COVID-19 Strategies Part 2: Evolving Communication Approaches & How to Prepare for the Rebound
Energy Circle is continuing to provide information and resources to HVAC, home performance, and solar companies that are looking for suggested operating practices during and after the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, so that your business is well positioned to hit the ground running when we eventually come out the other side.
On our main COVID-19 resources page, you can find sample communications drafts, updates from our team, relevant industry news, and more.
During this week’s webinar, Energy Circle founder and CEO Peter Troast examined the latest in suggested communication strategies and best marketing practices for companies whose business has been significantly curtailed. Here is a summary of the main talking points.
Updates From Last Week’s Webinar
What Google search data is telling us
Overall, data shows that people around the country are continuing to sit down and search for most of the services that businesses in our industries offer. There is some decline in demand, but not as much as we’d originally anticipated. HVAC and services that are not obviously intrusive inside the home are holding up; attic insulation and air sealing is down.
Interest for “indoor air quality” related services is up. As people are spending far more of the average day in their houses and thinking about their health—for one of our clients, IAQ traffic to their website increased 140% compared to the previous week.
Company statements are critical
If you haven’t already published a company statement about the COVID-19 crisis, you need to do so now. We have posted examples of these statements, as well as draft copy to customize as you see fit on our Resources Page. Skip sending out yet another COVID-19 email to your entire mailing list—people are being inundated with similar emails from other companies—and focus on having clear messaging for people who are actively seeking out your services or might already have an appointment scheduled and might be expecting to hear from you.
Two important messaging aspects to focus on:
The measures you’re taking to ensure the safety of your employees who are going into people’s homes. Convey that you are taking aggressive steps to protect both your employees and your customers and provide details where available.
Point out that many of your services involving work in or around the home can be done with minimal contact with the homeowner—and often do not even require entering the home’s living space at all.
Google has just unveiled a new type of Google My Business (GMB) Post type just for COVID-19 this week—we strongly recommend you take advantage of it.
Innovative Industry Ideas
We’ll be documenting this in a more official way on our resources page moving forward and expanding on some of these ideas (and others) in the future, but we’re starting to hear about interesting and innovative moves across our industries, including:
Virtual energy audits
Community support (donating masks and other PPE to medical professionals and organizations, delivering food to elderly people)
Financing—it’s important to be aggressive here
Sharing furloughed employees between businesses
Thinking more about “zero contact” services that don’t require contact within home—heat pump water heaters, rooftop solar, pool pumps, etc.
Marketing in the Midst of COVID-19
Some businesses are still up and running, seemingly as normal. Some have been completely shut down by state or local government order, while others are stuck in the middle. But hopefully every company can take something away from these marketing strategies.
Active lead generation—Google Ads, Facebook ads, TV/radio ads—can still be productive
Remember, especially with paid search, if interest is down, less people will click on those ads and you’ll be charged less, so: no search, no click, no cost, no risk. Data is showing that certain seasonal services will likely remain just as important this spring, including AC services, repairs, and healthy home/IAQ services.
Scrub your overall messaging
You will be marketing in the middle of a health emergency, and you don’t want to come across as tone deaf, or lacking in sensitivity. Position your company as smart, thoughtful, and caring in a crisis.
Focus on the Foundation, Prepare for the Other Side
Everyone in our industries should have a strong digital foundation, but many companies struggle to find the time during normal operations to check off these foundational boxes. If your business is unable to function as usual, this kind of marketing work is good to be thinking about now so that you come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger.
Energy Circle has already talked extensively in webinars and on blogs about many of these topics, and below you’ll find links to relevant webinars we’ve produced in the last year to get you started.
High performing website
Advanced Landing Pages: Why Going the Extra Mile Matters (webinar)
Top Indicators to Tell if Your Website Needs a Refresh (webinar)
Making Sense of UX and UI: Why user experience and user interface design are critical for lead conversion (webinar)
Google My Business
The Continued Evolution of Google My Business: What's Most Important for 2020 (webinar)
How to Navigate the Google My Business Turbulence (webinar)
Beyond the Website: Putting Video to Work to Drive Leads (webinar)
The Contractor's Tool Box: Using Case Studies to Set Your Business Apart (webinar)
The Contractor's Tool Box: How to Run a Promotion (webinar)
Local search ranking
Local Branding: The Secret Weapon of Lead Volume and High Conversion (webinar)
Be in Two Places at Once: Build Local SEO Outside of your Physical Location (webinar)
Facebook Advertising: From Custom Audience to Qualified Leads (webinar)
Third party reviews
The Evolution of Third Party Reviews: More Than Just Stars (webinar)
The Contractor’s Tool Box: Review Management—How to Ask and When to Ask (webinar)
The Contractor's Toolbox: Use Marketing to Up Your Recruitment Game (webinar)
How to Protect Against Common Customer Objections in Home Performance (webinar)
The Instant Gratification Homeowner—Is your Company Ready for Live Chat and Messaging? (webinar)
A Different Sales Funnel for Different Times
Traditionally, companies in our industry have a fairly direct sales funnel, but it’s likely that—at least in the immediate future—many businesses will need to adjust tactics, allowing for a longer, multi-step process to capture leads that may not immediately turn into jobs.
“Soft touch” lead capture—pre-commitment tactics like getting interested customers on a reservation list, then engaging and nurturing those soft leads until you're able to commit and actually take the order for work and close the sale—could be an important sales adjustment your team will have to be ready to make.
Energy Circle Is Interrupting Its Regularly Scheduled Programming
Like all of you, we’re being forced to reexamine our best laid plans and marketing schedule moving forward. We want to continue to be the best resource we can be for clients and companies going through hard times around the country.
As such, you’re likely to see more COVID-19 related webinars and content on our website. Register for our next webinar and you’ll be automatically subscribed to our newsletter as well, where we’ll be sharing updates and new resources.