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Comanche Marketing Matt Michel Service Roundtable 817.329.8844 [email protected] Comanche Prologue They arose from the northern plains and migrated south. They were masters of the horse, the finest horsemen that ever existed, before or since. And they were masters of war. As they swept from the north, none could stand before them. They drove the Apache out of Texas. They beat back the Spanish. The carved a territory across the Great Plains down into Northern Mexico, where they established themselves as undisputed rulers. The Utes called them the “ones who fights me all the time.” The Utes called them, Comanches. Feared and respected, the fierce Comanche warriors were the terror of the American settler. Their light cavalry tactics were used by both sides during the Civil War and are still studied in the military academies today. They were never captured or defeated in battle. A frustrated American military was unable to conquer them. The Comanches were the last Indians to come to the reservation, choosing to come only when disease and the slaughter of the buffalo left them few options. History records Comanche brutality more than Comanche brilliance, yet in the Comanches’ tactical brilliance, many lessons can be found for today’s service contractors. The parallels between the Comanches’ dilemma and the contractors’ dilemma are many. In an age where huge consolidators, emerging franchisors, exclusive contractor groups, threatening retail giants, and growing utility competition is sweeping though industry after industry, service contractors can find much in common with the embattled Comanche warriors. To survive, contractors must learn how to market in the tradition of the Comanche. They must learn to aggressively defend and protect their territory. They must learn to use innovative tactics and techniques that keep them one-step ahead of larger, overpowering competitors. They must learn to conserve resources, making every marketing dollar count in the face of huge competition with deeper pockets. They must learn to value speed, mobility, and flexibility in their marketing, making lightening quick strikes other cannot match. They must learn to study their territory so they can direct their marketing efforts where the returns are best. They must learn to adapt to changing circumstances to find business in new and unexpected places. They must learn to market hard and market consistently. Comanche Marketing is applying the tactics and techniques needed to market as well as the Comanche fought. The Comanche Marketer is “one who markets all the time.” 1. Comanches know how to price for profits. 2. Comanche offer customers turnkey pricing. 3. Comanches give customers reference prices. 4. Comanches use service agreements as a form of relationship marketing. 5. Comanches add value to service agreements by including extras other contractors don’t. 6. Comanches bundle service agreements into large sales to encourage more customers to enroll in their service agreement programs. 7. Comanches inconvenience themselves to accommodate customers, rather than the reverse. 8. Comanches offer choices. 9. Comanches offer customer options they cannot get elsewhere. 10. Comanches do not sell customers, so much as they educate them. 11. Comanches use props to help customers visualize what they are talking about. 12. Comanches offer longer guarantees than the competition. 13. Comanches offer unconditional, money back guarantees on equipment where possible. 14. Comanches offer unusual guarantees to reassure customers. 15. Comanches aren’t afraid to offer response guarantees, such as a free diagnostic or percent discount if the response is outside of the commitment made by the dispatcher. 16. Comanches offer guarantees that a lengthy repair won’t unduly inconvenience the homeowner. 17. Comanches provide documentation to reassure customers whenever possible. 18. Comanches know that customers want companies that will be around for years to come so they show customers how the industry has turned over. 19. Comanches buy old phone numbers to capture calls from companies in their trade that went out of business. 20. Comanches are sure to grab their phone numbers whenever an area code splits. 21. Comanches provide technicians with patches to indicate technical proficiency. 22. Comanches arm their technicians with the latest technical tools and gadgets. 23. Comanches know that consumers worry about drugs, and with good reason. 24. Comanches stand out through the way they dress. 25. Comanches know that women stand out in the male dominated service trades. 26. Comanches make small gestures to ensure the customer knows he’s appreciated. 27. Comanches take extra steps to protect the customer’s home. 28. Comanches go the extra step to demonstrate how conscientious and thorough they are. 29. Comanches prepare ownership handbooks for their major equipment. 30. Comanches reward customers for their loyalty. 31. Comanches encourage their customers to generate referrals. 32. Comanches give small gifts to customers who make large purchases from them. 33. Comanches create dramatic ways to get customers to remember them and to demonstrate the value of the services they provide. 