A one-size-fits-all marketing calendar can work for some industries. HVAC’s not one of them. Because ours is a seasonal industry and seasonal start times vary around the country, each contractor should prepare his or her own marketing calendar. Here’s how to do it.
How much are you going to spend on marketing over the course of the next 12 months? Don’t budget based on what you spent last year. That might not be enough. Set your budget as a percent of projected sales and make sure you adjust your pricing if this results in a change to your overhead percentage.
At this point, most contractors ask what the appropriate percentage should be. It depends on the size of your company and your growth plans. Large companies, with a substantial base of service agreement customers can focus on customer retention and get by with a lower percentage. In part, this is because their customer base gives them broad word-of-mouth.
Younger companies and companies with aggressive growth plans will require investing a greater percentage of sales in marketing. A $10 million contractor who spends 5% will have a $500,000 budget. That might be enough to maintain the status quo. Five percent for a $1 million contractor, on the other hand, will only yield $50,000, which is woefully inadequate if growth is desired.
The economic outlook also affects marketing. Spend more when the economy’s weak. This makes sense. When it’s harder to attract customers and generate sales, more effort is needed.
So, how much is enough? I would invest at least 5% on the low end. If in growth mode, I would invest 10% to 15%. An especially aggressive contractor might spend as much as 20%.
Spread the Budget
The next task is to spread the budget by month. Market to counter seasonality. Spend more in the off-season and less in-season. Plot your sales for the last three years for seasonality. January will equal X% of the year’s sales. February will equal X% and so on.
Brainstorm a list of marketing promotions, advertising, campaigns, and activities. Each marketing element should be designed primarily to get new customers, keep existing customers, or get more revenue from each call.
Layout the Calendar
Assign marketing elements to the different months.
Estimate the cost for each element and start checking it against the budget. Estimate the preparation time for each marketing initiative. Work backwards to create a start date.
If you’re wondering if it’s really that simple, it is. However, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Putting together a custom marketing calendar for your company takes work and will require research. However, having it in place will improve your performance.
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