Notes from the MIA Leadership Workshop, pt. 3

Oct 25, 2010 | Business

We were a sponsor of the Marble Institute Leadership workshop.  I also attended, and took some notes.  (see part 1 and part 2)

Marty Gould helps companies with local marketing at Focalize Now.  He told us that countertop fabricators do a horrible job of showing how their company is distinctly different from their competitors… and many of them give up on marketing.

He challenged us with an example of another industry that has mostly undifferentiated products, but all of us could name the major brands.  Mattresses!  Even though I hadn’t bought a mattress in the last 5-10 years, we all knew the major brands: Sealy, Simmons, and Serta.

But Marty took it a step further – the old approach to marketing doesn’t work in the internet era.  What each stone shop needs to do is differentiate themselves.  Fabricators can’t compete by being everything to everyone – they compete by being different and embracing the differences.  But, most shops have done nothing to build a brand, and in the absence of a brand, customers search randomly (aka Google) to find a vendor.

Marty explained that the marketing gobbledygook that’s on most contractors’ websites is there out of fear.  They say they’re high-quality, service-oriented, family-owned business as a long-winded explanation that “We’re not crooks!”.

Much better is to find the smallest niche you can and be the best at it.  To be unique you focus on just one dimension of being excellent – either your price, service, product, experience, or access.  When you find an attribute that differentiates you, focus all of your marketing around that attribute so that you have something unique to hook into your customers’ minds.

Marty’s talk was a great wrap-up to the workshop, and he sent us home with homework:

  1. Focus on your niche.
  2. Identify your target.
  3. Evaluate your content.
  4. Surround your customers.
  5. Make a commitment.

It’s easy to say that you don’t have time or money to improve, but I left the workshop realizing that constant improvement essential for any business that wants to be successful.