34. Comanches have a “boy scout” policy to create an attitude of service among their front line personnel. 35. Comanches show customers the problems they uncover during their diagnostic and troubleshooting procedures. 36. Comanches make sure their customers can easily find their phone number by leaving stickers everywhere following a service call. 37. Comanches incorporate offers into their stickers. 38. Comanches use stickers to private label. 39. Comanches make stickers more valuable by turning them into ready references. 40. Comanches use magnets in a similar manner to stickers. 41. Comanches know that parents’ actions are influenced by their kids. 42. Comanches help the schools and their businesses by giving them company tee-shirts, which can be offered to students who spill something on their clothes. 43. Comanches also produce their own coloring books, featuring line drawings of their technicians in action, their trucks, and so on. 44. Comanches know that kids’ art attracts people. 45. Comanches make sure their phones are answered by human beings and not machines. 46. Comanches give customers something to listen to when they must be placed on hold. 47. Comanches further stand out by using classical music for customers on hold. 48. Comanches turn their business cards into marketing tools. 49. Comanches make their business cards distinctive by die stamping them. 50. Comanches make the back of their business cards promotional tools. 51. Comanches make sure that everyone in their company has business cards to pass out. 52. Comanches hand out their business cards with a special note when they receive outstanding service. 53. Comanches enclose business cards with every bill they pay. 54. Comanches are ruthless in asking for the business of the companies they patronize. 55. Comanches make coupons out of everything. 56. Comanches send out greeting cards to their customers several times during the year. 57. Comanches send birthday cards to the major equipment they sold. 58. Comanches are also devout believers in newsletters. 59. Comanches keep up to date databases on their customers to use in relationship marketing. 60. Comanches leverage their customer list by seeking to cross market with other businesses. 61. Comanches look for places to provide coupons and special offers for little or no cost. 62. Comanches find every public bulletin board where they can provide a discount coupon. 63. Comanches turn fax cover pages and every other piece of correspondence into minimarketing brochures. 64. Comanches find community organizations to patronize that are overlooked by other contractors. 65. Comanches give gift certificates to people they know, rather than coupons. 66. Comanches give realtors gift certificates that they can offer to new homeowners. 67. Comanches spiff realtors for the referral business they provide. 68. Comanches offer their customers a complete and formal service history report when they are selling their homes. 69. Comanches give U.S. Savings Bonds rather than cash discounts or rebates. 70. Comanches form trade guilds with the best area contractors in non-competitive trades. 71. Comanches work their suppliers for co-op funds. 72. Comanches are innovative in the way they solicit co-op money. 73. Comanches are joiners. 74. Comanches practice affinity marketing with charitable organizations. 75. Comanches understand that by helping others they help their business. 76. Comanches find ways to make charitable donations that allow them the ability to demonstrate the value of their products. 77. Comanches become the focus of charitable activity at local events by offering their trucks to serve as a collection point for fund raising activities. 78. Comanches support the scouts, sports teams, and church groups by creating fund raisers for them. 79. Comanches seek to offer employee benefits to the largest area employers. 80. Comanches know that people like to feel special and offer special discounts targeted to just about any group they can identify, just like hotels. 81. Comanches know that customers judge what kind of service they will receive based on the tangible clues that the Comanches reveal, so they carefully design collateral material. 82. Comanches are careful in how they apply their logo to their trucks. Comanches recognize the trucks are mobile billboards. 83. Comanches know that more people are driving with mobile phones and market to them through the back of their trucks. 84. Comanches also know that people in two story houses and buildings look out windows and view the top of trucks, a perfect advertising opportunity. 85. Comanches make their trucks stand out by wiring the headlights to come on whenever the ignition is running. 86. Comanches use fully reflective decals on their trucks to draw attention at night. 87. Comanches make it easy for customers to remember their phone number. 88. Comanches make it fun for customers with unusual contests, related to their business. 89. Comanches run contests to identify the oldest equipment in their area to generate leads. 90. Comanches make everyone a winner in their promotional contests. 91. Comanches create drama about their calls. 