In an effort to change the old January, February, March down times, we decided to increase our typical advertising program in an attempt to generate some business for those months. Well, that was a colossal flop, and February was the worst month in years for our company. Just increasing the amount of the same old advertising we had been doing doesn’t seem to be working. As I have tried to analyze why the program failed, I did a little unsophisticated research. I asked several of my friends if they had seen our newspaper ads. None even read the daily newspaper anymore. Then I asked if any had seen our TV ads. They sheepishly admitted that anything they watch on TV they pre-record and zip through the commercials. When asked about reading their mail, they do as I do and stand over the garbage can when opening the mail, discarding anything that even resembles an advertising piece. At least for this small sample, the same old thing just isn’t going to work.
Faced with this situation, there are really two possibilities. One is to continue to do things as usual and hope things will improve soon. I really don’t recommend this approach because I’m not sure things will improve in the short term, and in fact may never return the way they were. The second approach is to start doing some things differently in order to make sure your name is out there when a prospect is in need of your services. To make these changes takes some creativity, but it is likely that the improvements you make will serve you well in the future.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENTAs we have tried to develop new ways to reach our prospects, one of the ways we have found successful is really a throwback to one of our most successful methods. More than ever it is time to get yourself and your sales personnel involved in the community. Whether it is the Lion’s Club, Optimists, Chamber of Commerce, or any other similar organization, you need to belong and to participate. We have found that despite our new technically driven society, people still prefer to do business with people they know. The extension of that is obviously that the more people you know, the better chance of spreading your name, and being in the prospect’s mind when they need your services. Although many of these organizations are business-to-business organizations, all of the members live somewhere with a heating and/or air conditioning system that sometime will require service. One important tip, don’t treat a meeting of one of these groups as a sales call. Let the others know what business you are in, and that you are available if they need you. Don’t push them to buy from you. No one likes to be harassed by a pushy sales person, so make sure that isn’t you.
This is also an excellent time to do local promotions, such as sponsoring local sports teams and organizations. These groups have suffered from the down economy as well, and your support will have more meaning than ever to them.
One simple promotion we have found is to distribute hand fans (little cardboard pieces on a wood stick) at local sporting events or other outdoor occasions. In our area, with stifling heat, they are very popular and most importantly the people keep them and save them for future use.
I believe it’s time to make sure you are on Facebook and Twitter. I admit we are not there yet, but plan to be in the future. We feel sure that these are going to be necessary communication methods in the future.
Use your imagination. Things are not the same as they were, and may never be like that again. So think outside the box, change the ways you have done things. Get more involved. But don’t expect instant results. Building a base like this for your company is very important and it will pay off over time, just don’t expect the phone to start ringing off the hook. With these things, you are working to ensure your future in an entirely different environment.