It's Monday -- that means it's time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

I think I need a name for you…

It’s always good in marketing to help your customers, fans, and followers separate themselves from the unwashed masses…

Lady Gaga has her “Little Monsters” …

Justin Bieber has his “Beliebers” …

Star Trek has its “Trekkies” …

Ben Settle has his “Droogies” …

I’m going to plant my flag in “Rainmakers” …

Because if you’re filling up your brain with all the breakthrough ideas, strategies, principles, and occasional tactics I share here at Breakthrough Marketing Secrets…

It’s only a matter of time before you become a rainmaker — for your business, or for your clients.

So…

Hey Rainmaker, it’s Monday… And you know what that means…

It means it’s time for me to open up the ol’ mailbox and answer YOUR questions.

Before I get to today’s question — on how to differentiate your business in a “commodity” market — a reminder…

Every Monday relies on YOU to make it great. I need your questions on business, marketing, copywriting, selling, life, whatever to answer here.

Send me your best at Roy@RoyFurr.com. I’ll answer it here, in an upcoming Mailbox Monday issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

Okay, let’s dive in…

Roy,

How do you help a business differentiate themselves when they compete in a profit compressed industry and they (90% of the time) solely compete on price?

Take residential propane dealers for example….

Most customers get on the phone and ask, “What’s your price per gallon for home delivery?”

They then make the same call to two or three other fuel dealers. Lowest price fuel dealer wins.

How would you help a fuel dealer?

Peter Phelps

Somewhere near Killington, VT

 

Great question Peter, and one that many, many business owners and marketers share!

The first and most important thing that you need to do if you want to compete in a “commodity” market is to shift your head game…

Because as long as you operate on the assumption that you’re in a commodity market, you ARE in one.

Changing how you think about the market won’t change the customer inquiry calls that are coming in…

But if you refuse to treat your market like a commodity market — and by extension, your business like a commodity business — you’ll change something more important…

You’ll change how you handle those calls!

Let me borrow a concept from one of my greatest business heroes — Jay Abraham — and show you how this applies…

For those of you who don’t know, Jay Abraham is one of the leading business thinkers of our time. He’s personally been responsible for over $9 billion in sales increases, directly through consulting and indirectly through teaching students concepts like what you’re going to learn today.

Daymond John, of FUBU and more recently Shark Tank fame, considers Jay to be his most important business mentor.

AND Jay talked at The Titans of Direct Response, where I was fortunate to join him and Joe Polish for lunch, as well as to hear him speak.

(I also strongly recommend his book, Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got. You can currently buy the hardcover for nine cents plus shipping, a price that’s criminally low, and perhaps one of the best business investments you could make today.)

Jay Abraham’s “Strategy of Preeminence” will take you out of the commodity business in a heartbeat…

I’m going to simplify, and in brevity no doubt leave out so much that you can get by reading Jay’s book (chapter 4, especially) linked above.

But I’ll try to encompass as much as I can to make it immediately actionable if all you do is read to the end of this article.

And, because it makes it easier for me to explain, I’m going to tell it from the perspective of, “if I…”

If I had a propane business, selling residential fuel, I would become my customer’s greatest advocate for getting the best result out of all their uses of propane…

First things first, I would want to become the area’s — if not the world’s — foremost expert on residential uses of propane.

With a little help from Google as I write this, this means I’d know a TON more than what it takes to deliver propane to my clients, filling up their tank and billing them.

— First off, I’d certainly understand all about heating your house with propane. The different types of furnaces, what it takes to run them, how efficient each model is, and the three most important things that would need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure they were set up and maintained to run at maximum efficiency.

— I’d also gain a deep understanding of different types of supplemental heaters that can be run with propane. For example, patio heaters, and fireplaces. What makes these different than whole-house heating options, and how should they be maintained, and the enjoyment that could be had from them fully maximized?

— Then, I’d become well-versed in using propane in water heaters. What are the best options? Tank-based, or on-demand heaters? How does each work, and what does a homeowner need to know to always enjoy the comfort of reliable hot water? And, while I’m at it, I’d become an expert on propane-based specialty heaters for pools, hot tubs, and spas.

