In last month’s column, I explained how to establish your company’s 2014 goals with your employees. This month, I’ll show you how to create page two of your business plan – the marketing activities for 2014 and beyond. Here is a four-step process for creating your marketing activities plan.
Step One: Generate active and inactive customer lists.
To determine your 2014 marketing activities, you first need to determine how many active customers you have. An active customer is a customer who has used your company’s products and services in the past 18 months. You should also be aware of how many inactive customers you have. An inactive customer has used your company, but not in the past 18 months to five years. Stop counting after five years; beyond that, most people have moved (physically) or have used another company because you didn’t keep in touch with them!
Step Two: Conduct a phone survey of inactive customers.
Call a sample of the customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Find out why they haven’t used you. Be prepared to discover they have moved, died, are using another company or didn’t have an HVAC need. Do something to invite them back. After all, they still need their HVAC equipment checked each year. The results of this phone survey should help you establish your marketing goals for 2014.
Step Three: Review all of your 2013 marketing efforts
First, look at your 2013 advertising activities. What worked? What didn’t work? How do you know? Hopefully you have tracked results throughout the year so you know the answers to those questions. If you haven’t tracked results, make that your first goal for next year. Assuming you have tracked your leads, you know what worked well and what didn’t work at all. Plan to repeat the activities that worked well and determine why the others didn’t work well so you can either fix the problems or just not repeat those efforts.
Then look at your 2013 public relations activities. Public relations includes all non-paid advertising: your truck signage, service forms and uniforms, donations you made to charitable organizations, articles that appeared in the media, and other places your company name appeared.
Examine your trade show/home show results. Which shows worked and provided leads for your company? Plan to exhibit at those shows again.
The answers to these questions will help you create your one-page 2014 marketing activities plan.
Step Four: Create a marketing activities calendar.
Figure 1 shows a sample marketing activities sheet. The year’s activities are broken down by week. You can look at this sheet of paper every day, every week, or, at a minimum, every month when you receive your financial statements. It should be posted on the wall as a reminder of what you need to do and the results of the efforts you’ve made.
The marketing activity sheet is created by putting ALL of the activities you will do for the year along the Y-axis and the months of the year along the X-axis. Divide the marketing activities you plan to do into four groups: residential prospective customers, commercial prospective customers, current customers and employees. Some activities, such as newsletters, you may use for both prospective and current customers.
Figure 1 is not a complete list of every marketing action you can take. It is simply meant as a guideline to help you plan your activities.
To use the sheet, place an “X” under the week you plan to do each activity. For public relations activities or media purchases in radio, television or newspaper, it is helpful to put the planned action or source’s name on the X-axis as a reminder. Some activities, such as telephone follow-up or yellow pages advertising, will have an “X” under every week.
Once the marketing sheet has been completed, put it on a wall to remind you of what you have to do each month. If you delegate this responsibility to another employee, it provides a quick way of reviewing activities and the results of those activities.
Even though this is a one-year plan, commit to marketing for three years and you’ll see dramatic results. You’ll see some results in the first year, more in the second, and even more in the third. “It takes three years to really see results.” This comment was voluntarily given to me by a client who has been marketing consistently for the past three years. He’s finally seeing massive results from his marketing expenditures. New customers, retained customers and profits have all increased dramatically.
Ruth King has over 25 years of experience in the hvacr industry and has worked with contractors, distributors and manufacturers to help grow their companies and make them more profitable. She is president of HVAC Channel TV and holds a Class ll (unrestricted) contractors license in Georgia. Ruth has authored two books: The Ugly Truth about Small Business and The Ugly Truth about Managing People. Contact Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-729-0258.
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