The Three-Legged Stool of Marketing

By Emily Fleniken

Build a strategy that will keep your business foremost in mind within your market

When it comes to marketing, people usually have a love/hate relationship with it.

Most of the people who love it work in the marketing industry, while HVAC contractors generally hate it, because they’re always looking for the silver bullet, that one thing that’s going to be “it” and catapult the business to the next level.

But the truth is, marketing is a game. It’s a multi-faceted roll of the dice. Sometimes it’s “go back two spaces” and sometimes it’s rolling double sixes. But to even have a chance at winning, you have to have a plan, and the gumption, to keep playing even when you’ve had a few setbacks.

To break it down, your marketing strategy should consist of three pillars–being memorable, being searchable and being fosterable. A threelegged stool, if you will. And if one of those pillars, or legs, is lacking, the entire strategy is wobbly, and it will not perform as well as it could. A cord of three strands is not easily broken, and neither is a marketing plan with these three elements.

Being Memorable

Being memorable is all about your brand. What have you done, and are doing, that is sticking out to people?

It’s estimated that every American sees 10,000 ads per day. That’s a lot of noise to break through, and there is no way anyone remembers all 10,000 of those ads. However, a good brand gets noticed, and it gets remembered.

That doesn’t happen by accident. You have to be very intentional, and in it for the long haul. Homeowners only replace an HVAC system every 8-15 or so years. You have to be building a foundation of ways to be noticed, remembered and relatable to people, so that whenever they do actually need your service, you’re the first one they think of.

In a world inundated with information and fleeting consumer attention, a consistent and frequent marketing approach acts as a steady drumbeat that resonates with potential customers over time. It allows your brand to cut through the noise, leaving a lasting impression in the minds of consumers. The repetition and regularity in your marketing strategy contribute to brand retention and loyalty.

A logo is the foundation to a great brand, but it’s certainly not everything. The logo and visual identity is often the very first interaction a consumer has with your company. They make their own inferences about the validity of your company by just how you look. Ever heard “don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s a saying because that’s naturally what people do. Your visual identity sets the expectation for a consumer of how they think dealing with your company will be.

Just by looking at your brand, before they’ve ever called your company or had your services, they are already making inferences about what the experience, quality, expertise, and even pricing will be. So, is your visual identity memorable? Is it worth noticing? And if so, does it accurately reflect your company?

To be memorable, people have to experience your brand numerous times, which is why consistency and frequency is extremely important in building a memorable brand. There are several ways to do it, like radio jingles, billboards, community support, television or OTT (over-the-top) video commercials, and non-search digital ads.

A concentration of a singular tactic to the same people is much more impactful than a sporadic sprinkling of advertising tactics trying to reach “everyone.” Consistency ensures that your brand identity remains cohesive, making it easier for consumers to recognize and recall your offerings. Frequent exposure to your marketing efforts helps to create a sense of familiarity and trust. People feel like they know you because they see/hear you “everywhere.” People like to do business with people they know. So, how are people remembering you?

Being Discoverable

When it is time for a consumer to actually need your service, how can they find, or discover you? An optimized, professional looking website is the most basic, and non-negotiable piece to being discovered. Your website should clearly lay out what you do, who you are, who you service, and most importantly, how to contact you.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to being discovered. You should be optimizing your site with keywords, terms, and cities or neighborhoods. Working the relationship with your digital vendor is the key to having a fantastic website that actually attracts people and gets them to call you. Make sure your digital vendor knows your local nomenclature.

For example, “hot water heater” is a top search term in the South, where “water heater” performs better for the rest of the country. If you’re in the South, you should inform your digital company that “hot water heater” is how the majority of people call it, even though it makes no sense.

The same thing goes for your services. There is no need to optimize “boiler repair,” if no one in your area has boilers. They have furnaces. Make sure you give on-going feedback with your digital agency, and also implement their recommendations.

After you have a good, performing, optimized website, another way to be discoverable is investing in digital search ads, like PPC (pay per click) and GLSA (Google Local Service Ads).

These types of ads propel your brand to the forefront of search engine results. Consumers are increasingly turning to search engines to find products and services. These ads act as beacons, guiding potential customers directly to your offerings. By leveraging these advertising tools, you not only increase the likelihood of capturing the attention of your target audience but also ensure that your brand remains competitive and visible in the dynamic online marketplace.

Being discoverable through search ads not only drives traffic to your website but also establishes a stronger digital footprint, ultimately contributing to brand recognition and customer trust.

The combination of an optimized website and nimbleness in digital search ads are crucial to making your company discoverable to new customers.

Being Fosterable

Marketing and staying top-of-mind to your existing customers is an underrated piece to your marketing puzzle, or leg of your stool. We want to nurture and foster the relationship, keep being “their guy,” and help stay relevant to your customer.

When demand is down, and you need the phone to ring now, fostering your existing customer base is the quickest way to generate immediate traffic, because they already have a relationship with you. Creating drip campaigns of text messages, ringless voicemails and emails with an enticing offer are fantastic funnels to generate immediate calls, with minimal effort.

But even if work is steady, you still need to stay in contact with your existing customers to stay top of mind. An email newsletter is one of the simplest ways to do this. You can share events, sponsorships and other community support initiatives your company has participated in.

You can feature your employee of the month, recipes or crafts, tips around the seasonality or homeowner upkeep. There are tons of great content that is not salesy, but is relationship building.

Making a comprehensive marketing strategy that is developed by analyzing how your brand is going to be memorable, discoverable and fosterable, is the winning combination to see real performance and movement for your company.

Emily Fleniken
Emily Fleniken is a partner and the creative director for Lemon Seed Marketing, a home-service industry marketing and branding agency. She and business partner, Crystal Williams, are the hosts of the service-industry marketing podcast, “From the Yellow Chair.”