by Sam Von Tobel for Lorraine Ball
Recent events have proven that life as a business owner is full of curve balls. Whether it’s a snowstorm trapping your employees at home or some crazy new change to the Google algorithm causing you to completely rethink your marketing strategy, business owners constantly need to adapt to changes and roll with the punches. But while there are these unexpected crisis business owners face, surprisingly enough, many of the twists and turns that occur throughout the year aren’t really all that unexpected. Particularly for those in the home service industry.
Think about it like this. Heating and cooling companies know the first major heat wave of the year is going to result in people cranking up their air conditioners, realizing there is a problem, and needing service… they just don’t know exactly when that first 90 degree day is going to come. Similarly, a roofing company knows their area is going to be hit with several hailstorms each year, requiring home owners to seek storm damage repairs… they just don’t know exactly when those storms are going to come.
Home service emergencies will happen throughout the year, each and everyone in the industry realizes that. What will ultimately define how successful your home service marketing strategy is and act as a breaking point in making or breaking your year is how prepared you are with an action plan to appropriately respond to these expected emergencies.
Identifying your needs
The first step in creating a crisis action plan for home service marketing is to take a step back, look at the year to come, and ask yourself what you are going to need to do to when these expected emergencies happen. Let’s take a look at our HVAC example: In January, an HVAC company does not know exactly when the year’s first heat wave will hit, but it will normally happen in late spring or early summer. By mid March, the message and content you want to make immediately available people online and what assets you’ll need ready to successfully provide it to them?
The day after the year’s first heat wave, people are going to be scrambling to get their air conditioner fixed. Having an email and a Facebook post ready to go out that same day puts you in an excellent position to capture the attention and business of this group of potential customers. This is so important because home service emergencies, whether its a broken air conditioner, a flooded basement, a broken water heater, or a storm damaged home, are going to prompt immediate action. The sales cycle for a major home service purchase is extremely short. So, if you don’t get your email or posts sent out until three days later, you have already missed your window and these prospects have taken their business elsewhere.
When emergencies hit and you need to answer the phone, that isn’t the moment you want to be sitting down and writing a blog post. You know emergencies are going to happen months in advance, so that is the perfect time to prepare. From your experience dealing with these situations, you know exactly what your messaging for emails, blog posts, and Facebook status updates are going to be. A few months isn’t going to change what images you’re going to want to use on social shares. Crisis content can and should be put together well in advance. This allows you to avoid a situation where you, not just your audience, are the ones scrambling.
For that matter, most content revolving around yearly expected crises are going to be pieces of evergreen content. Your blog post about what to do after a hailstorm hits your home is going to be just as relevant this year as it will be next year, and the next year, and the next year. Once those important blog posts, emails, or social shares are created, you don’t need to update them every single year. When the same emergency happens again in a few months or next year, having that content created now gives you the tools you need to act again and again in the future. All you need to do is hit send on your email or grab the link to that existing blog post.
Not just for home service marketing
Home service companies are an obvious beneficiary of having an content action plan in place for crises, but they aren’t the only ones. Although they work in different trades, there is a common thread running through most businesses: the first to market wins. Whoever is the first one to get information out is going to come out smelling the best while everyone else may end up just being an after thought. While they may not be as predictable as a heat wave or dangerous storms, many businesses face unexpected curve balls in the form of changes to laws or industry practices that their customers are going to need to be aware of.
Accountants are an excellent example. It is very likely that we are going to see some changes or updates to tax laws each year that are going to impact the way their customers file their taxes. Having a basic blog post or email structure prepared so all they need to do is go in and drop in details about the changes puts them in a position to quickly get out an informative blog post and be one of the first ones to get that kind of information out there and establish themselves as an expert on the subject.
Business owners face a lot of unexpected situations throughout the year that are hard to prepare for. But, there are just as many situations that you know are going to be coming. No matter what expected emergencies or crises your business faces each year, avoid getting caught flat-footed, unprepared, and becoming an also-ran by creating a crisis content action plan.
Lorraine, took a break this month, And Sam Von Tobel – Content Manager at Roundpeg filled in with this article.