One of my favorite marketing pitches comes from a plumber who makes a bold promise: "Our plumbers will smell good and show up on time or I will pay you!"
The line is as humorous as it is accurate - and appeals to a basic human fear: that a given plumber will show up in grungy, stinky attire two hours after the designated appointment time.
He goes on to say that some plumbers "talk rude," "smell like a goat," "leave your house a mess," and "charge an arm and a leg."
While you may be chuckling at the smelly goat reference, you may also be nodding your head in feverish agreement.
This guy is a smart marketer. In appealing to what customers don't like about plumbers, he goes right for the jugular - admitting to prospects that his industry is rife with poor (albeit sometimes deserved) stereotypes and a less-than-stellar reputation.
Then he tells you exactly why he's different - and he wraps it all up in a pretty bow: the on-time guarantee.
The point? Addressing what customers don't like can be an effective way to market your message.
- Convey the issues, concerns, and fears your audience may harbor about your profession or industry
- Acknowledge stereotypes
- Be blunt and straightforward; avoid a defensive tone
- A little humor goes a long way!
- Clearly communicate how you are different
- Offer a guarantee (Examples: This plumber offers sweet-smelling workers who show up on time; Domino's guarantees 30-minute delivery time)
I was curious to compare this plumber's message to what some of his competitors were saying. (Note: Any errors were left intact!)
ABC PLUMBERS: When you need a plumber, you deserve the BEST! We are Licensed Plumbers. That's why you'll always be glad you called ABC Plumber! All our plumbers are highly-trained professionals. We offer a wide range of expert plumbing and drain services, and make it a point to handle every job as promptly and reliably as we can.
XYZ PLUMBERS: XYZ Plumbers offers a high quality of service. If you need quality plumbing services, dependable work and affordable rates, give us a call today. We look forward to being of service.
PQR PLUMBERS: For over 30 years, PQR Plumbers and their reliable staff have been determined to satisfy the residential and commercial plumbing, heating, cooling, and construction needs of their valued customers.
These messages all start sounding the same and aren't nearly as compelling or catchy as the "smelly goat" guy. Which plumber would you choose?
P.S. Please note: I'm not picking on plumbers! I LOVE my plumber, who's as cool and reliable as they come. I just loved this particular plumber's approach to marketing; his tact could be used by any number of industries that are dogged by unflattering stereotypes.
Lisa is an award-winning copywriter who has spent much of her career in the magazine-publishing industry, working with publications like Vogue, People, Life, The New York Times, Real Simple, Vanity Fair, GQ, In Style, and Redbook, as well as cosmetic companies, ad agencies, and non-profit organizations.