This week’s Idea: Truss question? Trust “The Wizard.”

with Neil Godin

Trust me. Times are tough in the truss business. (Say that three times without tripping over your tongue).  The truss biz rises and falls with housing starts – and housing starts are flat-lining. When that happens competition is fierce – and, because everyone is so cost-conscious – this favors those who sell trusses as a commodity – rather than as a more expensive value-added product.

This affects one of my clients, Pacific Truss on Vancouver Island, in a serious way. (I know. I know. I wrote about Pacific Truss and Pacific Homes just a couple of weeks ago – remember the “Pink House?” – but there’s more on the truss side that I want to share with you. And I swear I don’t own shares in the company).

The challenge for Pacific Truss – just as it is with all of our businesses – is to educate buyers as to the real benefits of buying their value added product, instead of a (somewhat) cheaper commodity product.  When trusses are bought as a commodity – off the shelf at some building supply dealers – the buyer gets a one size fits all solution that is often no solution at all. On the other hand, when a builder buys from a company like Pacific Truss, it’s buying expert advice and customized solutions (this is called “value engineering” in the manufacturing world). For example if a builder simply buys trusses according to drawings prepared by a design service they may not know that by moving a wall a foot or two, they could cut $10,000 from the total cost – a tremendous saving! Technicians at Pacific Truss search for opportunities to add value when producing estimates, and they advise clients on technical issues as well.

Education-based marketing is critical to success at Pacific Truss (and in your business too) 

Pacific Truss: Ask the Wizard!

In our language, they are using several forms of “education-based marketing” to compete with commodity providers. And the idea I want to share with you this time is a program they call “Ask The Wizard.” Readers of their blog, and subscribers to their newsletter (you can subscribe at ) are invited to submit questions to The Wizard (a.k.a. Larry Schwazer, their highly respected engineered wood products expert) on anything to do with trusses, joists, beams, stairs and related products and technology.

Is this “dangerous marketing?” Sure. What if you invite people to “ask the wizard” and no one does? Hmm. Fortunately, however, Larry gets enough questions to keep the program interesting. And that’s a good thing. Because. It isn’t just about the Q and A. It’s about being “seen” as the experts just because they offer the wizard service.

In education-based marketing, the idea is to position your company (and perhaps yourself) as “the experts” so that customers are attracted to you.  And Pacific Truss is doing it beautifully. Is this approach effective? To find out, I spoke to Heather Nelson, who is both a seasoned sales representative, and a technician, at Pacific yesterday. She told me the story of a builder who got a lower quote from another provider, but wanted to do business with Pacific in order to access their expertise. “He asked if we would write a letter to his client explaining the difference in price, in terms of the value we would add. We did. His customer accepted our explanation. And we got the work.” (Thank you, Heather. I rest my case.)

Your call to action:

Most Marketing Dangerously readers are specialists in your particular field…and very few would describe yourselves as offering “the lowest prices out there.” So we are all challenged to engage in education-based marketing. We need to let our world know why we need and deserve premium pricing for our customized and innovative solutions. So. We need to write newsletters and blogs. Speak at forums and industry conferences that our customers participate in. We need to send press releases to the local and industry media. And we need to infuse all of our marketing materials – on land and on line – with educational content. (Right now, I’m in the process of writing and scheduling the release of 50 daily tips on marketing and sales, for distribution on the social media platforms that I use. Could/should you be doing something similar?).  Wait. I know. I can hear you shouting, “Who’s got the time?” But I can tell you that it takes very little time out of my life (an hour or two to write this post every week – and fifteen minutes a day to write and post on social media, and that’s about it).

Now here’s the payoff: Not only do you separate yourself from the crowd, you also keep yourself “state of the art.” When you’re answering questions, and sharing knowledge, you “have” to be “the expert.” And that has to pay off in attracting customers. Just ask The Wizard.

See you next week.


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  1. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.

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