Pumping more into digital marketing is getting HVAC dealers less


Familiar with diminishing returns? You will be

By now, you’ve probably heard a lot of gloom and doom about the state of the HVAC market. Unfortunately, everything we’ve seen says it’s accurate. Shipments and sales are falling, and if you haven’t already noticed a decline, you should soon.

We’ve helped HVAC dealers with marketing long enough that we’re comfortable making a prediction about how most of your peers will react when the number of calls and appointments starts to plummet along with their average ticket amount. They won’t want to deal with the ugliness of downsizing, so they’ll simply divert more of their shrinking revenue into marketing. For most, that’s going to involve a much bigger investment than they realize.

Digital dominates

Many HVAC dealers may have been dragged kicking and screaming into digital marketing, but by now, most have become comfortable with it. So much so, in fact, that the quest for digital leads has become the primary purpose for them. After all, what could be easier than letting search engines and other digital tools do the hard work for them?

We’ve watched contractors shift a bigger share of their marketing spend in everything from pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to newer tools like over-the-top (OTT) streaming opportunities. Many are stepping up social media spending, too.

Remember supply and demand?

Think about basic economics. When demand grows faster than the available supply, costs increase. If you’ve been making use of digital marketing, that’s probably what you’ve been seeing. Both your local competitors and the national giants who are trying to price their way into your market have been investing heavily in PPC, OTT, and other digital channels. That’s led to significant (and sometimes stratospheric) increases in the costs.

It leads to a vicious cycle. As prices increase, HVAC dealers have to pump even more money into their digital strategies just to maintain their position. But with the increased competition, they’re watching the return on that investment fall or remain flat. Everything we’re seeing and hearing suggests that negative trend is only going to deepen throughout the foreseeable future.

Good money after bad

You’ve got a lot on your mind, and that makes simple solutions appealing. Digital marketing is like a vending machine: you drop in your money, push a button, and out pop the leads. While that machine has kept you satisfied for years, you may not have noticed the prices climbing as what comes out has been shrinking.

So you have a couple options. You can continue to throw good money after bad … or you could shift to the approach our clients have consistently used to achieve higher growth and profitability than their competition. We’ve spent decades helping contractors stand out and capture a growing share of their markets. Along the way, we’ve learned what works again and again. It isn’t because we’re brilliant. It’s because we’ve been paying attention, testing the most promising strategies, and scrutinizing all the numbers. That’s how we help clients spend wisely instead of freely.

Digital isn’t enough

Too many dealers assume digital does it all. It doesn’t, and it can’t. Our client experiences consistently document and reinforce the fact the most effective approach requires a broad mix of marketing channels, each addressing specific needs. Depending upon the market, the competition, and your specific objectives, that mix might include:

  • Business development-focused websites and online tools
  • Social media (regular appearances in feeds)
  • Web videos (informational, not promotional)
  • Content marketing (everything from blogs to PR to demos)
  • Individual direct mail (for hyperlocal efforts)
  • Cooperative direct mail (provides inexpensive branding)
  • Newspaper (older folks with money still subscribe)
  • Outdoor Advertising (why do you think that lawyer buys so much?)
  • Television (local, cable, OTT) and radio

Additionally, a branding-focused presence using channels such as TV (including local, cable, streaming, and more), radio, print advertising, and billboards is also important for a simple reason: name recognition for people desperately seeking a solution to a problem.

Time for a change?

If you’ve been finding your growing digital spend more frustrating than fruitful, we’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about more effective ways to turn your marketing dollars into more leads … and more sales.

If you’d like to know more about Cornerstone, and how we work as your outsourced marketing department to help grow your business, contact kerryf@cornerstonead.com. Or you can call (317) 804-5640  x108.

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