When it comes to marketing, don’t get too comfortable even when you’re riding high.
Since this is Cleaning Business Today’s marketing issue, I thought it would be fitting to share a marketing-related excerpt from my book, The Brighter Side of the Broom. It’s a fun story about the early days of my career. My company, Varsity, was riding high and I was the feeling like the “cleaning king” of my hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. This is the story of a hungry, young competitor who almost dethroned me!
Six years of intense service in the city and area of Pocatello left us rather dominant in the field of cleaning. In fact, so well-known was the name Varsity in cleaning that sometimes we benefited from other people’s accomplishments.
Great Seats and Cool Lemonade
The president of a big savings and loan in Pocatello was a friend of mine. He sent me and my family an invitation to watch the big Fourth of July parade from his air-conditioned second-floor office. It had a twelve-foot-wide window that directly overlooked the parade route (probably better than the Governor’s view of it). I was pretty puffed up about this prestigious seating, far above the other lowly spectators crowded together out on the hot street. It was glorious to sit in a big plush corporate chair with a cool lemonade and watch the passing exhibits (in Idaho parades then, everyone rode a horse, even the twirlers).
An Unmatchable Marketing Ploy
My feeling that I had arrived evaporated as the parade neared the end. I could hear loud cheering and clapping, and knew something great was coming. I had a competitor, Jon Bell, a twenty-year-old whose new cleaning company dared to intrude on my territory — the town where I figured I was the cleaning king. I assumed he wasn’t in my league and had ignored him until now. But here at the very end of the parade he was, with several of his employees in bright yellow jump-suits emblazoned “Bannock Cleaning – we clean everything” and armed with wheelbarrows, shovels, and brooms. They were cleaning up all of the horse manure for the parade, singing as they scooped and swept. Then, the last person would spray the soiled place with scented disinfectant. It was a brilliant idea, an unmatchable marketing ploy, which had the crowd not just cheering, but throwing the candy distributed by earlier parade participants back to my competitor.
“What’s the matter, Dad?”
And there I sat, formerly fat and content, turning pale now. “What’s the matter, Dad?” one of the kids asked me. “Be quiet!” I snapped. I’d learned a big lesson about staying in and on the job. I kicked myself for weeks for sitting on my rump relaxed while being out-created by a new, young competitor! I always admired old Jon for this maneuver, but such is the redeeming value of being well known that soon afterward Varsity got a letter from the mayor, thanking us for cleaning up the manure and promising us some upcoming city work!
Don Aslett is founder of Varsity Facility Services and The Museum of Clean. Known as “America’s #1 Cleaning Expert,” he is a sought-after media source, popular speaker and bestselling author. For more information, click here.