Marketing your plumbing business doesn’t have to be expensive, and you don’t have to pay out $1,000’s a month for paid advertising. Here are 13 marketing tactics you can use. Each takes only a little time or a few $100. Some work faster than others but will make a difference to your lead flow if you work on them systematically.

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Make Marketing Your Plumbing Business Easier And Stronger - Develop A Strong Brand

This is optional but it really helps sharpen your marketing.

The first thing you have to do is determine what your target market wants from you and what you want to offer them. You are looking to answer the question "Why should I choose your business instead of all the others in the market?".

Craft a message that resonates with your target market and tells them what you can do for them. Basically, you have to tell your prospective customers how your brand will make their lives better.

It’s also essential to know your competition and how they market themselves. By knowing your competition, you can see what they’re doing well and learn from it.

Your marketing positioning is the core message you’re trying to send about your brand. Your value proposition is the unique benefit that you provide to people. Your logo is important because it’s your brand’s identity. The way you position yourself is the way your customers see you.

Before you get started, make sure that all your marketing materials reinforce your brand. They should reinforce your mission statement and your positioning.  Some areas to consider are; your website, blog, social media, e-mail campaigns, business card, packaging, brochures, landing page, and videos. 

A lot of companies say that they have a great brand, but they don’t. Branding is what you do, not what you say. It’s the service you provide, the quality of your product, and the honesty of your marketing. If you can deliver on these things, you can build a brand that people will love.

If people have a great experience with your brand, they’ll tell their friends about you. In fact, according to research by McKinsey, more than 60 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more for a better brand experience.

Start (or Optimise) Your Plumbing Referral Program

I’m assuming that your business does excellent plumbing work and that your customers will be happy with the work that you’ve done.

It’s also true to say that most businesses get their best customers from referrals via other customers. Being referred by personal recommendation means that every contact will likely convert to a customer.

So one of the quickest and easiest ways to get new customers is to build up your referral program. That’s why it’s a critical element of our 5R marketing system.

There are several core targets for referrals;

  • Current customers.
  • Other professional colleagues say, for example, your kitchen installer or play bathroom renovator.
  • Other local businesses you happen to know, for example, the mechanical services your vehicles

I have said in the past that referrals are the consistently most reliable source of good customers. You should set up a referral program and tell the groups above about it to make referrals more consistent.

There are many ways to implement, but I’ve found the best way to give the referrer something to the referee. That way, there’s something in it for both of them. If you just give, for example, cash to the referrer, it can feel to them like they are doing something on the sly.

Just make sure that the rules are clear ahead of time and that they only get paid or bonus if you gain a customer out of it

Here are some examples of plumbing referral programs

Get Your Plumbing Business Involved Locally

I know there are fewer local events around these days due to the pandemic. But one of the upsides of the pandemic is that it’s encouraged people to support local businesses.

Where there are local events, you can gain both awareness and goodwill by supporting the events. This support does not have to be in the way of money if money is tight. You can also help the event by doing pro-bono plumbing, transporting things or, providing labour.

Pimp Up Your Google My Business Listing

If you haven’t done so already, you need to get your Google My Business (GMB) listing sorted out. It’s one of the simplest and easiest things to do and doesn’t cost any money because Google offers it free.

They use it to populate the Google Knowledge Panel on the right of a search result for your brand. It shows important information about your business, like the opening hours, what services you offer, your customer reviews, and your service area.

And example of the elements of a plumbers knowledge panel after a brand search on Google

It’s a foundational online property for all plumbers. Sorting it out prepares you better for the future and presents your brand better when people search for your business online.

Add pictures of recent work and use current jobs to create posts about the job’s and push them onto the Google my business listing and Google bye Google posts.

Example of a Plumbers Google Post showing on in the knowledge panel and what shows when the title is clicked

All of this shows off your expertise and helps potential customers cross the risk barrier to contact you.

Be Present On Other Important Directories For Plumbers

If you haven’t done so already, you should create a listing for your business on some of the other important directories that people might find your business on.

