When others zig, you zag. If you want to be different, be memorable and don’t think like everyone else. Look outside the traditional ways to give people your money. Look for others who need you as much as you need them. Approach marketing as nothing more than being noticed and remembered.
Sponsor a Highway
This is inexpensive for the constant impact. Pick a location with commuters - high volume traffic at the same time every day. There is a one-time cost to produce the sign, then a monthly fee. Savvy negotiation will get you a discount for two or more sign locations. This is purely branding. Get your name known and support your other marketing efforts. https://adoptahighway.net/
Service Truck Caravan
One branded truck on the road is noticed, but three make people take notice. Choose a morning when technicians are on site and presumably leaving at the same time. Three trucks leave the lot in single file. Try to stay together and avoid other vehicles breaking you apart. Head towards a heavily traveled road or highway. More than three trucks is not advised, as it makes it hard to stay together without irritating other drivers.
Always negotiate the best spot, it doesn’t have to be the biggest spot. Set up close to the stage where continual presentations will take place. Offer a tune-up special and a free gift with an estimate booked at the show. Display signage to communicate your free offers. Give away trinkets as well as bags with your logo. Note pads (your logo on each page) have been the best received item by far. Kids love them. Where there are kids, there are parents.
Kid’s Sports Teams
Look for a team where you can be the primary sponsor. It’s worth the little extra to be the only one on the banner. Make sure they hang the banner in the dug out every game, facing the foot traffic, not the field. Put the word out to employees. Let them know you have sponsor money for their kid’s ball team. Ideally you want to find a team who isn’t really looking for a sponsor. They won’t have any rules or minimums and they won’t turn down the money in exchange for hanging a banner or wearing your logo during warm-ups.
Chose a well-attended outdoor festival or even a community night out. On a popular corner, place a large block of ice with your logo inside. Ask people to take a photo with the ice block and tag your business Facebook page. You could take this farther and involve a charity. Donate a few dollars for every photo that is posted. If it’s a hot day, have a people post on your Facebook page what time they think the ice will melt completely. Give the winner a nice prize.
5K race, dog jog, car wash, anything that brings thousands of homeowners is a place to be. You can even do this without paying a fee to the event. Find an event willing to let you put up a branded tent in exchange for giving away something of value. Pass out water and bananas at the finish line of a race. Find smaller events willing to let you be there if it benefits their participants.
Negotiate low sponsorship fee in exchange for providing an air-conditioned tent. Inside becomes a captive audience. Give away golf tees and let attendees ENTER TO WIN a new AC. Another option is to offer to supply caddies and or the caddy shirts.
Negotiate to have your yard signs at the entrance and hand out bracelets or necklaces that light up at night. Look for glow necklaces on http://www.orientaltrading.com.
Sponsor the Bags
Home shows, kids events, shopping expos - everyone gets a bag at the entrance - it might as well have your logo on it. This will be pricey at the large established events, so also look at smaller events.
Wrap a City Bus
If the main city transit is too expensive for you, try smaller municipalities. They may have buses or other vehicles they would sell advertising on.
Don’t overlook kid focused events. With kids, so come the parents. Sponsor face painting. While the parents are in line with their kids, this is the time to offer a tune-up special, prize entry, and hand out trinkets. Note pads (your logo on each page) are very well received. Kids love them. Check to see if your city has a Touch-A-Truck event. This is where you display your biggest vehicle and let kids look inside.
Enlist other home service companies to share the cost and distribution of a VIP card. Roofer, plumber, painter, lawn care, pest control, electrician, maid service, carpet cleaner. Each company has an offer on the card. Associate yourself with trustworthy businesses. When choosing who to partner with, consider how many homes they are in every day. Each participant will leave a card at every home they visit every day. Order the hard credit card-like cards, they are worthy of holding on to.
Trunk or Treat
Find a local church or large company hosting a trunk or treat event. Ask to park your company truck at the front. Give out candy AND logo’d bags.
Offer to supply a season of plastic cups at a public sports complex: little league baseball, minor league hockey, etc. On the cup - print your logo, contact Info, along with a tune-up and replacement discount. Don’t be cheap. If the cups are quality, too good to throw away, they end up going home.
Park and Rec Summer Camp Shirts
If your city has weekly day camps to keep kids busy during summer, offer to sponsor the t-shirts. The city or camp organizer will want one side and you get the other.
Pick a desirable neighborhood and place an ad in the directory but don’t stop there. Offer to distribute the directories. Send 2-3 technicians in company trucks door-to-door to deliver the directories. Don’t just leave them on the doorstep. Knock on the door, introduce yourself, and point out your offer on page xx. Obviously, you want to do this during your slow times.
Yard Sign Contest
Offer every customer an entry to win cash or prizes in exchange for letting you put a sign in their yard after service. The promotion should last no more than 2-3 months. Technicians can get in the game as well with cash and prizes for those who are able to place the most, or minimum required, signs. A yard sign contest can be done every year and you end up with several signs displayed around town.
Choose an outdoor event that draws big crowds – on concrete or black top. Hire a sidewalk chalk artist. Park your service truck close by. As people gather to watch the artist at work (your logo incorporated somehow), hand out trinkets and a tune-up offer.
Pick a Charity
For a predetermined amount of time (a month or two), donate a portion of your sales to a local charity. The key to this is communicating it to your prospects. Announce it in your radio ads, email, Facebook. Make flyers for technicians and consultants to use with customers when delivering an estimate for service or replacement.
Set up a tent outside the local hardware store and cook hot dogs and burgers. Offer informative presentations about water heaters, DIY AC maintenance, etc. Park 2-3 trucks on the lot. Timing and repetition is key. Do it every Saturday for 6 weeks in the spring.
Neighborhood pool party
You’ll have to contact the HOA for this one. Choose a desirable neighborhood with a public swimming pool. The week prior to the party: put out door hangers announcing the event and place yard signs at each neighborhood entrance. On the day of the pool party, cook and serve hot dogs, etc. Arrange for an ice cream truck to stop by. Coordinate pool games with prizes and invite the adults to enter to win a free tune-up.
Customer Appreciation Open House
Invite customers to your location for a pancake breakfast. Offer door prizes. Have something special for your agreement customers. It takes a lot of planning, but good relationships are formed if you can get customers to your location.
Borrow a Wall
Keep your eyes open for a large building or wall with high volume traffic passing by. Contact the owner about projecting your logo on the building at night. You may also have to contact the city about this one.
Guys Night Out
There have been years of Girls Night Out events, why not a night for the guys? Invite guests in for a night of BBQ, poker, beer tasting. Don’t make this about you by trying to highlight and sell your services. The idea is to get people to your business for FUN. Contact potential sponsors to help with free product: local brewery, local BBQ restaurant. Ask your suppliers to donate door prizes.
If your property has a truck wash station, or even just access to water and hoses, offer the use of your lot to a local school or scout group for their fundraising car wash.
Partner with a Local Hardware Store
Offer free annual HVAC maintenance (they pay for all needed supplies: filers, etc.) in exchange for branding in the store. Negotiate for an end-cap where you’ll permanently display an AC unit on loan from your supplier. Add creative signage and keep a supply of pens and magnets available for prospects to take. Give the store an ad in your you customer newsletter in exchange for your being at their checkout stands.
Since 2009, Wendy has been developing marketing strategies to help residential HVAC companies gain and retain customers. Wendy Burrell is Founder of HVAC Profit Vault, a library of done-for-you HVAC marketing, social media, news letters. Contact [email protected] and visit www.HVACprofitVault.com