This week’s Gatorgong focuses on providing advice for a fairly new local business that’s trying to gain some social media presence, as well as best use of other integrated marketing communications to grow and sustain their business. Advice is based on first studying data from the different available analytics for the small business that details traffic activity for its fledgling website, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, and email accounts. Although many of these suggestions can be tweaked and implored for other small businesses, for the purpose of this exercise the scenario company is an actual HVAC installation, maintenance and repair service provider from Western Massachusetts we’ll call XYZ Company.
Based on the analytics, here are the assessments and subsequent suggestions for social media channels recently established.
XYZ Company admittedly doesn’t have a good email database yet, because they are still fairly new, it’s understandable and usually takes a considerable amount of time to develop and build a robust. Small companies in particular should make this a priority because it’s a cost effective, critical component in customer communication. In the past I wasn’t a big fan of purchasing email lists because the sources were rather sketchy, but nowadays there are some viable companies that have built a reputable business specializing in targeted email lists. InfoUsa has pretty accurate spam-free email lists for new businesses along with email campaign builder tools which include design options, secure reports, and expert help line.
With the analytics, it appears the XYZ Company is doing an adequate job with website content directed at key audience. Something more viable to consider is real customer satisfaction. Many experts say that you have to understand your customer by knowing their pain points, what makes them happy, and what keeps them up at night. One of the biggest customer frustrations when hiring a repair or service provider to install or fix home appliances/fixtures is the company only being able to give you a vast four hour appointment window. Don’t even get me started on how often I’ve had to take off of work and either the person showed up six hours later – or you get the old “sorry, we’ll have to come tomorrow instead!” With communication technology being solid and dependable now, if a business wants to be the go-to-provider in their area – stop frustrating your customer, be a hero and use automated alert systems that will send up-to-the-minute service time expectations. Get a couple quotes from local IT companies to work with you solving this problem and get yourself on the map for being a trailblazer in not wasting customer time!
Direct Mail – Build a complementary postal mailing database and send out attractive glossy postcards bulk rate. The mailings can coincide with some of your social media campaigns such as the mini-march madness.
Youtube is one of the top two consistently most viewed social media channels. The retention rate for visual information can reach 65% vs. 10% for text-based info. Plus, customers ideo is incredible when it comes to drawing in and retaining the attention of users –who view product videos are much more likely to convert than those that don’t. It could be an extremely wise step to invest in building a series of self-help videos such as:
- How to clean an HVAC filer
- Energy efficiency tips on systems
- “What should you set your thermostat when going on vacation in winter or summer?”
- How should a consumer maintenance their own HVAC?
I suggest labeling the series “The HVAC Doctor” and have people email, Tweet, comment on website or Youtube, post on Facebook, etc questions and then the HVAC Doctor can do video responses.
Video Contest – To get a good, inexpensive videographer while make it a fun community project at the same time, put out a special campaign on all social media channels looking for local film students/enthusiasts to send in sample videos in an effort to ultimately select a winner to produce five 60-second “HVAC Doc” videos for $5000. Again, it would have to be someone local so they could actually film and edit the series.
There is currently one HVAC guy filling this need by providing consumer awareness as an HVAC subject matter expert. He is not a good speaker and he’s very slow and long-winded. But he has at least 5,000 views per 10-22 minute video to include many positive comments because he’s the only one doing this unopposed for the HVAC industry. As poorly done these videos are, he’s been mentioned on Angie’s list. Here are a couple of samples of his videos:
Watching for HVAC Repair Scams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81p44lOiMf4
Home Deport Filter Selections https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCdpCIETJ38
It could also be a great idea to interview industry thought leaders on the HVAC Doc videos. This kind of content tends to do well, and chances are, the folks you interview will share with their own followers.
The figures for page like, post reach (up 1/3) and engagement (up 2/3) aren’t earth shattering, but actually quite good in respect to the creative March mini-madness campaign and free thermostat incentives. For the above contest I would do some research for some of the closest film schools to post information on the contest on their site. Once the videos begin to be posted, you can add photo, comments and questions to submit to have the HVAC Doctor address. A contest can also be announced by sending in a question that is actually the topic for one of the videos—maybe a $50 or 100 Home Depot Card, especially if you have Home Depot or Lowes sponsor the series! The possibility of them sponsoring, or even Trane, etc., are extremely good because you added the professionally produced, creative element to your video series.
Add a relevant (and unique) hashtag to the video contest to help keep track of entries and makes them easy to scan through and organize. I would suggest using the real name of the company such as #XYZCompanyMassachusettsVideoContest or #HVACDoctorVideoContest. After the first video is ready for posting the links to videos can be distributed through #HVACDoctor. What would also be a good visual element is to build the company logo into the video as well as add the logo to as much communication as possible wherever promoting the videos to brand the company with the series.
Promote through all social media channels some free webinars using Google Hangouts—possibly quarterly to ensure spaced out far enough to build anticipation. You can partner with maybe a top HVAC technical school for more promotion power and credibility. Webinars can be great sources for business leads.