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15 Marketing Fundamentals

Oct. 13, 2021
Good marketing must consider design, target, media, frequency and more. Regardless of format, these 15 fundamentals will help to ensure your marketing works.

With digital marketing all the rage today, it is important for contractors to remember the fundamentals. Poor marketing does not become good when made digital. Fundamentally good marketing is good whether digital, broadcast, print, or mail. Here are 15 fundamentals to make sure your marketing works. 

1. Identify the Marketing Objective 

Step one is to identify what you want to accomplish. What is the marketing supposed to do?  What is the objective?  Broadly, your marketing should be designed to get more customers (customer acquisition), keep customers (customer retention), or get more from customers (increase your average ticket).  

Define the specific objective in one sentence.  For example, “The purpose of this promotion is to encourage shoulder season maintenance calls from past customers.”

2. Identify the Target 

Who are you trying to reach?  If you know your target, your marketing will be more effective. For example, if you are trying to reach female homeowners over age 35, you might be more effective on a Christian or family radio station than sports talk. 

3. Select the Media

Each media has its own characteristics, advantages, and limitations. Depending on the marketing objective some media might be preferable to others.  For building top-of-mind-awareness, broadcast TV, radio, or cable TV can be excellent choices. Conversely, broadcast may not be appropriate if you operate a limited service area in a large geographic metropolitan area. 

Even digital differs. Paid search is great for people with an immediate need seeking a contractor now.  Banner ads can range from top-of-mind to promotional or event focused. 

4. Define the Frequency 

How often will you run the marketing? Is this a one and done, a continuous effort such as billboards, or repeat messaging?  It takes repeat exposure for some messages to sink in and awareness to build.  As a rule, you are better off with more frequent advertising to fewer people than less frequent to more people. 

5. Note the Timing 

Timing is critical. Clearly, you do not want to talk about air conditioning in the middle of the winter or heating in the summer.  Yet, some companies do.  Or, they promote a sale around an event that passed weeks earlier.  

As a rule, you are better off with more frequent advertising to fewer people than less frequent to more people. 

You want to promote fast responses during peak season. Promote maintenance specials and replacements during shoulder seasons.  Be aware of the lead time.  If you are going to do a St Patrick’s Day promotion, how far back do you need to start based on your media?

6. Keep It Simple 

There is a tendency of some contractors to try and tell prospects everything they can in their marketing.  Simpler is better.  For example, if you are driving home from work and your spouse calls to ask you to pick up an item from the grocery store, there’s a good chance you will get it done.  If you are asked to pick up more than three items, the odds are you will miss with one of them, either forgetting it altogether or picking up the wrong item.  If you forget when you are trying to remember, what chance does a marketing message have?  Keep it simple and limited. 

7. Include a Call to Action 

Your marketing should always include a call to action.  Even top-of-mind advertising can include a call to action. Tell prospects what you want them to do.  For example, you might say, “Supply chains have been disrupted. High efficiency furnaces are in short supply, but we have them now.  Hurry, call now while they’re in stock.” 

Tell prospects what you want them to do.  For example, you might say, 'Supply chains have been disrupted. High efficiency furnaces are in short supply, but we have them now.  Hurry, call now while they’re in stock.'


8. Be Human
 

Consumers can tell the difference between advertising with a corporate voice and advertising with a human voice. Most manufacturer advertising carries a corporate voice. It is stale, dry, and sterile. Be human. Whoever produces your marketing, whether advertising or social media needs to understand how to speak with a human voice.

9. Tell a Story 

Since before we had written languages, we told stories. We would sit around our tribal campfires and listen to stories that let us know where to find food and how to avoid danger. Storytelling is in our DNA. We pay attention to stories. We learn from stories. Tell stories in your marketing.  

10. Show People Over Products 

Related to speaking with a human voice is featuring humans in marketing. Shocking as it might seem, the vast, vast majority of the public does not get excited over the image of a condensing unit or a furnace.

People like pictures of people. Show pictures of happy humans who look like your target demographic thinks they look like. 

People like pictures of people. Show pictures of happy humans who look like your target demographic thinks they look like. That means, they are younger and fitter than reality. 

11. Graphic Design Matters 

There are many subtle elements in a graphic design that spell the difference between good marketing and crappy marketing.  Either use a professional graphic designer or study graphic design until you understand the basic concepts. This is one of the reasons you should keep a swipe file stuffed with attractive and appealing marketing whether HVAC related or not. Write the things you like about each piece you keep on the piece.

12. Create a Marketing Calendar 

One of the best ways to ensure your timing is good, your marketing is steady, and your messages reinforcing is to use a marketing calendar. Break it up by acquisition, retention, and increasing average tickets. Spread it over the next 90 days at least. Identify the marketing initiatives, when they start, when they execute, the cost of the promotion, the media, and the cost of the media. 

13. Logging Results 

The marketing calendar is a great place to log results.  If you do not have a marketing calendar, it is important that you note the results from each initiative, even if you do not know precisely and must indicate the qualitative results. Logging results will help you improve each year. 

14. Communicate Internally 

If you are promoting a special offer, make sure your CSR, dispatchers, and technicians know what’s going on so they are not surprised if asked about it by a customer.  In fact, you should ask your team’s help in promotion through their personal social media pages and personal networks. 

15. Troubleshooting 

Marketing pioneer John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”  The fact is, marketing does not always work. When it does not, it is worth trying to learn why so you can avoid repeating mistakes.

When marketing fails, it is usually the wrong media, the wrong message, the wrong target, or the wrong timing.  Without undergoing a diagnostic procedure you risk throwing out a good marketing effort because you got the timing wrong.  Ask, how could you make it work better in the future.

For thousands of professionally designed marketing templates for the HVAC industry, join the Service Roundtable.  It’s only $50 a month and includes the industry’s largest buying group, which can pay for your membership.  Learn more at www.ServiceRoundtable.com.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.