Marketing Zoning: Educate and Excite To Close The Sale
Originally published: 09.01.11 by Steve Bilica
Customers want comfort solutions, but most don’t know enough about zoning.
Every two-story colonial or rambling ranch has a problem that can be solved with zoning. Most commercial buildings have hot spots by the windows and/or separate offices that can benefit from multiple thermostats. The same is true for most structures with forced-air heating-and-cooling systems. Few of these potential customers, though, have any idea there is a solution.
Informing and educating them is the key to marketing zoning systems.
Focus On Information and Education
The first step to creating a zoning marketing plan is to educate yourself and your team.
The marketing of zoning begins with a belief that zoning is the best solution to your customer’s problems, whether residential or commercial. If you aren’t convinced of this, take some time toreally listen to your customers’ concerns. Your service and sales team will tell you that most customers say they are not comfortable in all areas of their homes or businesses.
Once you, as a company leader, are convinced of this, it’s time to persuade your staff. Explain that planting the idea of zoning as a solution to comfort problems during sales calls will give your company a step up on the competition.
Specific to your marketing plan, you need to address two common objections that potential customers often have about zoning:
- Most homeowners have concluded that it will always be hotter upstairs and colder in the basement; that bonus rooms just are not practical living places; and that there are no solutions to these problems.
- Zoning often is perceived as requiring multiple furnaces and air conditioners, a costly proposition. This misperception causes people to “zone” out when they see “zoning” in print.
Your marketing message should inform people that there are affordable solutions and then get them excited about them. Since we have our customer’s attention when on a service or sales call, this is the best chance to do some educating. A simple question such as “Are you happy with the temperatures on all levels of the home?” is a great way to start educating the consumer on the features and benefits of multiple thermostats. Leaving third-party material — along with printed pictures of zoned homes that are similar to the customer’s — can spark interest and excitement.
Emphasize New Solution, Not New Equipment
Make sure the customer understands that they won’t need a new furnace or AC unit to be comfortable in every part of their house. They just need better control of the systems they have. This will help the client to understand that instead of pushing new equipment, you are suggesting new solutions that use wireless technology. Undoubtedly, your customers use wireless technology in other parts of their daily lives; explain that what zoning does is use wireless technology to make homes and buildings more comfortable.
Here are some key messaging phrases we have found to be effective:
- New technology has improved other parts of your life. Why not use it to be more comfortable? Since your home/business was built, new advances in temperature and air flow have been invented. Zoning is used in higher-end autos, vans, and other vehicles. Bathroom floors are heated, and basement-floor heating is becoming popular. Why not include the entire structure?
- A separate thermostat in this room/area would solve your problem. Since we use wireless equipment, there are no additional wires and no need to open walls or drill holes.
- Do you have separate controls for heating and AC in your vehicle? If so, you have already experienced the comfort of zoning.
- Why heat or cool rooms that you are no longer using?
- You paid for all the square footage in your home, why not use it?
When on a sales call for new equipment, incorporate zoning as an addition to the equipment you are installing. Prices should be separated so as not to confuse the buyer when they compare your bid to another company that doesn’t offer zoning.
Target Discriminating Homeowners
When used with high-end products, zoning can be positioned as the ultimate solution for the discriminating homeowner. New subdivisions are a goldmine for selling zone systems. The consumer has paid top dollar for a large home that unfortunately is not as comfortable as a small apartment. Specific flyers outlining the exact problem and the approximate price of the solution can be extremely effective marketing tool with this clientele, especially when connected to a common manifestation of the problem in that type of home, i.e., a child’s room above an unheated garage can spark a parent’s interest.
Of course you also can address the cost savings associated with zoning, but in our experience, this doesn’t provoke interest as much as addressing discomfort. Cost-savings is a helpful closing tool after the comfort issues have been established. Another way to address the cost-savings is to position it as energy savings. For some consumers, being environmentally responsible is more important than saving money.
Marketing to commercial customers is a tricky business. If you are working for the tennant, you will need the ear of the decision maker, which is usually done through a representative that is not going to explain it as well as you. Again, printed material and manufactuer’s brochures are handy in getting the message to the person or persons you need. Stating on your invoice that the tennant is unhappy with temperatures and possible zoning solutions sets you up with potential sales.
Raising Awareness Beyond Sales Calls
Marketing zoning by itself is unique and unprecedented. Using innovative tools in addition to brochures has been very successful for us.
Home shows present a great venue to show first-hand how dampers operate and wireless thermostats give alternative options to wall-mounted ones. I use a separate display so that I can attract the consumers who have recently bought HVAC systems and tend to disregard a heating and AC booth. Moving dampers and air flow examples are key. Interacting with the display and being enthusiastic about the product’s ability to homes more comfortable is key to getting interest. I also play video of satisfied customers giving testimonials during these shows.
Additionally, I have trucks that I park in key places around town and are wrapped with pictures and enticements for adding zoning to an exisitng structure. I have tried newspaper ads, but these have not been as successful. The brochures that I have created with the phrase “1 furnace, 1 air conditioner, and 4 wireless thermostats” seem to get the message across.
Installing zoning presents unique sales and marketing challenges. Options such as air bladders and retrofit dampers have given us alternatives that we haven’t had in the past. As I stated at the beginning, a belief and commitment to this technology is essential in order to sell the customer on the idea of being comfortable in every room of their home. If zoning is not offered as an answer, then I don’t think we are listening to the questions.
Articles by Steve Bilica
Marketing Zoning: Educate and Excite To Close The Sale
Educating your sales team about zoning options and benefits. Your sales team can then provide a wider range of comfort solutions.