Whether you’re starting a business from scratch, or if you’ve been an established family business for years, marketing should be a core element in your strategy. In the HVAC installation sector for example, there are thousands of companies from one man bands to large enterprises, all fighting for visibility against each other.
Of course, you might be a regional installer, only targeting your local area, in which case you’ve probably relied a lot on word of mouth – which is priceless. But no matter your size or breadth of business, there are 5 core steps to tick off your checklist when it comes to using marketing to grow your business.
1. Put together a strategy
Your strategy should define your goals, whether they are large goals like increasing the number of sales of a particular product or service, or simply acquiring new customers, or they could be smaller goals like increasing your following on social media or raising the awareness of your brand. Regardless of what they are, they should ideally follow one of marketing’s most important rules – ‘SMART’.
S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time specific
So for example, if you are a heating installer and you sold a renewable heating system like Ecodan, your SMART strategy might be that you want to increase sales of Ecodan by 50% in 12 months. That’s specific, measureable and timely, but of course it might be unrealistic or unattainable to your business at this point without new staff or additional training, so does requires thought.
In fact it requires answers to some big questions, for example:
- What is the reason for my company’s existence?
- What sets my business apart from the rest?
- What do I want my company to accomplish this year?
- What are the top 3 things that are going to get me there?
- What will trigger my ideal customer to think of my company?
Talking about customers, the other key element to consider in your strategy is your target audience; how they might engage with you and where they might be located. If most of your business is gained by recommendations from customers to neighbours, it might be worth asking that customer to leave a testimonial on your website so that their great recommendation can spread a bit further (outside the neighbourhood at least).
There’s also the biggest question of all… how much budget do you want to spend on this?
A testimonial is free but you might choose to offer an incentive to your customers to achieve this – for example, “leave a testimonial and we’ll give you a free service”. Cost of course can vary but our tip is that with social media for example, you can experiment with as much or as little as you want and often see a result quite quickly.
Once you have come up with your strategy make sure you document it in a clear plan with a calendar timeline included.
It seems really obvious but it will provide you with something to reflect on when you need to check on your progress. It’s also a great thing to pass onto an agency if you decide at a later date to enlist some more help.
Often when you get an agency on board, creating a plan and setting context can make up a big part of their costs so if you have this already it will be a helpful saving.
2. Look at your resources
Do you have a website? Do you have social media channels? Do you have a company blog?
You most likely have the first, but if you don’t a website can be very easy to set up, especially if you look to companies like WIX and Square Space which make it easy to create and design engaging websites at a small monthly subscription cost. If you already have a website, continually investing in it and improving it is very important.
Good quality imagery and good quality written content is key to reassuring potential customers that you are reliable and professional. If you install Mitsubishi Electric equipment we have an online Customer Portal available where you can download a variety of images and text to enhance your existing site.
Essentially your website should have enough content to help your customers make a decision on the product they want and the service they want from you – just don’t forget to make visible your telephone number, address and email so that they can get in touch with you easily.
Some more tips include choosing an easy to type domain name, add keywords into your website copy, maintain your website frequently so that all info is up to date and Google can see your website is active (it will help it score higher in the search engine).
If you need any more guidance on this, on our Customer Portal we also have a video all about optimising your website for Google.
When it comes to social media it’s definitely worth having a least one account that your brand is active on.
For us, our Twitter page is very valuable to our brand as it’s where we connect with the majority of our installers. Also as a thought leader it allows us to get involved in related industry topics like World Refrigeration Day, as well as large scale climate issues like Earth Overshoot Day (both of which we talk about a lot on The Hub). Twitter is also a great platform for advertising and, as I mentioned earlier, you can spend as much or as little as you want.
Some tips for Twitter include having a nice, clear and professional profile image and top header, following as many relevant accounts as you can find, tweeting regularly with images and other media, sharing other people’s content, joining in discussions, and watching your language! It can be easy to get sucked into casual social media banter, but when your brand identity is at stake, it might not be the best idea.
3. Cover the traditional
The traditional way that businesses would make themselves known against their competitors was with the good old Yellow Pages.
Unfortunately it is no longer available and digital business directories like Google My Business have taken over. On that note, it’s free to add your business to Google My Business so follow these steps here to make sure you’ve got it covered.
Another traditional ways to market your business that you should sort out immediately is van livery. Having an eye-catching design, your website, telephone number and a description of the service you offer is the best form of travelling advertising you’re ever going to have. In fact, it’s so good, here are some great van livery designs and more advice.
If you’re a Partner of our Mitsubishi Electric Partner Programme we can further help advise you with van livery and even help co-fund it with you.
4. Email marketing
In my opinion, email marketing is one of the best ways to communicate with customers. That’s because as of 2019 there are approximately 3 billion email users in the world and it still ranks top as the ideal communication method between businesses and customers.
As a tool to grow your business, email provides you with a platform to deliver professional messages that are targeted to helping you achieve your business goals. For example, if you have a promotion, or even just to welcome new customers and inform them of the added value services you can offer.
According to this post on Campaign Monitor – a popular email marketing tool that we use here at Mitsubishi Electric, 95% of email users check their email every day so it’s also a great way to communicate a message immediately.
Many brands are using this to their advantage by jumping onto daily trends like #FriendshipDay because they know they can offer an immediate benefit (like a discount) for a single day and still receive a high uptake.
As with social media, email marketing is also a platform that you can make as easy or as complex as you want. If you want to go down the more complex route, many email marketing systems allow you to set up segmentation, personalisation and even automation.
Of course if you are going to delve into email marketing, or if you already are using it, make sure you keep up to date with data privacy rules like GDPR.
And if you are a member of our Partner Programme, we have a video on our Customer Portal to help you understand it a bit more.
5. Analyse, review and revisit
Marketing is about experimenting. The most important part of running an experiment is analysing the results. Therefore, measuring the impact of your marketing efforts are very important when it comes to seeing what worked, what didn’t and what can be adjusted for next time.
Remember that what worked for another company or even a competitor, might not work for you. But you might not know that for sure until you do your research, run the activity and measure the result, regularly.
With social media for example, if you review it regularly you can make adjustments almost immediately and with email marketing you can try something like A/B testing which is where you create 2 emails with the same purpose but a different variation of messaging. Then you can see which performed better to help you shape any future email campaigns.
There are also systems like Google Analytics which is a great tool to measure traffic and behaviour on your website. You can connect your site together with Analytics via a simple piece of code and then you can link up an activity with a spike in traffic.
If the results you receive aren’t what you expected, going back to your original strategy and making adjustments is completely fine, it’s what all businesses do because as we know, trends change and behaviours change.
For all we know, next year email might have been completely surpassed by some new communication tool that is yet to be launched! It’s not like something that revolutionary hasn’t happened before, especially in our fast paced technology age.
I hope that helps explain the power of basic marketing. Come and talk to us if you need further advice, and if you want to sign up to the Mitsubishi Electric Customer Portal which provides air conditioning and heating installers with a marketing suite of images, social content, strategy guides and marketing videos, please click here and sign up with your valid company email address.
Ellina Webb is Marketing Services Manager at Mitsubishi Electric