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 beimportant, 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. 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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