HVAC contractors can’t survive without marketing. It’s as simple as that. But marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. There are some simple and practical steps you can start with to get more attention, attract new clients, and have appointment slots completely booked for the next month.
The first step in effective marketing is to know what you realistically have the time and expertise to accomplish. I recommend outsourcing the very technical and specialized marketing elements like website management, SEO or SEM services, and even email marketing. Trying to manage all the website updates, marketing emails, e-newsletters, client communications, email lists, email marketing analytics, email testing and content creation can be overwhelming for a small business. But communication is key for contractors, because more than ever clients expect businesses to communicate with them consistently. And as a contractor, you want to stay top-of-mind with your clients.
If your contracting business grows, and you feel you need to bring your marketing in-house, then you can certainly review the costs vs. benefits of doing so.
I know business owners who feel they can run their website and do all their social media and PR themselves. But when you think about how best you can spend your valuable time, should you be the one optimizing your website pages and scheduling marketing emails or is your time better spent running your business? If your contracting business grows, and you feel you need to bring your marketing in-house, then you can certainly review the costs vs. benefits of doing so.
After you’ve identified what marketing you might need to pass off to a professional, take a look at what you can do with the team you have. Often, these simple tactics are overlooked – but they can be crucial to building an effective marketing strategy:
1. Outbound Marketing Calls. Calling existing customers to give them updates, product news, upcoming service recommendations, or just asking them if they are happy with the service or product that they purchased makes them feel they are valued. What’s difficult about outbound calling is that your customer service team might be worried about getting rejections or complaints. The key is writing a script that can be used and adapted easily to make calls less intimidating. Another tip: rather than waiting until it’s slow to make outbound calls, do it every day. The more often the team makes outbound calls, the more comfortable they become.
If you’re looking for a place to start with marketing, begin an outbound calling program. This marketing tactic is more of an investment in the future of your business. Most clients appreciate the calls, and your team can develop long-lasting relationships that they can build on. Reconnecting with clients, reminding them of maintenance or just checking in with them all combine to let clients know you care, and aren’t just interested in the sale.
2. Facebook and Instagram. Contractors can get into a habit of pushing products and sales posts on their social platforms — a common mistake. Customers love to see their technicians, or themselves, on social media (with their approval of course). Let technicians post about a happy customer, showing a fun selfie with the client, and you might get a lot more attention for your posts when clients share it with their networks. It’s an easy and fun way to connect and build your brand without selling.
3. Videos. 78% of people watch videos online each week, and 55% of those watch every day.1 Contractors can take advantage of these statistics with short, personal videos featuring technicians educating consumers about everything from water heater safety to changing A/C filters or even explaining the COVID safety protocols your business uses. Also, a video of a finished project with a shot of all the team members at the end can make your business more familiar and approachable. Link to the videos on your social and let customers know you are offering these to help the community.
4. Community involvement. Some brand awareness is more low-key. Being active in your community is a form of marketing without pushing an agenda. Many contractors embrace and support a variety of charities. But a word of caution, don’t promote your charitable acts unless you are a serious supporter of an organization. Better yet, involve your team and choose to support a cause you all believe in. So, while posting photos of the team doing charitable acts can be a great marketing tool, be genuine and sincere.
Marketing comes in many forms, and while some tactics can cost a lot, some can be accomplished with very little investment. Try some different marketing tactics this year to boost your contracting business; use more social, post more videos, make more calls to clients, and support local charities. You’ll be glad you did.
Tammy Vasquez is Senior Head Coach for Business Development Resources.