12 Top Plumber Advertising Strategies for Plumbing Lead Generation in 2020

Ron DonohoJuly 24th, 2020
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The technical side of operating a plumbing company—installing, maintaining and repairing kitchens, baths and sewers lines in homes and businesses—is your primary skill set. That expertise got you into business, and keeps you in business.

But to efficiently run a business and let the community know about your expertise, marketing managers also need to know the keys to great plumber marketing. The only way to connect your top-notch team of technicians with potential customers is an effective plumbing advertising campaign. 

In this Guide to Plumbing Advertising ideas, we’ll focus on 12 tips that will help you grow your business.

Again, the basic building block of a plumbing company is proficiency in the field. Once you’ve established that, it’s time to let the community know you are open for business.   

Here’s a breakdown on how these 12 tips will help you accomplish that:

1. Have a professional and credible online presence.

  • Include the services you offer, testimonials and contact information.

  • Social media lets you target customers, “tag” your business and add credibility.

  • Make sure your website is secure, fast, and provides a great user experience.

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

To be a factor in modern society, a plumbing contractor has to have an online presence. You don’t have to pay big bucks for a website with all the bells and whistles. Many businesses already have a person on staff who is capable of setting up a professional site.

The website should let potential customers know what specific services you offer. It should include credibility-boosting information such as testimonials or certifications you or your company hold. And, it should list your contact information and your service area location.

On social media, you shouldn’t get on Twitter and get involved in political discussions. But having, for example, a Facebook page, will give customers another way to contact you, let people tag your company directly with a recommendation, and give you one more place to show that you are a credible source for plumbing needs.

“Facebook is more of an upside-down pyramid,” Tommy Mello, The Home Service Expert, says. “The way I do Facebook is you’ve got a lot of customers at the top who really don’t know about your service or they don’t need it today, but you’re building a funnel. It's at the top of the pyramid, but it’s an upside-down pyramid.”

Some customers will find you because they need your services today, whereas others may find you through brand awareness.

“They call it ‘top-of-mind awareness.’ You’re starting to get that online reputation of ‘Hey, I’ve seen that company before, now I need them.’ Now, they’re going to think of you,” Mello says.

Also, your website should be HTTPS—not HTTP. The former is a safety certification that stops data breaches and hackers. You need to create a secure site, especially if your website has a place where customers fill in personal information.

Why does a website need to upload fast? Most visitors (40 percent) will leave and go to another site if yours doesn’t load in under three seconds.

OK, your website loads quickly—but what do users see? Most visitors form an immediate opinion of a website. The site needs to be easy to navigate, contact information should be readily available, and above all, it should be attractive.

Last but absolutely not least, your website needs to be mobile-friendly. Of the more than one million annual searches for plumbing keywords, 60 percent occurred on a mobile phone. And most customers won’t recommend a business that has a poorly designed mobile site. 

2. Create a plumbing advertising campaign that targets a local service area.

  • Listed locations can make or break getting a client.

  • Customers look for businesses that are close to where they live.

  • Ads should be very specific in describing what part of a town your company services.

In the commercial and home services trades, and especially for plumbers, geographic location is critical for attracting clients. If a homeowner or business is looking for a repair service, they’re much more likely to call on a plumber whose company is with a 3-mile radius, rather than one who is based farther away.

Part of that is based on familiarity. Another factor is whether or not the plumbing need is critical and needs to be taken care of quickly. Customers will take the necessary commute time into account when looking for help.

Your advertising campaign should therefore target keywords based on very specific locations—the city where your company is based as well as the county, town or neighborhoods that are proximal to your business. 

Creating ads that include specific targeting areas goes hand in hand with targeting a local service area.

All your competitors are also attempting to get business within a targeted area, so you have to be very clear and drill down into the location keywords you use.

Realize that even if your targeting and keyword strategy is top notch, customers are likely to skip over your ad if they see a competitor’s ad with the location they’re looking for while yours does not readily show that.

It’s even likely that a customer who needs a plumber might pass over an ad that mentions things such as price in deference to the name of the geographic area where they are based.

Have multiple offices in different locations? Use location-specific targeting, through ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro, to create separate campaigns for each office. 

3. Devise and invest in a solid plumbing advertising strategy.

  • Advertising is an important part of any service-based business.

  • A high return comes from a willingness to invest in advertising.

  • The best plumbing advertising campaigns are based on a solid strategy.

Whether you’re a new plumbing company or a well-established one with lots of referrals, you have to place your plumbing business advertising so that potential customers can find you. Bringing in new business is an ongoing effort.

