Over the last five years and more specifically the last two, I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the expectations of advertisers. And, for those of you who advertise a little or a lot, I don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I tend to see with larger B2B national programs. Specifically, wildly unrealistic beliefs that an ad placement or two should and will produce immediate sales. Much of this paradigm shift is related to the internet where the only important metrics are ultra-low cost and high impression rates.
• Research: Understanding Your Market & the Metrics
What many advertisers neglect to understand is that they cannot apply one metric to all programs across the board — but they try. The most common — applying eMedia metrics to print programs. This is a one-way road to disappointment and failure. Also, selecting vertical industries naturally, increases cost because waste is reduced. The internet has taught many to expect instant gratification yet eMedia is only a small part of a total communication strategy.
• The Right Steps to Follow: Discipline and Focus
Let’s start here because in the age of instant gratification, discipline and focus separate success from failure. Setting the focus on a specific goal or set of goals without deviation in good and bad times is essential for established brands, especially those entering new markets. Discipline is where most programs fall apart. Too many advertisers simply want to jump in and hit a quick home run. It doesn’t work that way. It’s knocking out a lot of singles that build your brand and win customers.
• Consistent Messaging
If there’s one thing that distinguishes great, well-known brands, it’s consistency. It’s about delivering your message consistently to potential customers over time. In the case of many capital goods products, customers rarely need the product you sell at the time that you send the message out. And nothing could be truer than the equipment and services you, the HVACR contractor, sells. Customers and prospects will respond to your brand when they are ready, and when it fits their needs and timing. That makes the consistency and continuity of your messaging essential. You want to be the lead company in consideration when the customer is ready to buy. The HVACR industry has a secret weapon to help bridge this gap — service and maintenance contracts.
• Communication frequency
Without frequency of communication, programs have no hope of success. Over the years, more research than I can count has been conducted on the importance of frequency to build brands. I won’t engage in the tedium here, but if you would like specifics, let me know and I’ll send you some of the basic research papers published on this subject. For now, just remember that frequency is a key ingredient for marketing success.
• Quality of product or service
This should be common sense but you would be surprised at how many companies don’t emphasize the quality of the product or service they are capable of delivering. This is critical to offset the “I want it now” culture of speed and instant gratification. Poor products and services will trump any marketing message you produce.
In my opinion, the best advertisement ever created was for the business-to-business publishing house McGraw–Hill. A rather gruff gentleman is pictured. The copy reads:
I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?
The Moral: Sales start before your salesman makes the call — with advertising.
Until your customers and prospects can answer these simple questions about your brand, you’ve got more work to do to build it.
Terry Tanker is the owner of JFT Properties LLC and publisher of HVACR Business magazine. He has more than 25 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming JFT Properties LLC in January 2006 he spent 20 years with a large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace. In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI NATE and ABMA.