The HARDI member spotlight serves as a regular feature through which the association management highlights standout individuals in the HVACR industry and their companies. For our January Member Spotlight, we spoke with Renata Morgan, Director of Marketing & IT for Century A/C Supply based out of Houston, Texas. She also recently took on the role of Chair of HARDI’s Marketing Council just this past year. In this Q&A interview, we spoke with Renata about what distributors should do through the marketing and branding lens when expanding into new markets, and things they can do to grow or maintain a positive brand and reputation in exposure to customers.
What got you involved in the industry and how did you end up where you are at?
Morgan: For me at least, it’s the old adage of ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’. When I was in my last semester of college, I was bartending at a golf club and happened to meet the president of Century A/C, sent him my resume but didn’t think anything would ever come of it. But I got the call and 11 years later I’m still here! It’s a great industry, and you’re right — not one that was ever on my radar in college either — but once you’re in, you’re in. It’s kind of hard to escape, but here that’s a good thing.
As Century A/C Supply’s Marketing Director, what are the top 2–3 tips you could give to distributors to effectively market themselves or their products across a region?
Morgan: If it’s a new market for you, it’s absolutely imperative to have local knowledge, tribal knowledge, boots-on-the-ground. You need somebody or people that can help get your foot in the door in that market. It’s good, especially for new markets, to leverage the strengths you already have as a brand; whether it’s digital presence, word-of-mouth referrals, or contractor recommendations. So that’s very important. And then, of course, you need consistency. If you are expanding to another market, whatever’s made you great in the markets you’re already in needs to emerge in the markets in the markets you are trying to go into. You can really build on your success with new customers by ensuring you are providing the same level of service as in your existing territories and providing the same benefits that have allowed you to grow there. That is essential for effectively growing your brand and reputation across a region and building those new relationships.
In your opinion, what is the most essential element you need to create, maintain, and grow a successful company brand to contractor customers?
Morgan: From the creation standpoint, you have to think about what your company is all about, what you want to communicate to the customers as the look and feel you want to be associated with your brand. I would say it goes down to the little details — your fonts, colors, image textures. Make sure anything you associate with that visual marketing language is consistent and communicates the correct message based on the image it is you are trying to portray. One example that I often use as kind of an example of ‘what not to do’ is the use of Comic Sans. Comics Sans in the Marketing world is a very loathed font, and that is because it was intended to be used in comic books or for children when they are the audience. So anytime I see Comic Sans used in a B2B or general business application, I just kind of cringe because that’s not the feel or impression that you want your brand to communicate. The other thing that you really need to consider is consistency. So it’s not just having brand language on a single flyer, but having it on every medium your business is in. Business cards, website, social media. Branding has to be consistent so people register and remember that imagery, and by extension your company brand and name.
As far as maintaining and growing a company brand, putting some standards in place for consistency is important. If you have one, work with your IT department to make sure you are communicating that brand image and language across every medium that you have at your disposal, from email signatures to storefront signage.
Do you prefer sugar cookies or chocolate chip?
Morgan: Chocolate chip, but you have to have the glass of milk to dunk them into.
What is your New Year’s resolution?
Morgan: For that answer, to put both personal and professional goals together, I would have to say to have more effective and efficient use of time and better-prioritizing everything that is on my to-do list. So that’s what I’m going to be focusing on for myself in 2019. What about you guys?
This article was published in the January 2019 edition of the HARDI Thermostatus Newsletter.