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Marketing Clarity For The HVAC Marketer

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Be forewarned: this advice isn’t all pretty, just as business today isn’t. The silver lining is that the new economy is forcing a move from shiny wrapping (indulgence) toward valuable content (importance).

As during any transition, confusion reigns.

3 Sources of Marketing Confusion

1. Confusing Conceit with Commerce. Enough of corporate-drivel advertising, focused upon self with handsome slickness and all the ‘copycat’ mutations thereof. Enough of glamorous photos of equipment that most owners prefer to hide behind a shrub. (Save that for the kitchen table closing discussion.)

That stuff is not generating leads. And in this economy, an indulgent stab at supremacy appears insensitive, uncaring, detached. Worse, it is contagious…

Contractors often copy this advertising approach, and get hoodwinked into believing that marketing should be about them. This misstep is reinforced by media sales reps who know ego (self-focused marketing) is a powerful motivator that mysteriously increases the ad budget.

If this type of approach worked, then the majority of ads would be successful. It doesn’t and they aren’t.

Clarity Time: To generate a response in the current market, focus your ads upon being: a) Different from the schlock out there, b) About the customer’s gain and mostly c) Why in the heck they should call you instead of the 800 other losers who claim mostly the same stuff. See item ‘a’ again.

2. Confusing Activity with Accomplishment. Would you rather talk about what works in marketing, or talk about what everyone else is talking about? Case in point: Social Media. The following will be unpopular. Sorry.

Okay, pick any previous buzzword: Networking, Branding, Search Marketing, whatever, and you’ll see following the initial ‘spike’ of interest, all landed at the exact same spot. And that’s where “Return” meets “Investment.” Business sanity must prevail, and the fuel for sanity is fiduciary responsibility.

The current marketing love-fest is with Social Media. Fine. If used intelligently, it is a fantastic source for lead generation. We do it for ourselves, create it for others and earn money by doing both. I say this to alert you to the truth:

It can also be less productive than standing in line at the DMV… with improper ID… on a Holiday.

Countless posts, hopeful Tweets, link-sharing, setting up groups – then monitoring and updating them regularly – all require a befuddling array of “activity.” At a certain level, “accomplishment” must be measured.

“If it ain’t payin’, you’re just playin’.”

Clarity Time: For Twitter, better to use Tweetdecks or Social Media Platforms for relationship building and occasional bumps to your website, in about a 3:1 ratio in favor of relationship. For Facebook, create a business page (instead of a personal page) that informs but also links to in-depth info on your website (again, about a 3:1 ratio) or immediate email contact.

Point: Systemize traffic flow to your website to obtain contact info, move them toward direct contact (email or phone) and advance toward customer acquisition. That is accomplishment from activity.

IMPORTANT: Make sure your message is the same across all media. If you’re talking about Whole House Performance in your direct mail pieces, make sure you’re doing the same with your website, blog and Social Media accounts.

3. Confusing Revenue for Relationship. Richard Branson, the billionaire businessman, recently blogged, “When it comes to business success, it is all about people, people, people.”

Sure, we’re all sick of “reading” or “hearing” that, but considering his numerous successes in multiple business categories, it is interesting that he follows up with…

“Every entrepreneur and business leader is trying to uncover the same secret: What will help them grow their customer base and keep those clients loyal?”

The billionaire speaketh sage advice for all, most notably what follows the word “and” above.

You see, most contractors see the goal of “acquisition” to be “revenue.” Most any ding-dong can get ‘x’ closing ratio out of ‘y’ leads. That’s a short-term revenue driven goal.

Yet the goal of your very expensive acquisition marketing should be very inexpensive but lucrative retention marketing. Why? The relationship, re-sales, referrals and recurring revenue. That’s why, according to more than one billionaire.

To me, in this re-focused economy, retention is the new acquisition.

Without exception, our top-grossing, top-growth clients who’ve set sales records in this economy are retention experts. They think “past the sale.”

Clarity Time: You cannot survive on “one-time sales” or “one-time customers” – multiplicity of effort rules. Extract marketing efficiency by forcing your company beyond just “getting the lead and closing the sale” (the old way) by adding in “and keeping the customer forever.” This will pay huge dividends.

To me, the degree to which you ignore or engage your customers is the exact degree they’ll do the same to you. They’re just looking for someone who appreciates them, and in this way, are we any different? Show them. A few quickies:

  • Vividly demonstrate appreciation. This is by action. Call, card, email, newsletter, gift. Ignore them, they ignore you.
  • Inform of Pending Change. Your prices going up? Tell ‘em so they can buy at the old price. You adding a service? Tell ‘em and sell ‘em. Want them to find out about the Tax Credit program from you (instead of all your competitors) before it ends? Tell ‘em.
  • Extend the customer community. As evidenced by the social media boom, you want your customers to be your advocates, inviting others. You must encourage them to refer and praise what they like about you. Hint: It ain’t your trucks, booties or tool rack. It’s the relationship with your people.

As the new economy finds stability, it is wise to seek clarity. In Isaiah 41, “Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.”

Let your deeds amount to plenty! Enlist these in your marketing and even more in your business philosophy.

Adams Hudson

Posted In: Building Performance, Sales & Marketing

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