Tasked with finding the best way to market the family business, Crystal Williams is laser-focused on a single mission: Tell the story of McWilliams & Son.
Williams decided that humanizing the company was the best way to market the HVAC company, which has three offices in rural areas 90 minutes to two hours north of Houston.
A logo was designed that includes her grandfather, father and brother.
“It's this really cool illustration of our family history in one logo and we just went to town,” Williams said during ServiceTitan’s Growth Series, an eight-episode webinar master class in the trades aimed at helping businesses grow.
The logo was branded everywhere the company could put it. Then McWilliams & Son developed a jingle, first testing it with employees, then ensuring potential employees knew it.
McWilliams’ memorable countrified jingle starts with “Exceeding all expectations for three generations … “ and ends with “We’re not comfortable, until you are,” the latter in stylized harmony.
“We actually make people sing that for us in our interviews,” she said.
McWIlliams turned to radio, social media and over-the-top television (OTT) to spread the word, and jingle.
“We really launched into being everywhere we could be that made sense for us, but more just telling our story like, ‘Here's who we are,’ and things like that,” she said.
Specifics on how she did that will follow, but Williams’ effort helped McWilliams quadruple its revenue in just a few years (from $3 million to $12 million).
The emphasis on telling the company’s story is an approach shared by Matthew Tyner, whose Max Service Group comprises four brands in three states (Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber in Indiana, Thomas & Galbraith in Ohio, and Jarboe's in Kentucky).
“We've got an amazing team, an amazing company, we've got an amazing community that we serve,” Tyner said. “As a steward of the brand here, I take it really personal to tell the story of all those amazing people that come together.”
Williams and Tyner joined to present a plethora of marketing ideas and philosophies as part of the Growth Series. Their webinar, “Essential Marketing Tactics to Scale Your Business,” was the fifth in the eight-part series that was kicked off by a presentation on leadership from four-star general Stanley McChrystal.
Tyner joined the Max Service Group in 2019, and the company now is on pace for $70 million in revenue. Williams continues to help the family business. She also founded Lemon Seed Marketing, a holistic agency that specializes in the trades.
Their talk went in-depth, with numerous examples of marketing in the trades, but focused on four key elements: The customer-acquisition funnel, the brand, SEO, and community engagement and social media.
“It’s telling a story,” Tyner said. “That’s all we’re doing.”
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The customer-acquisition funnel
The funnel, where prospects are converted to customers, does have an opening. It’s important to identify the leak, Tyner said, because optimizing the funnel maximizes its potential.
Tyner said those in marketing have the ability to understand where the hole in the funnel is, and to address the issue, to say ‘I noticed this and we need to fix it.’ Gathering and understanding the data is a key step in recognizing the opening.
“If you approach a problem within the company objectively and you have data that is backing what you're claiming, it's not an argument,” he said.
Tyner emphasized data to the point that marketers should be “living in it.”
Williams added that it’s important every team member understands how their roles affect the customer’s journey.
“I tell a CSR all the time: ‘Honey, you make or break us,’” she said. “We, as contractor leaders, need to make sure we are super communicative with our teams.”
The end goal of branding?
“People remember you,” Tyner said.
That’s where a jingle can help.
“They're going to call you because they remember that jingle that's probably annoying, but they love it because music in the mind is so powerful,” Tyner said.
Maximize the potential by building a whole-hearted campaign.
“A lot of people will say, ‘I want to grow but like I don't really want to spend just a whole lot of money,’” Williams said. “Those two things don't match.”
She suggests spending 8 to 10% on marketing, though that figure can fluctuate depending on the market size and the company’s position in the market. A business in a new market, for example, may want to spend 12%.
In 2021, McWilliams built a campaign around 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, no overtime. It’s still the banner on the website. Radio campaigns featured the jingle, with GM Trey McWilliams ending the spot with “We’re here when you need us.”
Tyner shares the enthusiasm for jingles.
“I want the number that's in the jingle on everything because when they're driving, they're listening to the jingle,” Tyner said. “When they pass a billboard, I want them to see the number that they just recited because the number's embedded in the jingle. When they see our van, I want them to see it in the back of the van or the side of the van because that's on the jingle.”
Tyner stressed the importance of technical elements of the web site. A pretty site is great, but the focus has to be on Google and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), not bells and whistles.
“If it’s not technically correct, it won’t impress Google and draw people,” he said.
Tyner suggests hiring a website developer who understands the craft.
“We could talk about internal linking strategies, external link building, all this stuff if we wanted to,” Tyner said. “But let's get to some practical things that can be done. Name, address, phone, website, NAP plus W or NAP, people will call it. There are a variety of softwares out there that allow you to be able to make sure that you get your information right across the web.
“This is Google's way of seeing if you've got your (act) together because if they see that you don't have consistency in address, phone number, branding, this or that, if you don't make this all very consistent across the Interweb, they're going to be like, ‘No, we're not going to send them traffic.’”
Remember, Tyner said, Google’s No. 1 reason to be in business is to “drive profitable revenue.”
“That’s why everyone exists,” he said.
Tyner had one last strong urge: “Good Lord, please update your Google My Business.”
Community engagement and social media
Williams said the goal is to get people to stop the scroll. An effective way to do that is to get them to know your team.
“Today is national spaghetti day; guess what I did?” she said. “I just featured our CSR's famous spaghetti sauce recipe and I video her. ‘Hey, my name is Jordan and I answer the phones. I'm behind the scenes in McWilliams & Son and I'm going to tell you how to make the best spaghetti sauce.’
“It has zero to do with heating and air conditioning. But when I make the body of that post, I'm going to say, ‘Click here. Dial and ask for Jordan.’ All I'm doing is encouraging, ‘Oh, I know those people.’ Or, ‘Look how fun they are.’
“They've stopped the scroll, they've seen who we are, they see my website, I’ve branded.”
McWilliams has a Facebook group for the spouses of employees that keeps families informed and involved in upcoming events and shows the successful work being done. It has a comfort crew social page that includes shout-outs to employees for work well done.
“Make sure you’re maximizing all of those,” she said. “Your SEM, Google Local Services, things like that.”
One positive offshoot of a strong community presence where the customers and potential customers feel like they know the team: Recruiting for like-minded team members becomes easier.
“At the end of the day,” Williams said, “people buy and want to do business with who they feel like they know.”
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