As an HVAC contractor, the most important brand that you sell is not the product brand. It is your company name. If customers do not know about your company, they will not buy from you.

It’s as simple as that. You are the company that sells and installs the product. You have to build brand awareness for your company. And from there you build brand preference.

One of the concepts tied to brand awareness is share of mind. You have to get inside the head of your prospects. They have to know who you are. They have to recognize you as a professional heating and cooling business. They have to believe you offer quality and reliability - not just your product, but you personally as the contractor that stands behind the product and assures the proper installation and service of that product.

Once you gain brand awareness, your goal is to build brand preference for your contracting company. Now the prospect has to believe your quality and reliability are better than the next guy’s.

Everything you do builds brand awareness: putting your company name on the side of a van, completing each job successfully at a fair price, opening a storefront, remaining a successful business year after year. Your visibility in the community and word-of-mouth certainly help build brand awareness for your firm. But in today’s highly cluttered and highly competitive marketplace, it is extremely difficult to rely on just word-of-mouth.

A famous business ad from the 1950s shows a stern gentleman sitting in a chair looking straight ahead with the words:

“I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now - what was it you wanted to sell me?”

The ad concludes that sales startbeforeyour salesman calls.

Unless you’re a third- or fourth-generation business that’s very well known with lots of referrals and lots of ongoing business, or unless you happen to be the only HVAC contractor in town, there are going to be lots of people like the man in the ad above. They aren’t going to know who you are and they aren’t going to know anything about you. If a prospect made the statement quoted above to you, do you think he’d ever buy from you? Not likely!

You need to create brand awareness and build brand preference by continually showing that your company is high-quality, responsive, dependable, etc. - all of the positive attributes that you know customers are looking for. The best way to do this is through a well-planned, cost-effective marketing program using various forms of advertising and promotion.

Exposure through regular advertising and promotion keeps your name in front of prospects and customers. It defines who you are and what you stand for. It helps to show that you are a substantial business.

And such promotion can actually reduce your selling costs. One study indicates that regular advertising can reduce selling costs by 10 to 30 percent. However, not advertising in a well-advertised market can increase selling costs by 20 to 40 percent.

Although a marketing program is a cost of doing business, it is a cost that builds brand preference, makes it easier to sell, increases sales volume, and produces a more cost-efficient business.

No matter how well known your company is, there are always new prospects entering your market area while old prospects, and old customers, move on. There are aggressive competitors out there who are actively seeking to build market share. It is important to keep building and maintaining market awareness to be a successful business

You are the brand, and you need to keep your brand name out there and keep building on it every day.

Before joining the editorial staff ofThe NEWSover 12 years ago, Greg Mazurkiewicz worked in public relations and advertising for more than 20 years. In this periodic series of articles, he will share some of his expertise in the field of marketing communications.

Publication date:10/06/2008