Would you ever go into a customer’s home and start replacing pipes without a plan of action?
Of course not!
You’d start by speaking to the customer to understand their needs, evaluating the situation, and maybe even checking out the plumbing blueprint so you know exactly how everything fits together.
Well, a plumbing marketing plan is a lot like a blueprint for growing your business. It outlines your goals and describes the steps you need to take in order to achieve them.
And, much like a blueprint, a plumbing marketing plan helps you understand how all the moving parts of your marketing strategy fit together to bring in new customers. This includes everything from your website and paid ads to seasonal promotions and customer referrals.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common challenges in plumbing marketing and how you can overcome them. We’ll also walk you through the 5-step process of creating a marketing plan that will help turn your business goals into real-world results.
What Are the Biggest Challenges of Marketing for Plumbers?
The importance of creating a marketing strategy beyond just the automated functionality in
for your plumbing business cannot be overstated – but that doesn’t make it any easier to get started. There are several common obstacles that could be preventing you from marketing your business in the best way possible. Since knowing what you’re up against is the first step to overcoming it, let’s breakdown the three most common challenges of plumbing marketing.
Challenge #1: Creating a Strong Brand for Your Business
You know better than anyone that plumbing is a competitive field – and it’s one that seems to be attracting new talent all the time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is predicted to grow by 24% from 2014 to 2024.
Furthermore, no single plumbing company owns more than 1% of the total market share in terms of revenue. That’s why successful plumbers aren’t just those who are good at their job – they’re the ones who are also good at promoting themselves and their business.
Developing a recognizable brand allows you to stand out and make a stronger impression on future customers. Everything from your website and social media pages to your business cards and billboards need to reflect your brand clearly and consistently.
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Challenge #2: Using Marketing to Achieve Specific Goals
Maybe you haven’t created a marketing plan yet because it doesn’t seem necessary. You’ve got your hands full of other things, and you seem to have enough customers to keep things up and running for the time being.
The problem is that marketing without a plan in place is kind of like gambling. Sure, you might get lucky and hit the jackpot once in a while, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to do it again. Furthermore, you won’t know why or how you earned that first big payout.
So, even if you have a steady stream of clients right now, you need a marketing plan to ensure those leads never dry up.
Did you know that
of plumbing businesses
have a concrete marketing plan in place? That means more than three-quarters of all plumbers have no clue what their marketing dollars are doing for them.
As for the other 23% who
have a marketing plan? They’ve got a huge advantage when it comes to attracting new customers. Every marketing decision they make is backed by strategy and metrics, so they can take steps towards their specific business goals.
Challenge #3: Deciding How to Use Your Budget Effectively
The key to spending wisely is to measure your
return on investment (ROI)
. Tracking the success of your marketing efforts is the best way to pinpoint what’s working well and where your money is best spent.
For example, if you know how many new customers you earned thanks to a recent Facebook ad, you can decide whether the cost of that campaign was worth the outcome. Alternatively, if the campaign didn’t work for you at all, you can try to find out why and improve upon it for next time.
However, measuring ROI isn’t just a problem for plumbers –
list it as their top marketing challenge. Again, this is where having a defined marketing plan can help you out.
Creating a basic marketing plan requires outlining your goals, what needs to be done to reach them, and how much it will cost to put your plan in action. Once you find a marketing strategy that works particularly well, you can replicate it in the future with an idea of what kind of results you can expect and how to maximize your ROI.
How to Create Your Own Plumbing Marketing Plan in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Research + Reflect
Before you can develop a marketing plan that supports your business goals, you need a realistic understanding of your current customers, market conditions, and business standing.
The good news is that you already know most of the information you need to get started. For example, what’s the competition level like in your service area? Who are your target customers? Is your customer base increasing, decreasing, or consistent?
You should also ask your existing customers how they found out about your business, what inspired them to hire you over the competition, and whether they’d be willing to offer referrals.
Step 2: Make a List of Goals
When defining your goals, try to answer the following:
“In the best-case scenario, what will my marketing plan achieve?”
Just make sure your answers are as practical, quantifiable, and specific as possible.
Of course, your business goals might vary depending on the age of your company and the size of your service area. For example, if you’re an established company with a solid share of the local market, your goals might involve increasing sales to existing customers or building a niche reputation as a specialist in water-saving plumbing solutions
On the other hand, if local competition is heating up and you’re looking to expand your service area, you might choose to focus on marketing and building awareness in new territories.
Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
If your marketing goals represent a destination, then your marketing strategy is step-by-step directions for how you plan to get there.
A modern plumbing marketing plan should involve a combination of digital and offline advertising tactics. For instance, you should still attend trade shows and local events to promote your brand and hand out business cards – but with the knowledge that potential customers will likely go home and look for your business online.
If your website is outdated or hard to use, your marketing plan should include upgrading to a mobile-friendly web design. And if your website isn’t showing up in local search results, you should consider PPC ads to boost traffic and make it easier for people to find you online.
When developing a plan of action, answer the following questions:
What steps must I take to reach my goals?
What specific marketing tactics will I use?
What type of marketing have I used in the past to produce results? How can those tactics be used again and improved upon?
What type of marketing have I tried in the past that failed? What went wrong and how can I avoid similar problems in the future?
Step 4: Define Your Budget (Time + Money)
The key to setting a marketing budget is to be realistic. While some sources recommend between 3-7% of total sales, there are too many factors at play for us to prescribe an ideal number for your marketing budget.
You need to consider how much you can afford to spend on marketing this quarter. More importantly, can your action plan be completed within that budget? If not, you’ll have to make some adjustments to cut back on costs. Whatever amount makes sense for your business, ensure that this portion of your budget is set aside specifically for marketing.
If you’re working with a tight budget, look for ways to maximize results and minimize spend. For instance, rather than investing in something with a high upfront cost (like billboard advertising), you might do better with a PPC campaign or targeted Facebook ads that are low-cost yet effective.
Another aspect of planning your marketing campaign is budgeting your
. Ask yourself:
When does each step need to happen in order to hit my goals?
How long will it take to put my campaign into action?
How long can I afford to run this ad for?
How long will it take to see results from my marketing efforts?
By setting a timeline for your marketing plan, you can ensure the budget isn’t stretched too thin and maintain a realistic understanding of how quickly you should start to see results.
Step 5: Track and Improve Your Results
Now it’s time to put your plan into action! To make sure you know how well your marketing strategies are working, track specific metrics that you’re hoping to improve.
For example, if you’re hosting a giveaway on social media, you would track how the contest impacts engagement (the number of people commenting and liking your posts), the number of followers on your page, and how many people are using your branded hashtag. Furthermore, you’d want to track how many new customers actually convert as a result of the contest and the publicity it generates.
Choose a few key metrics that you want to measure – and then track them meticulously. These metrics tell you whether your marketing efforts are producing results. As you experiment with different marketing tactics and track more metrics in the future, you can tweak and improve your approach to convert even more customers.
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