Being a plumber or gas engineer and running your own business has its fair share of unique challenges. Other industries can target specific audiences and/or rely on the seasons whereas marketing for gas engineers and plumbers requires you to reach two specific markets throughout the whole year. We’ve identified these two markets as:
- The emergency repair market
- Someone needs help ASAP with a burst pipe or gas leak and wants to find a nearby plumber / engineer
- The routine maintenance and installation market
- Customers need yearly service or a new install so they have time to shop around and get quotes
In order for your business to grow you need to create content marketing strategies for both markets and then you can dive down further into each market to identify different types of customer, and you have to do all this while competing against other businesses trying to do the same.
We don’t pretend this is easy and every company will have a unique marketing strategy which will be tailor made to suit that business so there is no magic button to solve everything but if you start small, get great results and build on that you’ll soon see an improvement.
Marketing for Gas Engineers and Plumbers: Where to start?
If you’re a plumber or gas engineer then without doubt Online Marketing is the first starting point for getting your name out there. Traditional offline marketing can still be successful but if you’re just starting out don’t waste time with this because you can reach a wider audience with less cost and effort using online marketing tactics.
“I’m a gas certified engineer – I don’t have experience in digital marketing“
Don’t worry! If you’re just in the beginning of setting up your business online and have no experience in digital marketing you can still get started without spending hundreds on Facebook ads or over priced SEO agencies.
In this article we want to outline 8 marketing strategies that plumbers and gas engineers can use at any stage of their business and in each strategy we explain how they can address both markets we’ve identified but before we get into that let’s look at some basic marketing principles.
Gas Engineers and Plumbers Marketing Fundamentals
I bet when you were thinking about setting up a plumbing business you didn’t imagine sitting behind a computer and let’s face it, that’s probably not where your time is best spent. Marketing is much more than just creating content then analysing numbers and to be honest, you already know more about marketing than you think.
From coming up with the company name and logo, inviting friends and family to your Facebook and asking them to share with friends and asking old and existing customers for the good ol’ traditional referrals are all strong marketing practices. For you to really get the most out of any marketing efforts it’s best to go back to square one and take a look at your brand. This is the official promise you’re making to your customers and it’s one major thing that will differentiate you from your competitors.
To help establish your brand, see if you can answer these questions with ease…
- What’s your USP? What do you bring to the market?
- What do differently than anyone else or are you a local specialist?
- Who are your ideal customers you’re trying to attract?
- What statements, values, or beliefs resonate strongly with both you and your clients?
- How do you reflect these values in your business’ day-to-day?
Gas Engineers and Plumbers Marketing Strategies for the Emergency Market
Now that we’ve got that out the way let’s get down to your online marketing so you can start attracting more customers.
As we identified at the beginning in the case of the ‘emergency repair market,’ the opportunities are immediate. Whether it’s a burst water pipe, or a gas leak or broken boiler your customers are looking for the closest engineers with a solid reputation who can get there fast.
Main influencing factors in these situations are top internet search results followed by positive reviews and someone that responds quickly. For you to win this customer’s business your number one aim should be making sure you’re easily found and contactable. Here’s the marketing strategies you’ll find will have the biggest impact in this area:
1. Create your Facebook Page
A professional Facebook page is a great way to be found online fast and you’ll find lots of useful services for businesses. Of all the social media platforms I think we all know that Facebook has the most users but it also has the most conversion-friendly features when compared to other marketing platforms, plus, it’s free and easy to use. We’ll be writing a more in depth article about Facebook pages.
2. Claim your Google My Business listing
Search engines such as Google are the first place emergency repair customers will go to find help. If you want them to find you, you need to set up your Google my Business listing.
Setting up your local listing is fairly straightforward. All you need is your company name, address, and contact info. For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, see our article on setting up your Google Business listing (coming soon).
3. Gather and manage online reviews (Facebook & Google)
You’ll probably find that up to 85-95% of your customer base will come from reviews and/or referrals. Online reviews are now equally as good as traditional word of mouth because that’s where everyone is – online and positive reviews are crucial to growing a business, especially a trade business. After all you’re entering customer’s homes or business and often in very stressful or unpleasant circumstances so before they purchase from you they need to trust you.
Here’ a few tips to start getting high quality reviews:
- Send your customers follow-up email after the job is complete.
- You can let them know the work is done and, while your there, ask for feedback.
- If the feedback is positive, send a polite request for a review with a link to your Google Business or Facebook page.
- Most people will leave a review if you just ask!
- Encourage customers to add details rather than just 5-stars. Help by prompting them with questions such as “What did you like most about our service?” OR “Why would you recommend us to your friends and family?”
If you want to grow your business and grow it fast then customer reviews are one of the best ways to market.
“My customers don’t use Facebook so how do I get them to leave a review?”
