Although every new plumber dreams of accruing enough steady work to support their livelihood, experienced business owners know that current clients can only sustain a company for so long. In order for a plumbing business to achieve lasting success, it’s imperative to make a habit of constantly attracting new customers. But, in the modern marketplace, what’s the best way for plumbing professionals to go about earning new business?
Plumbing companies can engage in an assortment of activities in their efforts to entice new customers, however, not all approaches are likely to have the same results for every plumber who attempts them. Rather, individual entrepreneurs must take it upon themselves to discover which marketing efforts will result in the biggest difference in their business’s bottom line. But, if this is your first time running a business, you might not know where to begin.
If you’re new to the world of small business marketing, here’s an overview of what you’ll learn in this crash course for plumbing professionals.
How Can Marketing Help a Plumbing Business?
For many small business owners, the word “marketing” has an ambiguous meaning — and with good reason. Small business marketing can encompass many facets of your operations, even if you’re not aware of it. And although some plumbers might conflate the terms “marketing” and “advertising,” in truth, marketing encompasses much more.
In textbook terms, marketing refers to the promotion and sales of a business’s products and services. Say you purchase advertising space on a billboard or bus stop bench; those placements would certainly be considered components of your marketing efforts. However, in the modern world, marketing extends far beyond display ads. Your business card, for instance, should be considered an aspect of your marketing, as should email signature, your office’s signage, and even your outgoing voicemail message. In essence, every touchpoint between your business and the public can be considered a marketing opportunity.
Successful marketing can play a pivotal role in the growth of a business. But, on the other hand, if a company blows its budget on the wrong efforts — that could spell disaster for the entire operation. That’s why, before a small business spends any money on expanding its clientele, it’s critical to put a marketing plan in place.
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The Importance of a Marketing Plan for Your Plumbing Business
If your business has an unlimited budget, investing in every marketing opportunity that comes your way will undoubtedly work in your favor. In reality, however, your company likely has a limited amount of money to spend on marketing, leaving you with a modest sum of funds with which to capture the public’s attention. In these situations, the best way to make sure you disburse your funds wisely is by first developing a marketing plan to guide your decision making.
Marketing plans can follow a variety of different formats, and one plumbing company’s approach might look radically different than a competitor’s. And while there’s no widely agreed-upon method for developing a marketing plan, the most successful business owners generally follow these five steps.
Assess Your Current Situation — List your current marketing efforts, if any, and their measurable impact upon your business.
Define Your Ideal Customer — Make a list of characteristics that are common among your most lucrative customers.
Establish Your Marketing Goals — Spell out exactly what you hope your marketing efforts will help you achieve.
Identify Your Optimal Channels — Research which marketing channels are most likely to link your brand with your ideal customers.
Set Your Monthly Spend — Based on your current and forecasted financials, determine an ongoing budget you can commit toward marketing.
How to Develop a Marketing Schedule
Once you’ve arrived at a realistic marketing plan, it’s time to get specific with your planning. The best place to begin is by charting all of your marketing efforts on a dedicated calendar. By using a calendar to track your company’s marketing, you’ll be able to get a bird’s-eye view of your activities with a quick glance. This visibility can make it easy to spot times when you may doing too little to attract new customers — as well as times when you might be overspending.
Whether you decide to map out your marketing plans on a digital or physical calendar, it should be easy to access anytime and from anywhere. To help ensure you don’t forget to list any of your activities, here’s a look at several marketing efforts a plumbing business might include on its marketing calendar.
Dates a print advertisement runs in a local newspaper
When your next email newsletter will be deployed
Social media posts on various platforms
Publishing new articles on your plumbing blog
Local events where your business has a presence
No matter if your marketing calendar includes any or all of the above items, all that matters is that you create a calendar in the first place and commit to updating it as often as your marketing efforts evolve.
Establishing a Marketing Budget
For plumbing professionals, especially those just starting out in the industry, finding money to spend on marketing can be a struggle. From tools and trucks to office space and insurance, you’re likely already up to your eyeballs in expenses. And — unless you have money set aside — your business’s marketing spend is likely to come straight out of your take-home pay.
