Splitting Your Marketing $

September 13, 2004

What Kind of Marketer are You?

By: Adams Hudson

This is pretty simple, but most HVAC’ers miss it, over-spending by thousands on the wrong message. (We’re paid $8000 for a 2-day consult to figure this out. Take notes and don’t tell anyone.) The average HVAC marketing expense vs. sales is 3.4%, but this is miserably low for companies on the grow. (That rhymes. I’m usually not that clever.)

High growth, aggressive companies spend 8-10% on marketing and achieve fantastic results. Moderate growth companies spend 5-7% to earn nice, steady new customers while fully massaging their customer base. Conservative companies should spend 3.5-5% and - if done right – can squeeze significant sales and leads.

Oh, I can hear it now: “I want aggressive results from a conservative budget!” Don’t we all? Look, marketing is responsible for virtually ALL of your incoming leads and resulting sales. Isn’t it worth only getting 10-20 times your money back? Thought so.

Where to funnel your media dollars? Please understand, I’m not paid a penny by media. These figures come from our HVAC High Performance Marketing Plan, which exhaustively dissects HVAC media and spending. So, after Yellow Page spending, consider...

Newspaper: About 25% of the Moderate budget. For your ad message, spend about twice the amount on a Direct Response message than Image or TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness.)

Direct Mail: About 21% of the Moderate budget. Spread it among…
a) Letters: Mostly spend on Direct Response for Replacements, remainder on Retention New Homeowner, and Referral request letters.

b) Postcards: Use as “infill” for Service leads. (We’ve got 6 Service Postcards that produce hundreds of tune up leads, which yield Maintenance Agreements, which also lead to equipment sales. Don’t ever short sell a Tune-Up campaign.)

Newsletters: The best marketing investment – by far - and worthy of 8% of the Moderate’s budget. Professional newsletters sent 2-4 times a year to check-writing customers is a incredible bargain. We publish several (get a free sample) or check around. Do not make this a pure sales piece or it’s going in the trash. Be informative and use “psychological sales triggers”. See our website for more.

Radio: About 10% of the budget. High degree of memorability if you repeatedly pound your message. Only do Direct Response here IF you have a “sister” campaign in print.

Television: About 4% of the budget unless you’re buying really cheap cable. (Deals are out there.) Same advice with radio. Don’t try to be funny unless you ARE funny. Be professional. Please don’t do another one with the well-pleased housewife looking adoringly at your too neat tech and his overly-whitened smile that says “We care about you.” Please.

Telephone: Most don’t call this a media, but let me ask you, through what device do virtually 100% of your leads funnel? Be smart. Have polite, professionals use a singular greeting and be able to “sell” appointments, “fix” complaints, and know how to traffic calls like a magician. This is a no-cost media that can kill you if done wrong.

Internet: Another no-cost media. Be fresh, entertaining, and above all – have a way to capture email addresses or you’re goofing up big time. Sell using information.

Alternative – Billboards, Church bulletins, van signage, et al. This is almost all TOMA. I rarely recommend Billboards. Worthy of 4% of the budget.

Bottom Line: Your media and message work as a team to create tremendous leads, image, credibility and perceived value. Your marketing can result in massive leads, sales and profit… if done right. Get a plan. Plug in the right ads. Then watch your phone and cash registers ring.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. For a FREE critique of your Yellow Page Ad, just fax your Yellow Page ad to 334-262-1115. Also check out www.hudsonink.com on the web for free marketing tips or call 1-800-489-9099 for more info.

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