The Premier HVAC Company In Wilmington, DE & Philadelphia Tapped MYM’s Radio Marketing Expertise To Expand Their Brand’s Footprint & Prestige.
“How Am I Going To Know If This Works?”
Written by Rich Harshaw.
Mark Aitken, co-owner and President of Horizon Services of Wilmington, DE, is one of the most intense individuals I have ever met.
He’s the kind of guy that you’d HATE to work for if you’re lazy, disloyal, sloppy, or lack initiative. He eats people like that for breakfast—by the handful.
Good thing, too. His intolerance for anything other than “A-Game performance” has allowed him to grow Horizon Services into one of the biggest and most well-run HVAC companies in the country with over 200 trucks, 8,000 monthly transactions, and nearly $100 million in sales. This is a company that does EVERYTHING right… and in the rare instance where they don’t, they find out why, fix it, and get even better than they were before. His competition doesn’t stand a chance. Mark Aitken and his superstar-caliber team are in the process of literally monopolizing their marketplace.
So when I sat with him near the end of 2011 and proposed expanding Horizon’s marketing budget heavily into radio, Mark naturally had a lot of questions:
- Why radio?
- Why not TV?
- Which stations?
- How will we track its effectiveness?
- How will we know if it’s working?
I’ve already made a strong case for radio, and compared radio to other advertising media, including TV—so you can read those articles for the general answers to the first 2 questions.
In addition, I also devoted part of my Nuts & Bolts of Radio post to the “radio tracking problem,” and gave several ideas to minimize the murkiness. For Horizon, a rigorous HVAC lead and cost tracking company, this was a significant challenge; they dealt with it by instituting a strict “primary” and “secondary” lead tracking protocol, as well as using extreme care in tracking internet leads. While not perfect, this allowed us to get a good picture of how each station was performing relative to each other, and to track the overall, long-term trends of increased web traffic, web-generated phone calls, and sales attributable to radio. More on the results later.
The question of which stations to buy was relatively easy—but with one major hiccup. Radio targeting is pretty easy since there are relatively few stations in a given market, so I was able to quickly narrow the stations down to about 8 or 10. The hiccup came when the overall top station in the market—a perfect match for Horizon’s demographic—was coming in nearly TWICE as expensive as other stations.
It’s tempting to rationalize the need to be on the biggest station (in terms of listeners), but realize, you’re paying to reach listeners, and your goal is to reach the same people over and over again to nurture them along. There’s simply no reason to overpay for listeners simply because they patronize the most popular station. Instead, we took that money and were able to buy two top rated stations for the same price—with MORE overall listeners. We ended up on 5 stations initially, and expanded to 7 before trimming a few and settling on 4 that are working well. Nearly 3 years into it, we’re STILL not on that top rated station—they refuse to budge on their pricing.
Now Let’s Make Some Ads
As we started thinking about production of the advertisements, I felt like I wanted to capture the heart and passion that Mark brought to the company. I knew that if we could capture that trademark intensity, it would translate well to the listeners. Mark agreed to give it a try, which allowed me to write the spots from a first-person vantage point.
As I wrote the ads, I followed my own advice:
- Focus on one major selling point per ad. The goal is to have an ongoing conversation with listeners over time; no need to cram the entire selling message down their throat all at once.
- Don’t be afraid to explain the negative so that listeners can appreciate the positive.
- Use stories, anecdotes, and metaphors to make the points come alive and easy to understand.
- Have 3 to 6 ads rotating all the time to prevent listener burnout.
- Make sure that the tone and words come across first and foremost as AUTHENTIC.
We started the campaign in January 2012 with 5 ads on 5 stations, and have updated the ads every 45 to 60 days since. Here are some of my favorite ads of the nearly 100 that we’ve written, recorded, and run:
Adults Wearing Booties:
Over 1,000 Parts:
Everyone Looks Down on Plumbers:
Penalize Others for Being Late:
How Much You Got?:
Good, Better, Best:
Looking at Pictures:
We’ve been running this campaign with the same voice and the same style of ads for almost 2 ½ years now, and we’re actually picking up steam. In January 2013, we added TV to the mix, and have increased the budget for both in 2014. The results, like stated earlier, are hard to measure directly because a lot of the lead flow gets diverted to the Internet. So let’s take a look at internet traffic:
From 2011 to 2013, unique monthly website visitors went up by an average of 175% (that’s almost TRIPLE) and phone calls generated from the Internet went up by an average of 70% (that’s almost DOUBLE). The advertising budget did increase during that same time, but not by nearly the ratio as the web visitors and calls. Horizon is a large and complex company; there are many internal and external factors that affect lead flow and sales. But based on results from the first 30 months, radio (and now TV) will remain advertising fixtures for the foreseeable future.
And just like any good “farming” campaign, the seeds that were planted months (or years) ago continue to bring forth fruit in great measure. The primary and secondary lead sources that we track show that 2014 numbers are already higher for radio than our historic average. We’re getting “more bang for the buck” as listeners who have been hearing our HVAC and plumber radio marketing for years call when they finally have a heating, air conditioning, or plumbing problem.
Note: This article is part of Monopolize Your Marketplace’s ongoing “Client Success” series. All of the information is real and current; please respect the privacy of the companies mentioned; they don’t want to be overwhelmed with questions and comments.
March 31 – I Want To Punch Christine Cook In The Face
April 2 – Why You Should Immediately Allocate 10% Of Your Budget To Radio
April 4 – How Radio Stacks Up Against Other Media – The Pros & Cons
April 8 – The Nuts & Bolts Of Making Radio Work For You
April 11 – 5 Ways To Totally Screw Up Radio & FAIL
April 15 – How To Choose The Right Stations & Out-Negotiate The Sales Reps
April 17 – Client Success – Small Town Remodelers Experience Big Success On Radio
April 22 – Reader Mail: Should I Use Radio DJs For The Voice Of My Commercials?
April 24 – 2 1/2 Years on Radio… And Still Going Strong
April 28 – How To Write Great Radio Ads… & A Bunch Of Examples
April 30 – The Radio Ad That Made Listeners’ Ears Bleed
May 2 – Take The Plunge – Let Us Help YOU Get On The Radio
© 2014 – 2016, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.