What are you doing to make potential customers aware of your business? What is the most important thing you can do to position your company to capitalize on future business? What do you do when most of the population doesn’t need your product or service right now?
Experts teach contractors to put ads in the paper, run TV commercials, or run radio spots. You place ads in the local school football programs, participate in the preseason programs that manufacturers run in the spring and in the fall, and you put door hangers on houses around the house where your techs are working. All of those efforts we just mentioned are for business now, but how do you prepare for future business?
In a sense, all marketing efforts boil down to visibility and growth. Visibility includes things such as branding, positioning, awareness and everything else that makes your company unique. Growth is everything that entices the customer to buy from you instead of your competitor. It includes your advertising, lead generation, reputation, customer service, and anything that affects the growth of your business. These are the reasons that you tie your marketing plan to your strategic plan and it’s why you must have a strategic plan.
Surveys say that the average homeowner will buy a central heating and air conditioning system two or three times during their lifetime. With lifecycle times approaching twenty plus years, most HVAC advertising is a hit-or-miss proposition at best, unless you are lucky enough to connect with the people who need to replace their systems exactly at the point when they realize that it’s time to do so. How do you get your message to potential customers at the right time?
Many marketers will tell you that marketing for awareness is the worst possible use of your advertising budget. However, when you have long lifecycles, your marketing thinking must include methodologies for making your potential customers aware of your products and your capabilities. How do you accomplish that?
The Secret is Consistency
Your messaging, your ads, your brochures, your trucks, your website, and anything that the public sees has to project a consistent image and message. When you market for awareness, you have to market constantly. You have to be visible and you have to create awareness in the minds of your target audience. Who is your target audience? Your target audience is anyone who could potentially be a customer in the future.
“Marketing constantly” doesn’t necessarily mean spending money constantly on ads and TV and radio commercials. It does mean remaining in the public eye. It may mean parking your unused trucks on a busy corner with high traffic rates, or it might mean paying money for a billboard that stays up all year. It means the signage on your building; it could mean the sponsorship of local kid’s sports teams, or at the local dirt track.
If you think this will make the customers come to you, think again. This just makes the potential customers know your name, and that’s a good thing. Many people are leery of doing business with an unknown organization; they feel more comfortable with a company that they have heard of before or that a friend recommended to them. That is the reason for doing awareness marketing. When the time comes and the potential customer hears your name or sees one of your ads, they will say to themselves, “Oh yes, I’ve heard of them.”
That the customer knows who you are is half the battle, and that’s when everything that you do to generate awareness begins to pay off. Like all marketing and advertising, the effort is cumulative and it builds over time. The more the customer knows who you are the more comfortable they are with spending money with you.
Yes, you can get customers to buy without doing the awareness part of marketing but in the end, life is easier and the sale is easier to make if the customer knows whom you are. Reputation is also important. If you have a bad reputation, that will get around and you must correct the problems and then rebuild your reputation, but that’s a topic for another day.
Andy Fracica is the author of Navigating the Marketing Maze, he is, a speaker, a marketing coach, and president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc., website.