Marketing in partnership with a credible third-party organization can bring more sales your way. For instance, Energy Star's 2003 Cool Change program encourages homeowners to replace heating and cooling systems that are more than 10 years old with energy-efficient products. The campaign offers contractors myriad resources and incentives to help pass the message on to consumers.
In addition to templates for print advertisements, a prerecorded radio ad and promotional logos, the program provides educational materials, such as postcards, door hangers and customer leave-behinds about the benefits of improving heating and cooling systems. In addition, the Energy Star Web site (www.energystar.gov) has a page dedicated to HVAC contractors, with various educational and training tools such as HVAC Investor Software, which compares Energy Star product efficiency against that of other products; overviews of duct and sealing technologies; and consumer-based tools such as a central AC calculator and maintenance checklist. Energy Star spokesperson Wendy Reed says these are great tools for building trust with clients, because they give the contractor power to be the educator.
In the future, the Environmental Protection Agency hopes to expand its rebates and special promotions program so that contractors can receive incentives via distributors.
"Contractors represent all spectrums of marketing savvy," says Reed. "We're putting together strategies to help them boost their efforts and make more money because high-efficiency units sell at a higher price. The idea is that simply using Energy Star should carry more weight, based on its third-party credibility."