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Marketing and Engagement Tips during COVID-19

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The COVID-19 virus is having an immediate impact on our daily lives and business operations. In the face of uncertainty, homeowners may defer large, non-essential purchases until the outlook improves while they focus more on immediate needs. In addition, social distancing has people cautious about allowing professionals into their home to perform installation and service jobs. As such, business as usual for professional installers may need to adapt to the current realities of customers.

Here are a few marketing and engagement tips to consider within this shifting consumer landscape.

Focus on minimizing physical contact

Consider doing as much as you can via phone or online prior to performing the work at the job site. Utilize video call platforms such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom to assess the homeowner’s current equipment and bid the job remotely. Ask the homeowner to email or text images if a video call isn’t possible. Be creative in how your business can interact with customers while minimizing physical proximity.

Focus on immediate needs

Homeowners may be more focused on what they need rather than what they want right now. Adapting to this new dynamic may mean holding back on promoting voluntary upgrades or touting the most expensive equipment. Be there for your customer’s immediate needs, such as emergency replacements and servicing equipment to ensure optimal performance as people are spending more time at home. Outbound messaging and paid media efforts, especially in search, should reflect those immediate needs.

Position products appropriately

At Hot Water Solutions, our goal is to increase sales of heat pump water heaters (HPWH). However, proactively marketing this product as planned replacement during times of consumer uncertainty may be a tough sell, or even off-putting to some. Rather, consider how a HPWH can benefit a homeowner’s immediate need during emergency replacement. While HPWHs are slightly more expensive than a standard electric tank, there are relevant features and benefits that meet consumer needs in this context:

  • As more people are home-bound, their hot water usage increases. A HPWH will immediately save on their utility bills. Most people will see a payback of 3 years or less depending on their usage.
  • A 10-year warranty compared to a 6-year warranty of a standard tank provides peace of mind.
  • Some HPWHs have built in leak detection and WiFi capability, so homeowners can avoid a water damage emergency.

Consider the context

If you have paid media in market such as display ads, Google Search ads or YouTube videos, now’s the time to take a critical eye to your creative and messaging. Consider pulling ads with humorous creative or ads that show close person-to-person interaction, as they could be construed as insensitive or tone-deaf.

Assess your channel mix

Consider where people will be spending their time and consuming information. Consider reallocating marketing dollars from out-of-home, transit and event sponsorship to digital channels, TV and radio.

Leverage your owned channels

Think about how you can use your website, blog, e-newsletter and social channels to empathize with your consumers and demonstrate you can meet their needs while maintaining health and safety. Document and share your rigorous disinfecting regiment prior to arrival at the job site and be transparent about how you’ll keep your employees and customers safe per the CDC guidelines. Add or update your business hours on all channels and consider including hours in a social media post to assure your audience that you are open and available.

Provide solutions

Develop blog posts or YouTube videos to help people ensure they’re prepared for an extended stay at home. Things like checking the health of their water heater, knowing the optimal temperature setting for efficiency, how to re-light a pilot light. Imparting basic maintenance and know-how to homeowners can be a valuable way to connect with your customers right now.

Support the community

Is there anything your company can do to help your local community? Food donations, personal protective gear you can donate to medical staff, enabling online curriculum for kids who are stuck at home? Now’s the time to think creatively about how we can all pull together and support our communities.

Be customer focused

We’re all faced with the same reality and it’s especially important to support one another. It’s okay to be human and empathize with customers.

Please contact kstuart@neea.org if you would like to discuss these recommendations further.

Thank you for your continued support and engagement and stay safe,
Hot Water Solutions

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