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Rethink Your Digital Marketing Strategy

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If you’re like a lot of the business owners I know, you probably think one of two things about planning and forecasting. It’s either: I hate it, and I don’t have the time to spend on it; or it’s: I hate it, and I don’t have the time to spend on it.

All jokes aside, what I’ve come to learn about the most successful HVAC companies I work with is that they all “plan the work, and work the plan.” So, as we quickly approach 2017, now is the time to set your company up for success by looking back at what worked and what didn’t in the past.

To help you, I put together a free Excel workbook exclusively for ACCA Members, to give you a guide for creating your 2017 plan. Go to to download it.

Once you’ve downloaded it, here’s what you’ll need to complete it:

  • A 2016 income statement (even better if you have 2014 and 2015)
  • A marketing report that summarizes leads, appointments, and sales (again, even better if you have 2014 and 2015 too)
  • A website report that gives you visits and leads data (as you can guess, it will be even better if you have 2014 and 2015 also)

Let me walk you through each step of it and explain why completing it is so crucial to your 2017 business success.

The Business Intake

Step 1: Complete the Business Information Sheet

This portion of the workbook is pretty simple—you should be able to fill in many of the numbers from the reports I asked you to have on hand. Once you fill in each of the blanks, the workbook will calculate some pretty crucial business metrics.

Not only do these metrics provide a good baseline, but they will help you set goals for 2017. For example, how has your Cost Per Appointment changed? Is it going up or down? If it’s going up, you may need to re-evaluate your marketing campaigns—that’s the next step.

Step 2: Complete the 2016 Marketing Review Sheet

With your marketing report in hand, list all your marketing campaigns, their cost, the leads they produced, and the resulting sales and revenue. The campaigns listed are just examples—but try to be as comprehensive as possible.

Some examples:

Campaign Spend ($) Revenue ($)
Mailer $250,000 $1,022,224
SEO $30,000 $383,319
PPC $52,712 $186,258
Angie’s List $36,000 $96,129

For a variety of reasons, your list may be longer or shorter and your spend or revenue may be different, but the intent is to clearly lay out what you spent on marketing and understand what it’s gotten you in return. This is one of the key steps in putting your 2017 plan together. As you’ll see below—don’t skip there yet—this exercise will make a big impact on your success in 2017.

Step 3: Complete the Competitor Analysis Sheet

Think about your business and your top three competitors. Now, simply answer the questions listed for each. For example, which of your competitors are investing in SEO and how much? Which competitors are using Google AdWords and which keywords are they targeting? How fast are their websites compared to yours?

This may seem counterintuitive, but you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Some business owners operate as if they have to always be original. You don’t. The most successful business owners I know are also very good at copying and improving on the work of others. I feel so strongly about competitor analysis that I created a software that automates elements of it for my team at Blue Corona.

Create Your 2017 Plan

If you tried to complete the Excel file, you should have one of two “aha” moments.

The first “aha” moment is a bad one. Some of you probably started and stopped because you couldn’t find the data within your reports. If you fall into this category, the big “aha” is that you need to rethink the way you track your marketing.

If you fall into this group, you need to take immediate action. What you do next depends on where you started to struggle. Does your accountant only send your income statement once a year? That’s nonsense—you need to see it monthly. Perhaps you don’t know how many leads you receive—overall or from each of your marketing campaigns. If that’s the case, you need to call your marketing company and raise hell. Any reputable marketing company should provide you monthly reports with these numbers. If you have someone doing this stuff internally, take it up with them. Maybe they’ve convinced you no one tracks things with this level of detail. Guess what? All the most successful contractors have these numbers at their fingertips.

The other “aha” moment is a good one. If you could complete the workbook, you have great baseline data to create a strategy for 2017.

When it comes to creating a new strategy, it’s a matter of taking bits and pieces from each of the sheets and using them in concert to build your plan. The beauty is the answers lie right at your fingertips.

The Business Information sheet highlights your overall goal in business terms. Using additional information, this file makes calculations and translates your business goal into a marketing goal—specifically, the number of leads you need to reach your goal. Now, you’ll need to review the marketing campaigns you tracked to determine which will help you reach your goal and which to eliminate.

Throughout this process, what you’re looking for are leverage points.

  1. For campaigns performing within your goal Cost Per Lead (CPL) range and resulting in a decent number of leads, see if you can double down on them. These are the campaigns working well for you—take advantage of them to their fullest to help close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  2. For campaigns not within your goal CPL range, it’s time to cut them. The numbers tell you all you need to know. If you’ve been investing serious dollars into something that doesn’t deliver, you either need to renegotiate the cost or cut it completely.
  3. Finally, there is a gap you need to fill after doubling down on the good and cutting the bad. Pick a few campaigns your competitors are utilizing and give them a shot. Each year, we have clients test up to 25% of their marketing budget on new campaigns.

Now—you have the makings of a serious 2017 growth plan. You’ve got a goal, marketing campaigns to help fill in the gaps, and it’s time to delegate and execute! That’s the fourth and final sheet in the workbook.

It’s Go Time

Like I mentioned above, if you’re in the camp of “aha” number one, you need to talk with your accountant and marketing team to get dialed in for a successful 2017. If you want to see what that looks like, give me a call and I’ll share some examples of good tracking reports to set you in the right direction.

If you’re in the camp of “aha” number two, it’s time to get to work! If you’re struggling with any part of this, I’m happy to help. Feel free to give me a call and we can discuss your options in depth.

Happy holidays and here’s to a fantastic 2017!

Ben Landers

Posted In: Sales & Marketing, Technology

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