Several years ago I developed my Five-Point Experiential Marketing Message, which covers the five things that people will stand in line and pay the highest price for. When you have all five of them in place and you understand how to use them in your marketing, you can literally position yourself at the top of any industry.
I’ve done this myself in my own companies, and my systems have, at a minimum, helped thousands of small business owners around the world in many different industries improve their position, and many now dominate their respective markets.
Here are the five points:
1. Reputation. There is one primary “unspoken” question that every prospect has about every person or company they do business with. That question is: “Can I trust you?” Your prospects may not verbal- ize the question just like that, but it is the number one question in their mind. So in your marketing message, you must not only demonstrate trust, but prove that you have a phenomenal reputation. I will explain how to use each of these points shortly. The benefit of this point is that the prospect has peace of mind and is more likely to move forward with a favorable buying decision.
Experience. The second unspoken question all prospects have about your business is, “Do you know what you are doing?” I can trust you all I want, but if you don’t have a clue what you are do- ing, what good is your business? Your marketing message must prove that you have experience in your field. The benefit of that to a prospect is that they will get what they paid for.
Education. The third point demonstrates that you are trained or that you have specialized knowledge. You can use this point to demonstrate that you are the education source, which has tremendous benefits to the consumer as well as to you.
Systems. This has to do with both the technical systems of your business as well as your customer service system. In other words, how will you service that client differently from anyone else? What is different about your technical offerings? How do you do things differently from others?
5. Guarantee. The final point is to remove the risk of moving forward for the customer. Your guarantee, warranty, or stated commitment tells them that they don’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse. The way you structure your guarantee has great impact on your message.
Two Versions of the Message
There are two ways you will use this message:
1. In Marketing
You can use this message to introduce yourself at a networking meeting. Remember the CPA example I shared earlier? She can use these five points to set herself apart and share the unique experience she provides. One can cover all five points very effectively in about sixty to ninety seconds. Some people call this an “Elevator Pitch.”
Now, instead of using language that focuses on price or how you do your work, like everyone else does, you are “refocusing” your potential prospects on the five things that set you apart. By using the five points, you’ll be able to convey a meaningful message in a short amount of time, which will set you apart and attract the best prospects for you.
Since the five points are the things that people will line up to pay a higher price for, every form of advertising or marketing you do should incorporate one or more of these points. This is done in various ways of course, and perhaps won’t even use the same words I’m using in the five point message. Everything you do in marketing will either build or diminish your reputation. Even a simple social media post. The post will either display your experience or reveal the lack thereof. Your post could be educational, therefore positioning yourself as an expert (a powerful form of marketing that we’ll talk about in this book), or it could demonstrate your technical process or how you provided phenomenal customer service. Finally, it could showcase your commitment to following up after the sale.
Can you see how everything you do in marketing can communicate one of the five points?
2. In Sales
Once you’ve generated a prospect, your business may require a sales presentation. This may be done over the phone or in person. The benefit of doing a presentation is that you can discover your prospect’s needs and customize your five-point message to fit their needs, concerns, and desires. (See Phenomenal Sales Systems in The 5 Secrets of a Phenomenal Business.)
If you have studied marketing at all, you may have heard of something called a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A USP proposes doing business with you because of your uniqueness.
Experiential Marketing is so important today that I decided to call my Five-Point Experiential Marketing Message a UEPTM instead of a USP. That stands for a Unique Experience PropositionTM. Describing the experience (rather than just the features and benefits) is critical today. People want to know what the unique experience they will have with your company will be.
How to Use the Five Points
Marketing Point #1: Reputation
Let’s use Starbucks as our example. Starbucks gained a reputation of being the coffee experts. Whether they truly are or not makes no difference. People believe that they are and they buy the product in droves. Plus, the brand has become iconic throughout the world.
Starbucks did this in two ways. One, in the early days they raised some real concerns about how average, everyday commodity coffee is made. The worst stories revealed how imported coffees use dirt as filler! Through Education Marketing (a form of Experiential Marketing), they taught consumers how commodity coffees use an inferior bean called the Robusta bean. Starbucks uses only 100 percent Arabica beans.
Other coffee companies use conveyer belt roasting processes, and of course Starbucks has its own special, patented roasting system. Commodity coffee companies use harsh chemicals during processing and have to use defoamer to smooth it out. Yuck!
Even though this part focuses on the product, the reaction is purely emotional (an experience), and questions the integrity of other coffees. Once coffee is ground up, how do you know what’s in there? Starbucks then begins the process of educating you about its processes, which produce the perfect cup. Their main brochure started with the words Experience the Perfect Cup.
Marketing your reputation is done by using what others say about you rather than what you say about yourself! My friend Joseph Michelli, author of The Starbucks Experience, says, “A brand is nothing more than what people say about you when you are not around.” The relationships you have with your clients— people with influence in your industry and community—will build your reputation and confirm that you can be trusted.
Testimonials are powerful ways to demonstrate trust, because what your clients and other important people say about you is more believable than what you say about yourself.
Celebrity endorsements are also another great means, if you can acquire them. If you have a local celebrity who recommends you, see if you can use that person’s name in your marketing. For example, one of my companies was featured on a television show hosted by a local celebrity. Our phone rang constantly, and we soon learned that he had a radio program where he gave live endorsements in the ads. We generated millions of dollars in sales over the years just from that one source.
