Standing out in a sea of sameness is daily challenge in the HVAC industry. When it comes to marketing, it’s the same story, ad after ad. Just look at any yellow pages edition: everyone’s ads say just about the same thing, only the logos are different. Grab a copy of the local discount coupon magazine; it's the same story, they all look alike. What about your mailbox? Yep, full of the same, generic postcards and letters, all saying basically the same thing.
To the consumer it all looks and sounds a lot like the teacher from The Peanuts comic" “WAH …WAH...WAH”, just more and more sameness.
Every contractor is claims to be the best, sell the best, do the best work, have the best warranties. But everyone can’t be “the best”. Being the best actually requires actually BEING THE BEST and standing out. But how?
Well, we can walk the traditional path like everyone, and wage a marketing war of attrition, utilizing all the typical channels, and chase your tail like everyone else. Or, we can make the decision to be different by design, and try some unconventional tactics to stand out from the herd. In battle, the term is guerilla warfare, which is a collection of irregular strategies, executing small tactics to ambush, sabotage, and/or surprise your adversary.
In the contracting world, we can execute this guerilla marketing strategy in multiple ways, starting by surprising the client with a WOW service experience and leaving an indelible impression. We can be more personal and memorable. We can move from having just “satisfied” to MORE THAN SATISFIED clients! All of this makes us “stickier” to the clients, and gradually impervious to outside marketing efforts from our competitors.
But how is this accomplished? First, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, it can often be low-cost or even no-cost. Guerilla marketing is more about time, energy, and imagination than big, fat marketing budgets. The most successful GM-campaigns are focused around leveraging our biggest competitive advantage; you know, the thing we do better than anyone in the world! Not the least of which is actually BEING THE BEST at what we do — guaranteed — and consistently delivering experiences that build rapport and deeper loyalty to our companies.
When it comes to guerilla marketing, an easy way to think about it is farming. We have to plant the seeds, preferably in the most fertile soil. Then, it’s the work of watering, fertilizing, and weeding. Only after lots of hard work and dedication will we be able to harvest the fruits of all our labor. Guerilla marketing works the same way, with the reward of some potential harvesting along the way.
What are some easy guerilla marketing strategies?
- Social Buzz: social media platforms like Facebook offer a great guerilla opportunity, as long as we don’t screw it up. Facebook is like a cocktail party, where nobody wants to be “pitched”. It’s all about the “social”, and a guerilla marketer can publish a combination of useful posts, sprinkled in among personal ones thanking clients, recognizing their pets or causes, and even silliness about ourselves, to make an impression and create commonality between us and them. Just don’t obnoxiously sell.
- Cross-Selling: offering additional services, coupons, special offers, etc while on the call is an easy guerilla marketing technique. The client is already there, has already taken time out of their busy schedule, so why not see what else we can do to serve them on-the-spot in a time-starved world?
- Neighborhoods: truck wraps, job signs, door hangers, radius mailers, community newsletters, etc are all effective guerilla marketing strategies to leverage our presence in our target geo-zones. What about parking our trucks in prominent areas at night like 1-800-Got-Junk? Or, putting up job signs at the major intersection leading to the neighborhoods we’re working in? How about knocking on the neighbors doors BEFORE the job starts to let them know that if they need us to move our truck, etc., here’s how to contact us, so we can get right on it? Do you think there’s a possibility they might ask what we’re doing over there at The Smith’s place?
- Guarantees: making the experience completely risk or worry free is like Jedi guerilla marketing. If everyone in our market offers a 30-day warranty on repairs, how remarkable will we be if we offer 12-months? If the standard ductwork warranty in our market is 1-year, what will happen if we offer 10-years? Offering amazing guarantees keeps the homeowner coming back and back and back without having to remarket them.
So, the moral of the story is we can try to fish where everyone else is, and battle it out with marketing dollars and compete on price in a crowded WAH WAH WAH world. Or, we can go upstream where nobody’s fishing, and establish our expertise, our quality, and ourselves as THE category-of-one provider, with an amazing value proposition, and earn the homeowner’s business minus all the market chatter.
As for me, I choose the latter.
Tom Casey, Jr. is chief quality officer at Climate Partners, Milford, CT, a multi-generation company in existence since the early 1900s. He is also CQO at Summit Services in Hilton Head, SC and at Griffin Services, St. Johns, Fla. Climate Partners has won multiple ContractingBusiness.com Quality Home Comfort Awards, for excellence in efficient home HVAC installations. Griffin Services was a 2017 QHCA winner.
Tom currently resides in Saint Johns, Fla., where he is also serving as a consultant to HVAC businesses.
He can be reached at [email protected] / 518-732-JEDI.