As of October 17, 2017, the number of plumbing contractors in the United States has reached more than 117,000 and they have enjoyed an annual revenue growth of 2.6 percent during the last five years. This trend is expected to continue, which means plumbers need to improve their marketing strategies constantly and win more clients. We’ve asked experts for their best marketing tips for promoting plumbing businesses to help them stand out from the crowd.
Here are the top 25 plumber marketing ideas from the pros.
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, Fit Small Business
If you rely on local business, you want to make sure your plumbing business is listed in as many online directories as possible so more customers can find you. Yext is a free tool that lets you scan local listings across multiple sites so you can see where you show up and make sure all of your information is up to date. Click here to scan your listings for free.
2. Develop a DIY Guide
Zack West, Director of Digital Marketing, Novomotus, Inc.
Develop a do-it-yourself guide series for common household problems that you feel confident the majority of homeowners could address themselves. These resources might be a series of articles, Infographics, or perhaps just a YouTube video of you on the job. The commitment and quality required would be dependent on your competitors. It’s always best practice to create the highest possible quality content, but the practical reality is that you can skimp a little when there is less competition. One example that jumps to mind would be a tutorial on how to change the flapper valve on a residential toilet.
People who find these types of resources valuable will become aware of your business and much more likely to contact you for larger, non-DIY projects. You run the risk of losing out on some smaller jobs by showing people how to do things themselves but, typically, I find the increase of perceived authority and brand trust leads to better quality service opportunities that far outweigh that sacrifice.
3. Claim Your Google My Listing Profile
Kevin Namaky, Founder, Gurulocity
Most people looking for a plumber will go straight to either Google Maps or Google Search. For plumbers (and similar local businesses), Google has essentially killed the old search results listing by emphasizing Google My Business listings, to which Google Maps is intimately linked.
The number one thing local businesses need to do to improve their presence on Maps is to actually claim their Google My Business listing at business.google.com (if they haven’t already done so). Then, you need to complete and optimize all of the information in your Google My Business profile. Google uses the information you compile in the profile to determine when to show your listing (including Maps) to people searching locally.
4. Talk With Your Clients, Not to Them
David Didier, Owner and Lead Consultant, Beyond Local
The biggest change that plumbing professionals need to make is shifting from “talking to” their marketing to “talking with” them. With our client, Garden City Plumbing & Heating, we shifted their digital and social platforms to be a place of educating and entertaining. We identified the issues and questions our market had, then we provided valuable and honest answers. By shifting to a community and conversation approach, we took their monthly website visitors from below 200 a month to more than 6,000 a month, and we were able to keep their schedule booked two to five weeks out all year in 2017. In addition, we were able to cut their radio and marketing ad spend by 85 percent.
You might not think your website is important, but your website says more about you than you think. First off, an outdated website suggests that you are an outdated company. If you want to be perceived as cutting edge and state of the art, your digital assets need to be congruent with that message.
5. ‘Work of Mouth’ is Just as Important as ‘Word of Mouth’
Mazdak Mohammadi, Owner, blueberrycloud
Most plumbers I have worked with place all of their eggs in the “word of mouth” basket, which literally requires zero work. Plumbers who supplement their “work of mouth” marketing channel with targeted and strategic networking will win the race. The first step is to find contacts that have a higher probability of being your customer than the average person. For example, make time to go to any and all builder, developer and contracting conventions in your target geographical area. Go there, meet people, make friends and tell people what you’re all about. Take their business cards, log their contact details in an Excel spreadsheet and schedule time to meet and connect with them again in the future. Invite them to lunch and keep it super casual.
Be disciplined about your networking and follow up to gain an advantage over your competition through better brand awareness. By doing this, the next time there is a fallout between a plumber and his contractor, the contractor will have you on his or her mind to call next. The same goes for the average person remembering you over the competition for everyday run-of-the-mill maintenance jobs.
Attending networking functions for the first time can be intimidating. Learn the basics of business networking in this FitSmallBusiness article to boost your confidence and acquire more leads.
