Keychains, Stickers, Toys Can Provide Reminders to Customers

To retain customers, small themed “leave-behinds” can make a big difference.

Keychains, Stickers, Toys Can Provide Reminders to Customers

Bizzy Bee Plumbing in Raleigh, North Carolina, plays off its name and gives customers small jars of locally produced honey, with the company’s name, logo, website address and phone number on the label. (Photo courtesy Bizzy Bee Plumbing)

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It’s common knowledge in marketing circles that it’s much less expensive to retain existing customers than it is to attract new ones. That makes it important to keep your plumbing company top-of-mind with customers, especially since they typically don’t need a plumber very often.

One solution? Give your customers a small marketing “leave-behind,” which is an effective and inexpensive way to help customers remember your company when they need service, or want to refer your firm to family and friends.

Some plumbers do this with simple basics, such as refrigerator magnets, pens or putting stickers/valve tags on water heaters and the like. This strategy is especially effective when you go the extra yard and tie leave-behinds to your company’s name or logo.

Take Bizzy Bee Plumbing in Raleigh, North Carolina, where owner Robert Schwachenwald gives customers small jars of locally produced honey, with the company’s name, logo, website address and phone number on the label. The jars cost about $2.50 apiece, and the company spends about $5,000 on them annually.

“It may sound small and uninteresting, but it definitely sets us apart,” he says. “Most people are completely surprised when our technicians hand them a jar, but they think it’s cute — a great thing to leave behind at the end of a service call.”

Schwachenwald says the jars of honey are worth every penny, noting that about 70% of the company’s business stems from repeat customers. He also says he knows anecdotally that customers keep the jars after they’re empty as a reminder of what company to call when they need plumbing service.

“We even have some customers who like the honey so much that they ask if we can drop off a jar the next time we’re in the area,” he adds. “Overall, we get such great feedback about it that we could never stop doing it now, it’s become a company marketing staple.”


At Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical in Lenexa, Kansas, a southwestern suburb of Kansas City, technicians leave customers with a keychain shaped like the company’s service vans. It meshes with the company’s trademarked slogan, “Technicians you can trust with your house keys.”

“We’ve been doing it for about 10 years,” says Kim Westhoff, the company’s marketing director. “It’s a no-brainer for us. It’s one of those residual reminders that customers can keep handy. Even if it’s in their junk drawer, they still see it periodically, so it keeps our name and logo in front of them.”

Promotional keychains are available from a number of online imprinting and promotional companies, and the more a company buys, the lower the per unit cost. Anthony Plumbing spends about $7,000 to $8,000 a year to buy 30,000 to 40,000 keychains — enough inventory for about a year, she says.

“It’s one piece of our marketing pie,” Westhoff notes. “We provide customers with a variety of promotional products branded with the Anthony logo, such as pens, refrigerator magnets, Koozies, lens cleaners, hand sanitizer and other unique items.

“It’s hard to determine the return on our investment (with promotional gifts) because we use a multichannel marketing approach,” she adds. “But we have a lot of customers that say they got our phone number from a magnet or a keychain, so we know they must be working.”


Thompson Family Plumbing and Rooter in Hesperia, California, takes a unique, kid-oriented approach to leave-behinds — an apt strategy for a company that emphasizes family. Technicians give customers a small bag full of goodies such as highlighting markers, pens and a small Lego or squishy toy, says John Thompson, who owns the company with his wife, Devynn.

The bags also include a temporary tattoo of the company mascot, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain owner of the company.

“We’ve been doing this for about three years,” Thompson explains. “I guess I just have wild kid ideas. We do a lot of things in the community with kid-oriented activities, so I thought a fake tattoo would be cool.

“When we appear at local fairs, we see kids all over with our tattoos,” he continues. “Each bag costs about $3 or $4 to put together and it’s absolutely worth it. Kids will always remember Thompson Family Plumbing, even if their parents may not.”

As an added benefit, it’s not uncommon for customers to take photos of their children with the tattoos, then post it on social media. Then other people “tag” those customers’ photos and share it with even more people, providing an even wider promotional effect at no additional expense, he says.  


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