Brian Kraft of MarketHardware spoke with ACCA seminar attendees about the best ways to do a makeover of their Websites.

ORLANDO - Surprisingly, when Brian Kraft asked an overflow crowd of Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) members if anyone didn’t have a Website, there was a smattering of hands. HVAC contractors with Websites overwhelmingly outnumbered them and wanted to learn how they could improve their Web presence. Kraft, of MarketHard-ware, Bethesda, Md., titled his presentation, “Web Marketing Makeovers; New Tactics. Best Practices. More Leads.”

When he asked a follow-up question about the effectiveness of their Websites, many attendees rated their own Websites “below average.” Kraft said there are some basic things each Website should have, including:

  • Credibility

  • Image

  • Brand

  • Relevance

  • Readily available contact information.

    He said that a Website has 30 seconds to hook a customer or lose a customer and that the Website must make a positive impression. “The lifecycle of a Website is getting shorter,” he said. “Your Website can make you a hero or a dog in 30 seconds.”


    Kraft said the decline in Yellow Pages® advertising has heated up the competition for advertising dollars. He noted businesses are getting cold-called by Internet companies selling advertising and listings.

    It’s not surprising that the competition for advertising has heated up, especially on the local level. “In January 2007, there were 850 million Web searches having to do with local businesses,” he said. “In June 2006, the number was 400 million.”

    Kraft also offered some other reasons why HVAC contractors should take a closer look at local advertising. He noted that 70 percent of consumers go online to search for “offline” purchases.

    “Search for HVAC and the name of your town on Google and see what you find,” he said. “You can cost out your options. Google, MSN, and Yahoo! now have local paid listings; national and local directories will list your business; you can get listed on Angie’s List, Insider Pages, local newspaper listings, and be sure your Chamber of Commerce has your site listed.

    “Websites are not a discretionary expense. Think of your Website now like a Yellow Pages ad.”


    Kraft cautioned against using stock Websites designed by equipment manufacturers because they are not customizable.

    He noted that the goal of a Website is to make a message clear, straightforward, and concise, adding, “Prospects scan first and then read second.”

    He recommended spending enough time and money to ensure that the Website looks professional. “You should work on your image and separate yourself from other companies,” Kraft said. “Some of the things you should do come right from the department of duh, including the right proportions, colors, appropriate graphics, and font size.

    “It should be obvious but make sure you include your telephone number on the home page.”

    Kraft showed examples of some bad Websites including one which led him to politely say, “Don’t put scary looking photos of your employees on the Website.”

    And he added that although having fancy tools and graphics including “rollovers” and “flash” are very cool, HVAC contractors should understand that their Websites “are not for entertainment purposes.”

    If a Website is professional looking and works as a great marketing piece, Kraft recommends using it to track leads. That includes buying a phone number (relatively low expense) and posting it on the Website only, thus adding the ability to track Website marketing.

    “Web marketing is only as good as your Website,” he said. And then he wrapped up his seminar, telling contractors to “go do something about your Website.”

    Publication date: 04/16/2007