Do you have an effective marketing plan for your plumbing and heating business? If you said no, you’re not alone. The internet has radically changed consumer buying behaviour over the past decade. But the fact is, most plumbing and heating businesses are struggling to keep up. They’re still using the same old marketing tactics like the Yellow Pages, yell.com, local newspaper ads and flyers. All the places their local competitors are also advertising.
They may have a website but it’s nothing more than an expensive online brochure and looks just like all the other plumbing and heating websites out there. Their website certainly isn’t a lean, mean lead generating machine that regularly gets the phone ringing. And worst of all, they’re performing random acts of marketing without a solid plan in place.
So, what does an effective marketing plan look like?
Sets clear objectives, budgets and timelines
Marketing your business without clear objectives and timelines is a bit like playing an endless game of football without goal posts. Pretty pointless, right? But simply setting objectives and deadlines isn’t enough. You also need to plan out the tactics you are going to use to achieve those objectives and ensure that you have the resources in place to effectively execute your plan. Here’s an example:
Objective: Acquire 10 new under floor heating customers with an average ticket value of £3,000
Tactics: Run a 6 week campaign promoting a special offer to home owners in the Greater Manchester area; create a new landing page for your offer and optimise it for the search engines; write 3 blog posts explaining the benefits of under floor heating and share on Facebook and Twitter with a link to your offer; promote your offer in the September edition of your monthly newsletter.
Resources: budget for Facebook ads plus 30 hours effort from either your in-house marketing team or an external consultant or agency.
Provides clarity about who you are selling to
Being clear about the customer segments you are going to target is one of the key pillars of an effective marketing plan and the more detailed a picture you have of your ideal customer the better. Here’s an example:
Professional middle class couples aged 40 to 55 who live in the Greater Manchester area. They are home owners, their property is valued between £500,000 and £1m and they typically have 2 to 4 other adults living with them – teenage kids who are in or on their way to university and/or their elderly parents.
They take care of their home, value quality, reliability and convenience and are prepared to pay extra to get the job done right but at the same time want to feel like they are getting good value for money.
Their main pain point is keeping up with home maintenance when they lead such busy lives and finding trusted local tradespeople.
They’re internet savvy, are heavy email users, not especially active on social media but do use Facebook to keep up with family and friends.
Once you’ve got a clear picture of your ideal customer you can now work out the best tactics to reach them and how to position your services in a way that makes them feel you can meet their needs and solve their problems better than anyone else. In the example above, for instance, your messaging might emphasise your reputation for responsiveness, reliability and punctuality and high levels of customer satisfaction and you could use customer stories and testimonials to back this up.
Is based on solid competitor research
Few plumbing and heating businesses take the time to study their competitors in depth but this is absolutely essential if your marketing plan is going to deliver the goods.
Look at your competitors the way your customers would. Why would a customer choose them over you? Do they have a better website? Are they doing a better job of building trust and credibility by showcasing their 5 star reviews and customer testimonials? Do they run frequent promotions, send out a monthly newsletter or have a customer loyalty programme? Do they offer better guarantees? Are they doing more to educate their customers by publishing a helpful, informative blog? Do they have a more compelling message? How does their pricing compare to yours? Are they investing heavily in SEO or running aggressive advertising campaigns that give them more brand exposure?
Armed with this information you can put together a strategy and a plan for beating your top local competitors.
Is data driven
One of the reasons why marketing plans fail is because they’re not grounded in real world data. As a result, business owners often underestimate the amount of effort required to deliver the expected outcomes or just don't know which activities and marketing investments to prioritise. Assigning numbers or metrics to each of your objectives and the related tactics and activities ensures that your marketing plan is realistic. It also allows you to identify the contribution that each tactic is making to your bottom line and return on investment and hence how to allocate your marketing budget.
Let me give you an example. In order to get more customers, first we have to get people to our website. A percentage of those visitors will turn into leads (either calls or form submissions), a percentage of those leads will turn into jobs quoted for and a percentage of those quotes will turn into booked jobs. If we understand what these percentages are we can work back from our objective of acquiring say 10 new customers a month to the amount of website traffic we need to generate in order to hit that objective. This is what our funnel metrics might look like:
Website visitors 500
Leads (10%) 50
Jobs quoted (60%) 30
Jobs booked (33%) 10
Average job ticket £3,000
Revenue generated £30,000
We can take it a step further and break down our website traffic target by sources:
- Organic traffic - people who find us through online search – 20%
- Social traffic - people who find us on Facebook, Twitter etc. – 5%
- Referral traffic - people who find us by clicking on links such as online directory listings – 10%
- Direct traffic - people who have heard of us through word of mouth, flyers and newspaper ads and type our website URL into Google – 15%
- Paid traffic – people who respond to our online ads – 50%
Now we can assign a marketing budget to each of these sources and plan out the specific activities we need to undertake in order to hit our traffic targets. And because we know what results we’re expecting we have a basis for measuring our marketing efforts and ensuring that we stay on track.
So how does your marketing plan measure up?
So that’s what an effective plumbing and heating marketing plan looks like. It may involve more upfront work than the usual back of an envelope approach but armed with one of these you're much more likely to hit your business goals and see a positive return on your marketing investment.
More Useful Resources
If your plumbing and heating website isn't producing the results you want this 16 page checklist will help you pinpoint the reasons and how to fix them.
You'll discover 13 best practices that will turn your website into a lead generating machine plus tons of practical jargon-free advice and real world examples of plumbing and heating companies that are getting it right.