Don’t worry. There are plenty of other options for your customers to leave reviews such as Google Reviews, Trustpilot and even the more specific websites such as Checkatrade, Trust a Trader and My Builder.
4. Use call-only ads rather than click through
Your pipe has burst or boiler has broken, what do you do? There’s no time to ring around and get quotes and ask your neighbour who they think is the best. Customers that need emergency repairs want to speak to a real person who can help them and put their mind at rest. If you’re ready to start investing money into paid advertising we suggest you run call-only ad campaigns online. These adverts offer direct click to call functionality and they’re a simple way of targeting ad spend directly at the emergency repair market, making it easy for people to find you when they need you.
5. Build your plumbing website
(please DO NOT use a website builder such as WIX)
Step five to being found online is to work on improving your online presence. A professional-looking website will increase your visibility and credibility, which in turn will help you get more leads.
The trick is to keep your plumbing website simple and clean so emergency call-in customers can find the info they need, fast. Here are the essential elements of a plumbing website that converts:
- A professional name and logo
- Your USP
- Your phone number
- The locations you serve
- List of services provided
- Awards and accreditations
- Photos and/or testimonials
We decided to leave this strategy until last in this market, mainly due to the fact that the first 4 strategies can be very effective when used together and investing time and money into a website means more work and monty spend and you’ll want to see a return on that investment so we suggest you start with the first 4 strategies and build slowly before committing to a website.
The next three strategies will give you a bit more of an idea as to how much work is involved in running a successful website.
Gas Engineers and Plumbers Marketing Strategies for the Service Market
The first 5 marketing strategies we mentioned will help you grow your business with all types of customers but especially those in need of emergency repair work.
The next 3 marketing strategies will focus more on non-emergency customers that we identified as the routine maintenance or installation market. These customers can and sometimes will spend weeks or even months researching websites, checking reviews, watching videos to educate themselves and getting multiple quotes to find the best company for the job.
To give yourself the best chance of winning this customer’s business your number 1 goal is to build trustworthy and credible brand.
1. Create expert plumbing content
Plumbing is a specialist industry and most people don’t know much about it, aren’t confident enough to touch it and in most cases (especially with gas) won’t be qualified so simply shouldn’t touch it! One thing you can do is help your market feel educated by giving away valuable information for free and you’ll eventually win their trust and then their business.
This marketing strategy is very common and it’s simply known as content marketing. The aim is to create interesting, engaging and shareable content such as informative blog posts, quality Instagram pictures or helpful Youtube videos. The idea is to portray yourself as the expert you are and demonstrate your services keeping them top-of-mind for future and existing customers.
Keep it simple and start by writing what you know best. A good example could be an article titled:
“How to fix the most common DIY plumbing mistakes”
But fear not because if writings not your thing you can record quick videos or you can go Live on Facebook. Video is a brilliant way to engage your audience plus you can use them across your website in blog posts such as how to videos, social media, and not forgetting paid ads.
2. Use customer service as a marketing tool
Advertising and social media are major pieces of the marketing puzzle however excellent customer service is without doubt the most effective and cost-efficient, long-term growth strategy for any trade business.
Great customer service can grow your business in two key ways:
- You’ll earn repeat business. You’ve already done the hard work by getting their attention and gaining trust
- Happy customers will spread the word by leaving reviews and sending personal referrals
To really use customer service as an effective marketing tool you should start by being an excellent communicator. Sending your customers a quick “on my way” text something simple like a reminder to leave the door unlocked will go a long way towards making the whole job more successful.
During the job, take detailed notes and photos that relate to the job and the client. If the client has questions at a later date or wants to request more service, they’ll be impressed with how much you remember and how easy it is to work with you. Don’t try doing this on pen and paper, though. We recommend using a CRM so you can track all that information in one place.
Finally, after the job, send a simple follow-up email to ask for feedback, referrals, or reviews. Word of mouth referrals are so powerful and like we said word out mouth is effectively online now!
3. Get more leads by taking auto requests
Unlike emergency repair customers who want to talk to someone that can help straight away, the routine service or installation customer will most likely want to discuss their project to find out if you can help. In order to win their business you need a system to respond quickly and professionally to these requests.
Email might not be the best option so why not add a booking feature and / or a chat bot to your Facebook page. This will allow you to take work requests while you’re busy working, then when you get home you can follow up and close the deal.
We believe in you!
Whether you’re the local go to guy (or gal) or the new kid looking to make his (or her) mark as the ‘go-to plumber’ in the local area then there’s a market niche out there for you that you can grab by the horns using online marketing.
Work out what’s unique about your brand and make sure your message and marketing tactics speaks to your target audience and if you spend just a tiny bit time every week practising these techniques to make yourself a better marketer we promise you’ll go far.