So what’s the right amount of money for your plumbing business to spend on marketing each month? While the answer depends on your specific situation, consistency is key. Marketing is an ongoing process, and it can take time to pay off. So however much you ultimately decide to spend on marketing, make sure you sustain that level of commitment on an ongoing basis.
To help you arrive at the appropriate amount to spend on marketing each month, here are some key considerations to keep in mind.
Every plumber would love for their business to have as many jobs as it can handle, but by setting specific goals, your company is far more likely to succeed in the long run. Define exactly how much money you want to earn, identify your plumbing services that deliver the highest margins, and research which marketing channels are likely to help you reach the greatest number of consumers in need of that service.
Most people living in the developed world rely on indoor plumbing from the time they wake until they go to sleep at night. This fact tempts many journeyman plumbers to cast as wide a net as possible in terms of their marketing efforts. But, oftentimes, targeting a niche market can provide a shortcut to profits and prosperity. Identify the common characteristics among your ideal customers and do your due diligence to determine the best routes to reach these individuals, based on their location, age, income, or other demographic dimensions.
The specific aspects of your local market should play a significant role when deciding how much money you’ll spend on marketing your plumbing business each month. It’s always a good tactic to invest in areas where your message is likely to make the biggest impact. Determining this, however, depends on several factors such as how many other plumbers operate in the same service area, and how are they marketing themselves? Look for affordable marketing channels your competition is ignoring.
Plumbing Advertising and Promotion
Perhaps the most effective forms of marketing — if not the most popular — advertising and promotion are two practices that have been around as long as commerce itself. Thanks to modern technology, though, there are now far more marketing channels small business owners can use to reach potential consumers. Generally, however, all marketing efforts can be broadly categorized as either online or offline. Here’s a look at those two categories and their common types of campaigns.
Anywhere your business’s branding appears — aside from the internet — qualifies as offline advertising. Here are several forms it typically takes.
Word of Mouth ― This includes conversations among your customers, influences, and anyone who’s interested in utilizing your services.
Display Advertising — Billboards, postcards, bus stop signage, and any other physical locations you pay to have your logo appear all fall under this category.
Radio & Television — Although these forms of media no longer carry the influence they once did, they remain effective ways to reach the masses.
Thanks to smartphones and the entire app ecosystem, the world of online advertising is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate. Here are several digital marketing channels your business be leveraging.
Company Website — Though it’s true your social media pages will likely attract more traffic, a dedicated website is still considered mandatory for all small businesses.
Social Media — Despite Facebook’s dwindling usage, all home-service businesses should have a presence on the platform, as well as on Instagram, Twitter, and niche networks commonly used by your target demographic.
Video — How-to videos posted on YouTube can go a long way toward positioning you as an expert in your field, increasing your authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of your customers.
Review Sites — Publicly responding to negative feedback on sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google Maps offers businesses a way to protect their brands — but only if negative comments are addressed with diplomacy.
Email Marketing — Not everyone uses Facebook or Twitter, but odds are good that every one of your current and future customers has an email address, which is why this market channel remains one of the most effective.
Narrowing down which marketing channels are right for your company can be tricky, and marketing tactics that work well for one business might backfire on another company in the same situation. Choose your channels wisely, and never put all of your eggs in one basket.
Your marketing goals are likely to be a moving target, which means your company’s strategy should always be shifting as well. For fledgling business owners, though, simply finding the time to craft a successful strategy can pose a challenge. Fortunately, Housecall Pro makes it easier than ever for plumbing professionals to marketing their businesses anytime and from anywhere.
Housecall Pro’s robust online platform offers an all-in-one plumbing software solution for businesses of any size. Our marketing tools help you keep in contact with customers after the job is complete by sending automated emails and postcards. Plus, our review generator can help strengthen your reputation online, while our comprehensive SEO audit shows you how to boost your visibility in search engines.
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