ocean — one where competition isn’t. What can you do that no one else is doing?

Ask yourself this question, “Are we No. 1 or No. 2 in our market?” Jack Welch, the great General Electric CEO, used this question to drive an unprecedented string of successes for one of the world’s largest companies. In his book Jack, he stated that, “If we are not No. 1 or No. 2 in our market we have no business being in it.” In the 1990s GE polled customers in Home Depot about their home appliances. More than half of the respondents claimed their hot water heater was made by GE, which caught GE by surprise since they had never made a hot water heater. A year later they bought Hotpoint and became the dominate force in a market many thought they were already in. The important question here is, “What products or service do your customers expect you to offer that you don’t offer now?” Narrow the list and pick the ones you can be No. 1 or No. 2 in and then implement them.

Marketing is often confused with advertising, creating a confusing message that gets drowned out by competition. Companies dump tons of money on advertising trying to clear up the message. Marketing is the science behind advertising. To ensure a successful roofing company, create a clear marketing message and then advertise it.

This month’s homework:

• Make a list of guerilla marketing tactics to implement in your company. Create a timeline and assign tasks to your employees for completion.

• Discover your Hedgehog Concept and write it in the three circles. Post it in a conspicuous place for a daily resource for decision making.

• Determine which service or product you can provide that others are not offering. Create a marketing plan to capitalize on the opportunity.

 Next month’s article will focus on advertising.