Radiant Heating Report: Radiant Marketing
Best Broadcast Ad"And the Oscar goes to ... " Our stills, taken from C&N's videotape, aren't going to do the cinematography justice. But trust us, the opening shot of a steaming mug of coffee resting on the window sill of a snowy morning says it all to any customer trying to understand the mysteries of radiant heat.
West Granby, Conn.
While not really a broadcast ad per se, C&N plays the tape during initial sales meetings or at home shows. Showing the video gives C&N more credibility than other bidders, thus closing more sales, according to owner David Lovesky. (The tape even helped win a System Showcase Award. For more, see page 16).
"The challenge was to produce something that had all the key information but that wasn't long and boring," he says.
Lovesky hired family friend Bill Curtis, who produces training videos. Lovesky passed on radiant information from manufacturers, the RPA and trade magazines, as well as tapes of "This Old House." Afterward, over the course of nine months, Curtis filmed several projects in various stages of completion.
To help offset cost of production, Tony Audia, a manufacturers rep for Heat Tech Associates, approached the manufacturers whose equipment would be featured and secured co-op dollars. Lovesky's main wholesaler, Plimpton and Hills Corp., also contributed since one of its warehouses and trucks are shown, too.
"Given the actual time and effort put into the piece, the actual costs would have been double without the co-op funds," Lovesky adds.
Still, with the budget running low, Lovesky hired another friend, Patrick Fox, to "work for food" in exchange for narrating the video.
From start to finish, the video took a year to complete.
"It was certainly much more work than I had envisioned and, at times, was a labor of love for all involved," Lovesky says.
Best Web SiteThe Internet and the printing press are miles apart in terms of technology. But when everything's said and done, both serve the same purpose - delivering the printed word to the masses.
We liked how Deiter Bros.' Web site, www.dbrothers.com, combined the old-fashioned with the new by including a downloadable pdf file of a quarterly newsletter that also is printed and mailed out to customers. The site also incorporates an explanation of radiant heat that does double-duty as a printed brochure. In addition, browsers can print out money-saving coupons every month.
At this point, the company has to bridge the gap between high tech and high touch. "We don't have 100 percent of our customers on the Web, of course," explains Jim Deiter, vice president. "Plus, we cater to an older population that likes things done the old-fashioned way."
Still, Deiter is making plans to capitalize on the inevitable trend toward e-commerce. Sending out the quarterly brochure electronically is just a small part. Eventually, the company plans to e-mail invoices and anything else more commonly printed, stuffed in an envelope and snail-mailed today.
Best Other PromotionAs the name suggests, this category is wide open to interpretation. This year, Jim Patterson, Orchard Valley Technology, won our editorial hearts with a series of what he calls "monographs" that explain more about the intricacies of radiant heat, as well as cooling options for hydronic homes with no room for ducts.
Orchard Valley Technology
The one-page forms aren't meant to reel in customers with short, pithy phrases. Rather, they come in handy in the final stages of a sale.
"They're used in support of a proposal," Patterson explains, "to answer questions that might still be unasked."
The content of two monographs, for example, fills in the blanks about using control strategies and pairing radiant with hardwood floors. Patterson also is not afraid to justify the price of his work with another monograph titled, "Is Viessmann That Really Expensive Boiler? What Makes These Boilers Worth The Investment."
If Patterson gets tired of contracting, he always can be an editor. Read, for example, these excerpts from his essay on weather responsive controls:
"The heating system is the heart of our homes; and like our hearts, its operation determines how we exist. Can you imagine the repercussions if our heart operated like most heating systems?
"I diagnose more unhealthy heating systems in a year than I thought possible. Many of the problems can be resolved by following the role model on which we all rely - our hearts.
"By allowing the boiler to circulate water through the radiators at a constant rate, we can eliminate the ups and downs we feel as our heating systems cycle on and off trying to catch up to the heat loss. If we allow the system to keep up with the heat loss, the peaks and valley will be erased."
Best Print AdAll right, we know "print ad" means, say, a display ad in a magazine. But we can't tell the whole story without first talking about the kind of print ads that roll on wheels. Contractors love their trucks, and we've done plenty of stories about trucks as "rolling billboards."
How effective is mobile advertising? Northwest Mechanical knew it had done well when potential customers called from the highway on their cell phones based on an image seen on a company van.
Over the years, Northwest's Buzz Burgett has refined several graphic images that appear as 8 ft. by 12 ft. advertisements on each side of its fleet of five super trucks. Plus, there's an 8 ft. by 5 ft. image of a "Superman Service Tech" battling a broken water pipe on the back. That's the image that has freeway commuters calling Northwest to schedule a service call.
While the Superman image brings in immediate business, the company developed another image of a "Boy And His Dog" to convey the emotional appeal of installing a radiant system.
It's this image we liked. Besides the side of a truck, the image also appears in Yellow Pages ads and promotional fliers. It goes the extra mile as a billboard that hangs on a local little league baseball stadium and as yard signs planted in front of Northwest's latest residential projects.
Best TruckOur award-winning truck was definitely a work in progress when we first heard about it. And while the logo caught our eye, the process of designing the artwork sold us even more.
All Temp Professional Inc.
All Temp Professional has plenty of experience in boiler retrofits and hydronic service. However, its Portland, Ore., market lacks the radiant business that's caught on in other parts of the Pacific Northwest.
Still, creating a radiant marketplace and meeting its demands seemed a natural to David Oulman, who does most of the firm's sales and marketing. In the past few years, the company has invested in top talent, developed advertisements (actually opening up a new heading in the local Yellow Pages for "Radiant Heat") and ran a series of workshops to heighten the awareness of radiant heat.
When it came time to design a truck that would be used exclusively for boiler and radiant jobs, a business consultant suggested Oulman use local talent. Oulman found help from Evaleigh Zehr, a graphics arts student at Portland Community College.
"We're adopting the logo as our symbol," Oulman says.
The logo will appear in Yellow Pages ads, a backdrop for the company's booth at home shows and as embroidery on the special shop coats the radiant techs wear on calls.