How to Make a Marketing Plan
The Executive’s Guide to Carpet Cleaning Part III: Branding
Branding, Part III: Creating a Marketing Plan
Creating a Marketing Plan
In order to design a marketing strategy that you can feel confident in, you must understand your demographic.
How many potential customers are in your service area? When it comes to the services you offer, what other choices do they have? Does your target demographic share any common characteristics that might make them easier and less expensive to reach–for instance, do they all subscribe to the same newspaper?
These are a few examples of the kind of data that you should already know by heart. Most cleaners, however, do not.
Step 1: Identify Your Demographic
I like to use the web site infoUSA.com for identifying target demographics. They provide high-quality leads that allow you to target prospects with some simple filters. Best of all, you can get part of this data for free.
Try this exercise. Go to infoUSA.com, and use their geographic filters to narrow down your target area. Determine how far you’re willing to travel for a job, and focus only on that radius. The site will generate a list of leads for you.
Next, filter the list by single-family dwellings. From here you can add additional filters, such as home values, age, household income, personal finances and more.
Once you’ve determined the total number of available leads matching your filters, write that number down. This is your total potential marketable base. Again, YOU MUST KNOW THIS NUMBER.
Ideally, this list will consist of 25-to-55-year-old married female homeowners with kids and/or pets. Remember, however, that you can use this same technique to target any number of prospect groups, both residential and commercial.
Step 2: Do the Math
I have witnessed an interesting trend with our clients. When you “own” one percent of your total potential marketable base (the early adopters), you will begin to see an increase in referrals–especially if you are asking for them. (When we say “own,” what we mean is that you have served this client within the last two years.)
If you can reach ten percent “ownership” of your total potential marketable base, you will achieve critical mass. In other words, when a significant amount of people in your target demographic are aware of you, your business will begin to enjoy consistent and sustained prospect traffic via referrals.
If 50,000 Potential Prospects = Your Total Potential Marketable Base
Then 500 Clients = Early Adopters
And 5,000 Clients = Critical Mass
This is why you should focus on winning over merely a portion of your potential marketable base, rather than spreading your marketing efforts thinly and ineffectively across a wider demographic. If you can get just a small percentage of your potential prospects to purchase your services, they’ll do the rest of your marketing for you.
Step 3: Assess the Competition
There are many companies that went down in flames because they paid too much attention to their competition. I would never suggest using your competition’s rates to determine your business’ pricing.
That said, you need to be aware of the other choices your customers have when they are looking for someone to solve their problem. Try to focus not just on companies that provide the same services as you do, but more specifically on those companies that provide identical services and are also targeting your core demographic.
Now, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Given her options, which company would you choose? What makes your company different from the others? Do you stand out from the crowd (and if not, what would make her notice you)?
Bear in mind, a strong brand can go a long way towards pushing you to the head of the pack.
Step 4: Find Your “Ideal” Client
If you have been in business for a while, you have a resource that can help you reach the next level–your data. If your accounts are being tracked by a program like ServiceMonster, you can use them to do some data mining. Data mining can reveal some very interesting information, such as the common traits of the top 10 percent of your clients. By focusing on understanding these traits, you will be able to find new ways to market to prospects with similar characteristics, i.e., your “ideal” clients.
Look for common factors. What neighborhoods do your ideal clients live in? Where do they work? How about their home values, income level or even the cars they drive? Most cleaners won’t be able to find out all this information right off the bat. But keep your mind open and pay attention, and I guarantee you’ll spot some intriguing opportunities.
For instance, do a number of your clients share a single large employer, such as a university or major company? If so, you might consider offering employees of that company a special ten percent discount. I guarantee, you’ll generate far more revenue than you’ll lose.
While you’re at it, try offering the employer this discount in exchange for a contract to regularly clean their facilities. Remember, the best way to get business is to keep asking for it.
At the end of the day, no one knows your clients like you do, which makes you the expert when it comes to finding the right marketing plan for your business.