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 I see with larger scale national programs. Specifically, wildly unrealistic beliefs that several ad placements should and will produce immediate sales. Much of this paradigm shift is related to the internet where ultra low cost and accountability is high.
What many advertisers neglect 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 street 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.
What are 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 and 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 really builds your brand and wins customers.
Consistency of message
If there’s one thing that distinguishes great, well-known brands, it’s consistency. It’s your message consistently delivered to potential customers over time. In the case of many capital goods products, customers rarely need the product you sell at the time you send the message out. They will respond to your brand when they are ready, and when it fits their timing. That makes the consistency and continuity of your message essential. You want to be considered when the customer is ready to buy. The HVACR industry has a secret weapon to help bridge this gap — service and maintenance.
Without frequency 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 get into it here, but if you would like specifics, let me know and I’ll send you some of the basic research papers that have been done 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 put an emphasis on 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. (Just look at the recent Today Show sting of hvac contractors — available to view in our download center). 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 serious studious 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?
Moral: Sales start before your salesman calls — with business publication advertising.”
Until your customers and prospects can answer these simple questions you’ve got more work to do to build your brand.
Terry 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.
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