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Small Business with Fundamental Smart Marketing

by Frank Strong

Small Business with Fundamental Smart Marketing

This post is about basics and it starts with a mantra that’s been around a long time and it goes something like this: Every employee works in marketing.

It’s one thing to have a mantra, it’s quite refreshing when you see it in action. Michael & Son Services, Inc. is a home maintenance company offering HVAC, electrical and plumbing services, among others. Last week one of their technicians came into my home upon request in order to assess an A/C issue. Here are five observations I had that makes me think they do a great job in small business marketing:

Lead source. Word of mouth still reigns king. When my A/C stopped working the first place I looked for service providers was an online bulletin board frequented by residents of my condominium. There are close to 1,000 people living here, so in many ways my building functions like a small city. I found a recommendation by a neighbor listing Michael & Son as a dependable service; that’s all I needed to make the call. You can’t buy this sort of buzz…it’s hard to get and easy to lose; it only comes through providing consistent high-quality service.

The Upsell. “Dave” showed up a day or two later at the schedule time. He was young, but also professional and knowledgeable; he got the job done, but also gave me a short pitch. It might be worth my while to sign up for the “Home Care Agreement” — a subscription service that includes two bi-annual preventative maintenance visits, discounts on services and preferential scheduling — the latter being a key offering in the busy summer months. Dave pointed out since I’d likely need a second visit to fix my A/C unit, and given what I already owed for his current work, the subscription would have paid for itself. He wasn’t pushy and left me with a simple brochure detailing the service options. That brochure is still on my kitchen table…and I’m likely to subscribe.

Leave behind. Refrigerator magnets are one of the best tchochkes a small business can offer. It’s useful and it keeps the brand top of mind. I am reminded of Michael & Son — and the good experience I’ve had with them — every time I add an entry to my grocery list.

A thank you note. When was the last time you received a thank you note from a vendor? I got one from Dave yesterday. It was simple — a pre-printed postcard on which technicians can jot a quick note and send to their customers after a finishing a call. It’s easy for the technician to do and enables the company to remain top of mind. Postage is low (.28 cents) on postcards, which keeps costs down, yet has an extraordinary benefit in continuing the experience with a brand.

Tapping trends. Upon reviewing their Web site I notice they also have a “green” offering. Many companies make such claims — it’s clearly a trend and marketing should seek to tap into trends — but Michael & Son’s green program makes sense. They offer several practical ways to cut energy consumption for environmental enthusiasts, and subsequently costs for the budget-conscious.

Big idea. I see a tremendous opportunity for the company to tap social media. A blog for example would provide be a tremendous value to both prospects and customers. Example posts might include relevant topics like, “how-to fix ____” or “Five tips on keeping energy costs down.” The important point is to keep the content current, useful and devoid of marketing pitches in order to keep readers coming back. Be patient with it as a blog takes time to develop credibility and a following, or as one blogger wrote, “Your blog WILL suck at first.”

Every employee shapes in some way the customer’s perception of a business. It’s important that policies, guidelines and tools are in place — and Michael & Son has figured out how make that happen: even their technicians work in marketing.

It’s fundamental marketing.  It’s smart marketing.

Photo:  A magnet Michael & Son left behind after a job

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