A few years ago I participated as a judge in a marketing contest designed to shower awards and recognition on those employing the best examples of marketing by custom installation/systems integration companies. It was a fascinating process and we saw some remarkable examples of high-quality marketing. But we also saw some common marketing mistakes…over and over.
One mistake, in particular, occurs with a high degree of regularity in our industry. Do you make this mistake?…
Often, when engaging in marketing, custom integration companies try to determine what they believe is their biggest selling point. Many integrators experienced long journeys trying to get authorized to sell the best brands in the business. When first starting out, these brands are not always available to them and they have to prove themselves as solid, reliable businesses to eventually receive authorization to sell what they think is the right stuff.
Consequently, this hard-won line list becomes what many custom integrators believe is their significant competitive advantage. In addition to this, many integrators want to take advantage of their brands’ co-operative advertising programs to help offset some of their advertising/marketing costs.
That’s a wrap…
We looked at a popular marketing tactic for custom integrators – a truck wrap. A truck wrap is literally advertising printed on material that can be form-fitted to a generic truck or van such that it looks like a custom paint job. In the example shown above, I have taken one of the submissions and modified it for this post (to protect the innocent). It represents something we see all the time. Do you see what I’m referring to? (You can click to enlarge the image and make the vehicle easier to see and read.)
There are a couple of things I like about this design…but, there is a significant mistake being made. And that mistake is that Joe is choosing to use a group of randomly placed logos on the rear of the vehicle representing the brands he sells as his marketing or branding message. While this allows him to claim reimbursement from the brands’ respective co-op programs, it does a poor job of presenting a meaningful message to potential customers.
What went wrong?…
So what’s wrong with that? Isn’t it an advantage that he carries such fine brands as these? His competitors – especially if they’re “trunk-slammers” just starting out – most likely cannot match his assortment. The problem is, for most potential customers, these brands mean nothing. A list of brands or logos may impress your competitors who know and appreciate them, most consumers have no idea of the relative merit of specific brands…if they know the brand at all.
And most consumers generally don’t request a specific brand. I surveyed integrators a couple of years ago, and the large majority of them said that – other than the occasional request for a Sony or Toshiba television, most consumers really don’t specify brands. And they certainly aren’t qualified to choose between, say, different automation or control systems.
Rolling down the highway…
In fact, as this vehicle rolls down the highway, the potential customer may not recognize any of these brands and consequently will have no idea just what business Joe is in. I hope Joe doesn’t sit too long by phone waiting for it to ring…they probably won’t call. It may be great to maximize the co-op reimbursements by throwing more logos from all of these brands to offset the cost of the wrap – but if no one is motivated by it to contact Joe, it was a total waste.
However, for the sake of fairness, there are a couple of positives in the above image we should mention. First, Joe’s business name is in large letters and in red – shown by studies to be the most eye-catching color. We would prefer a mix of upper and lowercase letters, which studies show to be more easily readable – but this is much better than small black lettering on the driver’s door. If a potential customer was thinking about looking into home automation…seeing the lettering shown here might be meaningful.
Does Joe get it?…
And secondly, the phone number is also clearly visible with large lettering – also in red. And the vanity phone number (1-555-GET-JOES) can help to make it more memorable. While it is true that some studies have shown that using lettering for phone numbers can make it harder to dial…at the same time, they can make (quickly passing) phone numbers much easier to remember.
The vehicle wrap ultimately selected by the judges as the best that year was a colorful design that – at a glance – showed clearly what business the company was in. And, like Joe above, it also featured large, easy-to-see & read letters for the phone number. Because of that design, they’ll probably get more calls than our pal Joe.
How do you market YOUR products or services? Leave a reply below and share with other strata-gee.com readers.