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Chris LoCurto

By

March 7, 2013

Marketing Your Product Or Service

Marketing your product, and yourself, is a necessary evil. So many of us love the results of marketing, but hate the process of self-promotion.

Marketing, Leadership

However, without proper marketing, nobody knows you exist. I used to tell my team all the time, “If people don’t know we’re coming, they can’t buy tickets to our events.” Which seems obvious enough.

The problem is, most people don’t realize that just putting a WE’RE OPEN sign out front doesn’t bring awareness to the community at large. On top of marketing for awareness, you also have to be prepared to market your quality.

Recently I had a conversation about a friend’s spouse who was bidding a painting job on Craigslist that needed to be done by Saturday.(The conversation was on a Wednesday.) He was supposedly one of twenty people who bid this specific job.

The client called him and shared that he was on the higher side of those bidding, but he was being considered because he could do the job sooner than some of the others. If he was willing to come down on his rate, he would then be on the short list of folks being considered.

At the time, they were in negotiations on the rate. I shared with her that he needed to reconsider negotiating his rate. Instead, he needed to focus on selling the quality of his work. The client already tipped his hand when he shared the need to get it done quicker than some of the painters were able to do.

In a group of twenty bidders, the client also took the time to call him. This also is a tip of the client’s hand to his desire to work with my friend’s husband. And as any good businessperson should do, the client asked for a reduced rate.

I have ABSOLUTELY no problem with you asking for a reduced rate, as long as you understand that you might not get it. With these pieces of the puzzle, I suggested that he not focus on reducing his rate. Instead, go back to the client and let them know that he can offer something much greater than a discount; he could offer his personal guarantee of the quality!

If it was me, I would remind him of my ability to get the job done in the time frame he desires, AND that I would do a much better job than the folks who are low balling their bids. You see, people who are willing to give low bids will either do a fast and low to decent quality job, whereas I would do a high quality job that would not leave him regretting his decision come Sunday.

When marketing your product, don’t forget to also market you, your quality, and why you can offer something that nobody else can. Click here to Tweet

If you can do that, you’ll get all the jobs you want.

Question: What would you have done in this situation?

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  • http://squareoneleadership.wordpress.com/ Mason Stanley

    Honestly, it would have taken me a moment to reign myself in. My immediate desire would have been to negotiate the price because getting the contract makes me feel like I’ve won, even if I’ve lost in the process. However, prices are set because of what my time is worth, and because of the quality of my work.

    The tip about the time frame would have been my selling point. Rush orders can lead to lower quality, lower quality is usually represented by lower prices. My price represents the quality they would receive, especially in such a rushed circumstance. This is where customer testimonies (and self-promotion) come in handy. When we can point back to tangible evidence (at least visible) of satisfied customers, it can buttress our quality stance.

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    So, so, very pertinent in my world today! One of my offices serves a military community with home loans (VA loans) – it is crucial when a military couple PCS (transfer) into the local base that the purchase of their home happens QUICKLY. Many times they are living out of suitcases in a hotel with the kids, the dog – they are extremely anxious for the transaction to happen asap – they need to close on that home loan now! One of our major competitors offers a slightly reduced interest rate for their VA product – BUT cannot close on the deal for 45 days. Our rate is very competitive but might be slightly higher – but we can close in 8 days. We try to sell the VALUE of closing quickly (getting into home, settling in, less cost of motel, less stress, etc. v. a few dollars more each month). It’s about selling VALUE over PRICE.

  • Rob McDowell

    You have to consider opportunity costs also. I have found if you consistently settle for the low pay work, then you are too busy when the higher pay/quality work comes around. With my business, I do the low pay/ margin situation with current customers to help them out on a one off deal. I have seen myself working like a dog not making much and sweet deals pass me by because I was to busy!

  • Cain T. Hill

    Thanks Chris! I need to do a better job of marketing myself and my service. You have given me some ideas that I will try.

  • Dawn O.

    Thank you for sharing this post and all the helpful comments. I know he will know exactly what to do the next time around!

