Is Your Competition Who You Thought They Were?

Okay, here we are in the third and final post to answer the last of three marketing strategy questions:

  1. Who pays you for the work you do?
  2. What do they pay you for?
  3. Why do they choose you over a competitor?

From our last two episodes, you'll recall that our client, D.M.C. (short for Direct Mail Company) provides direct mail services to small businesses that want to be hired by homeowners. For the sake of these blog posts, we have been collectively referring to these businesses as "Happy Home, Inc.".

D.M.C.'s answers to the first two questions so far have built a rough-draft marketing strategy statement of "D.M.C. helps local businesses that want to sell products and services to homeowners to generate leads that will become customers.". Ugly? Yes, but your answers may also be a little awkward to fit together at first, and I wanted to show that it's okay to leave it in raw form until you finish the three questions. Just don't let your third grade teacher see it.

D.M.C.'s answer to "Why does 'Happy Home, Inc.' choose you over a competitor?". The primary answer is that, through economies of scale, D.M.C. can offer these services for a fraction of what Happy Home, Inc. would pay if they did it themselves. This part of the message is well represented in their collateral and continues to be a strength.

When we ask a follow-up question, "Who is your competition?", the answer initially was 'other companies like us that mail postcards the way we do'. But D.M.C. looked back at their answer to "What do they pay you for?" and realized that D.M.C. is about helping Happy Home Inc. generate leads. This is a mismatch with their definition of their competitor. Postcard mailing is one way to generate leads, but are there alternatives?

You might be assuming your competition isn't changing, but consider that you might be looking at the wrong competitor. The answer that D.M.C. then gave was that the competition is "other ways to spend that same advertising dollar, which includes T.V., radio, magazines, newspapers and the internet". Now, from a marketing strategy viewpoint, we can explore the following questions to see where there might be possible areas of growth for D.M.C.'s business:

  1. Whose lunch can you eat? - This question leads to ways to take business from your expanded view of your competition.
  2. How can you prevent value erosion for current clients? - With some marketing methods, time can numb the target audience to the same ad. Change up the approach to continue generating interest.
  3. What can you offer in the future for new and existing clients? - An emerging method, such as the internet, may provide more value at lower cost. Create "add-ons" or partnerships that can provide new value to current and future clients and keep them in your "active" file.

D.M.C. has recognized this and now offers an online marketing solution to the "Happy Home, Inc.'s" of the world, which can integrate with current clients or stand on its own with future ones. This solution is in line with what D.M.C. was founded upon, a low-cost way to generate leads for Happy Home, Inc.

Let's put it all together, starting with the raw answers:

  1. local businesses that want to sell products and services to homeowners
  2. generate leads that will become customers
  3. more cost-effective than doing it themselves

Our actual discussions had several versions of the final statement, but are the highlights of the progression.

From the three answers (and the ugly statement above), we started with:

"D.M.C. helps local businesses generate high-quality homeowner leads in the most cost-effective way."

Next, we removed "Homeowner" because it may not apply in all situations (plus it reads better), and we added in phrases that describe how we generate leads:

"D.M.C. helps local businesses generate high-quality leads in the most cost-effective way, including postcard mailing and online marketing."

And our final version after editing for clarity:

"D.M.C.'s direct mail and online marketing solutions help local businesses generate high-quality leads in the most cost-effective way."

This statement becomes a benchmark for screening all potential actions, especially your marketing and sales. While it doesn't say "And we are WAY better than T.V. and radio", some of the marketing campaigns can target those currently using those mediums who may be unhappy. D.M.C. becomes an alternative, and thus a competitor, to T.V. without having to provide T.V. advertising services.

Would you like us to help you answer these questions? Send us an email with your answers to the three questions. Think these aren't the right questions? Please let us know in the comments below!