Recently I came across an article in the ‘Ecogeneration magazine’ that talked about training in the Solar industry. In this article, Jeremy Chunn talks about the importance of training in the Solar industry and how “the Solar training sector has a weight on its shoulders turning out installers fit to convert the country to clean energy. But as the battery surge approaches the stakes are high”.
The reason this article resonated with us at Assertive Marketing was the fact that one of the main educators of this industry that was mentioned in the article has had a major impact not only on the industry but on ourselves. I know the importance of a good trainer as I went through the process of learning the Solar industry by one of the best. I was working as the Marketing Manager for a local Melbourne company called Setec when we started to introduce the PowerRouter into the Australian market.
I had worked with electronics before and knew as much as a Marketing Manager should know. My knowledge was more about what the customer will want from such items. However, I did not know anything about the Solar industry and its storage side of things. Which at that time was new to everyone. That’s when Rob Moss came into the picture. He moved into our department from R&D to firstly learn about and then teach the technology that was behind battery and storage. The marketing strategy was to educate the installers so they would not be afraid of selling the technology.
One day after hearing Rob and another colleague (Off-grid certified installer) Veli Markovic discuss the finer technicalities of the product I decided to do something about it. “I need to know this stuff so can someone please help? ” I said. Rob turned to me and said, “What do you want to know?” I replied, “Everything you know”. He just said, “I’ll give that a try.” He knew too well I wasn’t technical.
So, over the next several months he set aside an hour a day and went through every principal and technical spec. I was amazed by how easy he made it sound and how well he designed his lessons so that I had enough of listening then solving by myself. It helped me as what we started to do was list every technical specification in industry terms then in consumer terms. What it means to the customer. It was a good team as Veli also added his expertise as an installer.
Since then Rob and I have gone on to do the NABERS exam and he has also certified himself as a trainer. He is now one of the leading trainers in the industry working with both Selectronic and SkillBuild.
The Why process
I recently did the “Why” process with Rob and sure enough, we established that his why is “To help other people/businesses succeed in what they do” and he does this by becoming “The go-to source of knowledge”.
When it comes to learning from the experts the Solar industry has a great source. More importantly, when it comes to helping the industry succeed, with Rob Moss it is in the right hands.
So, how to start your marketing planning. Most small businesses don’t have a current marketing plan, even though almost all big businesses do. In big business the plan is looked at every year and revised. Often there is also a periodic assessment to see if they are on the right track and that targets are being reached. What a big business knows that a small business may not is that good marketing doesn’t just enhance but is essential for the profitability and success of your business. Without a marketing plan, your business will most certainly face a lack of direction.
Ways to Start your Marketing Planning
It is often a good idea to go back to the basics and look at your plan. You may have done your plan years ago when you first started. I guarantee you that many things would have changed in that time. How many people started their business before Facebook or Instagram started. Sure, the people are the same but the mechanisms and technology are so much different.
Here are some good hints on how to get your plan in order.
Establish your business’s Purpose or “Why”
Ask yourself why you started your business in the first place? At Assertive Marketing, we have a process that we go through before we start with any client. We call it the “understanding your why” statement. Before we start we need to understand the basic essence of who you are and why you exist. Everyone, be it an individual or company, has a reason they do what they do. We need to understand your Why to understand why someone will want to buy from you or use your service. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
This process may be difficult at the start as most of us just do what we do and don’t really think about it too much. What you will discover by answering these questions will help you understand your business more clearly thus we will then know what message to give to your potential audience.
This is the essence of your story, the message you give your audience to:
- Gain trust
- Gain respect
- Show that you are believable
- Have your story straight
Write down your Why, How and What
- Why – You do what you do
We believe that… (the cause you are fighting for)
- How – We do what we do
By using only the best products, methods… (that fit your cause)
- What – Do we do
We offer products that help… (you achieve)
This now forms the basis of your communications to your market.
Define Your Goals. – What do you want to achieve?
- Is it more sales
- More Leads
- Brand recognition
- Business growth in new areas.
Remember not every business has the same needs.
Focus on your strengths
Find what makes your business strong and sets it apart from the competition (your why process will help you do this). Have a strong message to give the market?
Your target audience – where are they?