  • http://www.designingachampion.com/ DrMatt

    Great post Chris! This is so true. I have noticed over the years that very often is something or someone is “cheaper”, very often their work gets viewed that way. In the short term it may help boost some business, but in the long term it actually hurts because as you said, the perception of quality is gone. I mean a simple example: which would you expect to be better quality a pair of pants from Macy’s or a pair of pants from WalMart? Both get the job done, but you would just not expect to get the long term wear from the ones from WalMart.

  • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

    Natural reaction would be to come down a bit on the bid. But upon thinking about it, I think you’re right. You don’t know what the other bids were…or quite frankly…IF there are any other bids. It could just be a ploy to get you to lower your bid.

    I think the right thing to do is to give a fair, honest bid to begin with, and stick with it. Sure you’ll lose some, but you can be confident that your bid is a good price for a great job. And if you have that confidence, you’ll win more bids than you lose!
    Great post Chris.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Lowering your bid could also create an impression that you were trying to over-charge the first time. That could potentially lose some trust.

      • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

        Well said, which was part of my point in saying you should just give a fair, honest bid to begin with.

  • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

    1.Successful business people price their products to make a profit; successful budgeters haggle for deals. I’ve often wondered how Dave Ramsey can reconcile the two. . .

    2. I’ve heard that a business can only offer 2 of three benefits – quality, speed, price. If you deliver speed and low price, quality suffers. If you deliver quality and speed, someone pays bigger money. If you offer quality at a low price, it takes longer. So, I hope your painter friend held to his price!

    3. The cheap customers are a royal pain in the tookus and when they leave, I tend to think ungracious thoughts such as “Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you”.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Ha! (to #3)

      I love #2 – that’s so true!

  • Donald Suess

    Chris, you are absolutely right. I am a high-end custom woodworker/remodeler/builder. I moved from the East Coast (Upper Chesapeake Bay area) to the Ozarks in MO about a year and a half ago. Upon arriving, I put out my WE’RE OPEN sign and… STRUGGLED. I am still struggling to date. The reason I am struggling today, unlike last year, is because I refuse to budge on my price. EVERYTIME I have lowered my price I have lost… and lost BIG. People don’t realize they get what they pay for… until after they have it. Then everyone associated with that trade…. store… firm… brand is “bad” or a “crook” by association.

    Don’t budge folks. Persevere in your marketing. Go geurilla. Do everything it takes… except change your price.

    (Caveat: Keep in mind that you just may be asking for too much money.)

    Persevero,
    Don

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      That’s an awesome lesson to learn from! Thanks, Don!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    If your client is focused on price and deadline ONLY, go back to educating them. You can go to the lower bidder and get the job done cheap and quick and… you’ll get what you paid for; or you can get it done within a reasonable time frame that meets your needs AND have outstanding quality that I will personally guarantee.

    I thought of a somewhat simplistic example. We raise poultry and I sell fresh eggs at work. When I explain to people that we have cage-free hens that are raised the old-fashioned way and eat organic feed and food scraps (sometimes from veggies we grow ourselves), they will gladly pay $3.50 a dozen. They could pay 99 cents at the gas station, but they want great quality. Therefore my clients are people who want to eat healthy and want the convenience of the fresh product that is delivered to them the day after they place their order.

    • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

      Lily, I’m sidetracked here: you can get eggs for 99 cents a dozen there??? And a friend of mine is selling eggs like yours for $4 a dozen. . . are you charging enough?

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        Yep, our local grocery store will have that special every once in a while, or some convenience stores at gas stations. I’m selling a lot more at 3.50 than I did at 4 and I get repeat customers.

  • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

    Thanks for this post Chris, I need to work harder at defining and sharing what makes us better. I know what makes us better than the competition, and I know why we are worth what we charge, but I have a tough time expressing that.

    We are actually negotiating with a new client, and they requested a 15% discount in order for us to move forward in their provider selection process. At first, I was a little discouraged by this request, as our prices are already very fair.

