Every entrepreneur starts out with high hopes in terms of growing a successful company, but many fall short of the mark. Many HVAC installation and service companies are started by technicians and installers who desire to have their own business. Lack of business training and business skills can doom these companies from the start, but some survive despite the odds. The secret is in learning to attract the right kinds of customers by creating a unique identity for your company, an identity that makes it stand out from all of the competition.
What marketing mistakes do businesses make? What do you need to know to make your marketing efforts pay off? How do you ensure that you attract the right customer? How do you position your company for maximum effectiveness? What are the top five HVAC marketing mistakes?
1. No Marketing Plan
The marketing plan is your roadmap or GPS system. When you tie it to the strategic plan, it's extremely effective. The marketing plan defines strategies, methodologies, and media. It covers everything from advertising to websites and everything in between. It defines and protects your branding, it hones your messages, your offers, and it gives you the tools to decide if an advertising program offered by the local talk radio salesperson will achieve your strategic goals.
Marketing for marketing’s sake is not going to do anything other
than waste your valuable money. You must define the strategic goals
of your company and then create your marketing plan
so that it specifically supports those goals.
2. A Marketing Plan that Doesn't Support the Strategic Plan
Just having a marketing plan is not good enough. Marketing for marketing’s sake is not going to do anything other than waste your valuable money. You must define the strategic goals of your company and then create your marketing plan so that it specifically supports those goals. Without tying the marketing plan to the strategic plan, a marketing plan is like a boat without a rudder, subject to the wind and the currents but not the will of its captain.
3. Customer Not Defined
You have to know your customer or you will not have enough information to reach them. You may say that everyone is a potential customer in your business, but in reality, there is a set of demographics that define your customer. Factors that you must consider are gender, age, income, location, number of children, schools attended, and if they are a homeowner, property owner, apartment dweller, or business owner. With this information, you know how to reach them. People 55 and older still tend to read the newspaper, the younger generation is more inclined to get their information from the Internet. People with school-aged children might be receptive to offers in school programs, such as the band, drama, or sports.
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4. No Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Your unique value proposition is what you bring to the table, it tells customers why you and not your competition, it tells customers what makes your company special, and it tells them what to expect when they do business with you. Your UVP is the starting point for all marketing, it sets the tone for your marketing collateral pieces, and it helps define your message. You can’t be all things to all people so use your UVP to define your company. That is not to say that you can’t change it as needed. Successful companies continually reinvent themselves as the market changes over time.
5. Underestimating the Value of Repeat Business
HVAC businesses often underestimate the value of their existing customer base. With the long cycles between purchases common in the HVAC industry, residential customers typically buy HVAC systems only two or three times in their lifetime, installation companies tend to discount the value of repeat sales. Satisfied customers can be the source of multiple leads and referrals. A well thought out reward program can help boost additional sales by incentivizing existing customers to recommend your company to their friends and acquaintances who are in the market for new systems. In the service business, selling service contracts to keep existing customers in the fold can generate additional dollars and you can use a similar incentive program for service customers as well.
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