The worst thing a business owner can do is hold on too tightly to their wallet and be afraid to spend money on an advertising campaign. You have to invest in advertising to create higher profits.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should pour money into a badly structured ad campaign. A great marketing campaign takes time to nail down the best keywords. When that’s accomplished, it’s time to pull open the purse strings and invest wisely. 

4. Network with target customers in your area.

  • Look for new construction projects that might be a fit.

  • Connect with homeowners associations to establish yourself.

  • Network with your peers for ideas, business leads.

Knowing who your potential customers are—and where to find them—is half the battle when you’re trying to grow your business by searching for plumbing leads.

To find new business and get into specific pipelines, reach out to contractors and architects in your service area. Get to know the facility managers by going to events they regularly attend. 

And ask them questions: What do they like about plumbers they’ve worked with in the past; what have they disliked? Even if facility managers don’t have business at the moment, you can make an impression on them so they remember you when they do have plumbing needs.

Is your company most focused on home repairs or maintenance? If so, look to meet and stay in touch with homeowners associations. Volunteer to make an appearance at their HOA meetings and possibly share free advice.

Don’t forget to network with other plumbers or marketing managers. Join the local chapter of a professional organization. You never know—having a good relationship with a competitor could lead to a referral when they have too much business on the docket.

Personal relationship-building tactics still work in today’s digital world, according to John Akhoian, owner of 10 Rooter Hero Plumbing locations in California and Phoenix, Ariz., with more than 250 trucks and $50 million in annual earnings.

“Those tactics are still applicable and I think they still work,” he says. “A lot of people rely too much on digital and don’t do it. I think that’s wrong, and we need to continue to do it.”

5. Retain your existing plumbing service customers.

  • Send a short text or email as a follow-up to personalize the experience.

  • Offer a free yearly checkup to retain customers.

  • Do a direct-mail reminder to stay connected.

It’s common knowledge that it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one. It’s easy enough to do a plumbing job, collect payment and take the attitude of “call us when you need us.” But that’s not the smart approach. It’s better to have customers keep you in mind.

After you do a plumbing repair, maintenance or installation job, check in with your customers. Send them a plumbing email marketing communication or text. Ask them if everything is running smoothly, or if they have any questions. 

Another way to create a customer for life is to offer a free, yearly checkup to repeat customers. It’s a sign of good will. And, it allows you to screen for maintenance work the customer might need but not yet know about.

Around the holidays, send customers postcards or reminders that you’re thankful for their business. If you have the budget, send out branded promotional materials—pens, key chains, bottle openers, etc.) as gifts.

6. Track and quantify your plumbing marketing performance.

  • Know which of your advertising strategies are working.

  • Accurately categorizing leads puts you in control.

  • Whatever you do, never guess about effectiveness.

Whatever marketing strategy and advertising strategy you adopt, remember to track and quantify your success.

Chris Yano, CEO of Ryno Strategic Solutions and co-host of “To the Point” podcast, says you should insist your marketing consultant, if you have one, should do this for you. And if that agency isn’t helping you track data, it is doing you a disservice, Yano says, because decisions on how your business spends marketing money depend on lead tracking and reporting. If your business hires someone to help with marketing, they should be sharing all the details about all your leads. And if they don’t?

“There is something in there that they do not want to be transparent about,” Yano says “Something is off.”

That includes defining leads in a fair way, classifying every call correctly, accurately reporting your cost per lead, and charging you for only those that are “real.”

“I get sick of hearing, ‘my cost per lead is $28,’” he says. “Is it like a contact form that is submitted or a call that’s submitted, regardless of whether it was a new customer or a repeat customer? That’s not how we determine a lead.” 

If you don’t have time to separate new customers from repeat business in the reporting, your agency should be doing it for you, he says.

“It’s not that difficult to do,” Yano says. “The reason people don’t do it is bodies.” 

Whatever you do, never guess, Yano says. 

“I need to know from search to sale how we’re doing if I’m going to truly know how my team is doing,” Yano says. “This is what you should expect from your agency. It will allow you to make very good decisions. You need facts down to the dollar.”  

7. Use different phone numbers for different programs to track leads

  • Unique phone numbers for campaigns allows tracking.

  • Domain extensions, coupon codes, unitue offers work too.

  • This inexpensive tactic provides immediate feedback.

Call and lead tracking can be done through dedicated call tracking phone numbers (ALWAYS use local), internet domain extensions, coupon codes, unique offers and more. But everything you do marketing-wise should utilize tracking. 

Call tracking numbers or codes are cheap, and they allow you to know immediately which form of advertising you’re using is bringing in real leads. Use them.