- Use your current customer knowledge – do your research
- Find out what and how they find things
- How they do their research
Arm your company with the right resources
- Your website – is it modern, engaging, relevant
- Logo and branding – does it represent your why?
- Brochures and printed material, even quotations, and proposals – Anything that is representing you to your potential customer
No matter if your business is big or small, plan your marketing to save you the time and money later. Whether you’re the head of the marketing department or the owner of your own business, planning your marketing can significantly improve the success of your business and cut down costs. It’s a smart way to invest in your business’s future.
How to gain Word of Mouth
It is often said that word of mouth is the best way of getting business. This is true. But how do you get word of mouth? The best way to get word of mouth is by reputation. You work hard and do the right thing for your customers. They will then talk about you and recommend your business to their industry peers or colleagues. That’s because they trust you.
It’s important to note that word of mouth cannot be fabricated. People will either love you or they won’t. It can’t be forced.
So, what is word of mouth? It is that feeling that someone has about your business that impels them to let their world know about. It reflects on them. They have found this product/service that they are proud of because it helps them do what they do. They now want to share it with their contacts.
So, what if you wanted to enter a different market or segment where you have only done a little bit of work in. How do you get word of mouth then? You can’t ring someone and say “Hey Bill, is there any chance that you can tell Harry about our great reputation, although you may not know about it? You know I want you to send the word of mouth down the line”. If Bill did do that, then it is a referee not word of mouth and that’s a different thing. Word of mouth is a natural circumstance of doing the right thing.
Content Management Strategy
There is one way of getting word of mouth going and that is with a good Content Management Strategy.
Content Management is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in your products or services.
I know most people will say, “we do post on social media, so what’s different?” Well, the difference is what you post. Most people will post things about what they have done. They built something or sold something that someone has got value out of. This is ok, but all it is doing is telling people what you do. That works well when a potential client is referencing you. But, if they are referencing you it means they have already found you. What if they haven’t found you yet?
A good Content Management Strategy will first work out what your business is all about. Your “why” or “purpose”. When you find out ‘what you are about’ then you will know what is needed to help someone else with what you do. To explain. Let’s say that your company is all about making sure that people can get the best out of something. There is no point just talking about what you have done. What you need to be telling them is what you know about how to get their desired outcome. Stories like, “here are some pointers on how to do this”.
Looking at wider industries
Here’s an example. I have a client who is a personal trainer. His “why or purpose” is to help people with degenerative nerve conditions (such as Multiple Sclerosis) have a better quality of life. Most of his reputation is within the mainstream personal training industry. Although he has been helping people with these conditions for a while, he is still not in that industry’s word of mouth.
How does he move from training the general population to a different market?
The strategy would be that he does not tell people about who he trains. That is just experience. What he tells people is how they can get more out of life. In his media posts, he gives hints, stories, videos on what people with these conditions can be doing to get that better quality of life. This comes from his experience and knowledge. He is not a medical practitioner but he has the experience and works with the practitioners. Now he is giving a helping hand to the people who need it.
Here’s how the word of mouth works. Because he is helping and not selling, a potential customer will read (view, hear, etc.) his advice and get some value from it. The more they read (view, hear, etc.) the more they trust.
When they trust, they start to own the information then start to share it with their community. Thus, the word of mouth begins. More on his business here
It does take time and a considerable amount of thought. But that is all in the planning. This is a coordinated strategy that has timelines and dates when each post is done and where it is posted. There must be nothing left to chance, it all must be planned and organised.
This is just one of the many sales theories that are available. I use it to explain the process of how to make a sale. If all elements are there then it is easier to make a profitable sale. And that is profitable for both parties, the buyer and the seller.
This means building a relationship with the person you are selling to. People buy when they feel comfortable and safe. As explained in the section on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
This means that you find the reason why they should be buying your product. This is done by asking the right questions to find out what the problem is. When this is established you can go on to the next all-important stage.
This means you offer a solution to the problem. The important thing is that your product must be the right solution. If it doesn’t then do not offer it, maybe consider offering someone else’s solution, it is better. If you offer your product and it is the wrong solution it will only cause problems later which will create resentment and mistrust.
Make the sale. The transaction that allows for a successful exchange of money for service. Make it simple and easy so the exchange is pleasant.