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If You’re So Good, Then Why Don’t Your Prospects Know It?

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Dear Brett,

As I travel the country talking to different pool builders, this question seems to be a recurring theme.  Builders will tell me how they’re better than most of their competition, yet for some reason, their phone isn’t ringing off the hook.  Why is it so hard to get your prospects to recognize that you’re better than the other pool builders out there?

We call this the issue of “inside reality” vs. “outside perception.”  You may have better people, better designs, faster turnaround, lower-cost, or maybe the expertise to tackle projects that most other pool builders wouldn’t dare. Maybe you’ve got a better showroom, or more tile choices, or maybe you’re using Pool Studio when your competition is still using hand-drawn rough sketches.  Heck, if you’ve been in business more than 10 years, that alone probably puts you ahead of half of your competition.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s just presume that you’ve got some advantages over your competition, and therefore you have a good “inside reality.”

By the way – if you’re not sure what your “inside reality advantages” are, you can find out real fast.  Just call up ten of your recent customers, and ask them why they do business with you, and why they refer you to other people.  When people tell you why they don’t mind paying a little extra for your services, you’ve got your answer.

So that brings us back to the question — If you’re so good, then why don’t your prospects know it?

Well, now we’re getting into the issue of “perception.”  Regardless of your inside reality, the marketplace has a perception of you and your company based on a variety of things:

  • What your past customers say about you
  • What your ads say about you (yellow pages, newspaper, radio, etc.)
  • What your people say when they answer the phone
  • What your people say when they meet face to face with prospects
  • What your prospects hear when they get put on hold
  • What your competition says about you
  • What the news media say about you, your competition, and your industry

If you’re like most pool builders, you’re so busy running your company that you don’t have time to manage your outside perception.  Therefore, the outside perception gets formed literally whether you like it or not.

Managing your outside perception is an entire career challenge for me; that’s what we do.  Naturally, I don’t have time to go into that in a single newsletter, but I can give you a few quick tips of how you should be managing this yourself:

  1. Managing Past Customers — I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before: Ten “Atta-boys” can be wiped out by one “Oh crap….”  You’ve probably also heard that one happy customer may tell two or three friends, while an unhappy customer will tell 10 to 20 friends.  Bottom line — you’ve got to manage your customers’ perceptions, especially when things go wrong.  I’ve got a great strategy that several of my clients are using now, which I’ll share with you in another newsletter.
  2. What Your Ads Say about You — this too is far too complicated a subject to cover in a single newsletter, so I will share some ideas with you about this in later e-mails.  But here’s the bottom line — if your ads don’t say something significantly different than your competition, or at least sound significantly different than your competitions’, then you’re messing up your outside perception.
  3. What Your Prospects Hear When They Talk to You, Your People, or Your Answering Machine — this is one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive ways to start improving your outside perception.  But it’s amazing how few businesses will embrace it.  In the marketing world, we call this “scripts.” When someone asks you or one of your employees, “So what do you do for a living?” the answer should be pretty much the same.  And it should be a whole lot different than what your competition says when they get asked the same question.  The same should happen whenever any employee answers your telephone.  Again, more on this later.
  4. What Your Competition Says about You — you cannot control this directly, but you can preempt much of it by properly managing your outside perception in all these other areas. If you have a clear and believable message about your company, and your competition badmouths you, most prospects will see through that.

So — the first step in getting your prospects to recognize your superiority over your competition is to begin managing your outside perception.  Basically, that’s what your marketing and advertising is supposed to do for you.  In future e-mails, I’ll give you some specific ideas that work especially well for pool builders.

Best regards, and have a very Merry Christmas.

Brett Abbott Signature


©2007 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc. May Not Be Used Without Permission

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