Some of these are;

There are also some other paid listings where you might consider putting your business. Some examples of this are Oneflare, WOMO, hipages and Service Seeking. Of course, there is a direct cost to doing business this way because you may have to pay to get on the listing. There’s also another cost because you will certainly have to compete on price to convert the type of customers who come from this source of business.

Whatever you do, don’t allow Pink Pages to connect their listing to your Google my business listing.

Gather Online Reviews For Your Plumbing Business

Online reviews of the new word of mouth. They are significant in getting new customers because; 

  • Reviews increase your visibility on Google. 
  • Reviews are likely to increase the ranking of your Google My Business listing in the map and local packs. 
  • Reviews on your website and your GMB listing are likely to increase the conversion rates of visitors to customers. They are effective in two stages. First, people see a GMB listing or your website on Google to contact you for getting leads. And second to convert people who contact you to become a plumbing job and a customer.

Example of a plumbing three pack showing GMB results on the Google Search page

Reviews are also an essential element of our Digital Marketing System for plumbers. They are a foundational element because they work so well in every component of marketing. You’re never going to compete well with other plumbers if you don’t have online reviews.

You need to make sure that reviews are also showing on your website. Contact us, and we can help you make that happen.

Take Advantage of Free Social Media Features

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get some results from social media. I think it’s fair to say that the tactics of creating some content and posting it on your social channel so your followers can see it is a bit of a furphy.

For the most part, on a channel like Facebook, if you create a post and you have a few people who have liked your business page, you might get 2 to 20 people to see it. It’s pretty much a waste of time.

Only 10 Likes. An example of the low engagement you get from posts that are not advertised to your FB page audience.

A competition with only 5 likes and 9 comments. It's not the business. Facebook is pay to play to get engagement.

In reality, you need to boost the post in your local area put a bit of money behind it to generate awareness.

The same is true of Instagram. And the need to advertise posts is also relevant if you create a competition like a photo competition. The promotion is not going anywhere unless you boost it.

Track everything carefully with UTM tracking and make sure that the rules are unambiguous, so you don’t have misunderstandings if you’re running a competition. Of course, comply with all legal requirements and Facebook or Instagram marketing policy.

Join Local Facebook or LinkedIn Groups

Most of the suburbs you service will have one or more local Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Contact the admins of those groups and ask them to join the groups.

Example of a local FB Group - this one is Sutherland Shire based

And this one is in Ballina showing that there's goingf to be one near you.

Then participate in the community. Don’t go spamming the hell out of the groups with tone-deaf posts about your business and your offers. That’s a fast way to get kicked out.

Build up local friends so when someone in the group asks, “Does anyone know a good local plumber?” the friend can refer you. Or you can pipe up and ask the person to personal message you.

And here is how online reviews add a benefit. If someone in the group refers you, the person looking for the plumber will search on Facebook or Google for your business. They will see your recommendations on Facebook or reviews on Google.

Local Marketing Near Your Plumbing Jobs

When you’re working on a job in a local neighbourhood, you can take advantage of the situation to promote your business in the houses or apartments that are near are you doing the job.

If your vehicle is adequately branded and graphically signed, that will stand out. Think about putting a brochure or business card holder on the side of a car so people walking past can pick up the brochure or business card.

Business Card holder stuck to the side of the van

Locals can grab a business card as they walk past

If you don’t have your plumbing truck fully branded, you can use an A-frame sign or banner or have a set of signage made up for your trailer and it can do the same job as the vehicle signage.

An attention getting street banner

Or a more exensive solution - trailer signage. Use a tracking phone number to know if it's producing or move it's location

If you have time or some free resources of an apprentice, drop in some letterbox flyers or fridge magnets in the ten houses on either side of the place you were working.

It’s a good idea to have the message showing you have just done a job for someone in the local neighbourhood to differentiate the card from the standard postage letterbox drop.

