Low Cost Electric Work

There’s a work van parked up the street. The sides and back of the van simply read, “Low Cost Electric Work,” plus a phone number.

That strikes me as an odd message to send.

I would think, on the list of decision-making criteria for residential electric work, “low-cost” would be low priority. I’d guess many other factors would be more influential: Depth of experience, referrals from friends, testimonials from satisfied customers, third-party endorsements, and background checks on employees, to name a few.

Convince me that you’ll do good work without burning my house down, and without letting convicted felons into my house. Then we can talk price.

If you’re the guy who owns the van, by advertising “low cost,” you’ll attract low-margin jobs from people who don’t have much to spend. And you’ll need to do much more work than your competitors to drive the same top- and bottom-line results.

What messages does your brand send? How do you know they’re the right ones?

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He calls Chicago home.

Copyright 2009 – Matthew Fenton.  All Rights Reserved.  You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.

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6 Replies to “Low Cost Electric Work”

  1. Matthew,For starters, I really enjoy your blog entries! This particular one pertains to my niche industry, so I’m even more intrigued by it. While I agree with you completely about the influential factors you listed, remember that it is extremely tough to portray those on a vehicle. That being said, “Low Cost Electric Work” is definitely something that shouldn’t be included on a vehicle in my opinion. A vehicle typically offers 4-6 seconds of viewing time. In that short time, a company needs to be clear about what they do and how to contact them. At the same time, a vehicle offers a medium that allows you to influence the perception of your company in a potential customers eyes. Personally Matthew, would you ever call (or have top of mind recognition) for a van that only had a name and phone number on it?

  2. Blake -First, thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoy That Branding Thing.I didn’t mean to suggest that the other messages would necessarily work on the side of a vehicle (though, upon second reading, I didn’t make that point as clear as I should have). I simply meant to note the odd decision to employ the “low-cost” message – perhaps the lowest rung on the decision-making ladder – in this medium.I want to be careful to avoid a “focus group of one,” but to answer your question: I have called service providers after seeing only name & number on a van. Usually, this is in a situation without a major financial investment or downside risk, such as basic landscaping.However, even if I’m in buying mode for a more expensive/complex job, such as the outdoor AC unit I just purchased (ouch!), I’ll take notice if I pass such a van (when I’m not in buying mode, of course, they may not register at all). I may not call them on this basis, but I might add them to my short list for investigation. So I believe the vehicle medium certainly has power, when used properly.Since you’re in the industry: What are some examples of better vehicle messaging that you’ve seen?

  3. Matthew,As stated in the previous comment, I also enjoy “That Branding Thing”. And, I too am in the industry via our association that represents over 450 contractors of various trades in commercial construction. While I agree with the idea of not purchasing such services as electrical work based on “Low Cost”, it is all too often the deciding factor in our industry. Although, track records prove that purchasing construction services based on low cost will result in higher costs in the long run. I pay a lot of attention on a regular basis to the vehicles advertising construction companies since they could be a potential member of our association. Just a name and number does not attract me to a particular company nor would a statement like “Low Cost Electric Work” other than making a note not to prospect that company. I find integrity in those vehicles who advertise their services, i.e. “Commercial, Residenial, Industrial” or an “in business since (date)”.

  4. Matthew,I see vehicle advertising (like most outdoor) as a cost effective way to brand your company as opposed to an opportunity to blast a call to action. Additionally, for a service oriented industry, especially residential, wraps offer a comforting feeling for the homeowner (won’t appear as a felon pulling up) and works as a conversation starter and an ad for the nosey neighbor! To answer your question, the best vehicle messaging comes with those vehicles that have a logo, contact info, colors, and some imagery. As a result of the lack of time with each message, a picture is semi-important because it lets the world know what you do at first glance! Personally, I think the Jones The Florist vans are a great example of vehicle branding. They have kept it consistent with everything else they have done, it’s not too busy, they stand out, and they have been designed to be remembered when you need a florist. The great thing about Advertising Vehicles is that we aren’t simply a print company. We understand mass media advertising and attempt to take it in to consideration when designing a wrap that will be used for years to come. Most businesses will change their message or add a new product within the life of the wrap. Knowing this, we push the branding idea to most of our customers who plan on keeping their wrap for the entirety of its warranted life. Unfortunately, we tend to lose control to the client during the design process and vehicles ends up being too busy!Sorry if that is too self-promoting, wasn’t intended to be, but it’s hard not to when talking about vehicle wraps…I get all sorts of excited about that and advertising in general!

  5. Blake and Tammy, thank you both again for your comments.Tammy, for clarity: In your experience, is cost THE deciding factor in your industry, or does it come into play after certain other factors (such as credentials, area of expertise, references, etc.) are accounted for? No matter the industry, I’m always fascinated by the decision-making process.Blake, thanks for the additional insights into your business and area of specialty!

  6. I agree with the post. For me personally, unless I am getting this low cost work from a friend of mine (someone I can trust to do a good job), I’m looking for credibility such as the things you mentioned – expertise, years in business, etc. for something important like electrical work. Of course, not every business owner thinks about their branding in a practical way as far as what consumers are looking for and how they appeal to those desires. They haven’t learned that side of the business. Also, I think it’s a good possibility that “low-cost” is all the van owner has to offer in terms of his service. If I’m wrong, I’d never know it because that perception by me as a consumer will keep me from ever calling on him.

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