Successful high-profile projects or relationships with clients also help you develop your reputation (which translates into trust). Your involvement in community service speaks volumes. Awards and certifications are also great tools that build your reputation. Be sure to use all of these things in your marketing media.
What others say about you taps into a powerful human law called social proof. I was on the west side of Kauai, Hawaii, one day and the water was extremely rough. I noticed that other people were waiting to see if anyone drowned before they ventured in! This is social proof, which says if others are doing it, it must be okay.
Be sure to communicate how each and every one of these marketing points benefits the client. The benefit of reputation is obvious—the more you can trust a company, the more peace of mind you have in moving forward with them. An absence of trust means you would only do business with such a company if you had to.
Take every opportunity to build trust by building your reputation. Create, market, and deliver an experience that gives you a phenomenal reputation.
Here’s an example of how reputation might be used when you are introducing yourself at a networking group:
“Our company enjoys a reputation that is second to none. Some of the area’s most seasoned [experts in your area] refer our services/products exclusively.”
Marketing Point #2: Experience
There are two areas where communicating experience comes into play—one is how long you’ve been in business. “Since 1902” has an impact. “Over twenty years” is also a powerful statement. For example, I’ve owned my own business for over thirty years. That’s three decades! I’ve been helping other small business owners with their businesses for almost twenty years of the thirty. If you want advice from someone, you want to know they’ve traveled the road.
The second area where experience comes into play is when your industry requires a certain amount of technical experience. You wouldn’t want a heart surgeon who performed his first operation yesterday!
One of the ways our service company made tremendous progress with our positioning was by offering to tackle trouble- shooting jobs that no one else wanted to touch. Anything that was weird or far out, I wanted to get a peek at it. This in turn gave us unmatched experience. We were going after things that others
were running from. In just a few years, I saw more situations than my competitors will likely see in a lifetime. I was able to learn a tremendous amount from those experiences.
Introduction example of experience: “Our company has been in business for years, and is experienced in all types of [whatever you do]. We will be familiar with your situation regardless of what it is…”
If you haven’t been in business for very long, focus on the areas of experience you do have. You can also lean heavily on the next point.
Marketing Point #3: Education (or Training)
If you are certified by your industry, you should educate your prospects and clients on what certification means. Certification can be a powerful marketing tool, but only if you share with your prospects how they can benefit from your expertise.
Talk about any specialized training or knowledge you or your staff has that can benefit them. And be sure to share that part of your mission is to educate them on how to navigate your industry. This sets you apart as a consultant.
For example: “Our company is certified by the [Your Certification Group]. We are heavily involved in our industry and stay on the cutting edge of information. We bring this education directly to you, so you can be sure you have the very best available.”
Marketing Point #4: Systems
This is how you will deliver your unique experience. Your customer service system will set you apart more than anything else. And the best part is that it doesn’t cost much more (if anything) to provide a higher level of customer service. The key is to not just provide it, but to talk about how it is different and use it in your marketing message.
Usually, customer frustrations have to do with service, not necessarily the product. By identifying with the emotional dis- tress of the typical customer, you can win many new clients. What are they suffering from? Identify the areas where your competitors are failing to serve, and promise to fill that gap. Be sure to explain exactly what you are going to do that is different.
For example: “Our mission is to provide you with the most phenomenal service experience ever. We will treat you with the utmost respect and courtesy and deliver your service/product on time.”
In the sales version, you want to outline the steps you take that others don’t.
For example, in a sales environment, you are able to spend time with a prospect asking questions. This is a luxury you don’t have in marketing. As you interview the prospect about past experiences, you may find out that competitors don’t deliver on time. You can outline how your company communicates through the delivery process.
Marketing Point #5: Guarantee
Many small business owners are afraid to offer a guarantee on their product or service in their marketing message, but when I ask them what happens if their client isn’t satisfied, they quickly point out how they make it right, including a refund if appropriate.
If you want to attract high-end clients, you must understand that they expect you to back up what you do. If there is any ques- tion about that, they will not move forward in using your services. Using a guarantee in your marketing message confirms that you are the right company for them. If you are attracting price shoppers or people who just want to get something for free from you, you are attracting the wrong crowd. And that is not because you are offering a guarantee, it’s because your marketing is reach- ing the wrong prospect.
Of course you are always going to have people who take advantage of your guarantee, so you factor that into your cost of doing business. If you can get more clients at higher prices because you offer a guarantee, you can actually make more money. Don’t get emotional about people taking advantage of your guarantee. Instead, fund the returns with higher prices.
There are many industries that can’t offer a money-back guarantee. If you’re a homebuilder, for example, you can’t give a refund on a house, but you can build a reputation that you follow up after the sale.
When my wife and I built our dream home in Houston, we had a wonderful builder who addressed every need that came up long after the home was built and signed off on.
That builder knows something that all business owners need to understand—how you handle your guarantee affects your rep- utation. So, you might imagine the five points being in a circle. Your guarantee is connected to your reputation.
Introduction example of guarantee: “Our company offers a 100 percent money-back guarantee. If you aren’t completely thrilled with the service/product experience you receive from our company, we will rush back to your location at no charge and no obligation to correct the situation. If you are still unimpressed, you owe us nothing, and we will issue a 100 percent refund.”
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