This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Water Quality Products as "Don't Compete on Price"
We all know that people go online and compare prices. It is easy, painless and people can do it from the comfort of their homes. Without actual model numbers, it is hard to compare items apples-to-apples. People’s desire to save money creates a situation where a transaction becomes more like a negotiation rather than a productive sale. Unless you want to be known as the cheapest company out there, and either drop your margins all the way down or provide a cheaper product, you need to find a way to move the conversation away from price.
All good direct marketing campaigns sell the benefits to specific niche markets. For example, if you are marketing to families with children, your marketing materials need to feature a photo of a mother providing water to her family and highlight the fact that a point-of-use water filtration system will not only be healthier for her family, but provide cost savings, as well.
If you are marketing to women, age 50 to 70, sell the security of drinking pure, untainted water, glowing skin, shining hair and healthy lifestyle. The best offers are health-related. Many dealers in hard water markets reach out to psoriasis and eczema sufferers using an education piece, before and after photos, and an offer for a calming body lotion. We may be altruistic and believe that once people realize how vital a water quality system is for their lives, the actual sale will be a piece of cake.
According to the 2019 Water Quality Assn. (WQA) Consumer Opinion Study, almost half of Americans feel that even though water quality is a tremendous concern, a water filtration system is a luxury. Your marketing efforts need to make it clear that it is not about price. We want to breathe clean air, we want to eat good food and we want to drink pure water. You need to remind your prospects that the benefits far outweigh the cost. As a matter of fact, the benefits outweigh the costs significantly. The key is to make your point without using scare tactics. Remember, the public already is concerned about water quality. You are providing them with a solution.
In terms of cost, you can revisit the way you frame your pricing. Maybe you can revise your price structure and offer a no-frills filter, with options for add-ons. Or, you may want to itemize all the pieces that go into your system, both from a product and service perspective, to create a discounted “everything” price. Depending on your competition, you might use that itemized list together to show your prospect all the pieces you are including in your system that your competition may not be offering. If your dealership offers financing, how are you spelling out your finance opportunities? Is the verbiage clear and easy-to-understand? Are the terms transparent?
Closing the sale also may be a factor of urgency. While the public knows there are problems with public water, it is highly likely they are not up to speed on the specifics about the water quality in their own area. Make sure you have the latest U.S. EPA studies and information about water quality in their area. Your marketing collateral should include an easy-to-read list that includes the contaminant and whether your product filters it out. Many consumers assume a water filter will purify everything. You need to explain what your system can and cannot do and have the backup marketing collateral to show it. If your dealership is not a household name, you need to develop a strong brand in your area and make sure you take everyone opportunity to showcase yourself and your business.
Be everywhere your customer is.
If they are in the local PTA, be in the PTA. If they are going to home shows, take a booth at a home show. We know they read their mail—get your message into the right homes with a well-designed mailer.
Think of your website as your electronic business card and catalog. All of your marketing efforts are driving your customers and prospects to it. Make sure your website looks good and your information is up to date. Your reviews section is important. Studies show that 91% of consumers will read a company’s reviews before making a purchase.
Your reputation is a huge part of your brand. If you sell your customer on the benefits your water system will provide, you need to deliver. If you advertise your customer service, your technician needs to be at their appointments on time. This is your community. You will see your customers at the grocery store or at your children’s birthday parties.
Market your guarantee and credentials.
Does your guarantee inspire confidence? Consumers are immune to generic guarantees that say, “If you’re not satisfied with our product, return it within 30 days and your money back.” That type of guarantee automatically starts a timer to return the product before the time expires.
According to 2019 WQA Consumer Opinion Study, consumers are interested in a 100% guarantee and a strong warranty. What is a 100% guarantee anyway? It has to do with the trust you have in your product and in its quality. When you offer a 100% or a lifetime guarantee, you are offering your customers the ultimate confidence in their purchase. It means you have their back. It is also true that a guarantee does not necessarily mean money back, it can mean service, repairs or discounted systems upgrades. It means you are guaranteeing to make your customer happy. The truth is that most of your customers will never even ask for it, but a lifetime guarantee will put your brand in a strong position for customer satisfaction and help you close the sale.
Make sure your website and collateral material include your certifications.
Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce? Proudly display your WQA Membership logo and if your technicians are certified, show those off as well. You also will want to highlight any products you offer that are WQA Gold Seal certified or made in the U.S. Using identifiable logos conveys credibility and trustworthiness. People buy from people they trust.
Live up to your brand commitment.
You need to brand your dealership as a company that understands that someone is not a transaction, but a valued customer. This also means that your entire organization has a responsibility to live up to that commitment. Outstanding customer service, including timeliness, professional dress, easy-to-digest use instructions, and transparent credit agreements help you brand your dealership with excellence.
If your company is perceived as excellent, customer-service oriented, friendly and helpful, cost is no longer the compelling motivator in a sale.