Business is about people. An entrepreneur recognizes a need or desire that people have, and fills it with a product or service. The HVAC contractor sees that people need proper heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and that they desire comfort. An HVAC company is built around this demand.
Marketing is also about people. People have a demand, and your company can supply it. But a company can have a bus full of qualified technicians, but if zero people know the company exists, zero profit will arrive. So marketing functions as the middleman — informing those with the broken air conditioner that there is somebody nearby who can fix it.
But don’t view marketing solely as a number to include on your annual budget. Like any part of your budget, you’ll always want to balance your marketing checkbook at the end of the day and ensure there is a return-on-investment. But viewing marketing solely as numbers on a spreadsheet can be reductionist. To market well, you need to understand people. And you especially need to understand the decision making process. Your customers are people, and that means they make decisions messily.
Enter the marketing funnel, a four-step summary of how people make their purchasing decisions. Since people are individuals, and each person makes their choices in a slightly different way, this funnel represents an extreme simplification. In the real world, the four stages blend into one another, and an individual customer might go through the first three steps several times before reaching the final one. But the funnel is helpful, as it will allow us to understand a company’s marketing in four digestible, quantifiable bites: Awareness. Consideration. Purchase. Loyalty.
In the future, this blog will cover each stage in an individual, in-depth post. But for now, a brief overview will allow you to view the four-stage decision making process as a whole.
People Must Be Aware Your HVAC Company Exists
A person knowing about your company exists guarantee they’ll buy from you. But if they have no idea your company exists, they definitely won’t buy from you. Unless you fix their lack of awareness.
Specific parts of your marketing strategy should target the awareness stage of the funnel. Putting your name in people’s heads. For example, sponsoring a local sports team and putting your company name on jerseys is an example of this. A person might not see a need for a furnace quite yet, but they will be aware of your company, and when the need arises, they might go “Oh! There’s that company on the jersey. Let’s check out their website.”
Even if people don’t want to buy from you right now, ensure that you’re on the top of their list when a need or want arises.
Help People When They Are Considering Your Company
Ideally, a person will then jump from awareness to consideration. Instead of them merely knowing you exist, now, they see you as a viable option for meeting a need or want. They might buy from you. This is when a potential customer has heard of your website, their air conditioner has broken, and now they are comparing you to other contractors in the area. They will likely visit your website, read reviews on your company, price shop, and more.
There is no definitive timeline between the awareness and consideration stage. One customer might learn you exist and not think about you until their duct system leaks six months later. Yet another customer might be looking at a damaged furnace and ask their friend for a recommendation. If the friend recommends you, a new company the customer hasn’t heard of, then the time between awareness and consideration is moments.
Make sure that when the potential buyer is looking at your website, or looking at reviews, that see a wealth of information on why your company is the best.
Make The Purchasing Decision As Smooth As Possible
Next, the customer moves from consideration to purchase. You are no longer a viable solution. You are the solution. They have decided that you are the company they will purchase from.
In this stage, you want to make the purchasing decision as easy and nice as possible, lest the customer regret their decision. If they’ve booked your technicians to install a new air conditioner, make sure the technicians arrive on time, with a smile, and having the tools and expertise to do the job well.
Generate Loyal and Advocating Customers
It’s possible that the customer purchases a service from you once but has such a bad experience with an employee that they never come back again. This isn’t what you want. You want the purchasing process to be so smooth that the customer comes back to you time and time again. That they start recommending you when friends ask for a good HVAC company. The game doesn’t end when a person purchases from you. Rather, a loyal, advocating customer is the goal.
As stated before, the marketing funnel, put into practice, isn’t clean cut. People are complex, and their decisions don’t always follow a clean pattern. But a good grasp of the marketing funnel can be used as a guide for how people will approach the decision of whether to purchase from your or a competitor.
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