Tell 'em What You've Got! Part 1

July 21, 2004

By: Matt Michel

This is part of a continuing series of Comanche New Year’s Resolutions aimed at helping your company become “fiscally” fit. In this series, we will walk through the marketing mix of product, price, promotion, and placement. This Comanche Marketing tip focuses on marketing your products.


Service companies are, by definition, good at service. They are good a service, but they are usually lousy at selling products. Most service companies offer a host of products that people would love to own, if they only knew they existed. Therein lies the problem. No one knows the products exist and service companies fail to inform the public.

Whole house surge suppressors are a good example. Electricians could sell whole house surge suppressors all over town if they only tried.

They don’t try. They wait for someone to call and ask for the product. Consumers don’t call because they aren’t aware the product exists.

I don’t get it. With all of the expensive computer, audio, and other electronic equipment in people’s homes these day, this should be a slam dunk. It’s almost as though electrical contractors whisper at their association meetings, “Shhh, it’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone.”

No? You disagree? Well, by their actions (or the lack of action), they might as well keep it a secret.

Why not prepare a solid direct mail piece and send it to every upper value home in town? They will buy, if only to protect their home electronics investments.

In marketing seminars I give from time to time, I ask contractors to list twenty products and services they offer. Most are hard pressed to come up with that many. It’s hard. It requires you to stop, step back, and look at your industry from a consumer’s perception. It takes most people a lot of time and effort, but it’s time and effort well worth it.

Plumbing contractors don’t hide the fact they sell faucets (well, most don’t). Yet, they still leave money on the table.

People consider faucets part of their kitchen and bath décor. When a faucet replacement opportunity exists, it’s a great time to attempt to turn it into a style upgrade. This is different than a replacement. It’s an upgrade to a designer product. It’s the difference between “need” and “want.”

Yet, few plumbers can carry designer faucets on their trucks. They sell what they’ve got or they sell a direct replacement for what’s already in the home, shutting down any upgrade possibilities for another ten years and leaving money on the table. A failure to offer choices for a product that’s part of home décor will only succeed in giving homeowners more reasons to visit the big boxes, where there are lots of choices.

Why not prepare a four color catalog of different faucets? Or, create an online catalog for the homeowner to review while the plumber is removing the old faucet? Or, carry a sample kit?

A catalog won’t alleviate the lack of inventory (or the lack of space to stock it) on the truck. The plumber will either need to run to the supply house or call the office for a parts runner.

Next: HVAC Product Sales

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2003 Matt Michel

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