Play to Win: The business-as-sport metaphor is strong with this one
If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably heard these two expressions: “They played to win,” and, “They played not to lose.”
When sportscasters and analysts use the first expression, it’s always a positive comment. Teams that play to win are determined; they play hard; they don’t hold back. If a “plays to win” team loses, the analyst will admire the effort. “At least they tried their hardest,” he’ll say.
Conversely, when the second expression is used, it’s a negative comment. Teams that play not to lose are careful, conservative and defensive. If this kind of team does lose (and this is often the case), the analyst will be critical. “They held back,” she’ll say, shaking her head. “They didn’t take control. They were passive, not aggressive. They were reactive, not proactive.”
Let’s now put this into marketing terms.
A company that plays to win is determined to succeed. They go and get business; they don’t passively wait for business to come to them. Management understands that growing a business requires great marketing, and this costs money. They know a company has to spend money to earn money. A company that plays to win sees marketing as an investment.
A company that plays not to lose is afraid to fail. This kind of company opens their doors and hopes the business will come to them. They don’t make things happen. Management understands that growing a business requires marketing, but they don’t want to spend the money. They don’t spend money for fear they’ll lose it. A company that plays not to lose sees marketing as an expense.
What kind of company are you?
If you’re going to succeed, it’s critical that you accept this simple fact: Marketing is an investment. You spend money on marketing because it makes you money.
If you don’t spend money on marketing, no one will know you exist and no one will know the excellence of your operation. You’ll be invisible, and as far as the consumer is concerned, you are no different from your competitors. It’s that simple.
Where do you begin? Begin at the beginning. If you haven’t already done so, invest in the marketing mandatories, which includes professionally designed uniforms, a logo, truck graphics, business cards, stickers, magnets, valve tags and more.
As you think about these mandatories, make sure you don’t just go through the motions. For example, don’t just put stickers in technicians’ packets, and then accept it when 75% of the stickers are returned at the end of each day. Make sure you get everything you can and should from each of these mandatories. Some will help you build brand awareness, others will make the phone ring. One company I work with earned nearly $100,000 in six months from equipment stickers. And they’re in a small market. How did they do it? Execution. Another company enjoyed nearly a 50% increase in calls from their stickers. How? They created bigger, better-looking stickers.
Invest in quality marketing materials. People make associations. If your marketing materials look cheap, your company looks cheap. If, on the other hand, your marketing materials look world-class, your company looks world-class. Quality marketing materials communicate your company is different and better; they tell the consumer you understand excellence, and have invested in achieving excellence.
Repetition through multiple outlets
Invest in frequency.If you want consumers to know your company’s name and the reasons why they should choose you over all the other options they have, you’ve got to tell them and tell them often.
There are three main reasons why frequency is critically important. First, consumers aren’t thinking about your company and what you do. In fact, most days they would rather not think about your company. You have to break through this indifference. Second, there are a lot of marketers vying for their attention. The New York Times and CBS News have estimated consumers are subjected to as many as 5,000 marketing messages a day. You have to break through this clutter. Finally, most consumers aren’t going to need you for a while, so you need to tell them about your company enough times so they’ll remember you.
Invest in multiple marketing tools. Use a combination of tools, like television, direct mail and of community marketing. The more tools you use, the more consumers you’ll reach, and you’ll reach them more often.
Make sure you’re ready for the phone to ring. Some companies think that once the phone rings, everything will get better. The truth is, you can’t put phone calls in the bank. When the phone rings, you’re being given an opportunity to make money. What you do with that opportunity is up to your call center and technicians.
Make sure your customer service representatives book the call, and book it in such a way so that Mrs. Jones hangs up the phone, calls Mr. Jones and says “I feel like I’ve made a great decision. This company sounds great.” Now your technicians are set up to succeed.
Make sure your technicians are ready to make money. They need to build trust by showing your customers empathy, demonstrating expertise and managing expectations. Ultimately, your technicians need to earn the right to explore customers’ homes and present options that your customers will thank you for. You, your technicians and your customers will be happy. It’s a win-win-win.
Finally, your technicians must create raving fans. At the end of a service call, consumers don’t remember your ads, website, and postcards and so on. They remember and value the experience with your people—primarily your technicians. You want customers to remember your technicians as being patient, respectful, friendly and more. This will generate repeat and referrals calls, which are the best calls you’ll get. You’ll close a high percentage, and they’ll cost you less than calls from first-time customers.
Successful marketing begins with your attitude. Be in it to win it. Decide you’re going to win, and then do everything you can until you prove yourself right.