Author – Dave Hannah
Strategic Marketing for Chimney Sweeps?
The Edward Bernays Theory
Unless you have taken a graduate course in Marketing or Political Science, you may not have heard of Edward Bernays. Born in 1891 in Vienna, Austria, Edward was the nephew of the world famous founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Edward was the first person to take his uncle’s ideas and show to American corporations how people could want things they didn’t need, by linking mass produced goods to their subconscious desires.
By thinking beyond need, Bernays taught the idea of strategically marketing to the most powerful desire, what they want. Edward Bernays lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts until he was 103. His legacy is” the father of public relations.”
An example of strategically marketing to want was launched in 1957 by General Motors. The Eisenhower Administration had just completed the Interstate Highway System and people could more easily drive around the country. Dina Shore was selected for her TV program to sing the now famous song; See the USA in your Chevrolet. The full lyrics read:
See the USA in your Chevrolet
America is asking you to call
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
America’s the greatest land of all
On a highway, or a road along the levee
Performance is sweeter
Nothing can beat her
Life is completer in a Chevy
By 1960, Chevrolet was the number one selling automobile in America. This same Bernays’ theory continues today with the automobile industry. People obviously need a car; however; if the one they are currently driving is running fine, why buy a newer model?
By strategically marketing an idea that fills the overwhelming desire to have the feeling the product or service provides, the customer is profoundly satisfied.
My own experience suggests this theory is valid. In 1966 my dream car was a Plymouth Roadrunner. It had a 426 cu. Hemi engine with dual quads ram induction and four on the floor.
I got drafted and by the time I got out of the Army, college, career, family all became my primary needs. By 1974, I almost bought a new Corvette. But my wife was pregnant with our first child and the energy crisis emerged and the national speed limit was reduced to 55 so, I had to settle for a Saab. As a chimney sweep, my service vehicles became my primary ride and the family had a station wagon/minivan,
Fast forward to 2013; The Dodge Challenger RT has a 470 hp. Hemi engine with six speed transmission and can get from 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds. I drive a perfectly fine 2006 Town and Country minivan with 150k miles.
At age 66 do I really need a muscle car? Of course not. But, do I want one? You bet’ya!
The auto industry is producing so many muscle cars today with engines over 400hp. having zero regard to mpg, proves the theory of marketing to Baby Boomers fulfilling their life long dreams.
How does this all relate to the chimney sweep business?
We have been conditioned to market to the basic needs of our customers and provide a solution to those needs. Statistics show this method works just fine for 80% of our clients. What about the remaining 20%?
Consider the homeowner who needs chimney protection from rain, snow, ice, animals, debris and spark protection? Most sweeps agree that a chimney cap is the best solution. And, they would be correct for 80% of their customers. What about the customer who bought your cap and every day when they turn into their driveway, look up at their chimney and call you every bad name in the book. You may never know why you lost that customer.
What if this customer was asked what they wanted their solution to look like? Instead of the $250. quick profit you made on selling that cap, you recommended extending their chimney and putting on a custom stone cap with spark protection that would enhance the outward appearance of their home? Instead of a $250 profit for a cap sale, you earned $1200-1500. for the chimney extension and maintained a happy customer. By the way, it’s not too late in most cases to go back to that disgruntled customer and offer a better solution.
Strategically marketing is not just about selling our products or services. It is equally valuable in making better purchases for our businesses.
Recently I had a conversation with an online marketing consultant. A sweep company came to them concerning their competition. It seems they were providing superior service and quality work but, their competition was getting twice the work. Their completion had a website and they didn’t. They said they really needed a website. The consultant told them he could build a quality website solution for about $3,000. Shocked at the price, the sweep stated he could get a website registered, built and hosted for as little as $5 per month online. The misunderstanding began with the sweep thinking that what he really needed was a website to solve his new business problem.
Would you as a business owner ever consider using an unlisted phone number to market your business? The only place a prospect could get your number was from an ad you placed. You miss the vast opportunity of people looking for your service and never finding you because they didn’t see your ad. The same is true with a website. Unless Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is employed, your website would be just like that unlisted phone number.
What this chimney sweep company really wanted was a website that performed like his competitor’s, producing a lot of new prospects. You can settle for swamp land property or beach front property on the Internet. One costs a lot more than the other. It will however, provide a substantial return on your investment.
The take away from this article in marketing is look beyond the basic need. Attempt to pin down what the solution that is really wanted in each selling and buying opportunity.
~ Dave Hannah