In a previous article, The ACHR NEWS discussed the value that proper social media can bring to an HVAC contractor. Social media offers high potential for reaching customers, building a brand, and even making sales, but a contractor who is too eager for that last step might unwittingly create too much content that focuses on the wrong thing. Content that is too sales-driven can lead to algorithms pushing a company’s post far down the feed, and customers viewing the company as desperate and spammy.
Content marketing offers another way. Contractors can create high-quality, informative content for homeowners without immediately asking for a sale. This allows a contractor to present themselves as an expert in the home and a professional in business.
Why Content Marketing?
“Content marketing allows you to shift the conversation from products to quality,” said Chris Smith, CEO of All Contractor Marketing. “If we bring knowledge and expertise to the table, why are we just competing on price? It’s our knowledge and expertise that differentiates us from the contractors around us.”
Customers now face ads in a multitude of different channels — email, television, social media, and more. This is leading to many end users becoming “ad-blind,” where the inundation of ads is causing them to ignore nearly all the ads they see. This is why content marketing becomes so effective, as it builds content around what users want to see instead of offering more promotional ads.
“If the content is engaging and adds to the reader’s life, then they will continue to allow you space on their feed,” said Justin Jacobs, marketing coach at Hudson, Ink.
Jacobs said that the most important thing to remember in content marketing is that since customers opt in to receiving content (such as emails or social media posts), companies should view it as a privilege to offer the customer messaging. Customers can opt out of content as quickly as they opted in, which is a good reminder that all content should be beneficial for those it is aimed at.
Frequency is also critical. Even if a company always posts excellent, quality content, posting too often can be seen as intrusive or spammy. At the same time, if a user views a company’s social page and finds that the company only posts to it six times a year, the page will look abandoned, and it is unlikely that the user will follow the page.
When creating content, contractors should publish on their own site rather than promote content that is hosted elsewhere. A contractor might share an article that gets 100 clicks, but if it is hosted on a different site, the company isn’t seeing as much benefit as it could be.
“Ideally, the contractor wants the interesting content published on their own website so that when a link is clicked, the viewer is taken to a blog-type page on their own site,” said Smith. “Once there, the visitor hopefully will click around to multiple pages and possibly even fill out a form leading to direct business. But even if they don’t, because they’ve made it to their website, it helps traffic numbers and organic SEO, moving a company up the Google search results rankings.”
What Content Do I Create?
Even for a contractor who believes in the power of content marketing, creating that content can be a challenge.
First, contractors could benefit from having a season schedule of the content they will create. Taking time to think through this will allow them to set an attainable goal for how much they can produce and share. This could include videos of what homeowners can expect with HVAC repairs or how-to videos for smart products. Or the content can grow a brand’s personality through photos/videos of employees having fun at company events.
“Other good content is stuff that lets people see behind the wall into what work culture is like at your business,” said Jacobs. “Take photos of the Christmas party, employees having fun, and people enjoying their jobs. This helps people see your personality and helps build their relationship with people, not just a company.”
Offering strategic content can be used to alleviate some of customers’ concerns about HVAC, preparing them for the process and cost of a service call. This can help position a contracting company as both honest and professional, and garner trust from a customer before the call even takes place.
And content doesn’t need to be HVAC-related either, especially since people surfing social media usually come to relax and de-stress.
“People love recipes, money-saving ideas, and general information like craft ideas for the kids that will help their families prosper,” said Jacobs. “That’s what they’re looking for when they sign on, so it might as well come from you.”
Blog posts are some of the most familiar forms of content marketing, and for good reason. They are able to be skimmed in a few moments as well as deeply read, and the tone of the writing can help advance a company’s brand as relatable, professional, and skilled. Some contractors can write these themselves — although care should be taken to ensure high-quality writing, as a poorly written blog post can make a contractor look unprofessional. Blog posts, as well as all content, should be effectively promoted on social media, the website, and other avenues to ensure that there is a return on investment.
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A Cautionary Tale from Justin Jacobs
A contractor can spend hours of time and money producing great content, but if they don’t have an audience following them, they’re screaming to an empty room. I recently worked with a contractor who was paying a company $850/month to post to his Facebook page every weekday — and he only had 112 followers. So the company was charging him basically $40 per post, and a maximum of 112 people were seeing each one. That is some super expensive content marketing. First, he needed to focus on growing the audience before making such a substantial investment in content creation/publishing.