When I first met Mike Agugliaro, he was running the #1 rated home services company in New Jersey, offering services to homeowners like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and more. He also ran a small mastermind and coaching service for other home service professionals. He got in touch because he was thinking about writing a book and growing his business.
Working together, with a small “ninja team” of just a couple of other people, I was privileged to be part of the process to create a powerful and growing brand — CEO Warrior — which coaches and trains business owners to grow their business.
Frankly, I almost didn’t take him on as client. I was already maxed out, focused on the real estate space, and looking to expand my presence there. But another client introduced me to Mike and urged me to reconsider.
I’m glad I did.
Mike and I started writing his first book together, and later I went on to write… well… just about every other piece of marketing that came out of his business. We’ve written several books together, done direct mailing, and deployed more strategies than I can count. I fly out to his office regularly to visit him and attend his events (including one last year where I got to meet 2 authors that I’ve always admired), and I consider him more than a client but a mentor and close friend.
Now, you might be wondering why I took on this client even though he’s not in my industry.
There are a few reasons why I work with Mike…
First, Mike is a formidable presence and when you get on the phone with him or get in a room with him, you’ll be amazed at the insight that flows. He’s not for the faint of heart: his straight-talkin’ New Jersey style, along with his tattoos, make him a fascinating person to work with, and (as he says) he’s not afraid to share a “hurtful truth” instead of a “comforting lie”.
Second, Mike’s home services company (Gold Medal Service) has an incredible turnaround story. Their first ten years of business were a struggle and they almost shut down. Then they turned it around and, for the last 12 years or so, have seen year-over-year growth of more than a million dollars. Last year they made more than $30 million. I gotta tell ya: from a copywriter’s perspective, that turnaround story is a dream come true!
Third, Mike and I, along with two other business experts, meet each week to collaborate and grow his business. The four of us work so well together and our regular meeting is a highlight of every week!
Fourth, I like the exposure to other industries. As much as I love writing for real estate, I also want to stay well connected elsewhere to bring over ideas and strategies from one industry to another.
Fifth, I learn a lot from every client, and I continue to learn a lot from Mike on every project. He’s a genius. With that in mind, here are 5 strategies I’ve learned from him…
Steal These HVAC Marketing Strategies
Mike started in the home services industry but now works with all kinds of businesses in many different industries, so you can use these HVAC marketing ideas in your business even if you don’t work in the home services.
#1. Branding. Mike’s home service brand is very powerful and I’ve helped create his CEO Warrior brand and watched him develop brands for his mastermind clients. He’s able to create compelling brands that achieve these outcomes, which I’ve come to realize are the four key factors that every brand must have:
- Your brand needs to capture attention
- Your brand needs to very rapidly build trust
- Your brand needs to rapidly communicate what you do (what services you provide, who you provide it for, how you provide it, etc.)
- Your brand needs to show how you are different than every other competitor in your field
Does your brand do those things? I can tell you that my own brands do not! I have had to go back and revisit my brands to look more closely at them and see what I can do to achieve these four components.
The truth is, most brands do not. They fail to capture attention, they barely say what the person does, they don’t build trust, and they don’t differentiate. OUCH.
#2. Stackable Marketing. Mike has also mastered something he calls “stackable marketing”. I’ve always been a big proponent of the “go small” school of marketing and repeating your marketing to those people. I think too many business owners try to spread too wide of a net and end up doing a crappy job of trying to reach new prospects with their marketing. But Mike takes it to the extreme for amazing results. I think you’ll love this…
He advises that you go super-narrow. Since he’s marketing to homeowners, he suggests marketing to just a neighborhood, street, or even an intersection, and then repeating your marketing to them over and over and over again. Although I’ve always liked the small marketing approach, he is super-microscopic with an emphasis on repetition, and I realize just how powerful that can be.
This works in other industries too, not just in the home services industry. Any marketing effort can be ultra-narrow, focusing on just a few places. Local businesses. A specific industry in a specific area. Even online — you can become ultra narrowly focused and create repeated marketing messages in one place, such as Facebook.
Another aspect of stackable marketing that is so powerful and effective is what you can do with multimedia: Mike doesn’t just do the traditional direct mail letters or postcards; he combines those with email marketing and even “voiceshot” broadcasting calling (make sure this is legal in your area), plus other display marketing. His goal is to be EVERYWHERE for his audience all the time, and the best way to do that is to go very narrow so you can afford it.
For home services and other companies that serve a local market, successful stackable marketing provides an added bonus. Imagine this scenario as an example: one home service company markets to a wide area and gets 4 clients spread throughout the city. They spend a long time on the road going from one client’s home to another. A second home service company markets using the narrowly focused “stackable marketing” and gets 4 clients in one focused area. They spend less time on the road, plus, those clients’ neighbors see the same branded trucks over and over for a bonus repeat exposure.
