When you develop your marketing plan, you have to decide what kind of marketing you want to do. First, let’s not confuse marketing with advertising. With advertising, you develop an ad or series of ads to sell a product or service. An ad typically is short term in focus and it has a call to action. Marketing is long term in focus, and covers a number of areas, such as positioning, branding, awareness, and visibility.
Marketing is wide in focus and it encompasses all areas of the business. Some companies are marketing driven meaning they have a marketing reason for everything they do, from the showroom to the service truck. Marketing is not sales, and it is not dvertising but it does encompass these functions.
What is awareness and visibility? Awareness is a long-term action that generates familiarity with your company. It stays in the back of people’s minds so that when somebody mentions your company name, people say, “Oh yeah, I know who they are, or I’ve heard of them.” You might ask yourself, what value does that bring to the table? When you are ready to buy a product or service, are you more comfortable buying from someone you have heard about or from a company about which you know nothing?
Visibility on the other hand is two pronged, live, and online. For live visibility, your trucks and cars are your rolling billboards that travel all over your area and thousands of people see them every day. With online visibility, people will find your website with just a keyword or phrase and your company shows up in the search.
Just having a website doesn’t do you much good if your company isn’t visible. If you search for your specific name or website, it will come up but there are times when people are looking for an installation and service company and they don’t know the name. You want to show up in those searches and here’s where the awareness comes in to play. If a potential customer sees your company website and they don’t know who you are, they are likely to go to qthe first name they recognize. On the other hand, if they see your name, and they recognize it, they are more likely to give you a call.
How do you generate awareness and visibility? As most HVAC Businesses are seasonal, you build awareness during the slow times when people aren’t actively looking for your product or service. Its purpose is to stay at the top of mind position so should a need arise they will call you. When I set out to generate awareness, first I determine the trading area and then look for ways to reach the largest portion of my area for the least amount of money. In marketing we talk in terms of CPM – cost per thousand.
In the past, some of the things that have worked for building awareness are drive time radio on a talk radio station and cable TV – depending on your budget. Drive time radio is more cost effective and local radio media salespeople generally can cut deals with you depending on your budget. Cable TV is very effective because you can target specific types of customers and then find the cable channel that has that kind of audience. If you sign a long-term contract, you then have the capability of changing your message during the time, so if you do an annual contract or if you do a shorter contract you can change the ad based on the season, or whatever reason you desire.
Ensuring that you have visibility takes both art and science. When we speak visibility, we primarily mean online visibility. Years ago, businesses would spend thousands of dollars a month on Yellow Page advertising because they wanted to customers to find them. Now most people turn to Internet search engines to find businesses for any need. On the low end, register for all of the free search engines and listings you can find.
The key to creating visibility is to have your business listed in as many places as you can. Register with Google, Yahoo, and Bing, register with Yellow Pages online, but only for their free service. Budget about $300 per month and run some Google Adwords ads. You can pick the keywords that you think customers will use to find your business and you can set a budget as to how much you are willing to pay per keyword and click.
Besides you website, create a Google+ account and post messages which will help point traffic to your website, also consider a facebook business page, and while it will not have people lining up at your door it will help make your business more visible. Consider running some facebook ads that just point people to your website. You can also consider offering discounts through these ads to help generate some business. Like Google Adwords, you can control your monthly spend and pay per click budgets on facebook ads.
My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. My book Navigating the Marketing Maze is now available in eBook format on Amazon.com for $4.99.
Andy Fracica is the author of Navigating the Marketing Maze, he is a speaker, a marketing coach, and president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market, by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.
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