• Video Marketing Adds Action to Your Brand

    July 2, 2020
    Your HVAC team is on the move, meeting with customers and bringing comfort to their homes. Video marketing helps you capture and share that activity and your company's story with existing customers and prospective clients.

    Video is still the Internet’s most popular messaging format. Reaching prospective customers through direct mail or email campaigns has value, and a place in your marketing plans, however, expanding into video gives your customers and prospects insight into your company’s culture and “visual identity” in a way that’s just not possible with pen and ink.

    Quality video production is not easy; it has to be done right, and is best left to the experts. One of the best in the business is Yellow Dog Creative, Marquette, Mich. They’re known as “Storytellers of the Trades,” which is what so many home services companies are seeking: a turn-key source to encapsulate company history, people, and service proposition in realistic and insightful video marketing campaigns and commercials. Yellow Dog Creative’s services include brand  development, media strategy, graphic design, audio (for radio and on-hold messaging) and a recently-added service for social media management.

    Nancy O’Hare-Zika is the owner and CEO of Yellow Dog Creative. To date, she and a team of 11, which includes seven videographers and editors, and an administrative/management team, have produced approximately 4,000 commercials for home service clients.

    Beginnings in HVAC
    Yellow Dog Creative’s unique story began at Swick Home Services, an HVAC, plumbing and cooling company based in Marquette, where O’Hare-Zika worked as general manager and marketing director. She and the team at Swick’s marketing arm — Swick Media — created a video campaign that brought life and attention to the Swick story, to great acclaim. Swick became its own entity in 2013.  O’Hare-Zika acquired the media division in 2018. Today she, her husband, CFO Matt Zika, and the team serve 125 trade business customers across North America.

    Yellow Dog Creative provides video imaging support to businesses of all sizes, from those with two trucks to those operating 200-vehicle fleets. And, all clients have one common need.

    “They want to become the company of choice in their given service area,” O’Hare-Zika said. “They want to be the name that is synonymous with the best HVAC, the best plumber, the best electrical, the best customer service, whatever their best is, that’s what they're striving for.”

    O’Hare-Zika said these firms’ primary need is branding, which is where  Yellow Dog’s storyteller skills go to work.

    “We go into these companies and tell their story. Nobody can tell by looking at a brick building what kind of people are inside and what is the ‘heart and soul’ of the company, or the story about someone's grandfather starting the business with a horse and wagon. They’re very proud of that, as they should be.

    There are so many stories, and we help them tell them. But essentially, it's a branding campaign. We help them take that [historical] information and help them to establish trust in their community,” O’Hare-Zika said.

    Rodney Edenfield, founder and partner in Tilted House Consulting home service marketing consultants based in Ponte Vedra, Fla. said he leverages the services of many different agencies and partners for Tilted House's home service clients, but Yellow Dog has become one of its most trusted agencies, especially from the creative side. His partners at Tilted House are Lisa Ninosky, who for 10+ years was vice president of marketing and customer service at Len the Plumber; and Susan Kimball, who for more than 12 years was the Internet and marketing coach for the Nexstar best practices organization. 

    "We believe video is the future of most messaging, especially from a digital perspective. When looking at social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook; the need for video for home service clients has never been greater. We believe nobody tells a story through editing like Yellow Dog Creative does for our clients. They truly get to know the voice of the brand when they visit a company. Without that understanding it’s very difficult to tell a compelling story through video," Edenfield said.

    Yellow Dog Creative is equipped to produce video content to reach any type of consumer in any platform.

    "If you’re looking to grow an existing customer base through additional products, they can do that, through compelling story telling. If you’re looking to bring in new customers for existing core services, they do a great job at telling the reasons why a customer should do that," Edenfield said.

    Hold That Thought
    O’Hare-Zika said she believes an effective branding video should not be designed for “instant action,” but rather, to show something that will affix the company in the mind of customers when the need arises.

    “People don't sit on their couch, see a TV commercial, and think, ‘I’m going to replace my AC unit tomorrow.’ That just isn't how this industry works. HVAC, plumbing, indoor air quality are silent parts of a home. And as long as they're working, it's great. As a contractor in the plumbing, heating, cooling industry, you have to spend your marketing dollars making sure that your name is the first on someone's tongue when they do wake up in the morning, and there's water all over the floor because the water heater just died,” O’Hare-Zika explained. “You  want them to think, ‘Okay that company I see all the time, XYZ HVAC —I’m going to call them, because they seem like they’re a great company.’

    “That’s our goal: to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, so that when they do have a problem, that’s the first name they think of.”

    Protected Regions
    The nation’s television viewing is categorized into designated marketing  areas (DMAs), which are commercial broadcast regions.

    “We try to restrict how many companies we work with in a given DMA, because we don’t want to saturate the area with our creative, because it’s very unique looking,” O’Hare-Zika explained. “We know what DMAs are currently being held by other companies, and we can have up to four companies in a given area based by county. Once someone becomes a client, they tell us what counties are in their service area, and we block those areas off so that the creative that we supply them with is unique to them. If that company and their competitor were showing the same commercial, the same idea, the same concept, or sending the same direct mail pieces, or using the same billboards, well, it's going to make them ineffective for both companies.

    “We protect our partners and their locations as if they're gold. First and foremost, that's the way we make sure that our creative is being used to get the best bang for their buck.”

    Creative sessions and commercial shoots can be conducted during a three-day visit by a Yellow Dog Creative video team to the actual business; or, the contracting business representative can visit the Yellow Dog headquarters in Marquette. The video team spends 20 weeks per year on the road shooting commercials, from dawn to dusk.

    “They get every single shot that we will need for the next five to seven years: technicians driving; technicians walking up to homes; working on equipment; company meetings; loading vans; working in the warehouse. It’s something like 580 shots before we leave,” O’Hare shared. “And it's all planned out before we arrive, so we can make the minimal amount of impact on the company; because they're trying to run a business.”

    Yellow Dog Creative also offers billboard programs, on-hold messages and radio advertising production. A whopping 95 percent of partners utilize digital marketing as part of their marketing plan.

    “I would say 50% use television, whether it's broadcast or cable or OTT, which stands for ‘over-the-top,’ which includes streaming videos on Hulu or Sling or Netflix,” O’Hare said.

    Bottom line, Yellow Dog Creative brings a full-service approach to video marketing.

    “Over the years, we've realized that our partners needed help in other areas, not just video,” O’Hare-Zika said, “and they wanted a one-stop shop. So slowly, we started adding other services, such as on-hold messaging and radio. And, we’ve added the digital marketing strategy. We also have two graphic designers on staff to do everything from direct mail creation to a whole new rebrand or van wraps.”