HVAC Manufacturers and Marketing Strategy
Tools and co-branding opportunities help contractors make smart marketing decisions
Be it flyers, email blasts, print ads, etc., there are a lot of components involved when it comes to marketing. It can be overwhelming to decide what is and isn’t effective, which is why manufacturers are trying to make the process easier on contractors by providing them with marketing tools and co-branding opportunities.
Contractors see more value in the relationship with the manufacturer when they provide them with materials and tools they can utilize in their marketing efforts. Manufacturers see the benefit, as contractors are able to better sell their products. And customers see more value because co-branding makes it easy for them to connect to their contractor. It’s a triple win when the contractor and manufacturer create this synergy.
MARKETING TOOLS OF THE TRADE
“Aprilaire’s digital programs and tools continue to proliferate,” said Tom Ruse, marketing communication manager, Aprilaire. “We offer turnkey, custom enewsletter programs that provide print and email solutions to provide relevant content to a contractor’s local market database. Strong lead generation through the Aprilaire.com dealer locator brings qualified consumer leads to hundreds of contractors. Partnerships with business software companies give contractors simple tools to help quote IAQ products in the home. Content for contractors’ social media pages with relevant season IAQ messages are created and can be pushed out on any social channel. The Aprilaire Healthy Home mobile app gives contractors a host of IAQ content easily accessible to share with homeowners.”
Aprilaire’s mobile app includes PDF files of all IAQ products as well as videos to help illustrate the value of a healthy home connected to the IAQ solutions that contractors can offer. A rundown of spec sheets, installation guides, and owner’s manuals round out the app content to make it a comprehensive reference tool for comfort advisors, installers, and service technicians.
Emerson also provides a number of tools for their contractors, including its AC & Heating Connect website that contains tips and information to help facilitate more informed HVAC repair and purchase decisions.
“Our contractor support marketing is available online,” said Joe Linsenmeyer, marketing director, air conditioning, commercial and residential solutions, Emerson. “AC & Heating Connect provides a wealth of information. Contractors can access and download articles and infographics on the website to use when talking with customers. Emerson supplements this by sending out emails to contractors when new infographics are available.” (See example on page 14)
Podcasts and webinars are also released periodically throughout the year and offer selling tips for contractors. Additionally, free mobile apps, such as the e-Saver mobile app that helps contractors calculate cost savings for homeowners by comparing HVAC system replacement options, are available for download in the app store.
Lennox Intl. Inc. offers a number of tools, such as an SEO-friendly website program; website application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow dealers to have up-to-date Lennox products and other sales tools; a customized dealer social media program; a rating and review program; access to partners that can help dealers better track and convert leads, like call tracking and reporting; advertising programs and product support; consumer promotions; and rebates.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to our marketing,” said Valerie Mastalka, manager, consumer marketing, Lennox. “We coach our dealers to first identify their target customers, and then market where and how their customers like to be addressed.”
Co-branding is a new trend to enter the HVAC industry. Manufacturers team up with contractors, putting their branding or logo on the products they produce.
“We just launched the Lux Co-Branding program, and we showcased it at AHR Expo, where contractors liked the idea of having a way to be more engaged with customers,” said Rob Munin, CEO and president, Lux Products. “We had tremendous response and engagement during and post launch at AHR Expo, and the follow up has been positive.
“Plus, the mobile app is used every day, often several times a day — they [contractors] get more eyes on the app than on the traditional branded wall plate,” he added.
Contractors simply sign up for the free program, and their contact information and logo gets uploaded into the app with every install they complete for a LUX GEO®, GEOx®, or KONO® Smart Pro Edition thermostat.
“What’s unique in this program is that the contractor logo is visible from the main screens on the app, not just in the ‘resource’ page,” said Munin. “This puts a contactor top-of-mind when a homeowner needs them. And, for signing up, Lux automatically extends the five-year warranty to seven years.”
Emerson’s Sensi™ Wi-Fi thermostat has a feature called “Contractor on Call” where contractors are connected directly to customers within the Sensi mobile app.
“When a customer receives an alert, they are also presented with the registered contractor’s contact information and logo, so they know exactly who to call should a need arise,” said Linsenmeyer. “Additionally, a contractor can imprint their company name and phone number on the face of the thermostat with the Contractor Branding program, providing another valuable customer touch point.”
Because social media is such an effective way of connecting with customers, CompanyCam offers an app that has a co-branding feature built in. It allows techs in the field to take photos before, during, and after jobs are completed. The app includes preloaded templates with the company’s branding that place the pictures side-by-side, so they can be saved for future use or shared instantly on social media. This feature increases communication with both customers and other techs, making it easy to get questions answered on the job.
Photos can be organized using tags and later shown to customers who are considering similar projects.
“They can also text their before and after masterpiece to their clients right from the app, so they can share with their following, which goes a long way to gain more referrals,” said Nick Small, digital marketing specialist, CompanyCam.
In addition to sales, product, and technical training, Aprilaire offers contractors a number of programs to assist in generating sales leads, marketing to existing customers, and retaining customers.
The Co-op Advertising Program is one way contractors can grow their revenue with Aprilaire products. It offers payback or 60 percent of the cost of advertising IAQ products in contractors’ local markets. Aprilaire also offers a customer imprint program.
“We will provide custom logos on installed air purifiers and thermostats,” said Ruse. “This is the ultimate repeat-business tool. We have hundreds of contractors who engage in our seasonal campaigns as well as our co-op advertising program. We have basic guidelines for using our brand and creating our consumer value proposition.
“We are continually developing programs and materials around the way they do their business, not us,” he continued. “They are the ones who have to be successful with their customers in their market. We have to fit into the way they run their business.”
Publication date: 3/5/2018