If you own a plumbing company, we don’t have to tell you what a competitive landscape you are in. There is everything from single van operations, to plumbing companies with a fleet of vans, and everything in between. The competition is stiff.
For plumbing businesses, there is the added complexity of having a mixed audience. You have customers who need you in an emergency, and both residential and commercial customers looking for routine maintenance, repairs, installs, as well as plumbing services related to large remodeling or building projects.
How do you appeal to these different groups, and how do you do it better than the next plumber?
It’s a challenging, but not impossible proposition. To market to these three groups in a way that beats out the competition your marketing plan should include:
- Buyer personas
- Social media profiles
- Local listings
- A website that converts, designed specifically for your unique customer base and profession
- Online reviews
You first need an outline of who exactly your customers are so that you are talking to the right people, at the right time, and offering the right services. Based on those customer profiles (buyer personas), you can pick which social media channels are right for your business.
One of the most important things you can do is claim your local listings, specifically Google My Business. This is where people will find your Google reviews. Studies show that reviews are highly leveraged in the decision-making process online.
Last, but certainly not least, you need a formulated website specifically designed to meet the unique needs of your potential plumbing customers.
Let’s dig into the specifics of each of these marketing steps for plumbers…
Create Buyer personas for your potential plumbing customers
Draft three buyer personas, one for emergency customers, one for residential customers, and one for commercial clients. If you’ve not created buyer personas before, think of them as customer profiles. Buyer personas answer questions like:
- Basic demographics
- Pain points of potential customers
- Online behavior (i.e. preferred search devices, social media platforms, etc)
- Common requests/frequently asked questions
- How you can help
Once your buyer personas have been created, you need to establish your top three marketing goals for the year. Some examples might be:
- Set more inspection appointments for sales opportunities
- Increase phone call volume
- Increase number of online reviews
- Grow a certain aspect of your plumbing business (commercial for example)
Once you have personas created and your primary marketing goals set, you can start to create alignment between the two.
Social Media Profiles
When talking about social media, many plumbing company owners groan. Plumbers are busy running their businesses and trying to stay on top of demand – social media maintenance seems like a luxury meant for other companies.
Believe it or not, social media is one of the first places people look to validate a plumbing business. But this is why buyer personas are so important to a marketing plan for plumbers. You don’t have to be on all channels. If you are like most of the plumbers we’ve come across, Facebook is likely sufficient. You can set up a page in minutes, and updating it from your phone is easy.
For most plumbers, social media maintenance is about building posting habits. You don’t necessarily need an editorial calendar for your social media channels, all you need to remember to do is take and upload images of your work. Active, well-maintained social media channels will definitely give you a competitive edge over the other guys.
What even ARE local listings? A local listing is an online reference to your company’s name, phone number, address, and in many cases, website. Google My Business listing is an example of this.
It’s not just important to claim your local listings (Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, YellowPages, Angie’s List), it’s important that your listings match. Why even bring that up? It’s more common than you think to have inconsistent listings, which Google penalizes for in search results. All addresses and phone numbers for your business should match exactly – so if you abbreviate something in your address, make certain you do it across all your listings.
There are lots of tools that help you manage your local listings, one of the most widely used being moz.com.
Websites designed specifically for the plumbing industry
A website may be the most important piece of a marketing plan for plumbers. Websites do several things that are vital to the success of your business:
- Websites legitimize your business, and when done correctly, builds an online reputation.
- They serve as a digital business card that lets your customers know who you are and how to get ahold of you.
- Websites provide a way for you to communicate and build relationships with your potential customers, through chat boxes, and various types of forms.
- They educate your potential customers on what you do, and how you do it.
- Websites tell your story, which is vital in the highly competitive world of plumbing.
Believe it or not, the design of a plumber’s website is vitally important. You need a web developer who has researched the plumbing industry inside and out, and who knows what your potential customer is looking for and when. They need to know what goes above the fold on a plumbing website, what call to action buttons are the most effective and where they should be placed, as well as how and where to tell your story. Even knowing what colors are effective for driving results matters!
If you’ve ever wondered about the importance of online reviews, consider these statistics published by BrightLocal:
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
- Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision
An online review plan is a vital component of any plumber’s marketing plan. Contractors especially have to build trust online, and one of the best ways to do that is to build a strong Google Review base, and to feature testimonials on your website. The plumbing industry has specific and unique challenges when it comes to marketing. From the competitive nature of the industry, to the differences in customer profiles, to standing out online, plumbers need partners who are familiar with these challenges and have the ability to address them knowledgeably.