6. Collaborate With Your Local Home Improvement Contractor
Bradley Shaw, President, SEO Expert Brad
This tactic is what I call a win-win program. Contact your local home improvement, ideally the one you frequent as a customer. Ask the manager if you can give a quick presentation to the staff of the plumbing department. Make the presentation informative and educational, even bring a dozen or two dozen donuts. Establish your professionalism and trust with them so if a customer asks for a referral, they are ready to provide your name. Make sure your presentation offers value and consider topics, such as the latest plumbing trends or common mistakes you see DIY homeowners make. Once again, hang out business referral cards.
7. Give Away Community Coupons
Andy Curry, Marketing Expert Consultant, AndyCurry.com
Businesses in a community can form a committee of say, eight to 10 businesses. Each committee member then creates its own coupon to where all coupons fit on a single page. Then, get thousands of copies printed and split evenly among the businesses. Each business then hands out the page of coupons to customers as they come and go to a business. Alternatively, they can put the coupon pages in their monthly billings to customers. This way, each business gets to take advantage of their fellow business’s customer traffic. The printed copies will be far cheaper than traditional advertising and, since they’re coupons, it’s quite easy to test different offers and track them for ROI.
8. Put Up Yard Signs and Cloverleafing
Al Levi, Author, The 7-Power Contractor
People like to hire plumbing companies that are already serving their immediate neighborhood. Yard signs are a way to get your name out in front of the neighbors of the customer you’re working for. When you use yard signs, set a goal for how many signs you want to get out there each month and engage your whole team in making it happen. “Cloverleafing” is leaving doorknob hangers at the nearby homes of the customer you have just provided service to. This should be done year-round but at the very least during your slow season. The best way to get this done is to have an apprentice or the technician hit the four to six neighbors on either side that are not already your customers.
9. Create Service Pages Optimized for Plumbing Services Offered
Jim Milan, SEO Consultant, JimMilan.com
Long-tail keywords with research intent are ideal for optimizing your website’s blog pages. Long-tail keywords are keywords longer than three words that are highly targeted and specific. They also tend to be less competitive and easier to rank than head terms. Optimizing blog pages for long-tail keywords that have research intent behind them, rather than purchase intent, is an excellent way to attract visitors who may be in the brand awareness stage, further up the purchase funnel. For example, a plumbing company could create a blog page on a highly specific keyword phrase like “how to clear a clogged bathtub drain” and then end the post with a call-to-action like “Need help with clog removal? Contact us today!”
10. Share Videos of Your Work in Progress
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO & Digital Marketing Expert, DontPayFull
Plumbers are always needed at any premises where people dwell, so expect that there are a number of plumbers present in a certain locality. However, as a good plumber, how can you establish yourself as the best service provider among other rivals? One way plumbers can provide good business against very small investments is to use their mobile phone to shoot good quality videos showing how they are executing live plumbing works and post them to their Facebook business profile. There are many tutorials that can show you how to shoot professional quality videos with mobile phones that will save the cost of hiring video professionals.
These live videos will make your target customers depend on you for sound DIY advice and help you to spread your expertise to a larger audience successfully. By the time your potential customers require professional plumbing service, you will likely be their first choice as your videos help you stay on top of their minds.
11. Target Your Marketing to Property Managers
Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager, Maple Holistics
If you’re looking for an uptick in business, look no further than apartment complexes and property managers. Plumbing has a sort of catch-22 quality to it in that it shouldn’t rely on repeat business because repeat business is the opposite result than what the customer is looking for. Therefore, it’s more profitable to have big clients than it is to have many small clients.
12. Advertise Where It’s Least Expected
Robert Stephens, Marketing Director, MVPee.com
We print custom printed urinal screens and fully 50 percent of our customers are plumbers. Our screens make a great advertisement because people do not expect ads in the urinal, so they really stand out to a captive audience for 15 to 30 seconds. We help with timely topics and have stock art geared to plumbers, including a public service announcement telling customers not to drink and drive. There is so much advertising out there and this really cuts through the clutter while humor cuts through all demographics. Anything you can do to endear yourself to current or future customers is a plus.
