February 9, 2021
Can you remember a time when seeing a commercial for an HVAC or plumbing company on TV was unheard of? No, it wasn’t the 70’s, or even the 80’s. Nancy O’Hare-Zika, owner and founder of Yellow Dog Creative, remembers less than 30 years ago when a plumbing company running an ad on television was a groundbreaking idea. In fact, it started her journey towards running the top video marketing company for the trades!
Out of Marquette, Michigan, Nancy didn’t get her start making videos. She was GM and Marketing Manager for a heating, cooling, and plumbing company in the upper peninsula of Michigan, Swick Home Services. The owner of the company wanted to do things differently, and had the vision to create an awesome commercial. Back then, contractors didn’t throw around the word “branding”. Most companies in the trades just had a name and a logo—no story, no van wraps, and definitely no TV advertisements.
Nancy and the team set forth choreographing the video, contracting out parts of it and handling others. It was relatively simple, and showcased the process of waking up and everything goes into getting the business ready before opening the doors for the day. The video was a huge boom to the business, and even won an award at a Nexstar event, shining a bright spotlight on Nancy and Swick Home Services.
Other companies started calling Nancy to find out the name of the production company that made the spot. After about 3 years of constantly telling people it was made in house, a man from the east coast called her with the same question and offered to hire Nancy to come out and shoot a video for his business. She agreed, and began the process of really learning the ropes. After a few years, she was running video marketing campaigns for about 7 companies, still under the Swick Home Services name. When the owner decided to sell the company, Nancy knew that the new owner wasn’t going to want her as both the GM and running this marketing side business, so she had to decide between stepping down and pursuing video production full-time. She chose the latter, and started Yellow Dog Creative out of her kitchen with just one employee. Now, Yellow Dog Creative has worked with hundreds of companies in the trades across the country, has 15 employees, and is one of the most sought-after video branding and marketing companies in the home services industry.
Yellow Dog has over 200 recruiting videos in their showcase, everything from 5-second digital spots to 60-70 second videos for websites and commercials. They offer both on-site video production and remote production in their own studio for smaller budgets. Yellow Dog Creative loves to help companies tell their story, and are honored to showcase the badass people in our industry.
A lot of people think you need a big production and spend tens of thousands of dollars for video production, but that’s simply not true. There are a huge range of different companies in this industry, and Yellow Dog works both with the single-truck contractors and companies with over 250 technicians. Compared to 10 years ago, the same level of production will get you so much more value and way more places to share it. If you do it properly, a creative piece can be usable for the next 10+ years, and really has no shelf life unless you rebrand. If you’re willing to spend a bit of your advertising budget on a high-quality video, it’s a great investment you’ll be able to use over and over across a wide range of social media and advertising platforms.
Even if you aren’t ready to make the plunge into contracting a professional video production company like Yellow Dog Creative, there are still a ton of things you can do. You have a phone with a camera, and social media is free! Don’t be afraid to pick up your iPhone and talk to your customers. If you’re honest, well-intentioned, and provide some value in your videos, you can start telling your story and connecting with your audience just by setting aside some time.
You might think you have the greatest company in the world, but no one knows that! It’s your job as the owner to tell your story, and that’s the foundation that Yellow Dog Creative was founded on. A lot of companies don’t really know their story or have a solid brand identity, and that’s exactly what Yellow Dog Creative helps you do.
Getting ideas for telling your story can be as easy as riding along with your techs and asking them what their favorite part of working for the company is. People in your community are going to form an opinion about your company whether you’re involved in that process or not. You may as well infuse the community with what you believe is true about your company! No one knows your business like you, and no one loves it like you. Putting stuff out there in the form of video is the best way to do that.
It’s not just about telling your story to potential customers, either. Recruitment efforts can be refocused and invigorated by targeting potential talent through video production. In our industry, everyone out there offers fully stocked vans, everyone offers competitive pay; someone’s gotta have more incentive in order to jump from A to B. That’s where showcasing your culture is essential. You have to educate people that you’re the company of choice in the area, and explain what makes your company unique and a great place to work for.
We aren’t really in a call-to-action industry; it’s reactionary. People don’t wake up and decide today’s a great day to replace their water heater! You have to be running a consistent brand campaign so that when they need service, you’re the name they think to call first. Nancy recommends running a consistent 3-tiered campaign, with branding, CTAs, and recruiting.
If you’re a newer business and know you have to get your name out there but you don’t have the budget for a big production, there are still plenty of things you can do. It’s really easy to edit a video on your cell phone. People don’t expect full-on production on social media, so if you’re genuine and care about the service you’re offering, go for it! You can even grab a GoPro and set it up on a tripod to create a timelapse of an install or another service. People love seeing the work that goes into your craft, and a good before and after is always great to showcase.
Whether or not you’re currently using it to your advantage, video isn’t going away. The majority of your competitors aren’t using it, so why not beat them to the punch? You can use it for your SEO, email marketing, social media campaigns, and really anywhere you want to be seen and be the company of choice for both customers and talent alike. If you’d like to learn more about Yellow Dog Creative or get in touch with Nancy, you can find plenty of contact information and details on their website.