How I love the New Year. The past is in the past, and a new year is waiting to be embraced, captured, influenced, and stamped with your plans, hopes and dreams, and fresh success for your business.
1) Content Marketing is King
According to research by Google, a consumer may be as much as 70% through the buying process before he or she contacts your company. Information is literally at every consumer’s fingertip, and your company must provide real-time, useful information through your website, Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and your blogs. And not just coupons and specials, but information that educates. Information that is accessible and easy to understand. Blogs that provide the basics of how a system work, what duct work is and why it matters, how UV lights and enhanced filtration work, the difference between a heat pump and an air conditioning unit, the importance of proper installation, sizing and equipment application, the difference between a quality and a less-than-quality installation. Blogs are not about selling. Blogs are about educating.
Blogs are not about selling. Blogs are about educating.
2) Good Reviews are Queen
If content marketing is king, then good reviews are queen. Reviews and testimonials must be a central part of your marketing strategy. But several sources suggest there’s a growing skepticism about reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List. Our industry has always relied heavily on word-of- mouth reviews. Make sure your company has the processes in place to incorporate the power of word-of-mouth reviews into online reviews.
Does your marketing strategy encourage Facebook posts and online website reviews?
Does your marketing strategy encourage Facebook posts and online website reviews? Do you have someone actively monitoring Facebook posts and responding both to positive and negative comments? Use as much video as is practical. And iPhone video is perfect.
3) Education, Not High Pressure
This is a trend that embraces our industry’s character. If consumers are becoming more skeptical of certain on-line review sites, they’re even more skeptical of high pressure, over-promising marketing and sales practices. The issue of service technicians not having the personality or not wanting to feel like a salesperson has long been discussed in our industry. However, the majority of service technicians that I have met have a wealth of information that they enjoy sharing once they become comfortable with the customer.
Provide educational pieces technicians can share with the customer that explain the basics and the benefits of a product or service being featured for the month. Put your technicians in a comfortable place by allowing them to educate, not sell.
4) Pricing Pressure Will Still Exist
This will be aggravated or enhanced by the Internet, depending on your point of view. Enhancement occurs through educating the customer. A commodity has no differentiating value; thus, price becomes the differentiator.
Know what your differentiator is, and build a brand around it.
Know what your differentiator is, and build a brand around it. Let that brand bleed into every aspect of your company from your marketing to your employees. According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 is the “Year of the Sheep.” Unlike the sheep that’s a follower, make your company a leader through differentiation, and an active, consistent brand strategy that captures your company’s differentiation.
5) Life/Work Balance
Baby Boomers have an important message to learn from Gen Xers and Millenials, and that’s putting a focus on balance in one’s lifestyle. Learn to appreciate the difference in how Gen Xers and Millenials think about work and their “real-life”— that time away from work.
Consider new incentive ideas, such as time off for your Gen X and Millennial employees. Both generations value their personal time, and time off may be more effective than money. For your Gen X and Millennial consumer, think about how they define their “off time.” Weekday extended hours may be more effective than weekend hours because the weekend encompasses their real-life with family and friends. Most importantly, embrace balance in your life. John and I have seen the stress and strife a business can cause in personal relationships, including divorce, and fathers and sons not speaking to one another for years. If I could offer one piece of advice for the New Year, don’t sacrifice a family relationship for a business.
Your business is important, but put it in perspective. A new business can always be created, but it’s much more difficult to find a new family. Happy New Year!
Vicki LaPlant has worked with HVAC contractors for the past 30 years as a trainer/consultant. She helps people work better together for greater success. Vicki is a longtime Contracting Business.com editorial advisory board member and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at 903/786-6262.