During my presentation to HVAC contractors at Comfortech this year, I asked two questions. The first question was “How many of you are focused on increasing your service maintenance business?”
The majority of the room raised their hands.
The second question was “How many of you send your service maintenance customers at least one update per month on how they can be more successful?”
No one raised their hands. Honestly, I was in shock.
As the economy continues to teeter along, getting more business from our current customer base needs to be a top priority. Smart HVAC contractors get that.
But to keep them as customers we need to show value. We need to position ourselves as the leading home comfort experts so that when they have a problem, they think of us.
So how do we show value online? By consistently sharing information that separates us from the marketing noise and by giving our customers “gifts” of content. Not by sending them more sales messages.
My good friend Jay Baer, author of the book the NOW Revolution, says that the difference between helping and selling is just two letters, but those two letters can make all the difference for our businesses.
Helping is the new selling, especially when it comes to online marketing.
Here’s how it could work:
• Solve Customer Problems – You are a heating and air conditioning expert. You receive questions from your customers on a constant basis, either directed to you, your technicians or your administrative team. When you answer these questions on a one-on-one basis, how can you extend the reach of your expertise? Consider this: every question you receive from customers can be a piece of original online content. This could be housed in a blog post or article resource page on your website where customers and prospects can find it by searching on your website, on Google, or from online referrals like Facebook.
• Share Your Expertise – Most contractors want to figure out those shiny social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, but most don’t exactly know what to share. By developing ongoing content about your customer’s problems through a blogging tool, you’ll have a consistent treasure trove of information that will become the fertilizer to make your social media strategies grow. So instead of sharing stuff about you on Facebook, you are actually sharing stuff your customers care about.
• Publish To Your Service Maintenance Customers – Keeping in touch with your service maintenance customers is a must. Doing it without blatantly selling is important. Once you have the ongoing, consistent information from your blog posts and social media, you can package those pieces together into a monthly enewsletter. Just take two to three of your best posts, put them into the enewsletter, add a warm message with an offer and you are good to go. This keeps you in front of your service maintenance customers on a regular basis without pushing an offer.
And the best part is, once you create the enewsletter, you can offer your customers something of value in exchange for their email address.
Regardless of what you decide, remember that publishing helpful information online about your customers’ pain points is the best way to position yourself as the regional home comfort expert, and…it’s not rocket science to accomplish. It just means thinking a little different about your website and the way you communicate online.
Joe Pulizzi is CEO of SocialTract, the leading blogging and content service designed for service companies. SocialTract is part of the Content Marketing Institute. Joe is also co-author of Get Content Get Customers, which details how companies can publish content to drive revenues. Joe can be reached at [email protected].