Suppose you make a Google My Business post out of the job that you just did. In that case, people looking at your GMB listing after seeing the postcard will be able to verify that you were recently in the area.

Engage With Customers

Don’t think of the customer as a "plumbing job". Think of the customer as a customer for life, and a future stream of plumbing jobs will come to you from that customer.

Give them a great onboarding experience with their as they become a new customer; 

  • Make sure the customer knows they know when you’re going to arrive.
  • Arrive on time
  • Do good work.
  • Look for other potential plumbing problems they might have while you’re at their property to be proactive.
  • Don’t overcharge.
  • Clean up well before you leave and take care of their home while you are there
  • Be nice to the people in the house. 

This goes without saying, but it is a common problem for plumbers when looking at all the negative reviews on a site like productreview.com.au.

Bad reviews for some plumbers. It's a good idea to read what really annoys people.

Then when you get back, send them a handwritten thank you card for their business. You can include a coupon for a future discount or a fridge magnet as people use those things.

Put a sticker with your contact details on hot water systems and gas systems, so they are quick to contact you and have the contact details if something goes wrong there.

And then don’t forget about them. Suppose you’re already producing content to publish on Google My Business per another recommendation in this list. In that case, you can use that content in a newsletter to send to customers via email or post each month.

They may not read it, but it will remind them of your brand and your business and at least have your business at the forefront when they have a new plumbing problem that they need to contact someone for.

And when it’s quiet,  you can also rustle up some business via the newsletter by offering unique services like free plumbing checks of the home.

Partner With Other Businesses

It can sometimes feel like every small business is struggling to survive. With this in mind, we all must help each other out as much as possible. One way to do this is by joining forces with a complementary business and creating a mutually beneficial cross-marketing campaign. Cross-marketing helps both companies get the word out and grow in size.

Here's a video with some good examples to get you started.

For example, your plumbing business could do a cross-promotion with a local electrician or pest controller. That’s because your customers are likely also to need their services and their customers are likely to need a plumber they can trust.

A good idea is to find a marketing partner business that appeals to your customers. It’s rare for one customer who buys plumbing services to need limousine service or a new four-wheel drive. So stay focused and choose wisely.

Create Or Curate Useful Content About Plumbing

It’s important to understand that online content marketing doesn’t need to be expensive. The key is focusing on your target audience. You can create blog posts, graphics, and videos without it costing a lot. Keep this in mind when creating your content.

Creating a video that shows customers how to use your service is an excellent way to engage them. You can use the video on your website, your mailing list, and social media. We suggest cross-posting. That way, people who follow you on one channel will see the video on another.

It does not always have to be your original content either - curate others’ content to answer customers’ questions;

  • You can put together a bunch of YouTube videos about a topic
  • You can create a commentary about a particular topic someone else has written about.
  • Or you can review a new product or a product your customers use.

Win Some Awards To Highlight Your Business

You know there are a million people out there looking for the best? So, it only makes sense that a million people are also there looking to see who they can trust (safety and security). 

Awards shown on the priorityplusplumbing.com.au website

A trust badge, certificate, or award is a handy tool for your plumbing businesses to show people that their trust and security are worth it. Maybe you should be asking someone to nominate your business for an award! The benefits of winning an award are that you get to raise your business’ visibility without spending a dime.

Winning an award can be a win-win for you and the organisation presenting the award. The organisation may provide some free promotion or “badges or trophies” to display on your website to show off your accomplishments. You can also use winning an award as an opportunity to boost the visibility of your business.

Conclusion

There are plenty of low-cost ways to generate leads, jobs and customers for your business. Some of these are strategic - like getting your branding right and collecting online reviews. Some are short term tactical like joining local groups, setting up a referral program, doing local promotions near your jobs and promoting with other businesses.

Which approaches have worked for you? And ask any questions in the comments or via our contact form. I’m happy to expand further on any topic.

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Pull All The Marketing Levers With Our 5R Marketing System For Home Services Business Like Yours

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