A marketing lesson for consultancies from my plumber.
The way people buy things is complicated. Their likes and dislikes are built over time and the specific effects of different elements of marketing are hard to gauge. There is, however, usually one activity that prompts a sale. For consumer goods, it’s usually something simple like an in-store promotion. For consulting firms, such activity is much harder – it’s difficult to target marketing activity at the exact moment someone’s putting together a pitch list.
So how can firms make themselves top of mind when they can’t easily be present at the point of the critical decision?
The best example I’ve seen of staying top of mind at the crucial moment is from my plumber, Ash. He does it using a radiator key. He’s had his phone number etched into hundreds of radiator keys and gives one to every customer. It’s cheap and it’s useful.
Ash’s thinking is that the only time people really worry about their heating is when it isn’t working. And the only thing that most people really know about radiators is how to bleed them.
So if their heating is below par, they bleed their radiators. If that fixes it, great. They’ll hopefully remember Ash gave them that key. If bleeding the radiators doesn’t work, his phone number is in their hand the second they realised they need to call a plumber.
Ash understands his customers and he’s found a way to be top of mind when they need him.
It’s hard for consulting firms to copy Ash. Consultancy purchases are rarely driven by a pressing need and there isn’t a uniform point at which clients decide to write a pitch list. Yet, the fundamentals are the same: you need a useable insight and a creative execution that puts your firm in the room when you’re not physically in the room. That’s the key to being top of mind.