Audaciously Industry-Agnostic

by John Cloonan | Aug 22, 2022 | Behind the scenes, Blog, Marketing & Branding, New Ideas

What do these industries have in common?  

  • Jewelry  
  • Roofing  
  • Accounting  

Each of them (and probably many more) have marketing companies that serve only that industry.   

We don’t do that.   

Business owners have been taught for a long time that “niching down” was a good idea, or that “there’s riches in niches.” Why wouldn’t you use a marketing agency that has done exactly that?  

Is your company exactly like every other company in your industry?   

I didn’t think so.   

When you look at industry-specific marketing agencies, you’ll often find they seem to offer a volume of services for a very low price. How can they do that and still make money?   

It’s easy. They use a template. Your marketing program will look like every other company’s marketing program that they manage in the space. Your content will be found on other companies’ websites and social media, sometimes with minor changes, sometimes not. Your website will look like all the other websites they’ve built. There will be slight variations on a theme, but if you look around in the industry, it becomes easy to see their customer base. Everything looks, sounds, and feels alike.   

Where’s the value in that?  

If you’re in any of these industries, your brand strategy likely revolves around differentiation, creating contrast that distinguishes you from other businesses in the space. Basing your entire presence on a template does exactly the opposite. You become part of a homogeneous blob of commoditized companies, negatively impacting your value.   

That’s why we’re industry agnostic. Creating cookie-cutter solutions doesn’t create value for the customer.   

You’re also missing out on ideas from other industries. There’s value for a home services business to understand how a retail store markets themselves, or for an accountant to understand how a roofer gets customers. Let me offer two examples.  

The Trouble with Templates  

One of our clients is a local roofing company. This company is highly differentiated from the roofing norm. They don’t canvass neighborhoods after storms asking to inspect roofs for damage. They offer a multitude of roofing services beyond replacement. They rarely do insurance work, where most roofers depend on homeowner’s insurance to pay for their work. It’s a completely different model.   

We also have, locally, a roofing-specific marketing company. Had our client gone to them, they’d have gotten the same program as every other roofer in town. All the differentiation would be gone, and so would the value of the brand. They’d have been just another small voice in a very crowded field.   

We’ve worked with this roofer to double down on their brand differentiation, designing their strategy to communicate their differences at every turn, and what that means for their customers. We’re creating additional brand value with every website revision, piece of custom content, and carefully designed ads.   

Ignorance of Industry Intelligence  

Prior to starting Audacity, I worked with a behavioral health services company. (Actually, I worked with several of them during my career.) One of the challenges they faces was client retention. This was a bigger problem at this company than most, as the bulk of their revenues came from fewer than a half-dozen customers. The loss of any client offered significant challenges to the very survival of the business.   

No other company in our industry had a loyalty program. We created a points-based program where the company earned points based on their spend. Those points could be used for discounts – a program which was almost never used. Points could also be redeemed where our company would donate to the charity of their choice and promote that donation on traditional channels and social media, creating a reputational effect in their community. That was the most common use of the points system.   

This program was very successful. Client retention increased significantly for a couple different reasons. One, the value of the donations and the coverage was often factored into the price of the services, making our company a high-value option. Two, the reputational effect of the cause-related marketing was also a value factor for the client. Donating to their favorite charity rather than one we chose was the final factor.   

There was an additional benefit we didn’t anticipate. The client departments responsible for charitable giving were rarely the same groups we interacted with for our business, so we had broader contacts within their companies, making it easier to get things done – particularly because the charity was often the pet project of a C-level executive with whom we’d normally not have contact.   

Where did this idea come from? Well, you probably recognize at least a portion of it if you have a shopper’s card at your favorite grocery store. We took that concept and made it work within our industry. Had we not had experience in how these programs work, we’d have been likely to fall into some kind of operational trap or limited the success of the program. Experience in other industries created success at that company.  

If your business is just like everyone else’s, go ahead and sign on with that industry-specific marketing agency and their cookie-cutter solution. When you’re ready for a custom solution that fits your business and makes it stand out from the rest, give us a call.   

Marketing Guy & Strategic Polymath | Website | + posts

John’s the founder of Audacity Marketing. When he’s not racing motorcycles, he’s building marketing strategies for Audacity clients and anyone else who’ll listen.

John’s worn all the marketing hats, from consultant to agency owner to executive to university professor. He’s held leadership roles in industries from staffing to behavioral health to capital-C consulting. He’s branded or rebranded over 100 companies.

John buttresses 25+ years in marketing with an MBA from Georgia State University.

John lives with his girlfriend Suzanne, his dog Seamus, and his daughter Annie when she shows up from college.