TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Charlie Elliot needed some marketing advice for his Sault Ste. Marie, MI, hvacr business. The president of the Michigan ACCA Chapter asked the marketing department at a local television station to develop a plan.

Michelle Litzner and Bill Burns of the “9&10 News” developed a marketing campaign for Elliott and used some examples from the experience to point out the various advertising avenues that contractors can take to market their businesses.

“Marketing is more than just advertising,” said Litzner. “It is a means of promoting a company, its products, and services.”

Litzner suggested that contractors come up with a media plan to reach their targeted audience. She said there are three important variables of a media plan:

  • Reach — The number of unduplicated households or people exposed to a program, group of programs, or an advertiser’s schedule over a specific time period;

  • Frequency — The average number of times an accumulated audience has the opportunity to be exposed to advertisements, a particular program, or program schedule, within a measured period of time; and

  • Continuity — Scheduling advertising consistently over a period of time without interruption in order to build or maintain advertising awareness and recall.

    Litzner broke down the media plan for Elliott Heating & Cooling, which put the most emphasis on television and direct marketing. In her summation, she wrote, “The power of sight, sound, motion, and emotion will capture new leads for your business this year. I recommend using ‘9&10 News’ for two sales events this year, along with a March sales promotion.

    “Direct mail will continue to keep your customers up to date on the events and happenings at Elliott Heating & Cooling. A mailing piece twice a year, instead of four times a year, will allow you to service your current clients directly and will free up additional dollars to gain new clients using other various forms of media.”

    Litzner added that radio advertising has a number of strengths, too. “Changing ad copy is easy and you usually have a very loyal audience,” she said. “Make sure that you change voices, possibly using a familiar voice from the community — and have testimonials, too.”

    Burns added that although the Internet has become an effective marketing tool for many businesses, it still has its limitations in smaller communities.

    “In a small market like northern Michigan, businesses are not using the Internet to drive business,” he added. “They are only using the Internet to maintain a Web presence.”

    Burns said that many businesses turn away from marketing plans during economic slowdowns, but that is the opposite of what they should do.

    “People who continue an effective marketing campaign during slow times will be successful,” he added. “Even if it means scaling back to advertise to a more specific target audience.”

    Publication date: 05/20/2002