In the last months, since the water contamination incident in West Virginia, many dealers and ethicists have been grappling with the fine line between using scare tactics and using this kind of situation to become a respected community resource who consumers respect.

Sure, it’s easy for me to dish out advice; after all I don’t make my living selling water systems. But I do make my living selling and while selling marketing lists and water systems is very different, the concept of “taking the higher road” is the same, regardless of what we’re selling.

In my last article, I suggested that water dealers can use these highly publicized incidents and become a resource to members of the community. You want your company to be recognized and quoted in the media as a respected leader in the water industry, so it stands to reason that you need to prepare yourself for the next time an “incident” happens. And, as we know, it’s not a question of “if,” it’s a matter of when.

Know the people at your local water department, chamber of commerce and power company and become part of their emergency awareness team. One of the biggest problems during an emergency is getting information. Can you provide space for a community forum? Can you provide manpower during an alert? Are you willing to supply bottled water in an emergency situation? Are the bottles branded with your company information?

Would you consider putting together a panel at the local elementary school about energy? And, when it comes to the part about water — explaining what water filters can do and not do, clarifying some of the misconceptions about filtered water and highlighting the dollar-saving/energy-saving benefits of a system?

Even though my job is to sell you a list for your marketing program, the key to the success of your campaign will depend on your brand, your name recognition and people in your community knowing that you are a solid business who is there for them. This way, when they receive a marketing offer from you in the mail, they will know who you are and pay attention to your message.

Taking the higher road elevates your dealership and separates you from the pack. You will be viewed as a resource rather than just a sales group and that will make a big difference in your bottom line in the long run.