With competition increasing from all sides in the rental industry, your ability to get the word out about what you have to offer your customers can make or break your business. Simply listing your company name in the Yellow Pages is not enough. You need to define your image and then promote it to the right people. But where do you start? To help point you in the right direction, we've compiled this special report on marketing your business. Don't let your competitors get a leg up on you. Take a proactive approach and make your business the first thing to come to customers' minds when they need a rental source.
Consumers have myriad choices. There are products - at seemingly every price point - to solve every problem. There are countless sources from which to purchase them. In fact, with catalogs, home shopping channels and the Internet, consumers don't even have to leave the living room to get what they need.
But for as many choices as there are, there are only so many consumer dollars to go around. So anyone and everyone in retail is vying for the consumer's attention.
Rental businesses are trying as hard as anyone to generate awareness, floor traffic and ultimately, more rentals and sales. But with a limited budget, how do you know where your marketing dollars will do the most good?
By doing a little homework and a lot of careful planning, each business operator can find his or her own customized solution to that very question. The key is to know who your target audiences are, then find the marketing methods that work best in your market to appeal to those audiences. Put together your own campaign.
"The first thing to remember is not to think of each marketing function as a separate entity," says Larry Rivers, Sr. of Rivers Advertising in Lincoln, NE. "Everything a business does should be integrated into a marketing plan. All elements should work together."
Other experts agree. "Never rely on only one method at a time. Since marketing is an experiment, you could easily run out of money before you find out which methods work best for you. Allocate what money you have to several methods simultaneously to find out which ones produce the best results," say authors Paul and Sarah Edwards and Laura Clampitt Douglas in the book, "Getting Business to Come to You."
"It's important to make a plan," says Dean Skylar of Skylar & Assoc. in Grosse Pointe Park, MI. "Decide well in advance what to promote, why you are promoting it, and the best marketing vehicles for each promotion."
Make a name for yourself
Equally important to your campaign is to send a consistent message in every medium you use.
"A business must identify his position in the market," says Rivers. "He must formulate a unique positioning statement that sets him apart from his competition, and identifies his services to the customer. An example would be, 'Quality is job one.' We all know that means Ford Motor Co."
In fact, we can all think of positioning statements that help us identify with certain companies. "When it absolutely has to be there overnight" - Federal Express. "Delivered hot in 30 minutes, or it's free" - Domino's Pizza.
There are several elements to your business that distinguish it from its competition. Outstanding service. Premium product. Knowledge of equipment. Determine your positioning statement, then feature it on everything from your business card to your bill of sale. Everything that connects to your business should include that statement.
Toot your own horn
A crucial element of every marketing plan is to make a name for yourself in your community through networking and public relations. This is one of the least expensive and most effective forms of marketing.
"Let yourself be known to the media and your community as an expert who can be called upon to give advice," says Rivers.