Staying on message

Departments - Editor's Insight

Marketing experts posit that you have about three seconds with someone's attention before they move on to the next thing.

June 11, 2010

Chuck Bowen

Last month, I was talking to a friend of mine about the level of e-mail and other messages we get every day at work and at home. He said that he gets lots of phone calls from cable TV companies who want him to switch from his current provider to their service. Their pitch is that they could charge him much less than what he’s paying now.

But he doesn’t switch.

Why not? He told me he doesn’t want to take the time to switch – or even think about switching – to a new cable provider. Now, it would take him maybe 15 minutes, tops, to hear out the salesperson on the phone. But he doesn’t want to take the time, even if it would save him money.

Sound familiar?  Marketing experts posit that you have about three seconds with someone’s attention before they move onto the next thing – their e-mail, the news or their rabidly dinging BlackBerry. Consumers are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of advertisements and marketing messages from the moment they wake up (Crest whitens teeth better!), when they drive to work (Bob Rohrman Ford sells cars for less!) to when they open their mailbox (AAA Landscaping and Lawn Care does it best!).

In this month’s cover story, “Rate My Marketing” on page 28, we take a look at four real-world examples of marketing material from lawn care and landscape companies – postcards, tri-fold brochures, websites and business cards – and get feedback from marketing experts and consumers about how they could be improved. 

“It is very important to create and repeat one single compelling message that will resonate with the audience,” says Carolyn Rhinebarger, chief brainstormer at Strategic Guru, who helps small and medium-sized businesses improve their marketing. “All messaging needs to present and reinforce the benefits of using your company versus someone else. It’s all about them, not about you.”

And you need to get that message out now. The market is getting more crowded every day, and only companies that step up their game are going to make it. According to data on self-employment from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Labor Department, more than 500,000 people started their own businesses each month in 2009. That’s an increase of 5 percent from 2008.

Now, those half million people weren’t all going out and starting landscaping companies, but some of them did. And a lot of them are coming after your customers with a lot of the same marketing messages you’ve been using for a long time – low price, good service, quality work. Those are all great things that every solid company should do. But every solid company already does them.

So you need to use your marketing pieces to stand out from this ever-growing pack of hungry entrepreneurs. It takes a lot of work to make people switch service providers, but it pays off. Click here to learn how you can do it better.