Successful marketing can be a colossal task of significant effort and expense. Combining two marketing campaigns can be next to impossible. When trying to market two different messages, it can create a line of demarcation that is not easily blended. It is here that the marketing relationship between manufacturers and contractors is forged, and there are benefits to be had for both parties.
One of the benefits provided to contractors from some manufacturers is the ability to stay current with evolving marketing trends. Paul Wadsworth, president and owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling Inc., Solon, Ohio, has more than 40 years of experience in the HVAC industry, and he has found that the breakneck pace of marketing trends is difficult to navigate.
“The e-marketing world, especially, is ever-changing and at a fast pace,” he said.
A second benefit that Wadsworth has experienced is leveraging access to market research conducted by manufacturers.
“This is especially key with new products like home automation and when creating lists of prospective new clients,” he explained. “I would like a manufacturer to find out how to best engage prospects when they are deciding who to talk with about their project, based on market research.”
The third benefit comes in the form of dollars — co-op program dollars. Brian Leech, owner and general manager of Service Legends, Des Moines, Iowa, found that co-op funds were the primary benefit to his marketing efforts when partnering with manufacturers. So did Travis Smith, president of Sky Heating and Air Conditioning, Portland, Oregon. He likes that co-op dollars from some manufactures can now be applied to pay-per-click advertising.
In discussing the benefits of partnering with the manufacturer in marketing, both Leech and Smith addressed the struggle to find the message balance between the manufacturer’s brand and the contractor’s brand. Each can lay legitimate claim to the customers they are trying to reach, but depending on policies, the question of “Whose customer are we marketing to?” can come up.
“As a contractor, I want to brand my company,” said Smith. “If I am branding them [for the manufacturer], I could be spending money to send leads to my competition, as people find the brand online and then call up other contractors on the manufacturer’s dealer locator.”
On the other side of the branding argument stand manufacturers with the resources and canned programs to guide contractors through the ups and downs of marketing while generating leads.
“At the end of the day, marketing isn’t always top of mind for contractors, as they are busy selling, installing, troubleshooting, and more,” said Erin Mezle, director of marketing, Fujitsu General America. “Many manufactures, such as Fujitsu, offer a variety of turnkey marketing solutions for contractors. Popular tools include postcard mailing programs and pre-made print, digital, and TV advertisements that only require a contractor to add their name and contact information. The leads are then delivered to the contractor’s email as a result of national advertising campaigns.”
According to Wadsworth, setting up a handoff from the manufacturers’ marketing efforts to connect contractors with prospects for their product is true partnership.
According to Kathy Townsend, director of government contracts, Trademasters®, Lorton, Virginia, manufacturers’ marketing efforts utterly eclipse those of small HVAC contracting firms, especially in the residential market segment.
“Everyone understands that offering products that manufacturers have already spent a fortune promoting, and having access to the marketing materials that lets your company coat-tail on the manufacturers’ well-crafted brand identities, is a big benefit that comes with partnering with manufacturers for marketing,” she explained. “Contractors and manufacturers are both in the solution business. Manufacturers market their solutions to commercial and government market segments, too, and they’re not just great at providing niche solutions; they’re great at creating the niche they’ll fill.”
Manufacturers provide many marketing and business resources that help with lead generation and customer reach. Following are some examples of the program types available from a sample of HVAC equipment manufacturers.
The Accredited Bosch Contractor (ABC) is a free-to-join membership program that provides contractors access to lead generation, priority listing, training programs, news, promotions, and more. Professional business services include website development with Karmory, special offers to be a part of HomeAdvisor, and financial services with Fortiva™.
For The Pro® provides contractors with an array of tools, documents, graphics, and videos to educate and market to customers. The graphics section provides logos and product images for contractors to create their own digital and print materials. There is also a selection of sales materials already designed for marketing use.
The free and interactive Refrigeration Club for marketing and business tools include access to information on management techniques and market information. The Technical Tools section has applications, e-books, fact sheets, and other tools to facilitate contractors as they educate their customers.
The Elite Contractor Program for Halcyon, Airstage, and residential unitary contractors provides a 25-second television commercial that allows contractors to add five seconds of their logo and contact information. A variety of digital ad sizes are also available to use on social media, company websites, and other campaigns. There is a full line of literature for consumers and contractors, as well as financing programs and an online rebate finder.
The Consumer Advertising and Promotions marketing program includes up to 36 weeks of promotions to entice potential customers as well as a listing on the Lennox.com dealer locator. There are flexible media placements and customized creative options, or participants can choose to control their own advertising. There is no-cost access to a dedicated advertising agency representative available.
The LG Excellence Contractor program provides access to branded marketing materials including ads, literature, truck decals, and promotional items. Website listing with the LG Excellence designation and consumer lead referrals is awarded, and a rewards point program is all part of the package. The program is available to independent contractors who install LG residential and light commercial systems.
The Samsung Preferred Dealer program — dealer, preferred dealer, and preferred dealer plus — provides contractors entry to the Samsunghvac.com dealer locator as well as the HVAC Dealer link. Depending on the level, there are also consumer-friendly icons, purchase rewards, vehicle magnets, extended warranty options, access to VIP technical support, and priority listing on the Samsunghvac.com dealer locator.
TACO COMFORT SOLUTIONS
The FloPro® Team is designed specifically to help contractors become more proficient in hydronics and more profitable as a businesses with that knowledge. It is free to qualified contractors. Benefits include access to FloPro design software, factory training, and the FloPro Neighborhood. There, members can swap stories as well as discuss the marketing of hydronic systems to customers.
The York Dealer Success programs offer assistance with marketing, business management, and getting the sale. Liberties™ provides contractors with access to the marketing action center and York® Dealer Locator. Liberties Plus™ contractors have added access to lead generation by HomeAdvisor, reputation marketing by Angies List®, and the dealer website program by Web.com.
The Certified Comfort Expert is considered a partnership between the contractor, distributor, and manufacturer.
Publication date: 4/1/2019