“We’ve always taken a different approach. We spend all of our money and effort to educate our customers on every conceivable subject: equipment, service technology, contractors, and deregulation.
“This allows them to see through the pitches of our competitors and allows them to make the right decisions for their comfort, health, and safety in their home.”
Dave Dombrowski talks about his company and other issues that are important to his customers. “We talk about a drug-free environment, about our respect for the customer’s home, and our methods to show respect (booties, drop cloths, etc.).
“We do not invade the customer’s space and always wait to be invited. We answer by name and have visible IDs. I also believe in testimonials — having customers talk about their wonderful experiences when dealing with our company.
“We do not discuss price, but we may advertise a specific financial offer such as a rebate, extended warranty, or special financing terms.”
“Our approach to advertising is to talk up our own achievements as opposed to slamming the competition,” added Steve Miles. “We use slogans like ‘Missouri’s Most Trusted Contractor’ or ‘Voted Number One’ by readers of the Suburban Journals.
“Our current advertising campaign is ‘No. 1 Thanks to You.’ It’s on all of our trucks, business cards, letterhead, etc. in BIG lettering. It receives quite a response.”
Scott Getzschman prides himself on never mentioning the names of his competitors. However, he will use their work as an advantage. “We take pictures of poor installations and compare them to pictures of our installations, without mentioning the names of any competitors.
“On the doors of our trucks we have a trademarked motto: ‘Service Technicians You Can Trust Your Keys To.’”
“We tell people we are locally family owned and operated,” added Aaron York. “And we offer free second opinions.”
“Presently, our market research tells us that our greatest chance of gaining a new customer is by leveraging existing relationships and by being in front of prospective customers when they become dissatisfied with their existing provider.
“We believe a targeted marketing approach is the most cost-effective approach to building relationships and establishing a positive performance image with prospective customers.”
Grochmal doesn’t use a lot of marketing but agrees that it can be useful. “We do market surveys from time to time but we use the information to fine tune our service offering.”
“None of our marketing targets our competition,” added Getzschman. “We use our own work to target our market, which includes a 100% satisfaction guarantee.”
Mary Marble likes using direct contact with existing customers as an effective way to advertise. “We strongly believe in the old saying ‘the bulk of your business comes from existing customers.’ There-fore, the majority of our advertising consists of monthly mailings in the form of oversized post cards with seasonal messages.
“We mail to all of our current customers, anyone we have ever given a quotation to, and have purchased mailing lists of target companies and institutions.
“We endeavor to make these mailings meaningful to our customers by passing on hints on what they might do to improve the operation of their equipment and keeping them aware of new developments in the industry.
“We keep our name in front of the customer, which stimulates talking and eventually leads to calls to our service department.”
Grochmal takes the personal approach. “The single most effective way I advertise is through my newsletter. I write it personally and put it out with press releases to the media and specialty publications.
“To get new customers we have had good success with the Welcome Wagon in some areas, and postcards for service delivered to homes in target neighborhoods.”
“Direct mail, Yellow Pages, and cable TV are the advertising means we currently utilize the most,” added Miles. “We do use available co-op dollars, but produce our own media ads that promote our image as well or better than the manufacturers, who often just use a tag line at the end of their commercials with a local contractor’s phone number.”
Flynn depends on an active database of targeted customers to get his company’s message across. “We have built a database of 1,000 targeted prospective customers.
“From this database, we send periodic direct mail and establish relationships through ongoing telemarketing. Through these relationships, our marketing department sets up appointments for our outside sales reps to conduct capability presentations, perform needs analyses, and close business.
“A positive image, good relationships, and superior solutions to targeted customers is the cornerstone of our marketing plan.”
Dombrowski recommended saving some money for the technicians, who can be the most effective way to advertise. “It is important to remember that your most effective means of advertising is the technician referral.
“Funds must be available to reward the technicians for providing leads and to train them in soft skills and customer relations.”
Another means of advertising is often through goodwill efforts and small donations. Marble said her company supports church raffles and fairs. Miles added that his company sponsors youth activities and advertises in school programs and church bulletins.
“The percentage to spend on advertising is a difficult question,” added Bob Dobrowski. “That is why it is important to do a yearly budget. Many contractors back into a number.
“The truth is that 50% of the contractors would probably say they spend too much while the other 50% would say they do not spend enough. It is important to track your results, your costs, and build a history of what works.”
According to Dobrowski, there are three important questions you have to answer each year when doing your advertising budget:
“The number one objective of advertising is to make the phone ring.”