Granite Sales Killers: Otherwise Known As Your Legal Council

You’ve certainly heard of the constant battle between sales and production. Salespeople always promise delivery faster than production can possibly ship the goods. They promise better products and cheaper prices. Production realizes they need sales to have a job but always wish the sales team would accurately represent the product and be realistic about delivery times.

There’s a similar battle going on between marketing and legal departments. In my world, we kindly refer to attorneys as “sales killers” or “response busters.” I’m sure attorneys I’ve worked with have great names for me, too.

From a marketing perspective, we need to address consumer hot buttons and differentiate ourselves from the competition. To do that, we need clear and powerful content. Words like safe, secure, guaranteed, free and best–all words the legal department takes major issue with.

An attorney’s job is to protect you from future lawsuits and legal hassles. Telling a prospect your product is “quality” opens the doors to future legal trouble. After all, there’s no way to insure your customers that the product is fully going last them a lifetime.

But quality is a major consumer hot button. In order to effectively market your facility, you must address the issue. Sure, you can say where the slab came from and “good installation” that imply a degree of quality, but such language is watered down.

Which one of the following statements addresses the emotional hot button and concern more clearly: “Our granite comes from a US based quary and we have been installing countertops since 2002.” Or, “At XYZ Countertops, you’ll be proud to know your granite countertops are from USA quarries. We guarantee precise fabrication and specialize in unique edging since 2002.”

Certainly the second one addresses the concerns of the typical consumer better, and you’ll receive more response from an ad containing this language.

However, I doubt you’ll find an attorney willing to sign off on something like that. Legally, if you guarantee precise fabrication, one injury from a sharp edge or corner and you may have a lawsuit on your hands.

Finding a Balance – Looking at both sides of the equation, this is a hard line to walk. We all want more sales, but we don’t want to paint a legal bull’s-eye on our foreheads either. Legal departments often take it way too far and kill the effectiveness of many advertisements out there. This costs operators a fortune in potential sales and wastes advertising dollars.

I know attorneys are simply doing what they can to keep you out of legal hot water–and that’s exactly what they’re paid to do. But, as a business owner, you must generate sales at the lowest possible cost and weigh in all factors.

One way or another, you’re taking risk. If you run an ad with the blessing of a good attorney, you’re risking potential revenue. If you run one that is powerful–in terms of message–you run a chance of potentially getting sued somewhere down the road.

As with many things, there is no black and white answer to this age-old debate. Of course I lean toward stronger marketing with more risk of future legal troubles than “safe” ads that don’t generate the same volume of sales. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, especially with a good sales contract in place that clearly outlines what you do and do not warrant in regards to each claim made in an advertisement.

The “quality” question is a much bigger debate because it could involve damage or loss of a human life. However, using the word “free” is also under attack.

The legal problems come when you advertise “free” and don’t really give anything without consideration of something in exchange. My answer to that is not complicated … really make it free! No strings attached. No admin fee. No minimum commitment. Many will think this is a form of business suicide.

Sure, you’ll have customers who won’t purchase a higher end product and you won’t make a profit from them. But, you’ll have many more buy with that offer because it’s hard to refuse. Weighing the difference between gain and loss is critical.

I’m not an attorney, nor should this be constituted as legal advice. It seems to me that you can use just about whatever language you find most effective in your marketing as long as you keep up your end of the bargain and have a good agreement in place.

In this tough economic time and ultra-competitive marketplace we must be creative and make bold offers to those considering our fabrication and installation services. Think outside the proverbial box and get creative. Like anything else in life, we must weigh the risk and reward of everything. Challenge commonplace advice and beliefs before making a decision. You just might be surprised at how little “real” risk there is and how big the upside can be.

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