As with most organizations reaching out for consultation, there were problems that the client already identified, which were for the most part dropped into TKG’s collective lap to solve. One major issue was that NEMI’s sponsor organizations, SMWIA and SMACNA, were skeptical about whether sponsoring NEMI was a useful allocation of funds and member dues. Another problem was how to target mainstream audiences with high-tech, industry-specific messages. Finally, NEMI had to create a new image for itself while not destroying positive perceptions already established.
Before planning strategies with NEMI, developing a familiarity with the industry was a must. TKG professionals, working with the client, underwent a “total immersion” process so they all were familiar with HVAC – and more specifically indoor air quality. The client provided books, guides, and one-on -one tutorial to assist in the learning process. In addition, we conducted mass media searches and interviewed industry experts.
TKG also had to learn what programs NEMI already had in place. For instance, the organization had been certifying union members to be experts in HVAC system installation and maintenance through its “Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing Bureau (TABB)”. For reasons that at the time were unknown, there had not been much interest. NEMI also had been writing a column in the SMWIA magazine and had a website, but neither had been assessed as to their effectiveness. TKG launched an informal communications audit to complete this analysis.
Armed with a solid understanding of industry issues, account representatives then focused on the strategic approach. NEMI’s audience was broken down into subgroups and specific goals were established. These include the following in order of importance:
- Communicate NEMI’s importance to SMWIA and SMACNA.
- Generate public awareness of ventilation issues (i.e. indoor air quality, sick building syndrome).
- Certify more union members through NEMI’s TABB Program.
- Persuade contractors to use union technicians.
- Reach out to engineers to inform them about the importance of specifying the use of TABB technicians in ventilation system development plans
Achieving all of these goals continues to require extensive effort; goals four and five will be addressed in 2001. As an integral part of achieving these objectives, TKG needed to create collateral materials and induct media outreach, as positive and public exposure would enhance NEMI’s credibility.
TKG wrote and designed a specific three-panel brochure for union member and contractor audiences. The union member’s brochure outlined the advantages of NEMI and its TABB program (see B-1). TKG also adapted a previous brochure and redesigned it to target contractors by providing “10 HVAC Design Consideration” for use on HVAC field projects (see B-2). These brochures have been, and will continue to be, distributed through local chapters and at national conferences. A similar design concept was applied in TKG’s creation of two new displays for NEMI to set up at trade conferences. Finally, the design was applied to NEMI’s website at www.nemionline.com. Previous to TKG’s involvement, NEMI’s information existed only on a page on the SMWIA’s site.
The website now serves several purposes. Its readability and attractive design not only allows industry professionals to easily access and learn about recent developments, but also allows laypersons to learn about proper ventilation and the dangers of poor indoor air quality. With a planned April 2001 launch, a second very technologically specific website is being developed. It will allow union members and contractors to apply for certification online and will allow engineers to download actual system specifications and charts.
TKG created other materials including business card CD-ROMS for NEMI board members, a “gift” business card CD-ROM for the President of SMWIA, one page advertisements, training module designs and a variety of other very specific materials.
Press outreach has been ongoing. TKG and NEMI have secured 8 – 10 trade publication articles (see attached) and have booked NEMI representatives (primarily the executive director) on many radio and television news and public affairs programs. In conjunction with the second annual “New York State Indoor Air Quality Day” in November, we placed stories in several media outlets including, “Engineering News-Record”, local radio programs and through Reuters Radio News Syndicate. More recently, we have provided additional exposure for the executive director through interviews with California media about the current energy crisis.
Finally NEMI asked TKG to help target specific audiences, one in which was school systems. Many schools throughout the country have poor ventilation and are in desperate need of a building retrofit. Again we created an innovative brochure (see B – 3) and have recently begun contacting Parent, Teacher, and Student Associations (PTSA) and disseminating this school brochure, in an attempt to schedule NEMI presentations at PTSA meetings (see school marketing program).
Another segmented marketing strategy includes joining and co-chairing a coalition called the “Hospitality Coalition for Indoor Air Quality” in an attempt to secure SMWIA and SMACNA’s involvement in ventilation projects within the nation’s hospitality venues (restaurants, casinos, etc.). Partners include other unions, Philip Morris USA, the National Restaurant Association and other prominent groups.
Thus far the client is pleased with our accomplishments in generating media interest and in branding NEMI as a force in the industry. The ultimate mark of success however will be an increase in SMWIA’s and SMACNA’s market share, which is a slow and gradual process. We have seen gradual increase in TABB technician certifications and public awareness of indoor air quality is at an all-time high.
The fact that NEMI has become an outspoken player in both its sponsor organizations is a major success. Though clearly there is much more to be done and TKG will continue its consultation, NEMI has emerged as a cutting-edge marketing tool for its sponsors, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association.