While helping some friends market their HVAC business, Simon Bernath noticed a gap in the market. People were looking for services, but there weren’t a lot of resources or information available to consumers. He created Furnace Prices as an afterthought, as a way to educate the public.
Today his website is visited by over 1 million people a year, and he earns multiple six figures from it.
Keep reading to find out:
- Why he created his website
- What his area of expertise is
- His unique marketing strategy
- The importance of SEO for Simon
- How he approaches link building
- What he does to grow his email list
- His content creation process
- How he conducts keyword research
- How he achieved current revenue levels
- His favorite resources and tools
- Simon’s biggest challenge
- His main accomplishment
- Simon’s greatest mistake
- His advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Simon Bernath
I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I’m passionate about traveling and have lived in places like Hamilton, Toronto, and Montreal. I studied abroad in Paris, France, and attended the University of Guelph. While at school, I taught myself online marketing on the side.
Why He Created Furnace Prices
My friend and current business partner had started his own HVAC services company. I offered to help them market their business online. And I noticed that there was a high demand for information about heating and air conditioning systems, but not a lot of great sources of accurate and high-quality information.
So I went ahead and created Furnace Prices almost as an afterthought. When I noticed it was gaining traction, I decided to run with it and keep working on adding to the site.
Over time we brought on other HVAC contractors as partner companies across much of Canada. Today we have dozens of partner contractors, and our site is visited by over 1 million people every year. Our visitors seek help and guidance when shopping for heating and air conditioning systems and services.
To be clear, my experience is primarily with digital marketing, and I don’t have any formal training in HVAC. I have been involved in the HVAC industry for a decade, so I have some background there, but digital marketing, SEO, and content marketing are my specialties.
How Much Money Furnace Prices is Making
Our revenue is derived from the membership fees we charge our local HVAC contractor partners to feature them and refer leads to them. I’d rather not delve into specific revenue figures publicly, but it’s in the multiple six figures annually.
Simon Bernath’s Top Marketing Strategy
The main strategies we use to grow our business are content marketing, SEO, and providing high-quality content, information, guides, and tools to our target market: Canadian homeowners.
As for unique strategies, we love creating tools like calculators and quizzes, which are useful to our potential customers. It’s an interactive way to help them get price estimates, approximate savings, and other recommendations, and they’re great lead generation tools.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is a core component of how we built our business, as we don’t rely on paid advertising. Instead, we aim to provide our target audience with the most accurate and comprehensive guide.
Link building always plays a role in SEO to a certain extent. One strategy that we’ve been using lately is undertaking various local community initiatives in the areas we service…
For instance, we’re currently sponsoring a local artist’s mural. This type of creative angle helps generate a lot of positive local attention and links from major publications and organizations in the region.
Often the starting point comes from knowing our industry, speaking with our partner contractors, and getting feedback from homeowners. So, looking at what brands are popular, what questions often come up, and what types of information people are looking for, for example, prices, warranty info, discounts, etc.
Obviously, the usual keyword research tools always play a part, but having a good understanding of your particular market and hearing from real people in that industry (both suppliers and customers) is also valuable.
Growing His Email List
We grow our email list primarily by offering free guides as a lead magnet, as well as the aforementioned tools and calculators, or when anyone requests a quote through our website.
Simon Bernath’s Content Creation Process
Our strategy revolves around providing in-depth buyer guides and reviews of various HVAC systems and brands. This usually includes keyword research, looking at demand and search volume, competitor analysis, and general market research.
That being said, we’ve been operating the site for almost a decade now, so we’ve built on it over time, and now we do as much content updating (keeping things current) as adding new content.
Achieving Current Revenue Levels
We’ve been at it for almost a decade, and it’s grown over time. We’ve had some steady growth and also occasional spurts. Staying focused and dedicated pays off.
Simon Bernath’s Favorite Resources
Regarding the resources I use, The Best SEO Podcast is pretty good. I find Neil Patel puts out a lot of good information for aspiring digital marketers.
His Top 3 Tools
My top tools are:
- G Suite for collaboration
- Project management software (we use Monday.com, but there are other good ones)
- Loom for recording short instructional videos or feedback for your team, freelancers, etc.
Simon Bernath’s Biggest Challenge
Scaling things efficiently is a constant process while ensuring quality remains high. Anybody can hire freelance writers to churn out content, but we want our content to remain high quality, accurate, and trustworthy.
His Greatest Accomplishment
Getting feedback from homeowners who have found our website helpful has always been rewarding. I’m happy knowing that we’ve helped, either directly or indirectly, tens of thousands of Canadians make an informed purchase, save money, or otherwise find what they need when it comes to something essential like home heating.
What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
I wish I had known about the importance of video in online marketing. It’s a powerful medium, and we’re playing catch-up in that area, so I wish we had started building a video presence sooner!
His Main Mistake
My biggest mistake is not being proactive in outreach, partnerships, and generating offline promotions.
Simon Bernath’s Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
You have to balance trying new things and to look for opportunities with being patient and seeing things through. When marketers or digital entrepreneurs are starting out, there’s a desire to follow the hot new trends, niches, or strategies and jump around from one thing to the next.
It’s certainly a good idea to learn and try new things and look for opportunities. Still, with our patience and diligence, it can be hard to gain real traction, and then you may eventually get discouraged.
And don’t be afraid to look at less conventional niches or industries. People often gravitate towards the common popular topics, but there is a ton of opportunity and people in need of help in many areas.