‘Be the ball': Think Like Your Customer for Successful Marketing
You’re not being the ball, Danny.
Who knew Caddyshack would have a quote so fitting for marketers? The target audience or customer to whom we’re marketing is likely different than we are and in order to get in touch with them we need to think like them — we need to “be the ball.” And that “force in the universe that makes things happen” well, that is your customer. They make your phones ring and your business grow which is why it’s incredibly important for you to get in touch with them and be the ball.
How do you get in touch with your customers? You first have to move out of your head and into the heads of your customers so you can think like them. As owners, you get so focused on your needs that you forget customers don’t have these same needs, and you can’t exactly create demand in our industry. You can spark the need for tune-ups, but you can’t make a drain clog, a pipe leak, or an igniter switch fail. Once you get in their heads, you will be better prepared to create messaging that is relevant to them.
The next step is to get their attention. The best way to get anyone’s attention is to speak to them in their language. You will not get their attention if what you are saying has no relevance to the customer – no matter how wonderful your marketing piece looks. Be relevant. Be the ball.
Now that you have their attention, your next goal is to be the company they consider. This is where frequency comes into play. Effective frequency is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made. The more frequently a person hears your message, the more likely they are to remember you and consider buying your product or service. Since our industry cannot create demand, it is even more important for you to frequently communicate with your customers. Then when the customer needs you, your brand is top of mind.
There has been great debate over the years on effective frequency. In 1885, Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising which purported that the first time a person looks at any given ad they don’t even see it. The third time they’re aware that it’s there. The fifth time they read it. The tenth time they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it. Finally, on the twentieth time, they buy. The point here is that even in 1885 without all the distractions of TV, radio, social media, etc. – marketers knew they needed frequency to get in the customer’s consideration.
Now that you have their attention and you’re in their consideration; you need to keep them! Keep ahold of your customers through consistency in your delivery and your message. Consistency is different than frequency. Frequency gets your message in front of the customer multiple times and consistency keeps it in the forefront of their mind. It is not the customer’s job to remember us; it is our job to remind them we are here. Think of it this way; if your favorite TV show was on for a couple of weeks and then wasn’t for three weeks, then was on again for one week and off two more weeks you’d probably get frustrated and likely stop watching it. This is what it is like for your customers, but you aren’t even their favorite TV show – you’re just one of many contractors trying to win and keep their attention. How can you keep their attention if your marketing isn’t consistent?
Consistency in your message is also critically important. You want people to instantly know who you are when they see your logo, your truck or hear your commercial. The tone, the language, the look and feel communicate who you are and set expectations for the customer.
Take these three major brands’ examples:
If I say, “The breakfast of champions” you automatically know I’m talking about the Wheaties brand because since 1934, Wheaties has been featuring prominent athletes on the front of their box with the message that champions eat this for breakfast. Who wouldn’t want to be a champion?
Tiffany & Co. stands for special occasions and luxury. Tiffany & Co. was founded in 1837 as a stationery and fancy goods emporium. Although they refocused on jewelry, the brand identity remained. They also have consistently used the exact shade of blue, now known as the Tiffany blue. In fact, women across the world know that a little robin’s egg blue box means a very special gift from Tiffany & Co.
Nike is another brand seeded in decades of consistent messaging. The name Nike is based on the Greek goddess of victory, and their “Just Do It” slogan and swoosh are internationally recognized without even the name next to it.
Over time, consistency defines what you stand for and who you are. It connects with consumers on a personal level, and builds brand awareness and loyalty.
Be relevant. Be frequent. Be consistent. Get in touch with that force in the universe that makes things happen and be the ball.