Association: Changing a Client’s Product into a Topic

We have all played the association game at some point in our lives. How is a dog like a bear? How is a desk not like a table? Finding similarities and differences in various objects is a standard test for children in many schools. However, I have found that being particularly crafty (or experienced) with this skill can be quite useful when it comes to Social Media engineering and basic SEO.

Anyone who’s worked in this field has been through this:  Sometimes a particular client’s business or product line isn’t very internet-friendly. As the joke goes, the internet is full of cats and memes. There aren’t too many sites devoted to HVAC maintenance or water heater parts. Still, that client is paying your bills—not the cats. That’s where association comes in. At first, this is an easy game. You do a little research. Some people (including myself) don’t even know what HVAC is off the top of their heads. A five second trip to the Google machine will tell you that HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Good to know.

Now, we do the simple steps that anyone can do. Who cares about this, and where are they? Well, HVAC professionals are going to care, and they’re on HVAC sites. Or they’re tweeting as @HVACguy. Or they’re on Facebook as JoeHVAC. So, that’s about 17 people you could reach. After you reach them, where do you go? A lot of people I’ve worked with have problems after this step. The key is still association. You simply have to get a bit creative. Keep in mind: Who cares about this, and where are they? 

First of all, the HVAC technician is going to be paying you to create content and find new customers for him. For the most part, he’s wanting you to find people that NEED him—not his peers. So, you need to decide who needs an HVAC guy, and that’s where the creativity comes in. How about slaughterhouses? It’s a strange thing to jump to, but slaughterhouses are definitely going to need serious refrigeration units, and probably HVAC servicing. So you go hunt down some slaughterhouses on Facebook/Twitter/the internet. Perhaps you even find slaughterhouses that are currently looking for such services…all the better! Or maybe you just find some guy in Iowa that dreams of owning his own slaughterhouse one day. Sure, a bit weird, but that’s a great connection to make.

So, how did I jump to slaughterhouses? I didn’t; I started with a list. You take something like HVAC or industrial ice cream machine makers and you begin to associate words with them. Who cares about this? For HVAC, anyone that needs industrial or domestic heating and cooling. So, home owners, industrial parks, slaughterhouses, apartment complexes, schools, etc. You can go on from there. You then focus the lens farther down—home owners might randomly need an HVAC technician, but more likely the greatest need is going to come from do-it-yourselfers and new home owners. Let me tell you—those people are easy to find on the net.

So you’ve found all these people and you’re excited. Now, what do you say to them? Well, the key here is to be relevant, friendly and personable. The last thing anyone on Facebook or a forum wants is some more spam. Only target people with a need. “Man, I really need a need AC unit in my apartment complex. Anyone have any suggestions?” Yes, I do! That’s a great chance for a targeted post. “My AC unit sucks!  I hate this house!” That’s probably not going to bear any fruit. The only thing you could do with that is offer sympathy. Which is fine—if you have the time; we’re doing a job here.

“Who cares about this, and where are they?” Just keep this in your head and your searches should improve.