13. Post Your Content on Facebook Groups
Kyle Willis, Chief Strategist, No to the Quo
Service and trade businesses can massively grow their business through the Facebook groups, specifically local, community groups. These community groups always have people looking for referrals for service and trade companies like plumbers, electricians, and contractors. The best way to become the “go to” referral in these groups is to begin posting content that helps people with basic plumbing needs: how to unclog a toilet, what not to flush down a drain, what to do when your septic tank has issues, and so on. While a plumber may not think they have the time or desire to be on Facebook writing these posts, they can hire a content marketer to be the face of the company on Facebook.
To take it a step further, have the content marketer turn those “how to” Facebook posts into blog articles for your website. Content marketing is the key Google wants to see in helping you improve your position on search engines and get more traffic to your site. Think of the five to 10 most common questions you get asked when you’re on the phone with a customer. Write 400 to 600 words on that topic. Now, you have five to 10 ideas for your blog.
14. Run a Campaign to Honor Veterans
Josh Weiss, President, 10 to 1 Public Relations
We run this campaign every year to draw attention to the men and women who serve or have served in the military. Each year, Forrest Anderson Plumbing and AC sets up a contest to give a deserving veteran a free air conditioning unit with installation. This is especially important in Arizona, where summer heat can be deadly. We let the community nominate deserving veterans through the company’s Facebook page and picked a winner from an internal panel. We sent out press releases, promoted it on social media and created video for broadcast use upon installation.
This campaign gets media coverage during the nomination process as well as during the installation process for the happy winner, which we could later use for promotion on social media.
Planning to send out a press release but don’t know where to start? This FitSmallBusiness article shares with you 40 examples of successful press releases fit for any occasion.
15. Run Your Paid Search Ads Only When You’re Available to Take Phone Calls
Kim Kohatsu, Founder, Charles Ave Marketing
Most customers will research a plumber online but will then want to call and speak to someone. If you are running paid search ads, make sure you run them only when someone is available to answer the phone. Track incoming calls using software, such as CallRail, so that you can see how many phone leads your campaign is driving. Most call tracking software also enables you to record calls, which you can use to monitor the customer experience and train employees. The initial phone call is a crucial point to turn leads into sales, so give it the importance it deserves.
16. Create Location Pages on Your Website for Smaller Service Areas
Mike Terry, Lead SEO Specialist, NAV43
If the plumber’s main city is somewhere like Mesa, Arizona, they may be willing to service the nearby areas like Apache Junction, Gilbert, and Gold Canyon. Even within Mesa, there are also several neighborhood and community names that users might search for plumbers in. These smaller population areas typically have less SEO competition and, even though the plumber is located elsewhere, they can still service those areas easily and ranking organically on Google will drive some nice leads for surrounding areas.
17. Use Different Marketing Strategies for Past Customers and New Businesses
Bob Herman, Co-Founder and President, IT Tropolis
Plumbers should market with different strategies to different audiences. For past customers, we recommend a campaign of direct mail with follow-up email and social ads. Studies show that a combination of both offline and online digital marketing produces the highest ROI. For new business, we recommend PPC and search ads. When people need plumbing services, they often search online so getting in front of the prospect at the moment of search is imperative. In this case, well-designed landing pages that result in a high conversion rate ensures campaign success. Finally, tracking and reporting on what’s working and what’s not helps improve ROI iteratively.
18. Use ClickFunnels as Your Marketing Tool
Dave Woodward, Chief Revenue and Business Development Officer, ClickFunnels
ClickFunnels is a great marketing tool for a variety of entrepreneurs, including plumbers. ClickFunnels allows you to create a website easily and, more importantly, a sales funnel. Sales funnels are what you use to walk a potential customer through signing up for your plumbing services after landing on your website or online ad. ClickFunnels allows you to send the customer a coupon or encourage that customer to make an appointment and gives you their contact information, along with so much more. The best part of ClickFunnels is that it’s intuitive to use, and they even have free online training classes for those plumbers interested in learning more about marketing.
