As service becomes a core differentiator amongst competing for business the ability to sell the value of service is an essential facet of modern business strategy. Bill Pollock, President of Strategies for Growth discusses the nuance of marketing the value of your service and how to get it right...
Most of the customers comprising your Field Service Organisation's (FSO) customer base probably already love your organisation, and its products, services and support! But the rest of the marketplace may not even know you exist! All things considered, if you can get the rest of your targeted market to become just as aware of your organisation as your customers are, you may find that selling to them is easier than you might think!
Any marketing expert will tell you that a service organisation's market awareness and perceptions are among its most valuable assets, but that they each require high levels of maintenance and a great deal of attention. However, unlike other important contributors to an organisation's overall economic well-being, market awareness and perceptions are almost always entirely out of its control, except for the ability to continually attempt to shape, nurture and cultivate them in the eyes of the marketplace.
Two Alternative Market Awareness and Perception Scenarios
There are basically two alternative scenarios where your organisation may operate in today's marketplace. The best way to explain them is to present two side-by-side examples for the purposes of comparison:
Example 1: An FSO with 100% Market Awareness, and a 10% Market Share
In this first example, the organisation has near total awareness in the marketplace (i.e., virtually 100% name/brand awareness or recognition), with an approximate 10% market penetration rate, or share. In other words, in the marketplace in which it presently serves, virtually all of the potential customers know who the company is, but only 10% choose – for one reason or another – to become a customer. The net result is that of the 100% or so of the marketplace that is aware of the business, only 10% have been “converted” to customers. This is not a bad “conversion” rate, but there is nowhere else to go! The market potential for the FSO is already saturated! Basically, everyone is already aware of the company, but 90% of the universe has decided not to go with it.
Example 2: An FSO with 25% Market Awareness, and a 10% Market Share
A second example reflects an organisation with only one-quarter (25%) of the market awareness manifested in Example 1. However, the organisation has been able to successfully “convert” 40% of those who are aware of its offerings into customers – virtually four times the “conversion” rate of the organisation in Example 1. What’s even better is that – all things being equal – once the remaining three-quarters of the market is made aware of the company's products, services and support (i.e., through ongoing marketing and promotion, telesales, etc.), it will also be likely to gain up to a 40% market share before its market potential becomes "saturated".
Of the two alternative examples, Example 1 is clearly less attractive in that although nearly everyone knows who you are, your market penetration – at roughly 10% – remains fairly low. In this case, the only way to gain increased market share is to “re-educate” your non-customers as to who you really are with respect to your overall image and value proposition. The problem is, however, that they may already have formed negative perceptions of your organisation, and once formed, a negative image becomes very difficult to change.
Can you honestly say that a majority of your targeted marketplace has a clear, accurate and complete awareness of who you are and what you have to offer?Example 2 is a much better situation since the organisation is experiencing a much higher customer “conversion” rate (i.e., 40%, compared to only 10%). In this case, the best way to increase overall market share is to also make the organisation's name known to the “other” three-quarters of the marketplace through targeted marketing and promotion. Again, all things being equal, there will be a strong likelihood that the same ratio of customer conversion (i.e., 40%) will also apply to this "new" market base – thus leading to a potential quadrupling of the historical market share (i.e., from 10% to 40%).
In which of these two alternative scenarios is your organisation presently operating? If it is the first of the examples, then you will need to embark fairly quickly on an intensive market image reengineering, re-education and enhancement effort. If it is the second, then the primary focus should be on increasing overall market awareness – and this is typically much easier than trying to "re-educate" a market base that has already made up its mind!
The questions to ask yourself are: “Can you honestly say that a majority of your targeted marketplace has a clear, accurate and complete awareness of who you are and what you have to offer?” and “Is it possible that once an expanded market base learns about you, that they may be just as likely to become customers as your already "aware" market base?” These are key questions that should require honest answers!
Merely tracking trends in your organisation’s market awareness and perceptions over time does not, in and of itself, provide you with the information you will need to improve your overall market image and share. However, without doing so, you will not be able to effectively identify where you strengthen your ongoing marketing and promotional campaigns, or where you can most successfully identify and cultivate new business development opportunities.
The results of a targeted Market Awareness and Perception study, converted into a practical tactical action plan, can provide the organisation’s management with all of the tools it requires to work immediately toward increasing existing levels of market awareness; identifying areas of awareness and image requiring further strengthening; improving its perceived market position within its targeted marketplace; and lead to the cultivation and development of new business opportunities.
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