Catering to the Bottom-Feeders

Look at all of the small businesses out there that only advertise when they have sales. “20 Percent Off! 30 Percent Off!” Many of them will spend 97 percent of their advertising budgets going after the worst, most disloyal three percent that would only buy if your client’s prices were the absolute lowest available. What a miserable life, only dealing with the disloyal and parasitic bottom-feeders.

Value almost always trumps price. That’s why some people buy Rolexes rather than Timex watches. That’s why some people purchase premium brand automobiles instead of standard economy models. Educated consumers buy more than uneducated consumers. Companies that invest in showing consumers why their plan is better for the consumer than the consumer’s own plan will waste less time and effort having to haggle over price.

There is plenty of proof that price is not the only factor in determining where consumers spend money. Look at the professional “circle of trust” that most people develop. I’ve had the same insurance agent for 35 years. I’ve had the same doctor for the same number of years. I’ve had the same dentist, AC/HD company, septic company, veterinarian, jeweler, bank, grocery store, cleaners, same gym, favorite restaurants, nightclubs, air carrier, car dealer, furniture store and automotive service garage for YEARS.

All of these professionals have had huge price increases throughout the years, but I haven’t fired them. Why? Because I think they’ve got my back. And, that’s worth more to me than the extra treasure.

Imagine how valuable you would become if you could help your client bring in more business without having to give up his gross margin of profit. In fact, what if you could help your advertiser cut back on the sales and bring 20 or 30 percent back his bottom line? What if you could convince the client that his price is not the only determining factor?

Maybe it’s the quality of the product or service that needs to be sold. Perhaps it’s what happens after the sale, in the way of how he treats customers when they have service issues. Your job is to ferret out those little jewels, and start focusing on them in your client’s commercials.

Back in the day, Dell’s service department was so good that customers who called for service were TWICE as likely to buy another Dell computer than if they never had a problem to begin with.

Just what is it that keeps customers coming back to your client’s business when there is no sale in progress? Hard to say? Sit down with the client and figure it out. Ask lots of questions. What’s in it for the consumer to come to your client, rather than his discount competitor?

When a customer’s car breaks down, will your mechanic client solve the customer’s interim transportation problem by loaning her a car until her car is fixed? Why not advertise that?

Women make the majority of home repair calls. Her personal safety is her number one concern when calling a plumber, for example. What does your client do to alleviate that concern? Some plumbers I’ve dealt with actually email a photo of the plumber they’re sending out to the customer. If they’re doing something that cool, why not make that a talking point in the commercial?

Will your independent insurance agent help customers fill out claim forms and be present when the customer meets with the claims adjuster? Where is that commercial?

Does your local nurseryman specialize in plants that actually grow in your area, and avoid selling plants that don’t grow there? Unlike the big box stores, will your local store actually help customers load their purchases into their vehicles?

Does your local grocer try to buy as much locally as he can, so that jobs stay in your state, instead of going out of state? I’m always a sucker for that, as I believe in keeping jobs here in my state in this economy.

Does your local boutique specialize in something that customers can’t get at the mall, like a large selection of plus sizes that have a slimming effect? Keeping consumers away from the mall is the boutique’s number one job.

When your client says, “Good Service” or “Family owned and operated”, does he really mean that if your septic alarm goes off in the middle of the night, one of them will get up, get dressed and drive to your house to fix the problem immediately? Why not talk about that in the spot?

Could your florist help customers that have a hard time expressing their feelings come up with a more sentimental note? There is a real need for that kind of service.

Can your local hardware store help you find precisely the right part or tool and then give you valuable, time saving information to help you finish the job with minimum hassle? I get that kind of service at my local hardware shop and I shop there deliberately, never going to the national competitor.

Could your restaurant owner guarantee that he could get you in and out at lunch in 30-40 minutes? People with a drive time and a tight schedule really appreciate that.

In Austin, we have a theater chain that guarantees that if you talk or text during the movie, they will “throw your ass out”. My wife and I pay extra and we will only go to that theater (here’s a link to the promo they show before the film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBFP0Gj7Iss ).

Interview the client, find the real value and help them make money without sacrificing price and you will be a real hero. Oh, and tired of dealing with media clients that will only buy YOU if you have the lowest price? Try using the same technique. Move the conversation away from price and back to your value as a dutiful rep with great ideas that happens to work at a station with an adoring audience of consumers ready to spend money right now.