What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
By Don G. Archer
I just got back from the Tow Expo Dallas/Fort Worth, where, as a spin-off of the hit television show "Shark Tank," Matt Manero from Commercial Fleet Financing put on the very first "Tow Tank" competition. He offered prize money of $5,000 to the person who had the best new idea that solves towers' problems. Mike Rappaport from OMG National matched the money offered in marketing and web services; winner Dave Barton, out of Stockton, Calif., walked away with $10,000.
Barton's invention, "Driveline Buddy," addresses the difficulties heavy-duty towers encounter while removing the driveline in preparation for towing. Dave's creation does away with the need for balancing the driveline on your arms while tying it to the frame or having a buddy hold it up for you while you do it.
It's a pretty good piece of equipment that can save both time and strain—while helping avoid damages and smashed fingers. But in my humble opinion, the reason why Dave won was because he was able to quickly identify the problem and then provide the most concise presentation of how his invention was the best solution.
Identification is the first step. For example, let's say you're called out for an accident tow and arrive to find a motorist's vehicle down an embankment. Before performing the recovery, you'll need to assess the situation. Is it something you can easily do yourself without blocking traffic? Or do you need a second truck, traffic support and other equipment to get the job done?
It's an important first step, because if you fail to properly identify the problem you can cause more harm than good.
During the course of identification, you're also working on the next step—which is determining the right strategy for recovering the car. The real difficulty lies in the last step, and it's also the same reason Dave won: the concise presentation of the problem and (more importantly) the solution for all involved.
As a tow operator, your job is made much simpler if you have support. If you can clearly describe what's going on—what you need and what your plans are to solve the problem—you'll have all the support you need.
The importance of identification and concise presentation isn't just operational; you can apply this same principle to your marketing as well.
You'll want to start by identifying what problem your potential customer may be experiencing. Author Robert Collier said, "Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind." When it comes to a stranded motorist, it could be thoughts of discouragement: "What am I going to do now?" "What's wrong with my car?" or "How am I going to get it fixed?"
Once you understand what's going through a motorist's mind at this time, you can then move on to the next logical step in their thinking.
After a motorist realizes she can't help herself out of the situation, most likely she'll perform a Google search for: tow truck, roadside assistance or other similar keywords. If your ad is optimized to display when this type of search is performed, you'll have a shot at gaining a customer.
But it's not just optimization ... the payoff is in the concise presentation of a solution to one or more of her problems.
• Question: "What am I going to do now?" Solution: Call for A Tow Truck to Get You Home.
• Question: "What's wrong with my car?" Solution: We'll Help You Find Out What's Wrong with Your Car.
• Question: "How am I going to get it fixed?" Solution: Your Car Fixed--Quick & Reliable.
If you can create an ad that provides a clear solution to the problems plaguing your customer, at the very moment they're experiencing them, you'll have a much better chance of winning—and getting the call. The more you can drill down and identify the problem you're solving, the easier it will be for you to articulate a solution and help you gain customers.American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at TheTowAcademy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.