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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I'm a distributor of professional pet shampoos. My customers are groomers, animal hospitals, breeders and kennels. I work out of my home and keep inventory in my home. My problem is there are so many other pet shampoos out there -- I need to come up with a unique way to attract these potential customers. (I'm competing against major catalog companies.)

I have offered free delivery/shipping with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which has helped, but it's convincing these groomers that my product really is the best on the market that's tough. What are your suggestions for getting these people to even notice me and want to try my product??? Once I get them to try, I can usually get them to buy from me...it's getting them to try my product that's the hard part!

I've been sending out an intro letter to my potential customers offering to send a catalog and free samples AND offering my products at a reduced "intro rate" with free shipping. It's been working a little, but not as much as I would like it to.

Thanks! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Answer from our Guest Expert Laura Wiegert of Creative Consultants

Your problem is not unique. It's hard to effectively market your product when it gets lost in a sea of competitors. To potential customers who've never heard of you, you're just another face in the crowd. So how do you get your product to stand out? How do you make it rise above the rest?

Cook Up a Statement

Cooking up a positioning statement is not a marketing ploy or advertising tactic. Rather, it's a written statement that sets you apart from the others. Something that captures the essence of your product or how you want to be perceived. For example, do you recognize some of these positioning statements?

  • I love what you do for me!
  • Celebrate the moments of your life.
  • Let your fingers do the walking.
  • Master the moment.
  • The other white meat.

How quickly did you name the product associated with each one? You probably knew most, if not all, of these because they're effective positioning statements. And that's what you want to do with your pet shampoo product.

Be the First . . . in something!

The best way to position any product or service is to be the first in the market. However, since that's already been done, how about being the first in a category? Why not build a position in your customers' minds as the "pet shampoo preferred by top groomers?" Or the "biggest little manufacturer" of pet shampoos? Or "pet care with a personal flair?" What you're doing is setting the stage for how current and prospective customers will perceive you. You're building top of mind awareness.

Shout It Out!

Once you get your positioning statement, it's time to market it! Basically, you want to inundate people with it.

  • Put it on your brochures, catalogs, invoices, flyers, web site, letterhead, business cards and envelopes.
  • Announce it with a special post card mailer that ties in to a special offer.
  • Answer your phone by stating your company name, then your statement.
  • Advertise it in trade journals.
  • Write articles for these journals that support your positioning statement.
  • Have a contest or drawing based around it as the theme.

Write it, print it, type it, say it, shout it! Simply continue with all your marketing efforts and keep your name and positioning statement in front of your target audience to keep building awareness.

Then, as you position yourself as the "biggest little manufacturer" or the pet care supplier with a "personal flair," you'll notice a great thing! Customers will start to remember your company and your product. And the next time they need pet shampoo, guess who they'll turn to? YOU!

Good luck and happy positioning.

Recommended reading: Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind written by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Have a biz question of your own? Go post it in CyberSchmooz

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