We’re a quarter of the way through 2014, and whether you’ve already started implementing your marketing plan or are just treading water until the busy service call season takes a break, it’s a good time to start developing a marketing plan for the coming months.

Of course, it’s not that easy. The marketing world is constantly changing, and nowhere more so than in the field of small business marketing. As local service businesses, HVAC and home-performance companies are particularly prone to having success dictated by well-meaning algorithms that sometimes succeed in helping connect customers to the right businesses, but all too often fall short.

Thankfully, by staying on top of the key trends in the local business marketing world, HVAC companies can reduce business fluctuations that accompany changes in search engine algorithms and position themselves to do well in the coming year. Here are our seven top marketing trends for HVAC and home-performance companies to watch in 2014.

Third-Party Reviews on the Rise

Reviews are one of the most important search engine ranking factors for local businesses and have been getting a ton of press in the past year. All signs suggest they will continue to be hot in 2014.

The new Internet economy is based on trust, and Google’s new review monitoring system made monitoring much easier. But the long story short is that reviews are an increasingly important factor for search engines. Consumers are expecting them. Whether you like it or not, online reviews from Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others will affect your business more and more. You should strongly consider developing a repeatable system to request reviews from your happiest customers.

Highly Targetable Advertising Opportunities

Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are developing incredibly innovative advertising methods that allow you to target potential customers by geographic and demographic information. This is interesting in that it’s one more reason social media is no longer an option for modern businesses, as it offers an affordable way to segment your audience to increase conversion. We believe social media advertising could be an extremely powerful marketing channel in 2014 and beyond.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Increasingly Vital

We used to think of pay-per-click (PPC) ads as an optional marketing channel that could provide value to some businesses. That is no longer the case. Because of changes in Google’s search results pages, which are giving more and more real estate to paid versus organic results, PPC ads are now all but mandatory if you want your business to show up in results. And well-managed PPC campaigns work as one of the most cost-effective lead sources, making the case for it all the more compelling.

Growing Importance of Segmentation

Not everyone out there is a potential customer, and some potential customers are more likely to convert than others. New technology allows us to identify the best potential leads so that you get the most bang for your buck out of your marketing dollars, and don’t waste money advertising to people who will never sign up for your services. Don’t let your competitors win over your customers because they’re deploying more efficient marketing tactics.

Google Plus is Improving

We’ve talked about the importance of Google Plus since its inception, but for quite some time now it’s been viewed as a necessary evil. In 2014, it looks as if Google may finally be getting its act together and turning Google Plus into something that’s actually useful for businesses and consumers. Looking at the rate of change that the product has undergone in the past year, we’re sure that major changes will continue in the coming year. It’s something that we should all be keeping an eye on.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

It’s true that some things never change, and that holds up in the marketing world as well. Old school tactics, like a strong brand, great messaging on your vehicles, participating in the community, and door-to-door marketing can all work.

In 2014, “online fatigue” may make these old-school channels even more effective. We’re hearing discussion of “Peak Facebook” as quarterly earnings force them to monetize every component of the Facebook experience. Combine that with online advertisers who don’t understand the concept of restraint and you have people who may be paying less attention to online marketing. Having some old-fashioned tactics in your marketing mix is a good way to stay diverse and effective.

Agility Wins

However accurate these predictions are, the main trend that we think will hold fast this year is that marketing is changing fast. Companies that structure their marketing efforts to be able to adapt to changes swiftly and efficiently will be the companies that come out on top.

Publication date: 4/7/2014

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