Thursday, July 3, 2014

‘Dis One, ‘Dis All

An air conditioning contractor in my market loves to call out other contractors and contractor practices in his advertising.  This doesn’t build him up.  It tears everyone down.

Contractors have enough image problems without beating each other up.  The contractor apparently believes people will see every contractor as deceptive, except for him.  He’s right, except for the exclusion.  He gets lumped in with every other contractor. 

It’s like claiming all Pit Bulls are dangerous, except for our Pit Bull, Fluffy.  It just doesn't work that way.  If the breed is bad, then every dog in the breed is bad.  Give the dog time and the aggression will reveal itself.

By mocking other contractors (e.g., calling one folksy contractor, “Dewey Cheatem”), criticizing industry practices like technicians selling, low priced response charges, etc., the contractor creates a perception of common dishonesty within the trade.  Most consumers are not versed enough into the trade’s nuances to pick up his specific criticisms.  Instead, they just get a sense that contractors are deceptive.

Moreover, the sender of messages like this repulses people.  Clearly, not everyone is repulsed or the contractor would be out of business.  However, I’m willing to bet that he turns off more people than he imagines.  Since he appears to use co-op because of his frequent mention of a particular manufacturer, he probably hurts the manufacturer’s sales.

There are ways to build a contrast with the competition without rolling in the mud.  Make positive statements about your company.  Create a unique, distinctive, and meaningful position you can own and defend.  Build yourself up without tearing down the industry that supports you.

Matt Michel © 2014

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