Leverage the lowly business card
The business card is one of your least expensive marketing collateral materials.  They cost pennies each and you can print virtually anything you want on them.  Business cards do not need to be calling cards.  Put any message you want on them.

Make a business card a mini-brochure for your company.  Make it a promotional tool by offering a coupon on one side.  Make it a referral tool by including a referral offer on one side.  Make it a resource by adding helpful information such as kitchen conversions, heat index charts, wind chill charts, emergency phone numbers, and so on.  Make it a way to entertain kids with seek and find puzzles, jokes, trivia, and so on.  Make it a bridge to your social media by including your Facebook, Linked In, and Pinterest URLs.  

Give people more than one business card.  Don’t be cheap.  They cost pennies.  Make sure every employee has business cards and constantly encourage them to distribute them.  

Carry more than one business card.  Print different cards for different situations.  If your town has a strong immigrant community, you might carry a card with one side in English and the other in Spanish.  You might carry a card with larger print for seniors.  

Make your cards stand out by getting them die cut.  A lot of Internet business card companies have existing dies.  Choose one of the existing shapes and the cost is the same as a plain rectangular card.

Remember, when you present someone with a business card it’s only natural to hand one back.  Giving out business cards helps build your prospect database.


Leverage social media
Social media is one of the greatest leverage opportunities available.  With the correct application of social media, you can interact with a significant number of customers and prospects a few minutes a day from your desk or through your phone while standing in line waiting for a permit, picking up supplies, etc.

Social media has changed the marketing landscape.  Marketers who devoted full time to various social media platforms must constant wrestling with the best way to apply it because it is constantly changing and evolving.  So what’s a poor, time pressed contractor to do?  Start by grabbing the low hanging fruit.  Make sure you have a Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest presence.  Of these, the most useful will be Facebook and Pinterest.  Here are a few articles to get you started…

•    The Social Media Leap of Faith

•    Social Media: It's Where Your Customers Are

•    Where the HVAC Customers Are

•    Can You Be Too Anti-Social For Social Media?

•    Ten Ways to Protect Your Company’s Online Reputation


Leverage your employees
Sometimes we forget that our employees have families, friends, and relatives of their own who are potential customers.  Make sure your employees are on your house mailing list and encourage them to add others they know who might like to receive special offers and discounts.  If they use social media, encourage them to like your company pages and to share any coupons or promotions you run.

Your employees also drive personal cars.  Pay them a spiff if to install license plate holders proclaiming them to be employees of your company or that simply market your company.  Every little bit helps.


Leverage your channel
We often forget the sales and marketing potential of our suppliers.  Make special offers for HVAC work with the people and companies you patronize.  Encourage them to refer you to others and always show appreciation when they do.

Make sure you leverage co-op dollars.  Don’t think of them as the manufacturer’s gift to you, but as something you paid for when you bought equipment.  Of course, make sure you aren’t the one getting leveraged by co-op.  Featuring their products and brands in your ads is fine.  Mentioning your company in their ad is not.

Leverage your territory manager.  Your TM sees lots of other contractors.  Milk him for ideas and suggestions.  Make him work his organization to get the best deals and opportunities for you.  Remember, it’s a two way street.  Show him loyalty in return.


Leverage home shows
While home shows are great venues for picking up new customers, they are also places to renew relationships with existing customers.  This is especially true if your office is located in the town’s “cheap real estate section.”  Make sure you invite your customers to any home shows you participate in, while giving them a reason to seek you out (i.e., a free prize, incentive, gift certificate, etc.).  

For more information on conducting a successful home show, call the Service Roundtable at 877.262.3341, ask for a Success Consultant, and ask for the Comanche Marketing Guide, “87 Ways to Get More Out of Your Next Home Show.”


Leverage marginal business opportunities
Contractors often disparage marginal business opportunities, condemning them to the realm of the desperate.  These include group buy opportunities, warranty work, and dry charge units.  If you are busy with all of the work you can manage, pass these buy.  However, if you have excess capacity, consider them as long as the added revenue you receive exceeds the added cost of the service.  It’s like a service agreement.  They keep people busy, keep cash flowing, help and cover overhead.  

While it’s not universal, the people who take advantage of your discount today may grow financially and buy a lot more in the future.  You are in business for the long run.  Serve as many people as you can serve well.  Make as many friends as you can.  Build as many relationships as you can.


Leverage your brand
Contractors have more opportunities to build strong dynamic local brands than they realize.  Maximize your brand’s exposure.  Use strong graphics, consistent colors, and a consistent message across all media.  This includes conventional media like print, direct marketing, broadcast advertising, and outdoor advertising.  It also includes your collateral material like brochures, invoices, etc., your trucks, company signage, and your uniforms.

Repurpose your marketing.  When you develop a direct mail letter, create a modified version as a Facebook promotion.  Create a website landing page with copy of the letter and use PPC advertising to promote it.  Repurposing marketing is leveraging your creative, while also building your brand.

To build the brand, everything should reinforce the brand.  Moreover, make sure your brand stands for something.  Associate it with a unique position.  Uniqueness does not necessarily mean your company is the only company the position might apply to, but that no one else has carved out that position in your marketplace.  Make it something the customer cares about stick with it.  Building your brand takes time, but it also gives your company the greatest leverage you can hope to achieve, which is top-of-mind-awareness in your market. 

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable.  HVAC’s largest and most affordable business alliance.  Visit their website at www.ServiceRoundtable.com, call for a free tour at 877.262.3341, or stop buy the Service Roundtable Pavilion at Comfortech in September.  You can’t miss it.  The brand has been leveraged everywhere.