On Good Friday I was faced with the fact that my little Corolla would not pass inspection due to a bad tire. $600+ (inspection & alignment too) and 2 hours later, I reflected on the experience and how it related to my profession.
- I spoke to 3 individual Mooresville tire companies:
- The “Quick Shop” that turned down the NC Inspection
- My long time service provider (who installed the current tires 3 years ago)
- A “We Will Not Be Undersold” franchise
- 2 of the 3 individuals had negative comments regarding the competitions recommendation
- “My Guy” recently (6 weeks) changed the oil and provided a “15 Point Checklist” proudly disclaiming on Point 15: “tires were a little low on air”, nothing about the alignment and completely unsafe tire (actually 2 tires)
- The “Not Undersold” guys wanted me to wait 4+ hours and would only install the tires, not perform the NC Inspection or alignment (my day would be totally shot…NOT)
Those are the 4 facts as I see them, KEEP IN MIND: “Truth is Irrelevant” and “Perception is Everything!” I’m certain neither of the 3 parties had any bad intentions, were trying to mislead me or deceive me in any way and their “Perception” of the situation was valid.
So how does this relate to marketing?
When choosing a company for marketing purposes, how experienced are you with the marketing process?
I know nothing about tires and never care to, I trust “My Guy” to provide me with value minded expert opinions that have my best interests at heart. Most small business owners know little about what marketing actually is, much less how it works and the labor involved, which is my experience with car tires.
- Did you do the research before making a marketing decision?
- “Quick Shop” marketing companies are rarely long term solutions. The “Get Rich Quick” metaphor has never been successful & never will be
- “Current Guy” will often become lackadaisical, taking your business for granted, along with your monthly checks
- “Cheap Guy” has no experience OR is using a software package that attempts to define your best interests
My process of marketing sounds simple, but is somewhat complex, here it is in a nutshell:
- Stop the bleeding! Campaigns that are not qualified as productive should stop immediately
- Short term campaigns: “Mobile Internet” made everything faster, including your marketing results. Stay short term on new campaigns
- Measure, Measure, Measure: If you can’t measure the results of a campaign, don’t do it (unless it’s free that’s categorized under Branding…another post)
- Qualify/Disqualify: Periodically add and remove productive and unproductive campaigns
There are typically 3 levels in a small business:
- Owner: He/she completely understands the business, but can’t do it all, there is simply too much work for one person
- Manager: This is the “Up Front Guy” that usually takes the beatings. Managers manage people; staff, owners, customers and vendors. Managers are often highly underpaid, underappreciated & unrecognized for actually “Doing their Job”
- Workers: These guys actually do the work, they are where the “Rubber meets the Road” and when they fail, the profit margin suffers & the manager gets the blame
My process is exactly that…a process. Time will tell and budget will dictate time. Small budgets will take considerably longer due to the limitations on labor and advertising. Larger budgets will show faster results, because more campaigns can be qualified simultaneous.
BOTTOM LINE: You can’t BUY business
and if it sounds too good to be true, it always is!
So whether you need a new set of tires or a marketing company:
- Be an educated consumer
- Beware when competitors “trash” each other
- Watch out for the “Quick Sales Guy”
- Ask business owner friends for their testimony/referral
- Trust your instincts
LASTLY: “My Guy” is much like many small business owners, he is dependent upon his staff to actually do their job. When they fail, he rarely hears about it, customers simply go elsewhere for service.
His checklist/worker cost him a “New Set of Tires” sale.
Kevin Smith, Owner