Nailing the Business Basics Vital to Marketing Success

Staying on top of the latest marketing trends like social media engagement is important, but it doesn’t amount to much if you don’t stay focused on some core business tenets

Nailing the Business Basics Vital to Marketing Success

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

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When you think about marketing, you likely think of ads, truck wraps, social media, Google posts, your website, and other things of that nature.

While those are all facets of marketing, the most important marketing still starts and ends with how you make your customers feel and how well you solve the problems they’re coming to you with. At the end of the day, the customer experience you provide is going to impact reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, your overall reputation in your community, and all of your other marketing efforts. You can spend a fortune on ads and have the best website out there, but if you’re not nailing the customer experience, none of that will matter. 

Of course it is easy to get caught up in the noise surrounding marketing and lose sight of the basics. Like shiny object syndrome, our gaze is constantly bouncing from one Google algorithm update or SEO/digital marketing guru to another. And if we’re honest, sometimes chasing the next big marketing “thing” can feel like the most important work. But it’s not. 

As owners of a digital marketing company, we would never say that your website, social media engagement, or ads aren’t important. They absolutely are. But there are some things that matter even more. You have to get the basics of your business right and take care of your customers so that your marketing team has something worth marketing. 

So in honor of the season of going “back to school,” let’s take a moment to get “back to basics.”

#1 Are your customer service representatives answering the phone in a polite and helpful manner?

Many times, customer service representatives (CSRs) are the first customer touch point. What’s that first touch point like for people calling your business? Are your CSRs answering the phone in a polite and helpful manner? Are they giving a good first impression?  

Maybe we should back up and ask, Are they even answering the phone at all? 

One of the main complaints that customers have about contracting businesses is that they don’t answer the phone or return calls. This is a serious mistake. Here you have someone who is ready to give you their money and you communicate at the start that they’re so unimportant to you, they’re not even worth speaking to or calling back. 

A lot of companies think it’s no big deal. After all, if they’re not answering their phones it’s because they’re too busy to. But every potential client that you ignore is no longer a potential client — not now, not in the future. 

Maybe that’s not a big deal to you right now because you’re so busy you don’t need their business at the moment. But you won’t get their business in the future either. The next time they need the services you provide, they’ll go with a company that answers the phone or has the courtesy to give a call back. That means fewer opportunities for you in the future. 

Plus, when their friends and family ask for recommendations, you can bet they’ll tell them, “Don’t even bother calling [Your company name]. They don’t answer the phone or call you back.”

You’re paying someone to manage your website, your Google Ads and Facebook Ads, and other aspects of your marketing. You’re paying them to bring you leads. But if you don’t answer your phone or your CSRs answer in an off-putting way, that money is wasted. 

We had a client who thought the leads we were sending them were duds because they were getting calls but those leads weren’t turning into paying clients. We dug in deeper, calling the business ourselves and listening to calls. What did we discover?

  1. The phone wasn’t being answered every time a prospective client called.
  2. When the phone was being answered, it wasn’t being answered the way the business owner (or the potential customers) would have liked. 

If the phones aren’t answered, leads can’t become paying customers. And if the phones are answered by unhelpful and unfriendly CSRs, leads won’t want to become paying customers. In the end, it’s bad for business and it’s a waste of your marketing dollars.

#2 Are you showing up to appointments on time?

Another “back to basics” thing that could indirectly impact your marketing is whether or not you show up to appointments on time. Again, it’s an issue of respect. When you don’t show up for estimates or you show up late, you communicate to your potential clients that they aren’t important enough for you to make them a priority. That their time is somehow less valuable than yours.

Think about how you feel when you go to the doctor and sit in the waiting room for 30 to 45 minutes …

Who does this guy think he is? Does he have any idea how much money 30 to 45 minutes of my time is worth? He thinks he’s so special that I can just sit around and wait for him to grace me with his presence?

These are the same thoughts your clients have when you show up late or fail to show up at all. Unless you really knock it out of the park when you do show up, it’s going to be hard to get that bad taste out of your customer’s mouth. 

Plus, what’s the point of being the best at what you do and providing the best service if you start the experience off on the wrong foot? That wait and the disrespect it communicates will impact the overall customer experience — and it will probably make it into the review your customer ends up leaving. We don’t need to tell you how important reviews are for marketing your business. 

#3 Are you speaking over your prospects’ heads with jargon when answering a question or explaining the what, how, and how much?

Your customers care about one thing: Can you solve their problem? If the answer is “yes,” they want to know how you’ll do it, why you’ll do it that way, and how much it will cost. All three of those questions are related — the how, the why, and the how much — but you have to make the connection in a way that’s simple and clear for people. 

So ask yourself, Am I speaking over my prospects’ heads with jargon when answering a question and explaining the what, how, why, and how much?

If so, can you simplify your language so that they understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how it solves their problems, and why it costs what it does? Explaining all of this in a transparent and easy-to-understand way that doesn’t feel like you’re trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes will mean a lot to your clients. It will not only confirm their decision to bring in an expert and confirm that they made the right decision by choosing you, but it will also help them see the value in what you offer and understand the price.

When people understand the value of the work you do and they are clear in the problems you solve, how you solve them, why you solve them that way, and why it costs what it costs, they’ll be more confident marketing your business to their friends and family. 

And when they understand value, price becomes less of a factor. They’ll understand why you charge what you charge and they can prime other potential clients in their circle with statements like, “They’re not the cheapest, but they do it right. They’re worth every penny.” That means you won’t have to work as hard to prove value in your marketing — your clients will be doing some of the heavy lifting for you. 

#4 In your marketing, are you using common questions that your best customers ask before, during, and after the sales call and service?

One great way to give your marketing a boost is to listen to your clients. What questions are they asking before, during, and after a sales call or service? Are you keeping track of those questions and using them to remove uncertainty and doubt for clients on your website and other marketing collateral?

Answering common questions is one simple and smart way to boost your marketing efforts and turn curious leads into convinced customers. Plus, if you answer questions before they pop into clients’ heads, they’ll feel like you understand them and what’s important to them.

As an added bonus, you won’t have to answer those questions again and again on every service call, which means less time and energy spent.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit www.sparkmarketer.com or www.facebook.com/sparkmarketer.



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