August 2014
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HVAC Brand Awareness through Twitter

A quick exercise in how to use Twitter to build brand awareness

Manny MandrusiakManny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor


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Over the years I have read a great many articles by writers who say that the inspiration for the piece that they wrote came from the most obscure places.  I always wondered when that sort of inspiration would strike, and then last week it happened to me. 

I was in Nanaimo, BC opening a new branch office for ctc TrainCanada and at the end of the day I found myself where every good sales/marketing pro finds themselves- in the bar.  As I was contemplating the events of the day over a cool beverage I could not help overhearing the conversation that was happening next to me.  There were four middle aged gents engaged in what I would call typical sales/client talks over a few beverages.  Nothing out of the ordinary there. 

As the conversation continued I noticed that two of the gents were wearing the familiar white and red embroidered Honeywell shirts that are seen at just about every industrial, and building automation tradeshow anywhere in the world.  Always nice to see a familiar logo when I am on the road.  Actually it kind of sounds like the start of a bad joke. Two Honeywell guys, two HVAC guys and a marketer are sitting in a bar.

The discussion turned to everyone showing each other their phones and talking about customer engagement and their own social media profiles.  Everyone in the group was talking about their respective social media profiles and it looked like they were all adding each other respectively to their profiles.  Again pretty standard stuff these days.  When you meet any sales rep or perspective client there is a natural response to search for their social media profile.  As an information hungry society we are becoming more accustomed to doing this.  Matter of fact to find to find someone who is not on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn these days is a bit of a surprise. 

The conversation quickly turned to number of followers on Twitter, likes on Facebook, and using LinkedIn. I perked up a little when I heard the one gent say that his boss encourages the use of social media to increase sales and every time he uses Twitter it breaks his phone.  I had to join the conversation at this part as I had to know the how Twitter breaks his phone. 

It turns out that Twitter did not break his phone he just became extremely frustrated with the entire concept of social media because he simply does not understand why it is important to him.  He is in HVAC sales and works on large scale projects, why should he care about the Twitter profile and LinkedIn profiles that he set up.  Then he showed me his Twitter profile and I understood a little more about why he was frustrated and was not seeing his networks grow. So for a typical payment of a couple of beverages I joined the conversation and offered some tips to sort out why his social media was failing.

As an HVAC professional this gent simply could not understand why social media is important to him? Very simply put social media in business is the continued evolution of getting customers to identify with your brand.  For someone in sales the importance of brand identity can’t really be underestimated.  Products, services, and prices really don’t mean a lot if they are not being sought after by consumers.  To have customers wanting those products and services a target audience needs to know who this HVAC guy is, what does he stand for, and can I identify with his brand.

In the past this was done using different mediums like magazine ads in specific trade publications, radio and TV ads, but the communications mediums are constantly evolving.  Look at where people are receiving their information from these days.  When was the last time you heard of someone turning on the six o’clock news to hear the day’s events?  Not too often, but when my phone vibrates and I look to see that a Tweet has told me that there has been an earthquake in China I am engaged and want to learn more.  Social media is where potential customers are spending their time for their daily online and information interactions.  Everything is immediate now, and consumers are basing their buying decisions on what they read online, and being active on social media provides an opportunity to step into your customer’s world build brand awareness through engagement.

While the gent understood the concepts that I was talking about he did not accept how using social media builds brand awareness through engaging customers.  I decided to conduct a little exercise to show him just how easy it was to build a brand using social media.  I decided that I would work with Twitter since that was the one that he seemed to have the hardest time understand the effectiveness of.  Personally I love Twitter, and find it extremely engaging, so what I decided to do was use the hotel that we were staying at as the brand that I wanted to identify with as a customer.

I had stayed at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo, BC twice before and they had an awesome grilled salmon and scallop dish on the menu.  When I first sat down at the bar I was reading the menu and was looking for that salmon dish, but the restaurant had recently changed the menu and it was gone.  To illustrate how effective Twitter can be I showed him how I used Twitter to express to the restaurant that I was unhappy about losing my favorite salmon dish.

Figure 1

Figure 1- Twitter conversation illustrating how the Coast Bastion Hotel used Twitter to increase their brand awareness with me through social interaction.

Reliable Controls What a Twitter conversation like this does is provide customers with that “social” interaction with a company exactly the same way that meeting corporate reps at a tradeshow does.  When it comes down to it people still prefer to deal with people, and support brands that they believe in, and relate to.  I am ten times more likely to stay at the Coast Bastion again because the entire experience with Twitter made me feel valued as a customer through the interaction that I had during the Twitter exchange in Figure 1.  I now feel that the Coast Bastion and I have a connection and I had an extremely positive experience.  That means that I am more likely to not only stay there, but recommend it to business associates, and friends that are travelling to Nanaimo. That is great marketing, and a great example of how to effectively use social media to build brand awareness and increase a customer base.

It was quick and simple, and above all effective. 

While I was not really happy about the salmon being off the menu, I was happy to have been able to help a rep from Honeywell better understand just how important a role social media plays on the new digital landscape in not only building brand awareness, but influencing buying decisions. 

Now I also took some time out to fix his Twitter profile which was the standard Twitter Avatar Egg, added a good bio for him, and customized the background.  Just some housekeeping tips, but all very important as you only get one chance to make a good impression; especially when building business relationships.

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