The Contractor’s Toolbox: How to Run a Promotion

By Jake Van Paepeghem

Like it or not, most of us deal with promotions each and every day: emails in your inbox touting 10% off your next purchase, flyers annoyingly stuck under the wipers on your windshield, and pop up ads that cover the final ingredient you were looking for in a late-summer chili recipe. But in the better building sector and the HVAC, home performance, and solar industries, running promotions can be an intimidating and confusing process. 

In last week’s webinar, we talked about how to run a successful promotion—here’s what we’ve learned, using all of the digital marketing tools you have at your disposal.

The Why & When of Promotions

Many stubborn business owners think of promotions as an excuse to lose money by offering discounts. But promotions are another important tool in your contractor's toolbox. From Wikipedia:

“The aim of promotion is to increase awareness, create interest, generate sales, or create brand loyalty. It is one of the basic elements of the marketing mix, which includes the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion.”

So how does this translate to “us”? There are three basic reasons to run a promotion within the HVAC, solar, and home performance industries:

1. To present information to consumers

2. To increase demand

3. To differentiate a product

It is no secret that seasonality plays a role in just about everything we do, and that particular times of the year can be expected to be busier than others. How can promotions help distribute service calls more evenly? What if, in order to educate your customers about the prescient need for “furnace maintenance” before winter hits, a promotion was used to inform customers of the benefits of furnace maintenance? If your promotion is successful, and some customers book maintenance service calls earlier than they would have otherwise, you’ll have evened out the demand later on. In this way, promotions work great for utilizing any excess capacity you have during shoulder seasons. 

Do you have a new service that you are trying to get off the ground? Promotions help generate overall awareness, and can get your new service a foot in the door of your current market. Promotions can also be used to maximize an existing manufacturer promotion, or to stretch any dollars spent through a marketing co-op deal (read more on how to use the free money available through co-ops).

Types of Promotions

We can lump most promotions into one of the following categories:

Discounts: Offering a percentage or dollar amount savings for a specific product or service

Rebates: Primarily offered at the manufacturer level. Can be advertised as a DIY rebate, or an assisted rebate (think”we’ll send in the paperwork for you!”)

Date Specific: Deals offered for a “limited time only”

Buy X Get Z: “Potent pairings” of two products or services that go together. An upsell of sorts!

Bundles: Packaging multiple services or products together, at a discounted rate. “This package is a $XXX value, now for only $XX!”

Financing Deal: Limited time low interest or no-money-down financing options on products or services

Giveaways: Enter-to-win raffles and sweepstakes. (This is a great way to build up your email list!)

The type of promotion you decide to run will vary depending on the service or product and the goals you have for your promotion. But one thing is for sure when it comes to running effective promotions—it takes a little bit of choreography. 

Promotion Success = Comprehensive, Integrated Campaigns

A well-run promotion should speed up the sales cycle by creating a sense of urgency for the customer. But with so many available channels that can be utilized across the sales funnel spectrum, it is important that you take the time to coordinate the messaging and creative aspects of your promotion like you would any other campaigns. You won’t know the journey that each lead will take to convert, so make sure your multi-channel method is coordinated from the ground up.

Each of these digital marketing channels will work best at different stages along the spectrum of the sales funnel. The journey of each customer will look different depending on the channels that actually led them to convert. 

Landing Pages: The Foundation of a Coordinated Promotion

The first step in a coordinated promotional attack is to make sure there is a page on your website that holds all of the valuable and pertinent information your customers will need. This is where you will direct any display ad traffic, social media traffic, or other offsite advertisements like videos, etc. We also find it best practice to have a section of your website dedicated to deals, promotions, and incentives, so these landing pages can be easily found from the navigation menu, no matter where a user happens to be on your site. 

Display Advertising & Banner Ads

Display ads, often referred to as Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, should be used to get a lot of eyeballs on your promotion. Though click-through rates can seem low, display ads are an affordable way to get one message out to a lot of people.  And since you only pay when someone clicks on the ad, impressions (views of your ad) are essentially a free way to build awareness among your target audience!

Though the click through rate may seem low for this particular display ad, it is an inexpensive way to get your promotional content out in front of the maximum amount of eyes. In the end, this display ad garnered 100 link clicks for just $15.28.

Even at a click-through rate of just 1.5%, this display ad performed well with a very low cost per click. We see similar numbers with Facebook advertising, though we recommend running Facebook ads for a longer period of time.

Google Paid Search Ads

Google search ads are best utilized towards the bottom of the funnel, as a paid search ad will only show when an exact search term or query is entered. Paid search ads will earn far fewer impressions, but usually have a much better click-through rate. Think of these as the last stop before your potential customer converts, as they are already actively looking for the service you provide.

Google Paid Search Ads are an opportunity to capture qualified leads that are already searching for the service or product you provide.

Google My Business Offer Posts

You can also use your Google My Business posts to present a specific offer. GMB Offer Posts are currently a no-cost service, and provide high impressions with a low click-through rate, but with a coordinated approach to your promotion campaign you will already have all the content you would need to squeeze every last bit of juice out of your promotion.

Google My Business Offer Posts are low hanging fruit that only add to the coordinated approach of a well-run promotion.

As with any campaign, the coordination and consistency of your copy and design will make for a much more effective promotion.

Consistent creative copy and design will make the message clear across all channels. Can you tell what this particular HVAC contractor is offering?

The Checklist for an Effective Promotion

So, are you ready to start your next promotion to generate leads and even out your seasonal demand? Here is our Energy Circle Promotion Checklist to make sure you can get the maximum benefit from your next campaign: 

√ Integrated & consistent creative copy & design

√ Clear start & finish

√ Understand the role of each channel

√ Measure everything

√ Know your intent & execute precisely

√ Know your fine print!

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Tags: SEO, better, buildings, campaign, content, digital, home, hvac, marketing, performance, More…promotion, promotional, season, seasonal, shoulder, solar

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