Marketing is everywhere. When you’re scrolling your Facebook feed, there are companies marketing their products to you based on your search history. When you’re driving down the interstate, companies are taking a broader approach by putting their offer on a billboard. Simply put, if you’re not allocating part of your budget to marketing each year, then you’ll quickly get passed by. No matter how amazing you are at your craft, it will happen!
To introduce myself, my name is Doug Stine, Stine-Nichols Plumbing, North Kansas City, Mo., and I’ve been in the plumbing industry for more than 40 years. Throughout that time span, I’ve seen the industry change course a number of times. From adapting to new plumbing technology to making the transition from employee to business owner, there’s certainly been a fair share of adjusting. Going hand-in-hand with this, I always like to share this quote with colleagues and friends. “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” This comes from one of the leading thinkers in the management world, W. Edwards Deming. In nearly every industry (plumbing included), not that many companies survive long term. A huge part of this is directly correlated with willingness to adapt to change. Even within your own business, you’ll notice certain employees shy away from change. They’re used to doing things one way and are hesitant to disrupt their daily routine. In the end, it isn’t easy to change, but it’s mandatory to truly survive and thrive as a business.
In this article, I wanted to discuss why you’ll need to be top-notch on your marketing to maintain your market share of new leads. For some, making this transition might be a major adjustment. Just remember, if you don’t adapt now, the gap is just going to get bigger between you and your competitors. So, without further ado, let’s look into a few main reasons as to why marketing will help you generate new leads and grow your brand!
Everyone is There
If all of your potential customers are on social media, don’t you think you should be too? Well, the answer to this question is short and sweet: of course, you should! Referrals are huge in plenty of businesses. In fact, I’ll go into the topic of reviews later on to give you a hint at that. However, you can’t rely on referrals to be your only source of new business. Eventually, you’ll spend your days cold-calling old clients to see if they know anyone that needs plumbing help. And in an industry that has projects typically pop up out of the blue, this isn’t going to be too fun of a process? (Not to mention the fact that you may get some annoyed former clients!)
You need to tap into another avenue to generate some leads. Lucky for you, there’s plenty of them waiting on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. With this, we have a couple tips: (1) Don’t just post to post. Consistent content is critical. You have to post relevant content to keep your audience engaged. However, once you start posting just to hit a certain number of posts for the week, you start losing your audience. Keep it plumbing focused, but at the same time there’s a happy medium in making it fun and relevant material. (2) Paid ads can work. Most people are under the impression that plumbing is tough for which to market. Not true! If you don’t believe me, take a look at your top competitors. Are they posting regularly? Maybe (if they’re big enough) they are even running commercials on TV? Well, if this tells you anything, it should be that they are spending money. Remember the old adage: you have to spend money to make money? If you don’t already know it, this saying is without a doubt applicable in running a small business!
Only Way to Scale
No matter what industry you’re in, every small business owner starts out by wanting to grow their business as big as possible. You have big dreams of expanding your team, being an industry leader and ultimately making more money on your bottom line. Scaling a business like this requires you to be able to acquire new customers and then do a satisfactory job with those clients. In most cases, this two-step approach encompasses the entire production side of a plumbing business. So, you’ve got the technician part of the puzzle complete (assuming you’re a trained plumber and have experienced professionals on your team), now you just need to keep new prospects walking through your door. The only way to keep a constant flow of leads is through marketing. Social media management, SEO strategies (both local and general), web design, and so on. All of these hold the keys to scaling your brand!
Makes Your Life Easier
Personally speaking, one of the most stressful aspects of running your own business is all the many financial factors. Particularly in a small business, chances are you’re wearing many hats. On top of managing everything, in the back of your head, you’re thinking about whether or not you have money to make payroll on Friday. When a truck goes down, you’re thinking about how to get it fixed asap to keep your team rolling, while not breaking the bank to get it repaired. Simply put, it can be a lot! Perhaps, nothing can be more stressful than getting to the point where you only have a handful of new jobs on your project queue. You can be the best boss in the world, but if there are no leads coming in, your employees are going to have to leave (and probably go to one of your local competitors). An effective marketing strategy can put this to rest easily.
Reviews are Everything
Take a look at the Google listing for some of the top plumbing companies in your area. Now look at how many reviews they have. I’m guessing they all have at least a couple hundred. Obviously, some of the newer companies are still building up their portfolio, but for the most part, all the established businesses are going to have plenty of reviews to back up their stellar work.
Customer testimonials represent a wing of marketing called “Reputation Management.” Essentially, this shows the public that you’re a reputable business. You know what you’re doing and your past clients will vouch for your professionalism. For smaller everyday plumbing jobs, potential customers are going to want a business that shows up on-time, fixes the problem correctly the first time, and doesn’t charge an outlandish amount of money to do so. Reviews are your way to prove that you’ll do just that.
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource
For the past 40+ years, I’ve been a plumber and for part of that time, owned my own plumbing company. I’ve seen everything from flooded basements, water main breaks, you name it. Ultimately, I feel fairly confident saying that I’ve nearly seen it all when it comes to plumbing and know how to troubleshoot through new situations. To be completely honest with you though, I would not say I’m an expert marketer. Nor after 40 years in the plumbing industry do I want to become one. With that said, I’ve quickly found the benefit in outsourcing tasks that you’re either not trained to complete or ones that you simply don’t have time to do.
If I can offer you one piece of actionable advice, it’s to focus your time and energy on what you’re best at. This piece of advice is something that’ll allow you to grow your business and essentially become more profitable!
I’d like to thank the team at Mechanical Hub for allowing me to do this guest blog post on how marketing affects plumbing. Running a small business is certainly no walk in the park. However, having the lead generation process under control can definitely make it a little less-stressful. If you have any questions about marketing, feel free to reach out to me through our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can’t answer it, I’ll have someone from our marketing team help you out!