Previously healthy industries, such as the ones involving graphic artists and illustrators, are now growing at a snail’s pace of approximately 1.1 percent. Industries experiencing an average growth rate can enjoy an increase in job opportunities of approximately 10 percent. Plumbers, however, can expect an increase in jobs and customers at a rate of approximately 14 percent–a statistic that indicates an astonishing difference in prospects.
Clearly, the need for plumbers exists and will only increase, and the best way to reach customers is via the web. That said, a website can hurt a plumber as easily as it can help, which is no small matter of importance as either scenario can translate into serious income lost or gained, respectively.
Five marketing challenges for plumbers
1. Establishing one’s company as the solution to existing need
Establishing the perception that your company is the solution to existing need in a flooded market, no pun intended, is a difficult responsibility any competitor in any established industry will face. The key to solving this problem is by showing potential customers you can solve their problems. Before-and-after photos, for instance, are excellent ways to show customers you can solve their problems.
Additionally, as most customers are not plumbers and will not necessarily generalize one of your skill sets to their particular problem, you must be specific in your language and your examples. Placing photos of every different before-and-after situation might be a minor hassle, but shoppers who can see you have handled their types of messes will feel confident in your abilities and be more likely to give you a call.
The so-called build-it-and-they-will-come strategy to marketing is a good way to find yourself without any jobs or income, yet many plumbers adopt this strategy to gaining customers. The fact is that plenty of plumbers already exist, and customers can easily become lost in the options. Consequently, doing nothing other than setting up shop and waiting for customers to call will not help your prospects, so your marketing activities must begin immediately. Furthermore, they must involve a variety of digital and real-world activities that include the following.
- SEO website
- pay-per-click ads
3. Knowing where to network
Knowing that you need to network might be the beginning of your marketing solution, but it is just that–the beginning. What you must really know is where to network, and two of the best real-world places to network include Business Networking International (BNI) and local real-estate groups.
To become established in BNI, you can join an existing chapter or establish your own. These chapters are designed with the sole purpose of providing leads to chapter members. Additionally, they revolve around something known as power groups, which connect professionals across related industries. For instance, a realtor and a mortgage broker form a power group in that both receive inquiries and can send referrals to one another. Power groups of this sort can also include home inspectors, electricians, and plumbers.
Realtors represent one of the best ongoing lead providers for electricians, handy people, and plumbers. They have an ongoing need for quick service by quality-minded professionals. Ensuring you are connected with one or more realtors in your area will ensure you have feeler leads in place designed to provide you clients with immediate needs.
4. Becoming a subject-matter expert
Being seen as a subject-matter expert involves establishing yourself as a knowledgeable professional in your region. Many people attempt this by establishing a blog and including know-how articles. However, successful people involve themselves in client’s problems by also answering questions on forums and websites. Additionally, you can set yourself up as a question-and-answer professional by establishing a brand channel on YouTube.
5. Being direct and asking for referrals
One of the best ways to build your business is by word of mouth, and one of the best ways to increase word of mouth is by asking your existing clients to refer your business to friends or families. Although it sounds easy to ask for a referral, many people find it difficult. In terms of plumbers, although the plumbing needs of friends and family members might be sporadic, the needs of realtors are cyclical and consistent. Asking for referrals from realtors who have recently sold homes can provide a wealth of leads.
Six essentials for a best-in-class plumbing-company website
1. Friendly interface
Many plumbers might not understand the importance of bedside manner, but your website should have a good one. Just like a friendly doctor or dentist, your plumbing website should be bright, inviting, and generate a feeling of warmth. As mentioned above in the marketing section, photos of common plumbing problems should coincide with pristine, post-plumbing photos as these types of photos convey expertise as well as cleanliness.
In terms of safety, your website should show the images of the plumbing technicians and plumbers who will visit a residence. Additionally, a professional blurb about the team’s experience will help shoppers trust your team’s expertise.
Finally, the site should offer a complete array of helpful information, including the following.
- phone number
- hours of operation
- emergency or after-hours phone number
Any professional must know prior to setting up a website template that the site must be responsive. Responsive websites have the ability of detecting the screen size of the visitor and adjusting the size of the website accordingly. Without this feature, people using tablets cannot see the entire site designed for a personal computer. Additionally, people using smartphones to read a non-responsive website face a frustrating experience of zooming and swiping. Since the average attention span for any website is capped to a few seconds, your interface must adapt to your shoppers, or they will simply leave.
3. Immediate access
Your website should have the ability to chat live with a person or contact someone via a form that will be answered within 12 to 24 hours. To ensure a visitor does not submit the form and immediately feel as if he or she is left waiting on someone who may or may not follow up, the contact form should be capable of sending a confirmation e-mail to the user’s email address. This e-mail should contain a recap of the form and a clear statement of what the customer can expect in terms of receiving a follow-up call.
Finally, this contact form should be designed to serve as a call to action. Calls to action prompt website visitors to register or to inquire about services. Without a call to action that prompts the user to complete the form and be contacted within four hours, for example, many people will simply move on to a competitor’s website.
4. Optimized for search engines
Any plumber that designs or maintains his or her own website should be versed in basic search-engine optimization (SEO). SEO involves including keywords in the website, and these keywords represent words and phrases customers are entering into search engines. When a search engine receives a search, it then matches the search with websites containing these words and phrases. Without these keywords, a search engine will not be able to ascertain whether your website matches a searcher’s needs. Consequently, it will not deliver the website as a potential solution.
An advanced trick to getting keywords to sound natural is to use what is known as a long-tailed keyword, which is simply a phrase. For instance, “plumber” is a keyword. However, “plumber in Atlanta, Georgia” represents a long-tailed keyword. Users generally search using phrases, so it is important to include relevant ones in your website.
Many people think such sites as YouTube and Vimeo are simply video sites for cats and puppies. However, YouTube is considered a search engine, and successful plumbers generate video content that complements their textual content. Video content is one of the most successful ways for professionals to showcase their expertise. Additionally, YouTube makes it easy to embed videos into a website, and the mix of video and text is one of the best informational strategies for keeping people engaged.
6. Social media
Google and YouTube represent two of the largest search engines on the planet. However, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram represent a social-media network that can place plumbers where customers are. A Facebook page, for instance, can provide success stories, which can be shared. If these stories are creative and are focused around such things as plumbing nightmares and quick solutions, people might be more inclined to read the posts and share them.
Similarly, Twitter can be used to share quick tips, and Instagram can be used as a means for plumbers to interact with customers without talking shop. For instance, a plumber can share photos of the company parties or family photos or even such things as vacations or recipes. Doing so helps shoppers connect with plumbers on a personal basis, which helps them see plumbers as community members and friends instead of as industrial professionals.
Every social-media outlet should be integrated with the website’s call to action. Doing so turns sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into sales funnels that help turn shoppers into customers. The challenge here, of course, is that each social-media page must be updated regularly. This takes time, but from a marketing perspective, it is work that pays off.