Developing a Sound Marketing Orientation

Most dealer-owners in the kitchen and bath industry exhibit an internal orientation with respect to their core capabilities. They have a fixation on the products and services that their companies provide. As a result, you could easily classify them as an “operations company.”

Conversely, “marketing companies” exhibit a strong external orientation. When they think about their core capabilities, they consider how these capabilities need to be packaged to suit changing customer needs or a whole new range of customers.

If more dealer-owners in the kitchen/bath industry adopted this external marketing orientation, they would experience a leap in revenue growth and gross profit margins.

The Marketing Job

It would be nice if you could just perfect the products and services you provide, and in doing so, be assured that your firm would succeed. But, in reality, you must be continually finding ways to give customers the benefits they want. And that usually requires going well beyond the base product/service you currently offer.

Every product/service goes through a life cycle of pioneering, growth, maturity and decline. When your main line business enters the maturity stage, you’d best have other things in the growth stage to maintain high levels of profit.

Simply put, a “marketing company” recognizes the difference between the primacy of need versus the primacy of product/service. A marketing company’s concept is that all the things you do for the client over and above the actual products/services themselves will determine whether the client will buy from you – or not.

Indeed, the famous business management professor Peter Drucker once said: “The number one purpose of being in business is to get and keep customers, not to make a profit. If you do a good job of getting and keeping customers, you will make a profit.”

So the successful marketer’s credo must be: ready, fire, aim. Because time is the marketer’s most valuable asset, and a commodity is his worst liability.

Your Generic Business

From a marketer’s perspective, the business you’re in is not defined by what you do or the products/services you furnish. Rather, your business is defined by the ultimate benefits your clients enjoy from using your products/services.

When asked by a young woman at a social gathering what business he was in because she didn’t recognize him, Charles Revson was heard to say: “Why madam, I am in the business of hope.” His product was cosmetics, but he was extraordinarily successful because he marketed hope – the eternal quest of all women to look young and beautiful.

When applying this marketing concept to our industry, there is a bundle of ultimate benefits that customers would experience from a new kitchen or bath: functional performance, convenience, beauty, family enjoyment, investment value and peace of mind, to name a few. But, in my judgment, the ultimate, generic benefit is an improvement in the quality of their lives. That’s what dealer-owners need to remember when marketing their businesses.

Quality is Relative

People do not value quality when it is greater than what they are willing to pay for it. On the other hand, customers will not buy at any price if the product/service is at an unacceptable level of quality.

However, research shows that people will most certainly pay extra for exceptional service if owners provide the bona fide proof of value.

Unfortunately, when it comes to quality and service, most owners in the kitchen and bath industry rely way too much on their words to describe the quality of their products quality or service. But words alone are not convincing; everybody promises good service and a quality product.

Owners would experience a sea of change in their results if they were adept at developing and using proof of value in the way of their product quality and customer service.

End-Users VS. Re-Users

A “marketing company” recognizes the major differences between “end-users” (consumers) and “re-users” (example: builders), and packages their core capabilities and marketing approaches accordingly. The primary benefit desired by end-users is an improved quality of life whereas the primary benefit desired by re-users is getting and keeping customers.

The perception of what end-users will be receiving is central to their purchase decisions whereas re-users rely strictly on the realities to make their purchase decisions.

End-users are motivated out of self-preservation, avarice, love and ego. Re-users, on the other hand, are motivated by reduced costs, increased productivity or improved competitive position. The most successful marketers to both classes of customers know how to expertly push their respective hot buttons in order to earn the business.

Decision-Making Criteria

In summary, when it comes down to making decisions, an “operations company” would ask itself these kinds of questions: Can we provide the product? How much will it cost to provide the product? Is our product delivery system satisfactory? Is anybody else doing it (because if they are not, we won’t either)?

But a “marketing company” looks at an opportunity in an entirely different way. The questions it would ask would be the following: How much of the product/service will be bought? How much profit is possible? Will current products satisfy customer needs or do we need to develop new ones? Is anybody else doing it (because if not, we may very well want to)?

If you, the owner, can develop an external orientation in marketing, your chances of business success will be greatly enhanced.