John Young makes a key point during his session on business marketing during the AirTime 500 meeting.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - John Young is sometimes described as a marketing guru because of his experience and insights into successful marketing strategies for HVACR contractors. Young, whose title with AirTime 500 is chief innovation officer, spoke with attendees of the group's spring meeting in Anaheim.

He emphasized that contractors need to market their companies because it is a "low-risk way to increase financial rewards."

"Marketing is the single greatest leveragable aspect of your business," he said.

Using history as a reference point, Young told AirTime 500 members that everything they have to show for themselves is a result of the money they have spent on their business since it opened. He asked everyone to write down a total dollar amount that each has spent promoting their business since the very beginning. "I think you will be astonished," he said.

What To Do Today

Young said there are steps that contractors can take - starting today - to market their businesses. One of those steps is to begin a direct response marketing campaign, which involves "spending a few dollars to reach many customers."

He said a trap that some contractors fall into is that they have few dollars to spend on few customers. The objective is to get the most bang for the marketing buck by targeting as many customers as the budget will allow.

By reaching many potential customers, contractors may be able to establish a brand identity, which Young said is sadly lacking in the HVACR industry.

He used the example of Kinko's, the national copy center, which has tremendous brand identity despite not having such words as "copy" or "print" in its name. "Kinko's is the name everyone thinks about when they want to run copies - they have established their brand name," Young said.

Contractors can also establish an identity apart from the competition by doing the little things right. Young talked about a customer who was asked what he liked about the service he got from an HVACR technician. The customer said that he noticed the technician wiped off his tools after using them and before putting them back in his tool belt.

"After that I suggested techs use chamois clothes and be given a session on ‘romancing the tool,'" Young laughed.

Keep The Customer's Needs In Mind

Young said that some businesses miss the mark when advertising because they talk about themselves too much. "Talk about what your clients want - not about yourself," he advised.

Young said that many contractors know exactly how many 3-ton condensing units they have in stock, but they don't know how many customers they lose. He joked that the priorities need to be re-evaluated, asking, "Which is easiest to get - a 3-ton condensing unit or a customer?

"One way to grow your business is to stop losing customers."

Finally, Young asked attendees if they knew what was unique about their companies and why a customer should do business with them.

He asked audience members to ponder another question - if they couldn't answer what was unique about their companies, how could they expect their employees to answer that question?

Publication date: 03/28/2005