Before developing your advertising, you need to think about and develop a strategy. What is it that you want to accomplish? Just as you develop an overall marketing plan, you need to develop an advertising plan of attack.

The first thing you need to do is define the position you want to take in your market. Then you determine how you are going to establish that position. Once you formulate a winning strategy, you can employ it for years to produce effective advertising.

What is your objective?Do you want to be known for providing a high-quality product with quality installation? Do you want to be recognized for providing outstanding HVAC service?

Specify what you are going after in your ads.

Make the strategy brief and concise.If it’s a long, rambling strategy, you’re going to have rambling, off-the-mark ads. State succinctly your objective and how you plan to go about meeting that objective.

Define your customer.Exactly who are your customers? Are you selling in an urban, suburban, or rural market? Are your customers middle class or upper middle class?

Have you surveyed or gotten feedback from your existing customers about what they consider most important (and least important) about your products and services?

The more you know about your customers, the better you can target your advertising.

What are the most important customer benefits?Write down the most important points that will prove to the customer that you are No. 1 provider of quality HVAC products or the No. 1 service provider or the indoor air quality expert. These are the points that you will use in your ads.

Remember, the most important points are the ones that are key to your customer, not to you. Think in terms of benefits first, not features.

Support those key benefits.The features can be used to back up the benefits. But make sure the features are understandable to the customer. For example, don’t talk about SEER. Talk about the money your customers can save by upgrading to 30 percent greater efficiency.

Find a niche in your market.If no one else has established themselves as the IAQ expert and you have a range of IAQ products to offer, you may want to position yourself in that area. Instead of being like every other HVAC contractor, you are now a unique contractor with special expertise. You can still sell complete systems and service. But you get your foot in the door via indoor air quality.

As the saying goes, plan your work and stick to the plan. Carefully map out your strategy and make sure your ads meet that strategy. A scattered approach is not the most cost-effective use of your advertising dollars.

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:06/08/2009