Angela D. Harris

“Video Killed the Radio Star” on Aug. 1, 1981, when MTV aired the 1979 classic as its first ever music video. And decades later consumers continue to crave more than audible interaction. Demanding visual stimulus, the sight and sound generation emerged. No longer satisfied with consumption of traditional media alone, the sight and sound consumer is now looking to simultaneously be educated and entertained, with an emphasis on entertainment. To do this, many advertising agencies have turned to video marketing. Some have experienced great success with this tactic and others, well; we can’t remember their campaigns, so apparently it didn’t work. Still, video has a highly valued place in marketing, and as an HVACR contractor, you should be working on a video strategy right now.


The idea that there is a single formula for video success is absurd, but an HVACR contractor can create a video marketing strategy that works for their company and its products. The toughest part is coming up with a subject and then an idea to communicate that subject. Of course a contractor’s subject is going to be HVACR, but that is a little too broad to cover in a less-than-two-minute video. Choose instead a specific aspect of HVACR or of the business. For example, IAQ, duct testing, customer service, NATE certification, etc.

Communicating the chosen subject can be done through a character or through a concept.

Remember Fred the baker, from Dunkin’ Donuts’ 1982 commercial series, “Time to make the donuts”? That series continued for more than 10 years, won multiple awards, and is still remembered by many to this day. Just recently, Target launched its Thanksgiving holiday marketing campaign with comedienne Maria Bramford. The hilarious set of commercials, although close to annoying, are arguably hysterical, and of all the holiday ads I saw this year, that is the set of commercials I remember. Target took the idea of its 4 a.m. Black Friday sale and portrayed it through a distinctly designed comedic character.

If creating a character doesn’t work, another excellent topic communicator can be found in creating a concept video. These concept videos take topics that are difficult to grasp and turn them into an understandable and memorable set of pictures and sounds. A good example of this is the “This is Your Brain on Drugs” campaign sponsored by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Launched in 1987, it is difficult to find someone who doesn’t remember the egg in the frying pan representing the effects of narcotics on the human brain. “Any questions?”


Professional studios, national ad campaigns, and television air time don’t fit in any sentence that includes the phrase “budget constraints.” With the tools on the Internet, however, it is not necessary to have an incredibly large budget to make successful videos that could potentially reach an incredibly large audience. The Internet gives the public a voice that was once available only to major networks and their wealthier sponsors.

YouTube is a popular Internet tool that can provide a contractor air play. Having your own YouTube channel is free. Set it up, shoot some videos, upload, and you are set to go. Put your YouTube address on every piece of advertising and paperwork that comes out of your office, and for very little cost, you have a solid video voice in the industry.

It is easy to say in a few sentences, but successful videos do require some work, especially if you are aiming for them to go viral; and you should be aiming for some of them to go viral. Obtaining viral status for a video can be difficult. Some even argue that it can’t be done for the HVACR industry. It takes quality, creativity, perseverance, and a little bit of luck; but it can be done.

The videos don’t have to be shot professionally, but keep an eye out for ways to improve the sound and lighting quality. Minor investments in these two categories can make a world of difference in the overall video quality. Whatever you decide to do, please don’t yell at the camera like a used car salesman, while a gorilla-suited man runs around in the background. You want to entertain and educate your audience; not annoy them. Think PBS meets Comedy Central and get shooting.

Publication date:12/06/2010