The Lost Art of HVACR Branding

August 13, 2012
When golden arches appear on the horizon of a road trip, hungry travelers know they can soon be filled. When an apple with a bite out of it is seen outside a store, shoppers know that inside awaits them the opportunity to own an iPhone or any other Apple gadget they may desire. These are just two examples of thousands of companies with recognizable logos, icons, and slogans that fight for top-of-mind position in consumers. Many of these logos and slogans are maintained by advertising with consistent images and messages. Take McDonalds for instance, no matter what product promotion the company is currently pushing, its advertising will almost always reflect the golden arches logo along with its slogan, “I’m lovin’ it.”
Did you just sing the little ditty in your head?

Focus on the Brand

How great would it be if your customers sang your ditty in their head every time they thought about their a/c during this hot, sticky summer? It’s likely that you have a solid advertising campaign, but the question is, “What’s its focus?” Is it focused on branding or is it focused on products and service? What’s the difference? The difference is in memory retention. The likelihood of a customer being interested in a certain piece of heating or cooling equipment is probably small. When’s the last time you heard someone say, “Oh I just have to get one of those Brand X heat pumps; they are all the rage”?

That happens rarely, if ever. Consumers don’t seem to pay much attention to their heating and cooling systems until they don’t work. It is then they start searching for someone to repair the systems correctly, quickly, and the most cost effectively as possible. When a consumer is digging through the thousands of commercials they have endured and the billboard images they have consumed, it isn’t likely that the heat pump special is going to come to mind. It’s the well-branded name of a company and its slogan that will likely pop back into their head.

Look, for example, at carpet cleaning. For many consumers, the first place they think of when they think of carpet cleaning service is Stanley Steemer. That yellow van, those bold black letters, and the singing of the slogan along with the phone number to contact the company, makes some consumers walking business cards once that information gets stuck in their heads.

Campaign Success Requires Goals

Moving away from the catchy ditties heard in television and radio advertising; consider the efforts being made by contractors to market their companies in print and digital arenas. Some have expansive campaigns, coupons, introductory rates, etc. Others have small local campaigns. Either way, it can be interesting to see the different emphasis being placed in the different company campaigns. Measuring the success of these campaigns, however, can prove to be tricky.

Say a company runs a coupon and then a customer calls and uses the coupon. That seems successful. A direct connection has been made between the advertiser and the consumer via the coupon. Now consider a print ad with nothing more than some photos, information, and a website or phone number to call. Add to this type of advertisement the many static ads seen on the Internet. As a contractor who is advertising in search of new customers, it is easy to get caught up in measuring the success of each ad campaign and its ROI. To do that fairly, however, it is important that two key items be considered.

The first is to set reasonable goals. Not only is it necessary for contractors to decide what they want to achieve with their advertisements, but the goals must be reasonable. It is unreasonable to expect a picture of a contractor’s logo with an active hotlink to his site to garner thousands of click-throughs. That type of ad has done nothing to inspire the click.

The second is to remember that the value of branding cannot always be measured. Take that same logo ad with the hotlink mentioned above; it may not have garnered thousands of click-throughs, but it did re-emphasize the brand in the viewers’ minds. It once again moved the company back to the top of the list.

A balance between branding and advertising ROI needs to be struck and the contractors looking for top-of-mind position should consider what they are advertising, how they are advertising it, and what they are expecting in return. If they aren’t getting what they hoped for, perhaps it is time to rethink their approach and message, and then begin to focus on and set goals for company branding. If branding works for McDonalds and Stanley Steemer, it could definitely work for contractors, as long as they don’t let it become a lost art.

Publication date: 8/13/2012

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