Chapter Corner

How Your Image Impacts Your Bottom Line

Posted in: Management Methods, July 2013

Insights_BldgIMAGE.gifLet’s set the scene: you have to pick a restaurant for a nice evening to celebrate. You want it to fit the celebration so it needs tablecloths, perfectly elegant lighting, subdued music and a charming but understated wait staff that serves freshly-prepared unique dishes. It has to be special.

So, what place came to mind first?

Your mind responded to the “image” of the description, then “matched” it with your choice of restaurants. Our minds do this constantly, aware or not, while choosing brands, products, and services. Your company “image” is a powerful tool that, like a hammer, can build or destroy.

What is the image that you want for your company? Does it “match” that image represented in your marketing? If not, you’ve already lost. Why?

In your service area, you might have 1-3 percent of the market – If you’re in a small town, maybe 10 percent. Yet in either instance, the vast majority of the market only knows you by one thing… Your image.

That image was not built for them as a customer; it was built by your marketing. If they see a sloppy truck, unprofessional amateur ads, and no constant updates on your website or Social Media accounts, you automatically become “sloppy, unprofessional, and amateur.”

Same holds true with your pricing. Ever see a “2 for 1 Rolex Blowout Watch Sale!”? Chances are you have not, if you did, they were not real. If you want premium pricing, but your “image” is cheap, you will not sell to the level you want due to this inconsistency.

The inverse of all of the above is also true. The higher the image, the higher the price and the easier it is to get it. Now, on to an advanced strategy that comes from a great image.

Referrals. Businesses do not “link” image and referrals much, but this is faulty thinking, especially in contracting. That’s because I can go to a greasy spoon and have a good meal, and recommend it with that warning. The same is true for an electrician in my home who does good, cheap work but is unprofessional. I can recommend them, but it comes out like this, “They do good work, but are kind of slow, and a little unprofessional, but they’re cheap.” See, “cheap” becomes the equalizer as to why you would put up with substandard service. This is the balanced “match” our minds created before.

What if your image was higher, yet your prices low? You’ve just zeroed in on Target’s success versus Wal-Mart. That’s a dangerous zone of razor-thin margins, and not one I’d recommend except for a high-volume commercial contractor. I favor positive economics over volume.

So, now you can add to your Image Building list. High image gets higher prices and more price-independent referrals.

Where Does Your Image Come From?

In marketing terms, your image is associated with your "brand." Your brand is the set of qualities - values, purpose, mission, character, etc. that define who you are as a company. This brand holds meaning on multiple levels - emotional, rational, functional, experiential. Your image is improved or disproved in every interaction, as well as every media choice you make.

  • Website - A clean design with clear navigation and compelling copy says that you're professional and competent. Promoting benefits and risk reducers gives a reason to call. Also, a system of "response" including auto-responder email to inquiries and follow-up contact says that you're, well, "responsive" and reliable.

  • Online Search Presence - Nearly 70 percent of contractor purchasers begin online, so if you don't have a local listing presence or a content-rich website, you are losing money and customers daily. Perhaps hourly. If search terms being used by prospects don't bring your website to the top results, you won't be found. Also, just in case you don't know, having a business Facebook page that's constantly updated (we recommend 3-4 times a week) can help out your website's search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Mobile Enabled - This is great image because contractors aren't as likely to be here as, say, retail giants. Your online image must now fit in your prospect's palm. Being able to do so says that you're current, savvy, and have a technical knowledge that is certain to translate into the way you conduct your work.

  • Video Marketing - It's a hierarchy of image: Video ranked higher in image than audio, audio ranked higher than text with images, which is higher ranked than text alone. We recently had a training session with our MegaMarketer members that specifically covered the impact of video marketing for contractors.

  • Image Ad Campaigns - The scary stuff: A low quality ad campaign (done to "save money") generally costs you the investment to make it, plus the media, plus the low image points and correspondingly low results. Some savings. Even an average campaign can have some merit and profitability; but excellence establishes a higher image that builds the basis for your pricing structure.

Remember, Let Image Sell for You - Image is not one thing you do, but everything you do. As you take steps in every area - print, online, signage and personal contact - your overall brand becomes associated with the type of quality that earns higher prices without having to sell higher prices.

Adams Hudson is President of Hudson, Ink (www.hudsonink.com), a national contractor marketing firm serving the contractor trades and IEC National Bronze Industry Partner. Insights Readers can get the complimentary report, "21 Ways to Boost Website Performance" and learn more about Adams' MegaMarketer Coaching Program by sending a polite request to INSIGHTS@hudsonink.com or by calling Hudson, Ink at 1-800-489-9099.