Saturday, November 25, 2006

Week 15 - Changing The Purchase Rules Whilst Contributing to Society

You may be familiar with Dyson vacuum cleaners. James Dyson first brought the Dual Cyclone Vacuum Cleaner to market in 1992 after his technology had been ignored by the almost the entire electrical goods community around the world.

What was the decision criteria for a vacuum prior to the Dyson being launched? Features? Power? Power was probably the big one as we often see the manufacturers upping the number of “watts” posted across the packaging. Now each time one of the major competitors unveils more power in their machines, the others simply follow suit. Adding extra power could certainly not be patent protected and the consumer simply remained fixated on the idea that more watts must be better. Price probably came in second place on the decision criteria list.

What is the new decision criteria for a vacuum cleaner?

Power still gets a mention, but questions on “style (amazingly), suction performance and air filtration” have moved Dyson’s business to the top of the pile. Dyson products cannot be compared with the 1700 watt model sitting next to it, nor can they be compared on price. In fact forget price. Dyson vacuum cleaners can be 7 times more expensive than their competition, but they have what the market now perceives as the best solution to their problem and are prepared to pay for it!

The Dyson story demonstrates that marketing is not about playing with words or adding trivial services to our core business to trick consumers. Price driven retailers told Dyson that he stood little chance of sales success – Dyson are now the market leader!

It is important that your marketing programs are consistent and the quality as good as it can be, but it is just as important that you believe in what you are doing and today more than ever, how it fits into and helps society.

In her book, Fences and Windows, Naomi Klein discusses those big multi-national companies who, with the help of a PR agency, decide that they “want to be your friend”. She describes those businesses which spend so much time and money trying to convince consumers that they really care about them while at the same time, behaving in a manner anything but! To use Klein’s words, do you have a “communications problem” or a “reality problem?” Innovation, service and marketing are not about spin, they are about a genuine commitment to turning your business into a productive part of society.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Week 14 - Banging Your Customers Over The Head With Benefits

I talked in Week 11 about your USP, that statement which conveys why you exist and how what you offer is the best possible solution to your prospect’s problems. Before we dig deeper let’s be clear that marketing is not a substitute for product or service performance. As they say in America, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig! Ensure you have the systems in place to live up to your USP; you don’t want all that effort expended getting people through the door only to leave them dissatisfied.

As you think more about what your USP should, be consider the following:

Ask yourself what you provide that is unique, bigger, faster, more creative? Also ask your trusted suppliers and customers what they think about your business in these areas. Combine the feedback.

Once you have this bedded down, your USP should be strong enough to impress strangers. Test this on a few – ask them if they faced a choice in your industry whether or not your USP would lead them to call you. Test and Refine.

Your USP conveys everything that is unique about your business but you need to lead your customers to understand how this translates into actual benefits. A “decision criteria” can be used to eliminate your competition from every piece of business that is available - if deployed correctly.

Creating decision criteria is a straight forward value added service you can provide to any prospect that phones, writes or physically enters your premises. The basic idea of the decision criteria is that regardless of whether or not the prospect chooses your business, there are a number of things they should look out for when actually purchasing. In other words, provide a list of criteria and suggest they use it as a guide to purchasing the product or service.

As an example let’s look at selling your home…

Imagine that a young couple wants to sell their home in a trendy suburb. The sales agent can say “choose me, we have the lowest commission and we guarantee we will get you a great price for your property”. A second agent might say to the couple, “many agents will tell you the same thing and at times, our services can seem very similar. To help guide you through the jargon jungle, won’t you take this sheet that explains the best way to sell your home for the highest possible price and least amount of anguish. There is certainly no obligation, we just want to be sure you are fully informed about all the potential pitfalls associated with selling your home.”

The decision criteria that the agent hands to the vendor might read something like this:


Peppermint Grove Realty – Eight points to look for in any agent who offers to sell your home.

1. Always deal through an agent who is a member of the Real Estate Institute which will give you a level of professional protection (Intent - probably not unique, but sets the tone for the following points)

2. Ensure your appointed agent knows the area well. Ask your agent how many homes have sold in the suburb in the last 12 months and what the average price has been? (Intent - Obviously you wouldn’t ask this question unless you were experienced and had a great track record in the area. The object is to highlight that expertise and eliminate your competition who may not posses the same experience.)