8. Create quality content to promote your plumbing business.

  • “Content” includes blogs, videos, e-books, guides and any user-friendly written material.

  • Quality content creates a bond with customers.

  • Great content leads to increased business.

“Content” is a broad term that encompasses a lot of written or recorded material that supplements the process of online marketing. Most people are familiar with blogs. Anything that is written about your company—not just the plumbing services you provide, but also the people who do it and the everyday stories they have to tell—is useful in the task.

Almost all companies are using content marketing in some form. Research shows that 82 percent of customers gain a more positive outlook on a company after reading that company’s custom content. 

More importantly to your bottom line, nearly three out of four companies report that their lead numbers and quality of leads went up after they started a content marketing strategy. 

9. Be active regarding online review sites.

  • A huge majority of potential customers read review sites.

  • There are positive and negative ways to encourage reviews by customers.

  • Research local review sites in your area.

How important are business reviews for plumbing lead generation? Nearly nine out of 10 customers say they take a look at review sites. That’s important—if somebody is looking at review sites, they are a customer ready to spend money on a service.

Know that most sites discourage businesses from incentivizing reviews from customers. Don’t get in the habit of offering discounts in exchange for reviews. It also can be awkward to ask for a review. But you can be creative in your dialogue with customers. Let them know reviews are important to your business. And, feel free to promote your presence on review sites in your own ads. 

Everyone knows about Yelp.com. Realize that there are almost always local review sites in your area. A great way to find these is to do a Google search with the terms “plumbers in (your city)” and see what sites pop up.  

10. Invest in Pay Per Click.

  • Paid search ads on Google and elsewhere work well for plumbers.

  • Google has an algorithm that determines how ads rank in their search engine.

  • A partnership with ServiceTitan streamlines the process for booking ads through Google’s Local Services Ads.

The top part of a search results page are the Pay Per Click (PPC) Google Local Services ads. If you qualify for the Google Guarantee, you are eligible to buy these ads, which can be the first thing consumers see when they do a search.

These are different from Google ads—because you select categories of work you do rather than keywords that prompt your ads.

Google has an algorithm for how this works. Some factors that will affect how a plumbing company’s ad ranks include: your company’s proximity to a searcher, your company’s Google My Business rating and number of reviews, your responsiveness, and even your hours of business.

“Just understand Google is God when it comes to home service,” Mello says, explaining how consumers find 70 percent of all services online through Google searches. 

“Half of your marketing dollars should be spent on SEO, PPC, Google My Business, getting reviews, and Google Local Services.”

A new partnership between ServiceTitan and Google makes jumpstarting your plumbing advertising success easier with Google’s Local Services Ads.

11. Use best practices for plumbing ad design.

  • The best ads for plumbers will stand out from the crowd.

  • Make your ad visual to make it memorable.

  • Only convey one message per ad.

To get a potential consumer to hire you for plumbing services, you have to —be it for direct mail, print or online—that catches the customer’s attention, and your copy has to hold that attention.

The primary means of catching the eye of someone looking at an ad is with pictures and images. Visual storytelling is the best way for people to easily grasp concepts and data. Use too many images and the story gets confusing. The best ads feature one strong, easy-to-understand image.

While you’re designing an ad that contains a primary image, use the same approach with the copy that goes with your image. Some plumbing business owners think there are more benefits to including all the services they offer in ads. Nope. A jumbled message doesn’t attract attention, it repels it.

12. Come up with a great plumbing logo idea for your business.

  • Know your brand, and emphasize it in the logo.

  • Pick colors and fonts carefully.

  • Keep your logo simple so you don’t confuse the message.

A plumbing company’s logo can make or break a business. The are capable of establishing a rapport with customers. A poorly designed logo can turn off potential clients and discourage customers from giving you a chance.

Logos can vary widely. There might be history to your company’s existing logo—make sure you know what that history is and how it applies to the services you offer. Know the personality of your plumbing brand and make sure it meshes with your company culture. 

Knowing the culture and your services will help inform what your logo should be. Realize that logo colors send subliminal messages. For example, red sends the message of a brand being aggressive and energetic. Blue evokes feelings of intelligence. Bright colors grab people’s attention. There’s a science behind every color that’s used in a logo.

Fonts also send subliminal messages. Some can be playful; others are bold and forceful. When putting words into your logo, make sure they match the message your logo image is sending. And if you use more than one typeface, don’t use ones that clash or are mismatched.

Above all, keep your logo simple. Use one or two colors. Limit the number of fonts. A simple logo is much more memorable than one that tries to send a multitude of messages. Complex logos are confusing, and therefore unmemorable.

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.

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