#3. Value Contacts. As a marketer and copywriter, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can convince clients to take action and buy. Nothing wrong with that. But Mike is a master of building trust and creating repeat business, and one of his secret sauce recipes is with high value contacts. What I mean is: he’ll contact his prospects and clients with a high-value, non-sales message.
Let’s say there’s a hurricane expected to blow through town. Mike will call his clients through a voiceshot and let them know about the impending storm, providing valuable non-selling tips that will help them.
Are there products that he could sell to these people? Yes. He sells generators and surge protectors and such. And some of his value-based marketing includes a soft offer for these services. But whether he offers something or not, he always leads with value.
This sets his home service company apart in a big way and embeds his company in the hearts of homeowners who come to see him as a protector of their interests. Sales can often seem to be an adversarial relationship but by leading with value Mike becomes an ally instead.
How can you apply this same strategy to your business? If you serve homeowners or businesses in a local area, then you can tell them about inclement weather. That’s a great start. No matter who you work for, there is important information that your audience needs to know — whether it’s a new law, a shifting trend, a big piece of news that affects them. Make sure you become the high-value go-to expert for your audience and you’ll embed yourself in their heart as an ally.
#4. Client Levels. This is another strategy I’ve heard of before, and even used in my business, but saw Mike take it to a whole new level.
Not all clients should be treated the same. Quite frankly, some clients need to be treated differently. One of the simplest ways to do this, that most businesses can apply to their sales funnels right away, is the ability to segment clients by the amount of money they spend in a year. The more money a client spends, the more time and effort you invest in serving them and creating a memorable experience for them.
Of course money might not be the only metric you use but it’s probably the easiest and fastest to apply. You may want to instead use something like profitability or ease-of-service so you tend to work with the clients who are the most enjoyable and rewarding to work with.
Start by segmenting your clients into different groups based on how much they spend with you (or by whatever metric you choose to use). Use ranges. For example, a client who spends $0 to $4,999 a year, a client who spends $5,000 to $9,999, a client who spends $10,000 to $24,999, etc. (The actual tiers depend on what you’re selling.)
Next, identify your base level of service, of products, of follow-up, etc. and assign that to your lowest tier of clients. Now figure out how you can bump that level of service, the quality or type of product, the type of follow-up, etc. and start assigning the higher levels of service to those higher tiers of clients.
One example that Mike uses is his thank-you gift. He provides each client with a thank-you gift. Lower tiered clients get a card, as the tiers increase there are other things such as cookies and donations made to charitable organizations.
#5. Framework For Service. This was a game-changer for me. A very big deal. Mike’s Framework For Service is his process that he uses to make sure every client is served to the highest level always. It works like this: Mike has written out in a step-by-step, minute-by-minute format how clients receive service from his service experts.
For example, the service expert will receive the work order and double-checks that they have the address and phone number. Then they’ll go to their truck and call the client and to confirm they’re on their way and to ask if the client wants them to pick up coffee on the way. They’ll arrive at the client’s house and immediately get out of the vehicle. If there’s a newspaper or a garbage can by the curb, they’ll bring it into the backyard. And so on.
It’s laid out step-by-step, minute-by-minute, just like a checklist. This is just what McDonald’s does too: they have a checklist or framework for every aspect of the client’s experience and it ensures that all clients get consistent service, and, that all clients get the highest level of service. It also helps the business owner to review the service that they’re delivering to clients and to see where there are opportunities to serve even more.
I started doing this in my business too, even though I primarily work online. As someone who thinks and writes about sales funnels all the time, this resonates with me deeply because it adds a layer of service to the entire process, ensuring that your sales funnel is not just about sales but about serving your clients to ultimately increase sales, generate repeat business, and receive more referrals.
To get started with powerful marketing strategy, just list out the steps in your business that you would take when a client contacts you, or your client would take to hire you and receive your service. Then detail what your team should do at each step, including scripts for them to say. Turn it into a checklist and test it out, refining as you go and revisiting it regularly to bump up your level of service.
Smart business people look beyond the confines of their own industry to find tips, secrets, and strategies from other industries that they can adapt and adopt into their own. And with my client Mike, I’ve done just that, taking his home service marketing ideas and using them in my own business. And you can too. These 5 strategies are very powerful and I’m actively working on them in my own business. How can you apply them in yours?
(Disclaimer: Mike is a client but I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. Rather, I wanted to share with you some powerful lessons that I’ve learned from working with Mike.)
Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He’s the author of several books, including The Sales Funnel Bible.