    After thinking about it over the weekend, and talking about it with my wife (business partner too) we decided to counter with: we’ll happily give you your 15% discount, but how about you agree to paying us everything upfront. (We are bidding on a two month intensive training program for some of their leadership.)

    To my happy surprise, they agreed. We’re one step closer to doing business with them.

    I learned a lesson there: to not be afraid to ask for what WE want or need to make a deal work. Win/Win or no deal.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      Like, like, like. Let us know when you get the contract signed so we can celebrate with you!

      • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

        Thanks Lily – promise to let you know!

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Awesome, Aaron!

    • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

      That’s terrific Aaron. Way to go!

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      I like that!

  • Cass Sitterly

    Once they realize what you offer is a quality and service that can stand the test of time, your consumers are :

    1) willing to pay more

    2) wait slightly longer

    3) tell everyone they meet how AMAZING their powers of selection and discernment ((personal recommendations are often based on a ego boost of “look what I was smart enough to buy” before you)

    Produce, create, sell or promote anything but focuson what makes it valuable- what fills the niche and why you are the best choice out of many instant gratification options out there. Focus on what matters, leave the rest to fall away.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      So true. I think about Chick-fil-a last fall. When they made a stand for marriage, there were people lined up for them. It didn’t matter that it took so long and that there was literally standing room only. During the 45 minutes I was there (all I did was order and wait for the food to go), I didn’t hear anyone complaining. In fact, they seemed happy that they had to wait!

  • CabinetDoork

    Solid, Chris! My customers fight this battle every single day!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      haha…I can’t blame them. I actually encourage it. But it allows you to work for the people who also want your quality. The ones who only want the lowest price, tend to be the biggest headaches.

      • CabinetDoork

        They fight it with their competitors & customers. We try to encourage them to differentiate themselves based upon their “Me-ness.” Their unique ability to offer something better. Not their ability to devalue their work and their customers perception.

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

        Absolutely. When you’re first starting a business, you tend to take anyone who will pay you but after a while, you get your feet under you, get picky and only work with your ideal customers. That’s when things get fun.

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

          I so like this and I didn’t get it until I learned it from you, Joel.

          • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

            Well then my work is done!

            • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

              What I mean by it is that we’re all in panic mode and will work for anyone that breathes. Then we get into ugly relationships with bad customers that are not the right fit for our service or product. I want them to be in love with my product FIRST and then we can negotiate the payment options. However, what do you tell business owners that need that check to pay their rent or utility bill?

              • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

                You tell them to take the business, in my opinion. Not many businesses start off in an ideal position but it’s important to recognize that and plot a plan to get yourself to an ideal position. You have to be intentional about that or it will never get done.

  • Power Plus!

    This is something I grapple with daily. I live in a perceived economically depressed rural area (There are tons of restaurants and car dealers though lol). People here have the “lowest price works” mentality. Most of my competition is from the local area, so they price way below what should be fair market price. With each potential client I have to carefully build report and build on my quality in order to beat price. While I do lose some due to price, I see the light come on in more customer’s minds once they understand why quality outpaces price.
    Thanks for the post!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Also focus on referrals As you build a reputation in the community, it takes less off of your own sales process.

      • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

        And something I learned from this community is that you HAVE to ASK for referrals. And don’t feel bad for asking. If they like the service/product, they’ll be happy to refer others. (this is me telling myself, too)

  • Lyle Brambier

    So true! As we deal with high end products this is something we deal with daily. While I won’t say we never lower out price, we do emphasize our long track record of success and quality!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      There you go! There’s nothing wrong with lowering your price from time to time. But if you don’t focus more on your quality, you’ll lower it ALL the time.

  • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

    What would I have done? Probably played the bidding game with him. This is why I need help with marketing! Especially marketing myself and my skills.

    Thabks for sharing this, Chris. I still have much to learn, and tou have been a great source!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I think we all do!

  • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

    I totally agree that he needs to focus on the quality of his work, the attention to detail and the fact that he can complete the job on time rather than reduce his rate. I have a friend who does faux finishing, and he finds that when he focused on the right things (besides just price), his customers are far happier in the end, and will recommend him to their friends. If you’ve reduced your price in the process, then you are stuck doing more jobs at a lower price sometimes too. You might lose a few customers who are looking only at the bottom line, but you’ll gain far more by marketing the right things. Great post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jillian.rothe Jillian Rothe

    So true! I work with a company that is almost always on the top end of the spectrum. Thankfully we DO have the reliability, quality, and customer support to go with those prices.
    On the consumer side of that coin, my father also taught me the benefit of paying that little extra for the significant leap in quality; whether it’s camping gear, sporting equipment, finding a painter, or now looking to buy my first house. Have yet to find myself saying… huh… I wish I would’ve gone cheap, quick and dirty instead this nice, quality, lasting version!

  • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

    I see two things:

    1.) When people purchase things, they are expressing what they value (whether they admit it or not).

    2.) As a service professional, one is “professing” what they value through their line of work.

    When the two intersect, awesome things happen.

    In this situation, I imagine I would be approaching the bidding process differently than the other individuals: instead of lowballing an offer to snag a client, I would be offering to live out what I value and deliver that value to a client. There is a difference between getting and giving — and I’d highlight what I’m giving as a better alternative than what the other bidders are trying to get.

  • http://www.levittcoaching.com Josh Levitt

    Love this perspective from the business POV. As an FPU coordinator, I’m used to hearing Dave teach and coaching people on the consumer side of getting a deal.

    In this situation, I would have additionally worked to understand the client’s budget restrictions. Is a hard cap or is she trying to get the “best value?” Why the short deadline? What happens on Sunday?

    It’s important to gather as much information as possible. A successful negotiation is one where both sides get what they want.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Amen!

    • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

      Love this Josh – so true – you need to work hard to learn about your client and their needs to help you, the business, offer a better solution. Like.

    • Dan O

      Great tips!

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      So true, some people just want the deal when they can actually afford to pay more. It’s education for both the consumer and the service/product provider. Good stuff , Josh!

  • http://twitter.com/T60Productions T60 Productions

    Love your post today Chris. It’s a good reminder since I consistently find myself in this position, ironically, while selling my marketing service (video production). :-)

    –Tony Gnau

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      haha…it’s crazy how we have those moments of, it’s all about the price!

  • http://CorporateCultureRevolution.com/ Bob Winchester

    This is an interesting post because I recently hired a contractor to paint the inside of my house before I moved in.

    I interviewed three on the phone and two in person. Between the two in person, one was significantly lower than the other and promised to get it done just as fast.

    I felt obligated to use the low number, however I took it one step further. I actually told both of them who they were bidding against. The reaction made my decision for me.

    The low guy started talking smack about the high guy. So, when I spoke to the high guy I assumed he would do the same. Not the case, he focused on his quality and workmanship. He even said some good things about his competitor. He didn’t just promise he’d get it done on time, he explained how he would do it, and I believed him.

    Just on principle I spent the extra money. That’s not to mention the fact that the high guy had a better pitch.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      BINGO!!! And look who got the job!

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Awesome example!

      • http://CorporateCultureRevolution.com/ Bob Winchester

        Thank you Sir!

    • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

      This, like Joshua said, is a great example for me. Thank you for sharing this Bob. I’m taking notes!

      • http://CorporateCultureRevolution.com/ Bob Winchester

        NP Aaron!

        I have worked in a competitive bid environment for most of my career. I’ve seen so many games played, it’s not even funny. That’s why I try to be honest with everyone involved when it comes to competition like this; that’s only fair.

        I even let the low guy know why I didn’t buy from him. It was in an email, but I’m sure he got the point.

        The truth is that the honesty of the buyer is as important as the honesty of the seller.

        Trust me on this, great minds think alike. Meaning, that shady buyers often end up with shady sellers.

        Take care!

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    I work for a company who stands on this principle. We are not the cheapest in the area, but we are the best. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little more to get the best. And this has led to us being the industry leader in our area.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s what it takes! And it also gets you a reputation that speaks for itself.