Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
We used to send them to friends and family when we went on trips, telling them how much we missed them and wished they could be with us.
With the advent of smartphones, we don’t send postcards much anymore. We simply send photos.
But the decline in overall postcard usage can actually be a boon to your HVAC business. By sending postcards in the mail to potential customers, you can grab their attention in unique ways that other mediums can’t.
In this post, we’re going to break down exactly why postcards are so effective, as well provide examples of actual seasonal postcards that have been sent out.
Of course, direct mail marketing has been around forever. Yet, even in the digital age of SEO and pay per click advertising, postcards remain an excellent tool for HVAC companies to retain current customers and connect with new ones.
What makes it so effective?
More than any other advertising technique, direct mail puts your information squarely in the hands of the consumer, at the very place they’ll need your services - their home. Plus, its relatively low cost compared to other advertising.
Suggested reading: the pros and cons of HVAC postcard marketing
Timing, as the incredibly astute saying goes, is everything.
Homeowners often have a thousand other things on their mind during the early part of the year. It's up you to remind them that the cooling of their home is one of the most important.
Planning ahead not only helps homeowners avert potential AC problems when the days get scorching hot, it also gives your operations a boost.
Below are some things that a direct mail campaign will help you achieve:
Getting a leg up on the competition, shoring up early season appointments with homeowners looking for pre-summer services such as inspections, tune-ups, and repairs, or full-on replacement of their AC system.
Maintain a manageable schedule and avoid straining your resources. Also, servicing units early mean your techs keep up with demand during the hotter months, and you avoid having to turn away business.
Capturing first-time clients who then turn into repeat customers. Homeowners love taking advantage of early-season service deals. If they take advantage of yours during the summer thaw, they’re more likely to call on you again for future services.
Remember your goal is to get people thinking about your service before they need it.
One other point - while this article may focus on a summertime push for clients, everything here can also be applied to later in the year with a fall campaign aimed at heating maintenance services before winter sets in.
Even better, consider automating your direct mail efforts to cover the entire year. It will save you time and maintain your company's brand exposure in every season.
As with any form of advertising, you’ll want to put some thought behind your direct mail campaign. Sure, sending out postcards is a simple, straightforward promotional technique, but just slapping your name and phone number on them won't cut it.
You’ll also want to ensure your materials reach the right people. Your mailing lists must be current. If you receive undeliverable postcards back, update your records accordingly.
So with those considerations in mind, let's explore a handful of tips that will ensure your summertime direct mail campaign is an absolute success.
Direct mail is much more than putting a postcard in the mailbox of every address you can find. A well-organized campaign provides the opportunity to touch those that genuinely need your expertise.
Your starting point for any direct mail efforts should be your current client list. You’ll shore up your retention efforts and prompt past customers to make new appointments (especially if you run a seasonal special).
If you’ve acquired additional names and addresses through past marketing efforts (even if they’ve yet to use your company) add them to your first phase of mailings as well.
From there, conduct research on additional areas you want to target. Aside from your general service area, look for:
Neighborhoods where you’ve already performed service.
Adjacent housing where you have yet to acquire any clients.
Townhome or condo communities where homeowners are responsible for their own HVACneeds.
Older single family subdivisions where equipment is aging or close to needing replacement.
To get the most out of your direct mail investment and to save money, avoid the following:
Apartment communities with in-house maintenance.
Townhome or condo communities that have dedicated repair techs or are overseen by an HOA (you’ll need to make a more personal appeal to get on a preferred vendor list).
Neighborhoods that include brand new construction where HVAC service might be rare for the first couple of years.
If you fall short with a useful list of addresses on your own, no problem. Figure out your geographic targets and purchase a mailing list from a direct mail broker .
First impressions matter. When trying to sell your business to a consumer, show them you care about quality and attention to detail.
Personalize your materials so that your pitch comes across as a direct appeal and not a mass mailing. Of course, a receipt knows what they’re getting in a postcard mailer, but they’ll appreciate the personalized address over the lazy “Current Homeowner” heading.
Use only high-quality materials (for example, glossy postcards that don’t easily tear) and review all of the copy for spelling and grammatical errors. If using images, ensure they are vibrant and support the overall theme you're promoting.
Finally, don’t neglect the quality of your message. Just as vital as stunning images and error-free copy, a pitch that is uncomplicated and valuable to the reader will garner more responses than those that are a jumbled mess.