3. Most house sale prices are set by following the trend of the street or surrounding suburb. Ask your agent if they will provide you with a complimentary copy of all sales prices in your suburb over the past 12 months. This will help to guide you on the price you should be getting for your property. (Intent - A small value add you might provide to vendors will also eliminate the agents who try to set an unrealistically high or low selling figure).

4. The more people who see your home for sale, the more chance you have of selling it. Ask your appointed agent what journals and newspapers they intend to advertise in and ask them if they pass on discounted rates to keep your advertising costs low? (Intent - You advertise heavily and you receive discounts for that. You may or may not want to pass that onto the vendor. The point is you can once again differentiate yourself from your competition if you wish.)

5. Obviously it pays to present your property well on inspection days. Ask your appointed agent if they provide a free one hour home and garden refresh service prior to the open house. (Intent - Another value add to get your competition on the back foot).

6. Further, if you house is vacant, prospective purchasers may have a hard time visualizing how they would fit into the house. Ask your appointed agent whether they have access to temporary furniture at discounted rates. (Intent - Once again, a point of value for the vendor to consider, but you also have a great deal lined up should they wish to take advantage.)

7. Your time is valuable. Ask your agent if they will turn up to open houses and other agreed appointments on-time, every time. (Intent - Try to weed out those non-performers in the industry but getting the vendor to ask if they are reliable. Of course all will answer yes, but should they fail to appear on time, it becomes a lie. By the way, not everyone can be on time, every time, but a simple phone call can solve the problem. It is all about being considerate of the prospect’s time).

8. The nerves on auction day can get to anyone. Rather than drop your price, ask your agent if they will agree to stick by your reserve price no matter how the auction goes. (Intent - Once again, trying to weed out those agents who will promise a high selling price to get the business, only to put pressure on the vendor to accept a lower offer on auction day.)

If you have any further questions regarding the sale of your home, feel free to call one of our professional advisers 24 hours a day ……


If you have ever gone through the process of selling your home, I think you would agree that you would find this list at least somewhat interesting. The key is to add value. Anyone can write out a list stating all of the reasons why they should be chosen, but presenting them in this way creates questions in the prospect’s mind and then goes on to answer these questions straight away. You don’t see any mention of the estate agency in the points themselves, but the agency will have a fantastic and unique answer to every one of them.

When was the last time you were handed a list of these helpful hints by anyone? Was it at a bedding shop? A motor mechanic? You may have never seen them in use so you can understand what an immense impact it could have in your business, not to mention what you could do to your competition..

Week 13 - Would You Wait?

Being unique is tough these days so some business owners feel that if the phone rings and they don’t drop everything, they can lose a sale. This plays havoc with your schedule and really gets back to a reactive versus a proactive approach to running your business.

But let’s take a scenario; if you have a urgent job to be done and you use Google or the Yellow Pages to find a solution, you are likely to keep calling until someone says they can attend straight away. The numbers you call will probably only be determined by location of the business, “is it nearby?”

But consider this; if one of your friends or family had referred you to a particular business because they always turn up on time, charge wholesale rates for spare parts, always leave the house clean and would guarantee their work for six months, would you wait until the next day to get your problem fixed? Unless your toilet is spilling out into the living room the answer is almost always “yes”. So the business owner who has set up systems and operates proactively can say “Not today”, without losing the opportunity. That is something for you to look forward to.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Week 12 - What Do Your Customers Expect From You?

Take a moment now and look through the Yellow Pages or do a generic search on Google for your product. Go ahead and look under electrical contractors or exhaust systems or gardening services. How many companies are telling you about extra services they provide and how they are unique, special or different? Perhaps not surprisingly, there are only one or two. Everyone else is just screaming ME TOO. Me too takes many forms such as “24 hours”, “all services”, “guaranteed” and “all models”.

Customers have expectations, that is, there are certain things they just expect when making a purchase of anything.

They expect to be treated with dignity. They expect that the sheets in a hotel will be clean. They expect that a hot dish in a restaurant will in fact be hot. The point here is that many business owners offer services they consider special, but the market simply considers that they are part of the normal service.


Friendly Service
Competitive Prices
Home Delivery
All areas
Frequent Flyer Miles


Free carpet cleaning
Theatre tickets with hotel stay
Genuine discount at leading restaurant (not just a free dessert with a $75 main course!)
A free birthday cake delivered on your special day
A call from a restaurant to see how your meal was

You have to keep on top of what’s expected and what’s not. As I said earlier if your competitors are any good they will start doing the same things so you need to constantly look at ways to surprise and delight your customers.

How many of your current extras are just “expected” by the market?