Sep 28, 2016

To Buy or Not to Buy

Offers & sales to new customers require more than a price

What is the best sale price or special offer to attract a potential new customer? Is it a dollar discount? Is it a percentage off? Is it a free add-on? I am asked this question time and again, particularly when I meet dealers at trade shows and conferences. Everyone wants to know if there is a secret answer or, better yet, a formula for attracting new sales. 

Before I answer this question, I will ask one back. Why does a potential new customer care? If I were to offer you a sale price or even 50% off of an item that you do not know you want or need, would you care? Would the balance after the sale price or percentage off really matter? 

The water treatment industry is needed, wanted and sought after. But from a marketing standpoint, water treatment is what marketers refer to as “not sexy.” Now, I am not referring to how you look, how your employees look, how many times a week you hit the gym or any other details about the appearance of your staff. In marketing, there are two basic types of products: those that are “sexy,” like a cruise line, a new sports car or a family vacation package, and those that are not, like a water filtration system. 

When prospects receive and digest a sexy ad, they can easily see themselves on that vacation or in that sports car. The not-sexy marketing is perhaps needed more, but often wanted less. Why do you see so many ads for cars or all-inclusive resorts? The reason is simple: They are easy to sell, and repetition works. Water dealers need repetition, too—especially because water treatment products may not always be so easy to sell.

Repeat Your Message

Repetition for the water filtration industry also must include information that will make your products more desirable. Water issues are only now coming to light in the public consciousness. Even so, I meet so-called experts in the field, such as real estate agent and home inspectors, who do not know about or wave off the importance of a water filter with a shoulder shrug and a, “Meh, they don’t really make that much of a difference,” (an actual quote I heard recently). Even my family practitioner, a successful doctor who has made his living advising on the virtues of healthy living versus doctor visits and pill popping, admitted he really did not know much about reverse osmosis water. He did not dispute its benefits, just clarified he was not knowledgeable and would have to get more information.

Here is a real-world example to illustrate the type of misinformation you are battling daily. My oldest son is in the process of buying his first home. I went along on the home inspection and he asked the inspector some good questions about the life and future of the appliances. We noticed a new water heater. The inspector told us a water heater is good for seven to 10 years, so this one was fine. I mentioned that a water filter would improve that lifespan. My water heater was installed in 1993 and I just replaced it this year. That is 23 years. I also mentioned that I have a water filtration system, which I know prolonged the life. 

His answer: “Did it leak onto the floor when it went?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“So, there you are, your water filter didn’t make that much of a difference,” the inspector said. He was focused on the failure, not the fact that I doubled the lifespan.

The dishwasher is original to the eight-year-old home. It has some scale and buildup, but certainly is not ready to be replaced. I mentioned my dishwasher is three years old and looks brand new inside. My brother has the same dishwasher, but does not have a water filter, and his dishwasher appears sand blasted from hard water. “A good water filter will keep that dishwasher going for some time,” I said. The home inspector and the real estate agent both shrugged that off and collectively disagreed, saying it would not make a difference.

Battle Ignorance

This is what you are up against every time you run an ad, sponsor an event, buy pay-per-click or send direct marketing. I would like to emphasize that you are not fighting a losing battle. People are becoming more aware every day of how much they really do need a water treatment system. I do also want to stress that you must advertise often and do it with information as well as an attractive offer. There is an economic statement that comes from old Latin, Res tantum valet quantum vendi potest: A thing is worth only what someone else will pay for it. Remember that.

So, to answer the question on what the formula for attracting a new customer is, I offer this. You know what a good offer is because you are a consumer of products yourself. Would you look at your offer and see it as a gimmick or would you think it is fair? Remember, when thinking about your sale or offer, the key parts of a marketing strategy are the parts of a three-legged stool. Each leg is crucial to holding your stool up. They are list (who), offer (what) and creative (how effectively it speaks to the prospective buyer). They are bound by timing, repetition and information. It is information that will appeal to your customer. It is information about overall cost savings that may spark an interest in a whole-house water filtration system versus simply replacing an expensive appliance. And it is information repeated in your advertising, along with a fair offer, that will help your prospects make a decision to buy or not to buy. 

About the author

Brad Good is partner for the Good Marketing Group. Good can be reached at [email protected].

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