If you own or operate an HVAC business, chances are you have experienced a time when you didn’t have enough revenue coming in, which translates directly into not enough leads coming in. Maybe it’s because of the season. Maybe it’s because of the economy. Whatever the case may be, there is a way to market yourself so you are never at the mercy of those factors again.
Here are the two things you need to control your revenue year-round: an integrated marketing approach and an organized marketing plan. These two things — integration and organization — can propel your marketing to a level where you no longer need to worry about slow seasons because you will be confident that your marketing will produce.
Integration means that your marketing is conducted through a variety of marketing mediums working together.
For example, an integrated approach could look like this: You have a direct mail postcard campaign that drives traffic to your website. Then your optimized website converts that traffic into leads by getting visitors to fill out a form. Then that form populates your email database and the lead receives pre-determined emails from you for the next six months. During that time, your sales team follows up with the prospect over the phone.
This may sound like a lot, but it is actually a fairly basic example of an integrated marketing plan. However, there is no need to panic. This can be done without having to pull all your hair out, and, of course, it can be adapted to fit your specific business model.
How to Integrate
In order to get a fully integrated marketing plan, you will need the following systems in place:
- Lead generation. For this I suggest direct mail postcards. There are other options like television, radio, billboards, letters, and more, but I have found postcards to be the most cost-effective.
- Lead reception. The keys to receiving leads are receptionists (or whoever answers your phone) and your website. This is easy to overlook, so be careful that you don’t. Receptionists should have a predetermined way to handle callers and gather their contact information, so you get it every time. And your website needs to be optimized for marketing purposes. This means getting people to fill out forms, so you can gather their contact information.
- Follow-up. You’ll want to go with email for this. There are very affordable services to help you set up a simple email follow-up system. If you have a larger budget, you can have a separate postcard campaign for follow-up, too. Phone calls are great for follow-up, depending on your specific situation and capital.
I don’t have enough space in this blog to show you specifically how to execute each step, but there is a ton of information out there that you can find on each of these steps, and I highly encourage you to do so. Everything I learned about marketing I learned from reading online and executing in my own business to see what worked.
It is one thing to have a fully integrated marketing plan, and it is another thing to have an organized, fully integrated marketing plan. The difference is actually hugely important.
It may sound obvious, but you need to be intentional about how each aspect of your campaign is going to integrate with the other parts. For example, how many days will go by before an online prospect receives their first email from you? How many days until they receive a phone call? Does the design on your postcard match the design of your website, or will the prospect think they are in the wrong place when they get there?
These kinds of questions need to be answered beforehand. It is no good to get all of the systems in place if you don’t have an idea of how they will work together.
The best way to handle this is to just sit down with your marketing staff (or just yourself if you don’t have a marketing staff) and answer all the questions you have before you start working to set it up. Start from lead generation and work your way through the whole process all the way to the sale.
Here are some questions you should ask:
1. How am I going to generate leads?
2. How am I going to receive these leads?
3. Is the method of reception going to immediately let the prospect know they are in the right place?
4. How am I going to get prospects’ contact information?
5. How am I going to follow up with leads?
6. Is there more than one way I should be following up?
7. How are my different follow-up methods going to work together?
8. How often should I contact my leads?
9. How long will I actively pursue leads?
10. Once someone has ordered, do I want to have a separate way to follow up and attempt to get them to sign up for more services?
Once you have built a solid structure for your marketing campaign, get to work implementing it. As you do, you will notice that a pattern emerges and that your revenue numbers follow a pattern with your marketing output. When that happens, you’ll have confidence that even in your off seasons you can still grow by simply increasing your marketing.
This won’t change the fact that the HVAC industry has structured high and low seasons, but it will allow you to rest easy during the slow times, knowing that your marketing will still produce leads — and you will still make money.