I just spent three days traveling throughout the Midwest teaching marketing seminars for groups of HVAC contractors. While I was the teacher, I learned a few things as well.  I discovered:

  1. Omaha steaks really are better
  2. All clam shell heat exchangers look the same to me
  3. Despite what we social media junkies believe, there is still a large community of business owners who are not active on line.

In each market I met business owners running profitable companies which do not have a web presence and  do not check their email regularly.  Talking to them about social media as a marketing strategy was like speaking a foreign language.

It is easy to dismiss them as backward and doomed to fail, but that is not the case. They will continue to  carve our a comfortable living long after some of their competitors jump aggressively into the social media arena.  So how do I get them to take a second look?

What caught their attention was a comparison of a marketing budget based on mass advertising vs referrals and word of mouth.  These were concepts they could get their heads around.  Then introducing social media as a way of expanding their word of mouth made sense.

So that was probably the most important lesson for me from this trip.  It’s not that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, you just have to start with something they know!