As an experienced HVAC contractor, you may not be super familiar with the world of advertising and marketing. However, it’s a vital component to growing your business and because there are so many options out there, you might not be sure of where to start. Here’s an overview of the different types of advertising mediums out there, as well as their pros and cons, so you can ensure you’re allocating your marketing dollars to the places where you’ll see the most growth.
Investopedia defines social media as a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. According to Adobe, the top five most popular platforms are: Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
What are the pros?; Social media is a very budget-friendly form of marketing, making it a great option for smaller businesses. You can select how much, when, and where you are spending your money. It’s a great way to start building or strengthening your brand, and it provides a great communication tool for customers.
What are the cons? Social media is busy. You’re competing for views, likes, shares and impressions — not just with your competition, but with every other business posting on social media. Most people use social media as a tool during the learning stage of the buying process, which means they may respond better to educational content as opposed to straight-up advertising and that may take more time on your end to develop instructional material.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is a type of advertising where a company pays to show their ads in search engines (Google, Bing) based on keywords or phrases for which a consumer is searching. For example, “Nashville new heater install near me.” When using PPC, you can make sure that your company is showing up in the top results, which gets more eyes on your business.
What are the pros? PPC is extremely flexible. You can customize almost every aspect of it, so your customers and potential customers are only seeing what you want them to see. If you aren’t happy with the performance, you can instantly update or delete the ads.
What are the cons? One of the biggest drawbacks with this type of advertising is that you can end up in a bidding war with other companies trying to use the same search terms, causing you to appear lower in search results. Prices can also fluctuate depending on how many clicks you receive and what people are searching for, which will impact how much you spend.
As the name suggests, this type of advertising is when mail is sent directly to the home or business of a consumer. Many believe that direct mailing is a dying form of communication, but the opposite is actually true. In fact, according to Fundera, it’s estimated that about $38.5 billion in ad budget (the largest portion) is spent on direct mail each year, and that advertisers earn an average of $2,095 worth of sales per person.
What are the pros? With this type of advertising, you can reach a very targeted audience, allowing you to reach out to people who are in need of your services. As an HVAC contractor, you may be familiar with a neighborhood where most of the houses were built 15 to 20 years ago, making the average HVAC system age near end-of-life. Sending mail to that zip code may yield more business than average. You can also provide more information in a mailer compared to a social media post or banner ad. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to track the results of a direct mail campaign because you can use unique codes or numbered applications so you can see who’s participating.
What are the cons? Direct mail is where the most advertising dollars are spent, which means it can take up a lot of your marketing budget (mailing list, creative, offer, delivery) and you’ll also have to compete with everyone else sending mail. It can also be difficult to create a nurture campaign, because unlike email, there’s no way to know if the person opened or read your mail unless they respond with the relevant ad code.
This type of advertising entails television, movies, radio, and music. This is an ideal way to reach a large group of people in a very short period of time. According to Nielsen, cable TV makes up about 39% of a person’s viewing habits, with broadcast television making up 25%. Additionally, Variety Magazine said even with the rise of music streaming services, radio still accounts for 39% of listening for those over the age of 13.
What are the pros? The biggest pro of this type of advertising is you reach a lot more people than you can with other forms of advertising, some of whom may be people you aren’t targeting with other marketing mediums, allowing your business to be seen by a larger range of consumers.
What are the cons? This is by far one of the more expensive methods of advertising. You also need to keep in mind that the way people are absorbing media is constantly evolving. With so many streaming and on-demand services, there’s usually no way to know who’s consuming your content, making it incredibly hard to track success rates.
With this type of medium, an email is sent directly to the email inbox of a consumer. It can include newsletters, incentive campaigns, brand awareness, product releases and more. It's a great method for soft-selling so you can slowly nurture and educate your audience over time.
What are the pros? Email can share more information than a social media post but costs substantially less than a direct mail campaign. It also provides a way for customers to easily communicate with you (make sure you’re always using a return email that is checked by a person for all marketing emails!) both now and in the future. Emails can also be created in-house, saving you time on the production end.
What are the cons? An inbox is a busy place. In fact, the average person receives over 100 emails a day, making open rates for marketing emails fairly low, generally. Plus, if someone unsubscribes, you lose out on that connection and potentially a customer, so make sure you’re implementing best practices for email marketing to avoid that kind of attrition.
How Should the Size of Your Business Affect Marketing?
For a small business just starting out, you should focus more on your external brand and raising awareness among consumers. If they don’t know who you are or what you do, they won’t be able to hire you for the job. Starting out, it may be a good idea to start a social media account and use promoted ads along with a PPC strategy. This will start putting your business on people’s social media and search feeds.
For a larger business, focusing on your internal operations is what is going to help take you to the next level. At this point, people may know of you, so using mediums such as radio, TV, and billboards is a great way to continue raising your brand awareness profile, even when you’re not focusing on smaller-scale nurture programs.
At the end of the day, there’s no “one size fits all” method when it comes to your marketing and communications plan. By taking into account the pros and cons of some of the methods I mentioned above, as well as the goals and objectives you have as a company, I hope you’re able to find what works best for you.