I don’t believe the HVAC industry in which you work and the publishing business which The NEWS plays in have very much in common. Other than the ability to change a filter, the simplest of furnace repairs would be well beyond my ability. And I am guessing you would not really enjoy pounding out a 1,500-word story for publication.

There is one fairly significant similarity though: We both need to be where our customers/readers are at all times. The NEWS is doing this by continuing to offer a print product while also bringing you e-media versions including our website, e-books, webinars, social media, and apps — to name just a few. As I travel the country attending HVAC events, I enjoy meeting and conversing with our readers. I am always amazed when a contractor shares that he has read the print edition for more years than he is willing to admit. And, in the next minute, a contractor around the same age says he has no need for print but religiously reads our digital edition.

HVAC Customers

As an HVAC contractor, you have to be asking yourself the same question: Where are my customers at and how do I best interact with them? Back in the old days it used to be simple. You would just take out a big Yellow Pages ad and wait for the phone to ring. This is no longer the case. Do you still need that Yellow Pages ad? That is impossible for me to answer. What I do know for certain is that should not be the only place you are spending your marketing dollars. Much like this magazine, it takes a lot of trial and error to find which avenues offer the best return on investment.

I can’t imagine anyone my age or younger going to the Yellow Pages instead of Google. But that is not to say that there is not a customer base out there that still flips through the phonebook when their air conditioner breaks. The key is to strategically try things and make sure you measure the results. We do that constantly here at The NEWS. I am inundated by numbers of downloads, clicks, and page views on a weekly — if not daily — basis. You should be getting similar information about your marketing efforts. Now, daily updates might drive you nuts, but you should at least be examining monthly metrics.

A good place to start: social media. Start a Twitter account and Facebook page. A lot of contractors I talk to have great success with e-newsletters. The sales guy in the office next to me is always preaching about content marketing. That is a fancy way to say you provide valuable information to your customer while including your contact information, rather than just hitting them over the head with a commercial/infomercial piece. Contractors can do this too, by sending out an e-newsletter in the spring regarding IAQ and how certain products can greatly improve occupants’ health and comfort. Of course, be sure to include your contact information in bold at the bottom — in case they are interested in talking to an expert.

The key to all this is to make sure you use different phone numbers for each campaign. Then check out the results. At that point it will be easy to eliminate what is not working and ratchet up what is. Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you will probably find that a lot of things have average success. You’ll likely find that success is achieved through a variety of offerings — many more than you used to rely on. That is just the nature of the world we live in now.

Mobile App

Finally, my boss would yell at me if I did not take this opportunity to introduce you to The NEWS’ app. It is available for both Apple and Android devices. Go to www.achrnews.com/newapp or search the App Store or Google Play. It is free, but the only thing we ask is that you register at www.achrnews.com, to obtain a username and password, which is all you’ll need to access the app. This new venue allows you to receive all The NEWS’ great content, in a concise, easy-to-read variety. Just be sure to provide us any and all feedback.

Hey, see what I did there — I think this could be classified as content marketing!

Publication date: 3/18/2013