The Opportunity for HVAC Contractors in Print

Have you noticed your mailbox lately? If you are like me, you are getting less mail every week.

More and more businesses are opting for online. That certainly makes sense. According to Forrester Research, 90% of all purchasing decisions start with the web. That means, as a business, if we’re not sophisticated in our online marketing, we’re probably missing out on new and recurring business.

Like you, I run a small business. Late last year we decided to launch a print magazine called Chief Content Officer . Now, into our third issue, I can tell you first hand that it’s driving significant business for us. Yes, a print magazine.

Sure, we think the content of the magazine is great (most publishers do), but I think the bigger issue is the attention we carve out because it’s actually printed and actually arrives in the mail. I get people calling me every week telling me how much they love the magazine and can’t believe that we invested in print (I love that!). Now, you don’t have to invest in a full-fledge magazine, but how about a print newsletter? It saddens me the number of contractors I’ve talked to that have ditched their print newsletters simply because they can send them online now. Listen folks, nothing wrong with online (I’m a big believer in blogging for contractors), but print is print and it still means something (just ask the publisher of Contracting Business).

Here are seven reasons why I think now is the time you should be thinking about print:

1. Getting Attention: There's just less mail, so more attention is paid to each piece of mail.

2. The Focus on Customer Retention: Customer retention is still one of the most important goals for businesses (click here for details.) Historically, the reason why custom print magazines and newsletters were developed by brands was for customer retention purposes. We have a winner!

3. No Audience Development Costs: Traditional publishers like Contracting Business expend huge amounts of time and money qualifying subscribers to send out their magazines. Many times, publishers need to invest multiple dollars per subscriber per year for auditing purposes (They send direct mail, they call, they call again so that the magazine can say they that their subscribers have requested the magazine. This is true for controlled (free) trade magazines). That's a cost that you don't have to worry about. If contractors want to distribute a newsletter to their customers, they just use their customer mailing list. That's a big advantage.

4. What's Old Is New Again: Social media, online content and iPad applications are all part of the marketing mix today. Still, what excites marketers and media buyers is what IS NOT being done. They want to do something different...something new. It's hard to believe, but I've heard many large brand marketers talk about leveraging print as something new in their marketing mix. Unbelievable.

5. Customers Still Need to Ask Questions: We love the Internet because buyers can find answers to almost anything. But where do we go to think about what questions we should be asking? I talked to a publisher recently who said this: "The web is where we go to get answers but print is where we go to ask questions." It's lean back versus lean forward. What’s better than having your customers relax with your newsletter on how they can save money with their energy spending, or live longer lives?

6. Print Still Excites People: I talked to a journalist recently who said it's harder and harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story. But mention that it will be a printed feature and executives rearrange their schedule. The printed word is still perceived as more credible to many people than anything on the web. It goes to the old adage, "If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important." Whether that's true or not, that is still a widely-held perception.

7. Unplug: More and more people are actively choosing to unplug, or disconnect themselves from digital media. I'm doing this more myself. I'm finding myself turning off my phone and email more to engage with printed material. A year ago I didn't see this coming. Today, I relish the opportunities when I can't be reached for comment. So, don’t stop your move into become excellent online marketers, but please don’t forget the opportunities in print.

Joe Pulizzi is the CEO of SocialTract, the leading blogging service for HVACR contractors. Joe is also the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and co-author of Get Content Get Customers. Joe can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @juntajoe.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.