Have you thought about next year? You might have read that the HVAC manufacturers think 2012 is going to be an “up” year – that’s good news. That means manufacturers are counting on you to have a good year. How are you going to pull that off? Have you thought about your 2012 business goals, and how marketing can help you achieve them? Have you spent time putting together next year’s marketing plan? It’s not too late to start planning for next year.

Let’s look at 2012 and break it into bite-size chunks for a typical residential HVAC contractor:

• January through March primarily service and replacement heating system work

• April and May preseason sales promotion

• June through August A/C service and replacement air conditioning system work

• September and October fall preseason promotion

• November and December service and emergency replacement heating system work.

In January, you’ll want to spend your marketing dollars promoting service work. Get word to your customers and the public that you do repair work. In April, you should promote your preseason program to fill the pipeline early so you can come out of the winter running hard. In June, you should promote service work and replacement systems. In September promote fall preseason installation sales so you can get up a good head of steam going into the fall. In November and December, go back to promoting service and doing emergency replacements.

I've over-simplified the calendar so we have something to work with, all HVAC businesses have similar patterns, but you may also do plumbing, and electrical work, which will modify the plan. In addition, you may be doing some new construction work that brings additional tasks to bear that I have not included in the above list. If you are in the geothermal business, your model will have similar characteristics. Moreover, if you are in the south your months will be slightly different as to when you start your preseason programs etc.

Now create the plan using the bite-size chunks that we’ve created here. How do you want to get the word to your customers and potential customers? Think of your options, email, direct mail, radio, TV, newspaper, facebook, or windshield flyers. What to use depends on budget and audience.

When it comes to spring and fall promotions, if your company carries a particular brand of air conditioning, it’s cost effective to go with the manufacturer’s promotion because they generally offset the cost and you will get more bang for your investment. In addition, they’ve done the heavy lifting and will handle placing that ads, TV, and or radio commercials that might be part of their program for you. If the program includes putting multiple dealer tags on commercials, it’s still a good deal for you because it gets your name out to the public and that’s the important part. Most manufacturer’s do their best to put non-competing dealers on a TV or radio commercial tag.

Do’s:

• Do tie your marketing plan to your company’s strategic goals

• Do think about what you want to accomplish with your marketing plan

• Do use a combination of conventional and unconventional methods for promoting your company

• Do develop a consistent marketing message for all of your advertising and communication efforts

• Do incorporate your website with any marketing programs that you employ

• Do enlist the help of all company employees in delivering your marketing efforts

• Do consider trying new methods such as mobile marketing and text messaging

• Do measure return on investment to see if the marketing produces the desired results.

Don’ts:

• Don’t apply a shotgun approach for marketing because very rarely does it produce desired results

• Don’t use the flavor of the month marketing program – only incorporate a marketing program if it makes sense according to your strategic goals

• Don’t rely only on traditional advertising methods, as there are now better ways to reach people

• Don’t rely on just one form of marketing – be selective and make sure it aligns with company goals.

My website contains links to all the articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, help with lead generation, or a brochure, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and startup companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by showing them how to do more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the website www.fracicaenterprises.com.