Hire freelancers and designers if necessary to get the best look possible. There’s also plenty of third-party firms who will handle the whole process for your - from initial idea to the final mail out.
Consumers will look at marketing collateral as a direct reflection of the service your company provides. If it's subpar, they will take their HVAC business elsewhere.
People love to feel special, and the best way to make your current and future clients feel that way is by offering one.
Consider free inspections, a coupon for discounted repairs, special pricing on new components, or promotions specific to your firm that appeal to your target homeowner.
You can create urgency by making the offer time sensitive. For example, “Schedule service before June 1 to get our 15% discount.” Alternatively, you might graduate the incentive, “15% off before June 1, 5% off between June 1 and June 30.”
Regardless of the incentive, make it attractive, and something that a homeowner will want to take action on as soon as possible.
Speaking of action, a standard online marketing tool that is transferable to your postcards is the call to action (CTA). Highly effective marketing isn’t about you just conveying a message, it's about getting a client to respond.
The best CTAs follow a few simple rules:
Don’t bury the lead. Make your CTA clear and attention-grabbing.
Make the CTA easy to understand, and limit it to a single task.
Add value to the CTA. You might offer a 15% discount if they schedule an appointment by June 1 but toss in free filters or an extra service if they set it before April 15.
You can use your direct mail postcard as a prompt to get the consumer to take the next step in engaging with your company:
Call or email to schedule an appointment.
Visit our website (or a specific landing page made exclusively for the campaign).
Contact a sales rep to discuss service needs.
Don’t just remind them that service is necessary, direct them to take action immediately.
The central piece of your summertime mailing, your postcards have only a brief moment to shine before a recipient decides to give you a call or toss it in the trash.
We’ve already covered the elements to include and how to make your mailers pop, but how about some examples?
Below are a few Housecall Pro postcards to provide you inspiration for a successful summertime direct mail campaign. Housecall Pro users can enjoy seasonal postcard templates that can be sent out to customers through automated postcard marketing.
Housecall Pro is the best software for managing and growing your HVAC business. Our automated payment, service agreement and marketing features give your business maximum efficiency and build customer loyalty. Learn more and start free 14 day trial now.
▼ Holiday postcards are perfect for special holiday promotions
▼ Seasonal postcards that encourages seasonal maintenance
Direct mail is not a one-dimensional marketing technique. It can be a support tool for other efforts in your promotional plan. The following will help you extend the life of your campaign from a simple mailing to a key cog in your marketing.
Individual promotional efforts do not occur in a vacuum. Tie your direct mail into other marketing efforts through the following:
Present a consolidated and consistent brand across all of your platforms. Your HVAC brand is easier to distinguish when unified and will help sell you as a highly professional service.
Recalling the landing page we mentioned earlier, use personalized URLs (PURLs) to drive your traffic to those sites.
Similarly, add a QR code to the postcard to get mobile users directly to your online pages.
Once you do land the client, use the seasonal nature of the service as a means promote other portions of your business. For example, use a free inspection promotion to get a homeowner to commit to a year-round maintenance agreement.
Seasonal service is also an opportunity to promote more substantial needs such as indoor air quality tests or component or system replacement. Make sure your techs and sales team are adept at communicating together and coordinating the opportunities.
Also, produce promotional materials that a tech can leave with a homeowner. For instance, provide a brochure extolling the benefits of an indoor air quality test, or how replacement systems or regular maintenance check-ups save them money on their bills long term.
You also want to stay connected with clients after service.
Follow-up mailers are just as important as the lead generating postcards. Housecall Pro can help extend your direct mail campaigns by automating postcard follow-ups, reinforcing your commitment to the client after a job is complete.
Producing extra marketing materials will add a further dimension to your outreach.
Items like additional mailers are useful for techs to deliver between jobs. Regular mail or email newsletters for current customers are great as both a "Thank for being a valued client," and providing tips for how to save money by managing their heating and cooling needs throughout the year.
Finally, don't forget secondary mailers or leave behind postcards that promote a referral program for current customers. Be sure to incentivize the offer to generate as much referral business as possible.
Postcards may be an older medium, but they’re certainly not outdated, especially when it comes to promoting your business. They allow you to promote specials, take advantage of unique seasonal promotions, and grab the attention of your customers in unique ways.
So get out those stamps, start sending out postcards, and watch the leads start coming in.
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