Monday, January 14, 2008

Contrast in Marketing

You never know where you're going to find something interesting. That's why it's important to read everything you find. (See this article.)

Right now, I'm reading The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams. One of the basic principles of design is contrast.

And a key piece of her advice on contrast is:

"If the elements . . . are not the same, then make them very different." (Her emphasis.)

There are two primary purposes of contrast. First, create an interest. Second, aid in organization of information.

Contrast should never confuse. It should only make things clearer and easier to understand.

She's talking about the printed page. But it seems to me that these rules also apply to your marketing and your sales pitch.

How can you focus on contrast to make your business stand out? How can you use contrast to make the choice clearer and easier to understand?

In the marketing and sales process, you need to show the prospect that you're not the same as the competition. After all, "We're just the same, only better" is a horrible sales pitch.

Here's roughly what doesn't work:
- We set up MS office better than anyone.
- We can install any program.
- We really understand error logs.
- You should see us rotate backup tapes!

So how can you say that your company is not the same and therefore make it very different?

Consider what your company does better than anyone else. I know you've heard that before, but REALLY think about it. Now, how can you state that difference in grand, bold terms?

Can you guarantee five-nines of uptime? Can you cut support costs by 25%? Can you manage the client's technology department better than they can?

I think you can.

Now, can you say these things? Can you make the difference as different as possible?


If the purposes of contrast are to create an interest and aid in organization of information, then the approach to marketing becomes one of educating the prospect.

In particular, you need to educate them about the problem. State it in your terms. Don't let the prospect formulate the problem as "We need another computer guy." Instead, tell them what they need.

You need to secure your data and cut labor costs.
(or whatever plays into your strengths)

Pose the problem as one to which your company is the solution.

Be as specific as possible.

Your data's growing at an alarming rate and you need to get it under control. No one can do that better than KPEnterprises!

You state the problem and you state the solution. You're the solution.


Practice, practice, practice.

Before you talk to a prospect, you need a plan. And the plan is to restate their problems into terminology and categories that highlight your strengths.

You've got viruses? I know it's painful, but fixing a virus outbreak is very straight forward. Your real problem is securing your network so this never happens again. No one can do that better than KPEnterprises!

You installed your own Small Business Server. It mostly works okay, but you've got some major problems? We can fix that pretty easily. But the bigger problem is that your system needs to be properly documented and properly maintained so that problems go away and never come back. No one can do that better than KPEnterprises!

Your employees are streaming internet radio and downloading huge files, so your bandwidth is being gobbled up by junk? What you really need is for someone to set up rules and filters on the firewall so these problems go away forever. No one can do that better than KPEnterprises!

See the pattern?


And in this political season, remember to avoid the negative. You can win with a great program that's presented with enthusiasm.

There's no reason to trash the competition.

Let the prospect make the comparison.

Your job is to create a high contrast comparison. If they get three quotes from three boring techno-goobers who all claim to do the same thing, then it comes down to price.

If you stand out -- if you describe a problem they didn't know they had, and a solution that they want -- then you give them a reason to go with your company. And price is no longer the issue.

Remember one of the great truths about sales: People buy for emotional reasons and justify it with logic. Give them what they want: A great emotional excuse and a great logical argument to back it up!

DON'T give them the same old arguments they'll get from the competition.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that it’s definitely benefits rather than features that do the best job of illustrating to prospects why you are better than the competition. Simply listing your computer consulting services – often in technical terms that might be over most business owners’ heads – doesn’t work very well to show how you are different. How you are different is all about the benefits you can bring to your clients – improved productivity, better integration of technology assets with regular business, etc. Also stressing your specialty (and targeting your marketing and sales pitch to people within your specialty industry) is really important. That certainly means identifying and really understanding the problems they face so you can show how your solution is best! Thanks for the helpful blog post!


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