Are you high-priced, but a little sheepish about proclaiming it? Maybe you shouldn't be. Maybe you should stake out your position and proclaim it the world. Here's why.

Unless you're on a fast track to oblivion, it's a safe bet that someone in your town costs less than you do. Thus, you aren't the lowest priced
company. Whenever a consumer calls you, they assume that you cost about the same as everyone else. If you cost more, they can become upset when they discover it. At best, you lose them as a customer. At worst, they file a complaint with the state, accusing you of price gouging. It happens. There's probably competitors of yours that charge less than you do and make the same accusations about you to anyone that will listen.

In the retail world, it's different. You expect to pay more in some stores. Nordstrom's costs more than Target. No surprise. No pricing
complaints either.

So why doesn't everyone shop at Target? Because some want higher quality merchandise and more personalized service. They believe that they're more likely to get it from Nordstrom's than Target.

Market Yourself As A Nordstrom's
Promote high prices? Sounds like suicide in today's price conscious world, right? Not necessarily. Face it. Not every consumer is qualified
to be your customer. Some want to pay less than you charge or want a higher degree of service than you provide. They won't be your customers and in the event they do patronize your business, they won't be happy. The good news is that there are plenty of people out there who do want a company like yours, exactly like yours. But they're going to have a tough time figuring out what your company is like if you don't tell them.

Gary Katz owns an appliance, air conditioning, and heating company in Minneapolis. He's unabashed in proclaiming his company to be more
expensive. For years, he ran Yellow Pages ads where the headline boldly suggested that consumers looking for the lowest prices and least service should go elsewhere. His company, A-ABC, catered to people looking for premium service and the highest quality. Then, he explained how his company provided better service and quality.

Instead of killing the incoming calls, Katz found that his approach caused sales and satisfaction to shoot through the roof. He says it changed his market. A sizeable number of consumers look for better service and expect to pay more for it. Since no one else markets to them, Katz cleans up.

When people call A-ABC, the expectation is that it will cost more. When the inevitable pricing complaints do emerge, the customer is asked,
"Didn't you read our ad?"

"Of course we charge more," Katz' people are able to say, "We don't hide it. We put it in our ads."

What Flavor Do You Offer
What if you sold ice cream and only offered chocolate in a market where everyone else offered vanilla? If 80% of the public preferred vanilla and everyone simply advertised "ice cream," 80% of your customers would be disappointed in your ice cream. The 20% that preferred chocolate might be disappointed with your competitors — might, but probably would not be since everyone is the same.

Business owners like Katz would change their marketing to promote the fact they sell chocolate and count on 20% of the public flocking to them. They would ignore the 80% that would not buy from them.

Most business owners would never consider promoting themselves in such a manner that 80% of the market would avoid them. They would hang right in there with the dozens or hundreds of competitors beating each others brains out trying to capture the 80%. Pity, since they could have 20% of the market all by themselves.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.