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JStar Member Posts: 2,752
Sigh. I hate this topic...but it's a necessary evil.

We're trying to finally put together a budget for marketing this heating season. Would like to see what does and doesn't work for everybody here. We've tried severals small pieces of advertising, mostly postcards and website related material. Right now, 95% of our leads come from referrals, but we'd really like to increase our random-caller percentage. We are almost completely opposed to "big business advertising" like billboards, TV ads, etc. And we hate shoving coupons down people's throats.

Nobody has to give away their treasured marketing secrets. Just looking for some inspiration. We can't afford to make too many expensive mistakes.


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,507

    Good truck graphics, which do not necessarily have to have pictures can stick in people's memories in your area, and cause an initial contact. It would be helpful to make google remember your name somehow if people searched for certain search terms plus your area.

    I an sure Dan's daughter would have ideas about this!

    If I search for my name, most of the results are from this site, so make sure enough of your postings contain your areas of coverage!--NBC
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,507

    What would Steamhead do for advertising?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,831

    is our main piece of advertising.

    We sometimes target certain neighborhoods where there is a lot of steam- online vendor lists, neighborhood directories etc. But FAC and referrals are our main source of jobs.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752

    Same for us right now. We're just looking to do a little bit more volume. No mainstream type of advertising works as well as word of mouth. We just want more mouths talking.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,507
    Looking for business

    As boilers begin to be operated at the start of the season, some chimneys will be spouting white plumes of steam indicating a replacement oportunity. If some way of contacting the owner can be found, maybe the replacement job will be had..

    A letter to that house offering a discounted inspection and cleaning could get you in the door.--NBC
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    Marketing & Advertsing

    " I know half of my advertising budget is wasted, my problem is I don't know which half "...John Wanamaker, Wanamaker Department Stores

    Nick mentioned your truck graphics, and they are fine.  Typically, you want your company name, phone number and web address, and any logo you have.  You may also want to add the logos of any manufacturers you represent or whose accessories you sell. Any certifications you have like membership in the Chimney Sweeps Guild, Master Plumbers Association or other "out of the ordinary" things you do may be appropriate as well. Some contractors have opted for bright colors like lime green or school bus yellow, and those trucks do stand out, but that choice may not fit the image you want.

    First and foremost, find out how you are going to pay for your marketing campaign.  Most manufacturers offer co-op funds or reimbursements for displaying their logos or promoting their products.  It may be a little difficult to dig out this info, but the sales people who call on you should have this asset available, so should the distributors you work with.

    Once you decide your budget, devote some time thinking about how to spend it to get maximum effect.  Low cost options include church bulletins, local news papers, and local sports teams like Little League baseball, Pop Warner football and bantam ice hockey.  The Yellow Pages are less a factor than they once were, and really only offer the customer a location tool, and the big, splashy and expensive ads do get more attention, but many are now using the web and smart phones to find services, so a web presence is vital, along with a modest presence in the phone book for those who don't use computers.

    You serve an affluent area with lots of big, old houses which may still have steam or older hydronic systems, so it would make sense for you to get on this site's "Find a Contractor"feature.  Links from your manufacturer's web sites may also be available.  Home shows are a necessary evil, expensive and time consuming, but if you can collect the correct data and qualify and follow up the leads you get, one job can pay for the show. One a year should be enough, and work with your manufacturers for literature and promo items, which usually are co-op or free. 

    Leave behind a sticker with your company name & phone number on every job.  Make sure your techs have business cards, and that they give them to the homeowners on every job. Use a yard sign. Sell service contracts, an absolute MUST with higher-end high efficiency boilers and furnaces,and send out seasonal reminders to your customer base for summer/winter start-ups, filter changes and upgrades like zoning, humidifiers, advanced air filtration and ventilation or home management systems or accessories like emergency generators.

    Customer testimonials and references, a slide show or picture book of your best jobs or a listing on BBB or "Angie's List"type websites can be helpful as well.  Finally, your techs should be in professional uniforms, use tyvek boot covers and dropcloths and "work clean", respecting the customer's property.  I hope you find this useful.
  • Roland_18
    Roland_18 Member Posts: 147

    It had to be almost 30 years ago,but I'll never forget it. I saw a plumbers' van pass me on the street in Hempstead, L.I. There was a clutch of playing cards painted on the side of the truck with the caption: A straight flush beats a full house every time!

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,507
    a sense of humor helps reel them in!

    this was on the back of a plumber's truck from waterloo ne.--nbc
This discussion has been closed.