19. Get Listed on Other Search Platforms
Kate Walker, Owner, Get Better Traffic
Ensure that your business and website are listed with all of the secondary search engines and that the information is uniform across all platforms. This means ensuring that Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Citysearch, Hotfrog and others all have your information. Making sure your listings all reflect the same address and phone number is important as well. Google and other search engines rely on these “secondary” search engines for indicators that a business is legitimate and established. Having listings that disagree on basic contact information makes a company look like it isn’t as established as it should be or as reliable. This can result in Google considering it a less reliable answer to search queries.
20. Partner With a Local Independent Hardware Store
Bruce A. Hurwitz, Ph.D., Executive Recruiter and Career Counselor, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd.
In order to attract new clients, the independent plumber needs to partner with relevant local businesses, first and foremost, independent neighborhood hardware stores. They will be interested in partnering because it is a way to compete against Home Depot and Lowe’s. The plumbers should offer courses on how to make simple, emphasis on simple, repairs. Serve refreshments and people will come. Both the store and the plumber will, hopefully, get new business.
21. Participate in Trade Shows or Home Shows
Ellen Cagnassola, Marketing Manager, Pipe Works Services
Trade shows are a good place to engage with potential customers and get a real pulse on their concerns while educating them. We provide a service called permanent-lining for sewer repair, which is dig-free. That means you don’t have to ruin your landscaping like the traditional method. The machine we exhibit at shows draws a crowd and you then realize that education is a big part of the marketing process. Trade shows or home shows give you an in-person opportunity to educate and explain your services. Customer service is really important and when you explain your process in a manner that is “white glove,” people are intrigued.
Also if you do a live demo, the noise can draw a crowd. Everyone wants an audience which can create a Q&A session on the spot.
Participating in trade shows is a sure way to get your business more exposure but knowing how to create great display is key. This FitSmall Business article gives you inspiring trade show display ideas to make your booth stand out and attract more leads.
Marketing, in general, has three components, and it’s important that these are at the core of your plumbing marketing strategy. However, it’s easy to lose focus on the fundamentals with so many tactics and formats readily available online. This runs the risk of your strategy being limited and eventually ineffective in the long run. Know more about how to apply fundamentals of marketing to develop your plumbing marketing plan by reading this article.
Service-oriented businesses will do everything to ensure that their project is of high quality, but once in a while, there will be unsatisfied clients that will require attention in order to keep their business. For plumbers, a positive review or testimonial is an important marketing strategy so complaints need to be taken seriously. If handled properly, these complaints can become a good opportunity to improve a firm’s brand. Consider these tips in developing a service recovery process to help in resolving issues of unsatisfied clients.
Essentially, business cards are already referral forms but adding a personal touch to your business cards can increase its marketing potential easily. Include a referral program for your customers who would pass on your business card to their friends and families. By encouraging your clients to share your card, your business is promoted by word of mouth.
For service-oriented businesses like plumbing contractors, it’s not unusual to receive price complaints from your clients. While it may seem concerning at first glance, this is actually your client’s way of giving you a second chance to give them the client satisfaction they look for, just enough for them to leave a great review once the contract with them is completed. You can offer your clients a discount for their next service, an extension of their warranty service or offer a one-time price adjustment which not only solves the issue but turns an unhappy client to one with a great referral story as well. Client complaints are a great opportunity to improve customer loyalty and retention, so it’s important that you are able to maximize your response with an ROI-boosting complaint response letter.
Warranties are important to clients so offer them something other than the usual call or email reminder. Send your clients a warranty reminder card at least a month ahead of the expiration to give them and yourself a chance to talk about any issues that they might have. Design your reminder card, giving them an option to respond with their preferred date and time for consultation. Include your contact information and any special deals you might want to offer to keep them loyal to your brand. Whether you want a printed or a soft version, the goal is to make your clients feel special. This online shop offers reminder card templates that you can easily customize and download for free.
Over To You
Competition may be stiff but, with enough creativity, you’ll find that marketing for your plumbing business can even be an enjoyable task. These plumbing marketing ideas from the pros should help inspire you in creating a strategy that can keep your phones ringing and trucks rolling out for more clients in the future.
Have you tried any of these plumber marketing ideas for your own business? Share with us your story in the comments below!