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BUS | HVAC Target Marketing

 November, 29th 2017     Comments     Views

By Tim Ross

As the operator of a small business, I know how frustrating it can be to spend money on a marketing campaign that doesn’t produce results. In the HVAC industry, where budgeting for   technicians and equipment is often the priority, one expensive advertising failure can be enough to convince a contactor that marketing simply isn’t worthwhile.

However, instead of simply writing off marketing altogether, why not take a closer look at why your marketing dollars didn’t attract the customers you expected? While utilizing the wrong advertising channel or launching a campaign during the wrong time of year can lead to a disappointing outcome, poor targeting is more often than not, the leading culprit when a campaign falls flat.

Targeting can be more of an art than a science, but there are some strategies you can follow to better improve your chances of reaching the best potential customers for your business. Here’s a look at some of the approaches we’ve used for our clients to help them target more effectively and increase the success of their marketing initiatives.

Identify your ideal customer. Before you plan any type of marketing effort, you need to figure out who you want to attract.  Generally speaking, you should consider the following criteria when determining who to target: Household income, home value, net worth and geographic area. You’re going to get the best return on investment for your marketing dollars by targeting the best potential clients located closest to your business. However, your target might change depending on the objective of your campaign. For example, if your goal is to generate a larger volume of calls for system checks, inspections and potential service agreements, then focusing on more affluent areas will make the most sense. Conversely, if you’re aiming to generate fewer leads, but want to identify people that have potentially more repair issues, then targeting homes over a certain age might be a better approach. The key thing to keep in mind is to envision who you’d like to see responding to your marketing and target that person.

Let the past be your guide. Reviewing your sales history can help you determine if the targets you’ve identified are the right ones. Before we send out a mailing for our clients, we take a look at their customer database and match it against the contact list and carrier routes we’ve chosen, to see which routes drive the best results. We examine the number of customers in certain geographic areas and the amount spent by customers and then we update our mailing lists based on what we find. This strategy allows us to maximize the full potential of a marketing campaign and avoid areas or certain types of customers that are unlikely to respond to a client’s offer.

Think small. If you’re considering a direct mail campaign, it’s tempting to mail to as many addresses as possible in order to generate a larger number of responses. But, if your campaign does produce a lot of calls from a wide geographic area, your techs might spend more time driving across town than servicing customers. That’s why we recommend breaking up your territory into smaller segments. Targeting down to the carrier route, which is a smaller section of a certain zip code, makes it easier to reach a specific neighborhood made up of residents of similar demographic profiles that you or your techs can easily service. Casting too wide a net with your advertising vehicle can also be problematic. For example, running radio or newspaper ads doesn’t allow you to target the customers the same way direct mail or email campaigns do.

Make the right offer.  You have to give that ideal customer a good reason to visit your website or pick up the phone. Offering a free inspection provides new clients with a risk-free incentive to try your business and learn more about your services. A “save on service” coupon, which offers a dollar or percentage amount off any service over a certain amount can also compel those target customers to take action. 

While there’s no doubt that targeting takes time, the investment is well worth it if you’re marketing generates better results and delivers the customers you truly want. 

Tim Ross is a marketing veteran and president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail services. Over the last eight years, Tim has built Mudlick into a $40 million operation that has helped thousands of businesses develop sustainable sales growth.