So, happy New Year everybody and welcome to the real world; it’s time to start focusing on filling the pipeline and marketing your business. How many of you have a marketing plan? Okay you can put your hand down. It never hurts to go back to the fundamentals. As T. Boone Pickens says, “Fundamentals make the market.”

In order to build your marketing plan, you start by making assumptions. Make assumptions about what you want to accomplish with your marketing plan. Start with your assumed target audience. Whom do you want to reach – who is your customer? You might start with simple categories such as residential or commercial. If it’s a residential customer, describe your ideal prospect, homeowner, income level, location, number of children, cars driven, etc. If it’s a commercial customer, again describe your ideal customer. If you could have any commercial customer, whom would you want? How would you attract either customer? Come up with a list of assumptions on how you could reach out to those types of customers.

Think about how these customers get their news, sports, entertainment. Do they watch TV, do they surf the Internet, do they read the newspaper, do they go to football games, or do they listen to the radio. Your assumptions have to include what you think is the best way to deliver your message to them.

A little research can help you refine your assumptions. If you are trying to reach homeowners, you might want to get a copy of Decision Analysts American Home Comfort Survey, which is published every two years. It provides a ton of insight into the buying habits of consumers and it can be a valuable tool for companies trying to get into the minds of consumers.

The people that run commercial companies are essentially consumers but on a larger scale. How do you get inside their heads? The best way is to talk to your existing commercial customers and ask them what they read, what they do for fun, and ask them what catches their eye.

You make assumptions about customers, about your trading area, and about various methodologies to reach those target customers, and then you refine those assumptions throwing out any that you find to be untrue. From your list of refined assumptions, you develop objectives and then you create strategies on how to achieve those objectives. From your strategies you develop a list of tactics that you’ll use to execute those strategies.

Determine how much money is needed to achieve your objectives. First, you have to look at your cost of media; you have to factor in the cost of ad development. Then you have to determine how aggressive you want your growth to be. If you want an aggressive growth budget, about ten percent of your revenue for marketing and advertising, moderate growth budget six to seven percent and for maintenance mode budget about three percent. Know that these numbers will change from market to market. If you are in a larger market, you will need a larger budget to achieve the necessary growth.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book, Navigating the Marketing Maze, click here. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, 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, and social media 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 companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.