92. Comanches give customers ways to save money by adjusting their schedules. 93. Comanches generate work during the down times by noting future repair needs during busy times. 94. Comanches know what customers value, because they ask. 95. Comanches do not take customer satisfaction to chance. 96. Comanches find out why sales are lost. 97. Comanches are demanding of their salespeople and also of the salespeople who call on them. 98. Comanches seek partnerships with their vendors. 99. Comanches are masters at generating free publicity. 100. Comanches establish themselves as experts by writing articles. 101. Comanches create opportunities to enhance their positions as knowledgeable experts by teaching community seminars through the local parks and recreation depart on subjects related to their business. In Praise Of Comanche Marketing… The Comanche marketing tactics program has been an integral part of our HVAC Comfortech program for three years. All the speakers receive rankings from the seminar attendees. Comanche marketing always ranks number one or number two in the standings. It's a superb combination of practical, hard-hitting advice that business owners can implement today. Mike Murphy Editor-In-Chief Contracting Business Magazine ____________________ A welcome tool for me. Kathy Love PDL Listowner Presdient, Gene Love Plumbing Service, Inc. West Columbia, SC ____________________ Rich in value and application… insight into often overlooked aspects of marketing via, among other elements, enhanced customer service. Reuben Gordon Manager, Marketing and Public Relations Molly Maid, Inc. ____________________ Some of the most thought-provoking, intelligent and helpful pieces that I've ever come across in running our family's business. They are insightful and often deal with topics or issues that we're facing at that time in our business. Michael A. Bohinc Chief Financial Officer Norhio Plumbing, Inc. Aurora, OH ____________________ As a marketing consultant and a college professor in marketing management, I can safely say that Matt Michel's advice is priceless, practical and proven -- no rehashed, recycled stuff that only 'looks' good (like most of the stuff we get these days)… [Comanche Marketing is] a 'must-read' to my own clients and students. Michel Fortin, Ph.D. Success Doctor Ottawa, Ontario (Canada) ____________________ I can't believe how many brilliant, but practical ideas come out of Comanche Marketing. I subscribe to about a dozen newsletters and online e-zines devoted to marketing tips and ideas, but this is the best." Jim Olsztynski Editor-Publisher PHC Profit Report ____________________ The ideas, tactics and concept of "marketing all the time" presented by Matt Michel of Comanche Marketing fame provoke the thought process you need to stay ahead of the pack. Frank Campisi Bruni and Campisi Plumbing & Heating Inc. White Plains, New York ____________________ Great source of ideas, information, and motivation. Steve Nadler Consumer Service Manager Price Pfister, Inc. ____________________ A powerful tool to reinforce my expectations of our employees… During a staff meeting I can speak until I'm blue in the face regarding the customer service skills I expect from our employees, but now I can show them in writing how to handle complaints, service commitments, personalization of service, answering the phones, and problem solving. Dale T. Brose Building Department City of Moreno Valley, CA ____________________ Matt Michel's Comanche Marketing tips are some of the best, and are most understandable. The language is plain. No statistical nor demographic "jargon" is used. It is hard to believe in reading that people do not know these facts and techniques. But in everyday practice successful marketing techniques are not put to use in our industry. I have recommended Matt's tips to many people and would not hesitate to recommend them to anybody in business. Rod Stine Heatorac Silver Spring, MD ____________________ Wonderful. Full of fresh ideas. Mark Eatherton Advanced Hydronics Denver, Colorado ____________________ The ideas generated, either direct or indirect, better serve our industry... It amazes me some of the things that you present. They vary in content and direction. That is an excellent tool. Tom Steiger area51hvac.com, Inc. ____________________ A wonderful way to supplement your business marketing ideas. We are very fortunate to have Matt and his expertise as a resource. Gene Burch Gene Burch Plumbing & Heating Novato, CA ____________________ Content [that is] so appropriate for a particular approach I am looking for. Mary Crane Crane & Son Plumbing & Heating Santa Rosa California ____________________ Information and advice I can use; practical and to the point. Hamilton Wallace Wallace Resources Scottsdale, AZ ____________________ Coming from a high-energy person, anxious to share knowledge and experience with others, toward the improved skills of all. Alan Jones Triatek, Inc. Norcross, GA Would You Like To Know More About Comanche Marketing? Free Subscriptions To Comanche Marketing Subscribe to the Comanche Marketing. This is a free e-mailed marketing tip two to three times per week. You can subscribe by signing up on-line at http://www.serviceroundtable.com/cm.