Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog
Social media, radio, billboards, flyers, door hangers are just some of the “can’t miss” marketing tools you’re constantly being pitched. Not to mention that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) miracle workers promising higher Google rankings or the lead generators that are going to flood your inbox with qualified leads. Let’s not forget the “you need to do video” pitch. According to the purveyors of these miracle cures, your business needs their services and you need it now.
Of course, if you had unlimited budgets, you’d try them all and never think twice about it. But the reality is, money is always a scarce resource and you usually have higher priorities than spending on marketing services from unsolicited emails – especially those that don’t include pay-for-performance clauses.
The major problem with many of these opportunities is that they are never as easy as they are portrayed. Each require your ongoing oversight, input and feedback. In other words, time you don’t have right now. Even if you have limited time and budget, there are easy ways to market your plumbing or HVAC business.
Here are five simple low-tech marketing initiatives that you can do starting today, that don’t require any special skills but can deliver an ongoing source of business.
Yes, the lowly business card has been a staple of influential people for centuries. Depending on who you believe, they first appeared in 15th century China or 17th century Europe. With that kind of longevity, it’s fair to say they’ve been an effective tool to market your business.
The beauty about business cards is that they are tactile. You physically have to touch them as they get transferred from one person to the next. During that transition, the majority of people take a moment and glance at the information printed on the card. They peek at your name or the company name, your title or the services you provide. This all happens in a couple of seconds, but you know what happens? That information gets committed to their memory banks and creates a momentary connection.
In addition, business cards create an impression and hopefully leaves them with a good first impression. They’re easy to deploy and they are accessible, or least should be. This simple little no tech piece of advertising is a must-have item. When you think about it, how often do you get asked for your business card? If your anything like me, it’s frequently, especially when meeting someone new. I make a point of always having them handy.
How often do you ask for referrals? If you’re like most, not very often. When I ask why contractors don’t ask, they usually respond that they don’t want to make the customer feel uncomfortable. But if the truth be told, it’s the contractor who doesn’t like asking for the referral because it is them, and not the customer, who is uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The art of asking for a referral is pretty simple. After the service call or install you typically ask the customer if they are satisfied or happy with your work. If you’re not doing this, you should start. It’s at this point that you then say something to the effect of “we rely on our reputation and word of mouth to grow our business. We would appreciate if you could pass out these business cards (see above) to any friends, neighbours or family that could be in need of our service.”
It really doesn’t need to be any more difficult than that. Leaving 2-3 business cards behind is simple and effective. Additionally, you could be a little proactive and offer some form of reward, such as a gift card to a coffee shop or Amazon or any number of retailers for every referral that turns into a customer. The only challenge is to make sure you follow through with the promise.
Here’s a largely overlooked opportunity to market directly to your customers. Let’s be honest you just can’t answer every call, every time. Sometimes that call just must go to voicemail. If you’re like most, you’ve recorded a simple message such as “Hi, you’ve reached John and I can’t take your call, so leave a message”. Or the even more dreaded network recording that says you can’t be reached and leave a message at the tone.
What if you changed it up a little? What if you actually used the recording option on your main line and all the company cell phones as a simple promotional tool? Here’s an example of what you can do. “Hi, you’ve John from ABC Plumbing & Heating. I’m sorry I can’t take your call at the moment, so at the tone leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. And while I’ve got your attention, I want to let you know that we are offering a free extended warranty on all new furnace installations this month (or hot water tanks or whatever) so let me know if your interested when I call you back”
When you think how many calls go to voicemail every month, this is a simple way to communicate your promotions and best of all it’s free. Just remember to keep it fresh by changing it up every month.
The ubiquitous email programs we use all have a built-in feature that allows you to customize your signature line. Many of us use this feature to automatically add our name, our company name and our title to every outgoing email. Much like the voicemail idea of enhancing what you already have, adding a simple reminder promotional message to this feature is an easy way to remind your customers of what you do.
Adding something like “Did you know we also install dishwasher?” is a simple that will keep your company top of mind should they need your service. Change it up every month to ensure you keep it interesting.
There’s a myriad of things you need to do to ensure your website ranks high in Google searches, but one of the more powerful and important elements are customer reviews. Google places a high value in it’s search algorithms on reviews to rank your site. Much like referrals, contractors are reluctant to ask for reviews, so here’s an easy way to ask.
Most accounting programs allow you to embed a message in invoices and statements. You can use this feature to place a boldly written statement in the body of an invoice such “If you liked our service, we’d appreciate if you could review our work on Google”.
The above examples are just some of the ways that anybody can promote or market their business with little or no money. These tactic can generate a powerful word of mouth strategy to market to new and existing customers. The beauty of low tech, no tech initiatives is that they don’t require any special skills and you can start today.