Back in 2007, when I first established my HVAC business, my business partner and I were responding to calls ourselves and didn’t have time for marketing. Today, we have a fleet of more than 21 trucks and 29 field employees, and we owe all of this to pivoting on how we marketed ourselves.
Anyone who’s been in the HVAC industry for a long time remembers paying thousands of dollars to be listed in the Yellow Pages alongside hundreds of other a/c companies. We were no exception. However, it just stopped making sense to me at some point.
NOT IN SEATTLE ANYMORE
Because I had been stationed in Seattle during my service with the Air Force, I had been exposed to businesses that had already embraced digital marketing.
Seattle companies were approaching marketing in a completely different way than they were in Texas. It was then that I decided to spend my own money on AdWords and search engine optimization (SEO) and see what all the fuss was about. Our company was one of the first HVAC AdWords advertisers in San Antonio. After an initial push in leads from PPC, we started forging relationships with other websites and building organic links.
During the first five years of business, I was exposed to around five national and local digital marketing companies. I took a hands-on approach, devouring as much knowledge as I could. I soon learned the value in building a digital brand, and that SEO was a marathon not a sprint. These lessons would lead to our ultimate success or else I’d still be spending tons of money on useless clicks and impressions reports.
In 2011, a couple of other home services companies started to notice our success and asked if I could help them with digital marketing. They, too, believed that SEO was a worthy brand investment, a long play that they couldn’t afford to ignore. Soon, we were taking our lessons learned and applying them to other verticals with the same challenges. Our staff worked hand-in-hand with Leadhub, a home services digital marketing company, to enhance our success by looking at conversions and not just clicks and impressions.
WHY DID IT WORK?
SEO worked because we were meeting customers where they were: online. It’s a lesson the newspaper industry learned all too late, and it’s why you don’t see 5-pound phone books on doorsteps anymore. The switch to online changed everything, and we were at the forefront of that change and were not afraid to push onward. Embracing SEO catapulted us to being one of the most widely recognized HVAC companies in the city. Veterans call us knowing we’re Military City’s beloved HVAC company for service members. We’re synonymous with quality, honorable service, and recently expanded our reach to include our sister company, Mr. Plumber.
The seismic change in how to connect with customers is still happening today. As users shift to mobile devices and social media at staggering rates, it’s not enough just to be online. You have to create the best user experience that is device- and medium-agnostic. Your strategy has to be so strong that it doesn’t rely on one trick or tactic, because that one old-faithful strategy could be gone tomorrow.
Over the past two or three years, our biggest push has been on reviews. Google removed 200 of our reviews back in 2013 due to a Google My Business issue. We were able to build that back up to more than 500 organic, hard-earned reviews. The value we place on reviews has made our technicians better at their jobs because they want to see their names in positive reviews on Google.
Another important lesson we learned was not to put all our eggs in one basket. You need to be able to stay ahead of the curve. In digital marketing, it’s important to always be looking for the next big thing. If you’re stuck paying for the same-old advertising vehicle — be that your favorite paid leads platform or a phone book — you’re not going to be successful. We see the most success when we continue to further the brand, no matter how we do it.
Publication date: 8/21/2017