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Exposing Some Modern HVAC Marketing Myths

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What’s Working to Generate More HVAC Leads Now? You might be surprised…

The internet has not taken over the world, yet. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is thankfully not our sole model of social behavior. (Does anyone else find it odd that 60% of his programmers are clinically anti-social?)

There are still ways for contractors to break through the marketing clutter and get a response that is not purely internet-based. Remarkable, I know. But, there are some seriously dead media out there, too. So, let’s dispel a couple myths and get some leads. Starting here…

Newspaper Advertising – Remember these? The “modern” world makes you think these are only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire. Fortunately, there are still literate and affluent people who value them and are less than 112 years old. In fact…

  • Print Ads Still Top Digital Ads – “Lead generation and recall in print outpace the overflowing and very ignorable versions online” quoted a source. But, remember to join forces and integrate your offline article with an online call-to-action. This is to create a steady stream of activity and leads online and offline.
  • Affluent Customers Prefer Print – According to Ad Age Stat, affluent customers (those earning over $155,000 annually) “significantly” prefer print to online media. Called the “Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer,” they found that 86% of American Affluents read printed newspapers, while 39% read print and online, and 14% use online and smartphones. So rich people don’t mind inky fingers.

Takeaway point: Forget the hype; don’t pull the plug on print. As always to our clients, use a balanced strategy of online and offline media. Since print is so favored by the affluent (including 93% who prefer it for printed magazines over digital counterpart), it’s far wiser to strategize:

A)    Neighborhood/zone options in newspaper advertising, including community newspapers. Prices are down, competitors have pulled out due to the myth, driving your response rate up by default, and

B)    Sending targeted direct mail offers to chosen zip codes. Ditto for the reasons why.

Yellow Page Advertising – Sorry to let you know, but Yellow Page books are actually only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire, being fondled by various 112 year olds, all of whom appear to be bargain shoppers. In fact, look-ups are down 44%, with 78% of respondents noting more internet use. On this one, the ‘myth’ is true, however I do NOT advise getting out of the YP completely since 35% of 55-year-olds and up still consider them a primary look up source.

Email Marketing – For all email’s benefits – two being that it’s fast and “free” – it’s not without some very big challenges. A Marketing Sherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report identified the following list of “problems” experienced by the top email marketers in the United States:

  • Difficulty reaching recipients – 66%
  • Getting people to opt-in – 46%
  • Deliverability even from ‘opted-in’ recipients – 39%
  • Legitimate email being perceived as spam – 35%
  • Quantifying email ROI – 37%

And that list is from people running multi-million dollar campaigns. No wonder it’s a little troubling for the rest of us.

We’ve advised clients since 2000 (just after the Neolithic Period) to gather email addresses, getting ever more clever in acquisition as rules and results changed. We’ll attack those top 3 problems with methods that work best now:

  • Squeeze page for opt-in. These work. A ‘squeeze page’ is used when you send people from a larger list (your social site, co-op list, etc) to a very short, non-threatening, ‘free’ report, video, or coupon in exchange for entering their email.
  • QR code to squeeze. This is the way to “marry” print and online. Put these in your direct mail offers or newsletters to build email addresses (see QR code this page).
  • Request at appointment. Your CSR merely requests the caller to give their email address for the “appointment confirmation and product alerts”.  About 80% will comply.  Easy, fast, free.

Takeaway point: Build your email list constantly, providing only relevant content to the recipients. Let your ‘sell email’ come from either a different ‘sender’ or very infrequently.

SEO Marketing Now, it’s all about content and integration. Of course, as you collect customer information, don’t let it just sit in your computer files gathering dust.  Put it to use!  After all, the ultimate test of effectiveness of any customer database is whether or not you’re actually using that fuel to generate more traffic to your company.

Advised: Pick one theme, one look, and for each promotion, one message. Pound that in across the media and watch the results. These are called sister promotions and you’re advised to use this approach in all of your marketing. This is a shift partly due to a) an overly distracted public, b) additional media choices and c) short-term memory and focus loss. This is not theory.

In summary: To those who think traditional marketing (print ads, radio, direct mail) is a thing of the past, I’d say “not so fast.” The key is balance and integration. Just as your web addresses should be on every print, radio or TV ad, so should your phone number in every online ad.

Online and offline are NOT separate or at odds; they blend into a cohesive whole, intelligently managed for optimum results.

Adams Hudson

Posted In: Building Performance, Sales & Marketing, Technology

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