Still looking for a way to stand out in a saturated market? Feel like you haven’t found the perfect messaging to draw in new customers or cultivate loyalty among the clients you already have? Know something is missing, but you can’t put your finger on what?

I have the answer. And it’s simpler than you think.

If you want to rise above the competition, become a leader in your industry, and inspire long-term customer commitment, you need to define what your business actually does for your clients. I don’t mean what duties you perform or what it says on your business card. I mean what deeper need are you fulfilling? What does the service you offer mean to your customers?

When you answer this question, you know how to reach and serve your customers.

As tradespeople and as business owners, we tend to think in practical, concrete terms. We have to in order to keep our companies alive. We make decisions based on our metrics. We perform tasks according to industry standards. Our lives are driven by logical, fact-based decisions. So, when we approach customer relationships, we want to slip into the same routine. We lay out the facts in our marketing: Here’s why our service is superior. Here’s how we save you money. Here’s what our customers are saying.

While all of these messages have a place in your marketing, they still fail to differentiate your business in the most powerful possible way. By this, I mean:

They don’t explain how your business can meet the emotional needs of your customers.

You see, people don’t make purchasing decisions on logic alone. Most often, they feel emotionally compelled toward a specific decision. Then, they look at the facts and statistics as logical support for the decision they already wanted to make. In order to connect with customers in this way, you need to first understand how your service fulfills, relieves, or supports them on a deeper level.

Here’s what that looks like.

Find the Meaning: A Case Study

My nationwide franchise, 911 Restoration, began years ago as a carpet cleaning business. I gradually built the company into a comprehensive disaster restoration service. And as I served our customers, taking the time to empathize with them and understand their needs, I made a game-changing realization.

Our customers needed something much deeper than cleaning, drying, and rebuilding. They needed guidance, reassurance, and compassionate care during one of the most difficult moments in their lives.

When someone calls 911 Restoration, they are in a crisis. It could be a mold infestation or it could be severe property damage following a wildfire. No matter how seemingly minor or extreme their situation may be in the grand scheme of things, one thing is always true: Their greatest asset is at risk, and they have no idea how to move forward.

I realized that customers need to feel like someone is in control . . . someone has the ability to show up and make everything okay again. This understanding changed everything. It changed our branding, it changed our messaging, it changed our attitudes, and it changed the way we do business.

And as the guy who has overseen the growth of this company that now serves more than 180 territories throughout North America, I can confidently say that much of our success began with that realization of what it is we really do.

Figure out what meaningful service you offer your customers.

If you want to transform your relationship with the community you serve, take some time to think about what it is your company really does. If you’re coming up empty, look to clues such as:

  • Customer feedback. Do any of your reviews or comments from customers speak to their emotional experience of working with you? Maybe they say you’ve given them their “dream kitchen” or they complain that they “don’t feel safe” because one of your employees seemed distracted while repairing their roof.
  • Competitor messaging. While you want your own meaningful service to feel different from what the competition offers, sometimes their advertising can help you see the industry in a whole new light.
  • Your own sense of fulfillment on the job. We all have those days at work where we get to feel especially proud of the service we provide. Often, this feeling comes because we get to see the larger benefits of the work we do. Maybe you cleaned up a sewage backup in time for a backyard wedding or built an addition for a family preparing for another child. What do those experiences tell you about the emotional value of your work?

Then, decide how that deeper service changes the way you run your business.

Here are some examples for making the most of your discovery.

Once you have a solid grasp on your customer’s emotional priorities:

  • Adjust your marketing and branding to reflect the service you’re really providing. At 911 Restoration, we refer to ourselves as the Fresh Start Company, because we believe in turning a disaster into an opportunity to start over, better than before.
  • Brainstorm services you can add to further meet the emotional needs of your customers. We provide services such as free insurance consultations, 45 minute arrival times, and 24/7 availability to emphasize that our customers aren’t in this alone. We’ve got everything under control.
  • Redefine what it means to provide quality service. Our technicians are held to a high professional standard, but we also expect them to show up at every job with a spirit of compassion and accommodation.
  • Establish a clear company culture. 911 Restoration is not just about providing a Fresh Start for customers. We emphasize this philosophy within each franchise and at corporate headquarters as well. That is to say, we always look for a way to confront a challenge with the willingness to change, grow, and rebuild better than before.
  • Let the meaningful service you provide influence your own sense of satisfaction. Running a business is hard. There will be disappointments and roadblocks. But if you’re always conscious of the meaningful solutions you provide to your community, you will always be able to call yourself successful and find the motivation to move forward.

As a business owner, you don’t only have the ability to build wealth and improve your own life. You also have the opportunity to turn your skills and knowledge into an asset that improves the quality of life for everyone who works with your company. In turn, you discover more fulfillment in your career and more success in business.

Take the time today to think about the meaningful work you do. I promise you, your business will never be the same.