You don’t see Viagra ads during The Tyra Banks Show, but you do see anti-depressants advertised during the Nightly News. As far as timing, Viagra ads perk up (so to speak) just before Valentine’s Day, and Claritin ads hit as allergy season ramps up. None of those are coincidental, and all are staggeringly profitable.

You can sense from the above that targeting and timing are crucial marketing elements. Yet, within the message are four marketing lessons from these gargantuan models, worthy of emulation. If, in a downward-spiraling economy, you’d prefer to copy than to re-invent with your own wallet, I offer…

• Direction or Call-to-Action - Drug companies always give specific “call to”, “ask” “get a free DVD” or “go to the website at” advice. Tell your prospect what you want them to do. Especially in a downward economy, leaving them to guess is a bad idea, a waste of your ad space, time, and money. This has been my advice for eight years in a row; significantly more important now. No guessing allowed.

• Damaging Admission - Drug companies are law-bound to mention anything that occurs in a certain percentage of cases, laughably-frightening or not. (“If maple syrup begins coming out of your ears…” Yet in marketing – and here’s the lesson – there is an automatic filter that everyone has when an offer sounds too good, too perfect. Thus, a damaging admission is an honesty-inducer, effectively opening the filter toward credibility. Such as: “We have the most popular colors and the biggest selection in town!” is typical ad schlock, filter set too high. Better to say, “We have virtually all size systems for this stimulus credit, but the 3 ton size will sell out the fastest. Call to find out your size now.” This is far more specific, interesting, urgent, and allows the customer to accept other statements more readily. The trick is to make your admission positive and lead-inducing.

• Targeting - This is actually the most important one, but put here on purpose. The “who” you want to attract must match the audience for the media. What is your targeted audience watching, reading, listening to? (We have a list of the top 9 HVAC lists if you click below.)

The best target - by far - is your current customer base. Immediately afterward is one many contractors toss aside: former customers. Next are referrals, then those “like” your customers, then those in proximity to customers. The most efficient method of contact is to target for highest probability of sale first, then move down the list. Efficiency in marketing is now more important than ever.

• Benefits over price - In a weakened economy, cutting prices up front is common, but often interpreted as desperate, quivering, weak negating any real gain. They don’t know how much a furnace tune up should cost; discounting up-front is pointless.

Make sure your price cuts are positioned powerfully after benefits are spelled out. The drug ads speak initially of “improvement, health, increased energy, no soreness” and other benefits, then offer a free one-month trial, to make it irresistible. (Plus, if they told you the price, we’d need heart medication too.) Think in terms of what you can offer free, without risk, or by merely accepting the risk with a substantial guarantee. For years, our clients have offered buy-back guarantees, energy savings guarantees, 2 degree guarantees, on-time service guarantees, and much more. They often dominate the market simply for being bold.

What can you do to change your economy with better marketing?

*For a free report on the best way to hit your best target (see #3 above) click