— I’d also become an expert on cooking with propane, what makes it different from natural gas (if available in the area) and electric. And I’d definitely stay on top of the latest innovations in propane stoves and ovens.

— While I was at it, I’d also study up on propane backup generators. What different models are available, what needs they would meet, and who would be a best fit for having them installed in their house.

And this would all be above and beyond the knowledge I’d need to have about the on-site propane tanks, plumbing, and other storage and delivery systems the customers would either have or need to have installed to take my deliveries.

As I was gathering all this information on all the different uses of propane, I’d be doing two things…

First off, I’d be assembling as much educational material as humanly possible, that I could regularly recommend to and provide to customers and prospects.

Second, I’d either make it a part of my business to offer the installs of all these different items, or I’d form strategic partnerships and joint ventures with other businesses, so that when I bring my customers to them, I’d get a percentage of whatever my customer spent. (Or I’d act as a general contractor for my customers, where I effectively rep the other businesses’ products and services, get the deal, and function as a go-between, taking payment, arranging the install, and paying the installer for their work.)

This would represent a HUGE business opportunity. Because delivering the fuel is, based on the competition, a low-margin business. But servicing the customer fully could be a very high-margin business, helping them meet any and all needs related to having propane as a fuel source.

And what would all that educational material do? Well, it would do three things. First, it would function as a context in which I could have a sales conversation with the customer. Second, it would help them make a buying decision on the use of propane in their house. And third, it would predispose them to make the buying decision with me because I’m the one who they trust, thanks to my going above and beyond to provide them the best information they can get their hands on.

All of this is from the aim of becoming the highest-and-best source of information in your niche, in your market area, for your customers and prospects… In short, becoming the preeminent provider.

I would also rework the business so that every visit involves a consultation…

While, for the most part, my competitors are sending someone out (probably in street clothes) to simply stop by, fill the tank, and go…

I’d put all my emphasis on the level of care and service I provide the customers…

This isn’t some trite “Quality and Service Since 1992” marketing slogan…

When I got a call from the customer, I wouldn’t quote them the price right away.

I’d tell them, “Yes, we do gas deliveries, and I’ll get you the price in a moment, but I wanted to ask when the last time your tank and propane appliances were checked for leaks — can you tell me that date?”

They won’t be able to.

“Okay, let me tell you what. I’m going to quote you a price, but I’m going to do something else that nobody else does. We’ve put together a 47-point inspection that typically takes about 20 minutes to complete. Not only does it check for leaks on your tank and appliances, there are 15 separate items on the checklist that are dedicated to helping you get the same enjoyment out of your appliances, while using up to 25% less propane. Forget cost-shopping — this is how you really save money. Now, this is something you can get with every tank refill — but only through us. And while we’re there, the tech can answer any other questions, and help you with any propane-related needs.”

I’d schedule it with the client, so that they’d be there when the tech was. The tech would show up in the company uniform, and be well-trained in doing the inspection and speaking with the client. The inspection and a questionnaire that would lead to any potential maintenance, upgrade, or installation work on propane appliances would be scripted.

(And, while I’m thinking of it, efficiency upgrades on their house should be part of what can be offered — new insulation, new windows, etc.)

This experience would be the highest-level of education, professionalism, and service the client has ever received just by getting their propane tank filled — and probably with most other services…

They’d feel good at the end. They’d trust you. They’d probably mention you to friends — and you could stimulate and reward that.

They’d be predisposed to signing up for a delivery subscription — or discounted rate for multiple fills.

They’d be more likely to respond in the future, if you were to approach them with additional deals either you or a partner were offering.

In short, you’d be the only one they wanted to deal with.

Why?

Because you dedicated yourself to breaking out of the commodity “lowest-price-wins” trap — and breaking them out with you — and moved them into a higher level of service and experience they can’t get elsewhere.

Sure, you’ll still lose some to price shopping — but those are the customers you don’t want anyway.

Now go make it rain.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets

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