Gaining a Marketing Edge

The Success Margin

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

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A friend and subscriber asks:

"I don't have a large budget. How can I expand
the market for my tennis court construction
business? Of course I don't want to appear to be
begging for more sales."

The comments and suggestions I'm about to make
apply to a large number of subscribers and readers
who share similar business dynamics.

First, a few facts.

The business about which I'm going to make
recommendations provides and builds a high-
quality tennis court. The surface is called
Plexipave. Company name is S.C. Sports Surfaces
Ltd.

The owner is Sotos Christofides. Location is
Nicosia, located on the Mediterranean island of
Cyprus.

Population of island is approximately 750,000.

Currently four total Plexipave tennis courts have
been built in Cyprus. Two have been in private
residences, one in a hotel, and one in a tennis
club. Average cost for each tennis court
including fencing is $50,000.

I especially like businesses like this one that
provide a high-priced product with superb
quality to an easily and readily defined market.

I believe this business has a terrific future if
marketed effectively.

Here is what I would do to immediately expand the
business potential.

The very first step is to create a key contact
mailing list of prospects. The business, like many
others, is crying out for a mailing list. A data-
base.

It should include all the people in Cyprus who
are:

1. Architects

2. Builders and developers

3. Hotels

4. Schools (universities, high school, elementary
schools)

5. Tennis, golf and country clubs, fitness and
recreational clubs

6. Private owners of large homes and plots of land

7. Sports federations

The mailing list should include the physical
location, telephone number and e-mail address.

Let's assume the entire current total is 500
potential customers on the entire island. This is
just a guess. The actual number could be 350 or
700. Or 1,000 or more.

Of course the market will grow over time as the
population increases.

Once the database is assembled, it can become the
biggest asset of the company by far. (Most
businesses do not even come close in leveraging
the value of their customer list.)

The marketing leverage your database can give has
the potential to expand the business manyfold.

However, if you ask most entrepreneurs what
their most important asset is, most answers will
be "employees, advertising, location,
equipment," etc. While these elements may be
important, the most valuable asset of nearly all
businesses is the customer list.

** Marketing Tip **

To close a sale, on average it takes five to seven
contacts with a prospect. A single sales call is
not effective.

This point is not well understood and accepted
by most entrepreneurs.

Presently the company has only made one or
perhaps two contacts with prospective buyers.
And, of course, over 95% of the best prospects
have not yet been contacted at all.

Therefore, the potential market for their tennis
courts is enormous.

In addition, all present contacts with prospects
to date have been made using personal sales
calls. While this is OK in itself, it's the most
expensive contact approach. There are better
ways for the entrepreneur to leverage time.

The ideal situation is to use several contact
methods and vary them. Especially when your
challenge is to both educate the customer in the
merits of the product as well as to market it.

The biggest marketing challenge is that the
Cyprus tennis court community is unfamiliar
with the merits of this surface. Plus, the price
is higher (or initially seems so) than other type
surfaces such as clay or carpet.

The beauty of leveraging the database for
marketing purposes is this. You can either:

1. Send mail to the prospect (either a postcard
or letter)

2. Call them on the telephone

3. Make a personal visit

4. Send an e-mail

All these methods (exclusive of No. 3) are faster,
cheaper than a personal visit.

I have found that the ideal contact frequency for
nearly any group of prospects is once a month.

When you do not make regular contact, prospects
quickly forget about you. The old "out of sight,
out of mind" rule prevails.

I've found that it's effective to send even a simple
postcard which says, "Hi, I'm on vacation in
Mykynos and was thinking about you. Regards,
(your name)." The important point is to simply
stay in touch on a regular basis.

As to these tennis courts, what they must
continually remind prospective Plexipave tennis
court owners are the benefits of the courts over
others, including:

1. Lower maintenance costs. There is much less
maintenance required on this surface compared to
others. This reduces maintenance costs (you can
use comparison charts with other surfaces to show
the dramatic cost savings).

2. Less injuries. The Plexipave has a give to it
so is easier on the body, especially the knees. There
are also fewer falls and injuries which is important
to both tennis players and the people who own the
courts, such as a school or hotel.

3. More play time. The Plexipave court can be
dried with a squeegee and ready to play within 30
minutes of a heavy rain. Other surfaces can take
2-3 days to dry.

4. Truer bounce. Players appreciate the fact that
you get no "bad bounces" as is common with other
surfaces.

5. Marketing edge. Every hotel and private club
in particular needs to develop an edge over its
competition. The latest surface technology which
is reflected in a Plexipave tennis court can be
just the factor to give that edge.

A few very effective and proven marketing methods
which can be employed in contacting your
prospects include:

(a) Sending an actual sample of the court surface
Plexipave to your database.

(b) Send photos of finished Plexipave tennis
courts in residential and commercial settings both
in Cyprus and throughout the world along with a
personal note.

(c) Include testimonials of "regular" people,
celebrities and well-known players who are
enthusiastic about playing on a Plexipave tennis
court in marketing materials. Champions who have
played on this surface and who might give an
endorsement include Nadia Petrova and Marcos
Baghdatis.

The founder of the company, Sotos Christofides,
well-known on the island, is also a former Cyprus
tennis champion. He was the #1 player for 17 years
and is still a top veteran athlete. Plus, he is often
on TV providing tennis commentary during matches.
He can be a perfect spokesman for the company.

(d) Send photos of Plexipave tennis courts used
in Grand Slam events, such as the US Open and
the Australian Open and other premier tennis
tournaments.

(e) Create a video showing a variety of Plexipave
tennis courts in use and send it to prospects.

Every company needs to completely differentiate
itself from all its competition. This is best done
through having a USP—Unique Selling Proposition.

S.C. Sports Surfaces Ltd can add to its business
cards, stationery, T-shirts and advertising the
phrase:

"Truer Bounce - Lower Maintenance
Better Tennis"

Also:

"The tennis court chosen by champions"

Do the above tips give you any ideas to help
promote your business? The principles are
universal. Taking a hard look at how other
businesses can be promoted effectively is often
the best way to find better answers for yours.

Keep me posted on how you are employing some of
the foregoing tips. I'd love to feature your
success story in the future.

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas

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© Copyright 2007 Ted Nicholas