Steve Lister, Sales & Marketing Director at Worcester Bosch gives his top tips on how self-employed plumbers can stand out from their local competition
I often get asked; why is marketing so important? From national companies, like Worcester Bosch, to local installers, marketing is essential to stand out from your competition regardless of your company’s size. As much as it pains me to say, boilers are typically a low interest category, (apart from our design-led Lifestyle range of course!) and something some consumers may only buy once in their lifetime. So, when they do have a need, how can they find you?
For me, there are a couple of things you can do quickly to get noticed. Firstly, know your competition – know what they are doing to attract new customers and find out if it’s working. Customer experience is a key brand differentiator – your competitors may offer similar products and guarantee lengths to you, so it’s important that you can show why potential customers should choose you. To do this, you need to find out what makes you unique by identifying your company’s unique selling point (USP).
From speaking to customers, we have found that branding your uniform and van consistently is a quick way to make you easily recognisable. Because customer experience is so important, offering great customer service pre, during and post-sale will help customers form a positive opinion about you and tell others.
Secondly, stand out from the crowd. Make sure you play an active role in your community. Some simple ideas are to donate some time to a local school or community project, or to sponsor a local charity event. Increasingly people want to know that they’re dealing with a company that cares about their community. In the current climate, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has unprecedented value in the eyes of consumers. So long as your CSR activities are genuine and make a real change, you will receive new levels of respect and loyalty from prospective and current customers.
Another simple yet effective idea is sponsoring a local youth football team, it can be as easy as placing your logo on the side of the team’s kit. Parents of the team will likely be homeowners and will be appreciative of the support.
Thirdly, be easy to find digitally and once they’ve found you either on your website or business social media accounts, make sure it’s worth the wait. We live in an increasingly digital world, where customer purchasing habits are changing. Previously, word of mouth marketing happened over a beer in the pub, this has now moved to online spaces like social media.
I would recommend investing time in your website and social feed with fresh content and new imagery. You can enhance your presence online through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC), where a little money goes a long way!
You must also consider the importance of review websites. Reviews are extremely powerful in the purchase decision, with online reviews influencing the purchase decisions for 93% of consumers (Qualtrics.com). When consumers are comparing potential installers, you want to make sure your company tops the reviews. Customer testimonials are a brilliant way to showcase what you do and how it has benefited your customers’ life. Get your customers to showcase their experience across various platforms (Google, Facebook, Checkatrade, Trustpilot etc).
Lastly, data is key! Know your own objectives and company KPIs and track them regularly. Understand the financials behind every company activity and determine what will give you the best return. For example, having better scheduling and automated admin, so you can invest the time and money you’ve saved into marketing and acquiring new customers. This will help you to get the best efficiency from your company.
It’s worth investing in a good database to manage your customers’ information. You can then send service reminders and upsell service and maintenance packages to harness a lifetime value from the customers you have acquired.
In short, there is no right or wrong approach to marketing, some elements of the ‘marketing mix,’ or set of tools that you’ll use to pursue your objectives, will work better than others in your local area. My advice would be to make sure you give everything a try, upscale it if it’s working and conversely downscale or stop it if its not. If you take one thing away from this, let it be that if you want your business to thrive, dedicating time to your marketing strategies will work wonders.