5 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re not smart and strategic about your marketing efforts, the results might look as if you’re not promoting your business at all

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Marketing a plumbing company is a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, everyone needs us. That means a massive pool of potential customers. On the other hand, everyone needs us. Yes, that is a double-edged sword. The sheer amount of opportunity can be paralyzing. Choosing a focus can prove challenging for even the savviest of marketers.

With opportunity everywhere, we sometimes tend to use a “throw spaghetti at the wall” method. Sure, some of it will stick. However, is this scattershot approach costing us more time and money than necessary? 

It pays to be strategic and smart about marketing. Poorly thought out marketing promotions can lead to lukewarm results. 

To plan a rock star promotional marketing campaign, avoid these common pitfalls:

Mistake No. 1: Skipping the research

Marketing decisions shouldn't be based on feelings. As a small business, you probably don't have the resources for an in-depth market analysis. That doesn't mean you should create promotions in a vacuum, though.

You have one big advantage over large companies at least — access to your customers. Talk to your customers about what they would find useful. Look for opportunities and inspiration in the jobs you are already doing.  Is there a project they've been interested in but are putting off? Why? Is there home maintenance they dread or don't know how to execute?

Don't put a lot of time and money into a boring promotion that won't lead to jobs. The first rule of business is that there can't only be supply. Demand is necessary too.

Mistake No. 2: Being too general

With a tight marketing budget, we tend to want to squeeze the most out of every promotion. You wouldn't dare spend a big chunk of your available funds only telling a customer you do one thing. That would be crazy, right?   

Not so fast. The best way to book jobs is to give the customer one clear, compelling reason to call you. To do that, you have to grab — and keep — their attention.  You lose their attention when you include a bullet-point list of all the services you offer. They don't need all of it, so they assume they need none of it.

Generic, "Hey, I'm a plumber" ads don't do anything to get a customer to call you. They are great for reinforcing your brand, but they don't make the phone ring. That's why so many ads lead with phrases like, "Lose 20 pounds in two weeks!" or "Earn $100,000 in your spare time this year!" These are problems with a large audience looking for an answer.

Create a promotion that solves a specific problem — one that customer will pay to go away. 

Mistake No. 3: Not speaking the customer's language

People are self-centered. They also aren't professional plumbers. Speak their language. That means make it about them and their problem. They don't necessarily care about how exactly you are going to fix it.

Waterjetting, a smoke machine, or a recirculation line? The customer doesn't care. They care that they are getting their line cleared, the source of the smell found, or hot water faster. It would take a pretty savvy homeowner to know what a re-circulation line is. They don't know the same industry language and jargon that you do. They understand — and identify with — the benefit or result of the work.

Always speak the customer's language. When possible, use the "pain point." Talk about what annoys, bothers, harms, or otherwise inconveniences the customer. That inconvenience is what is going to get them to spend money.

Mistake No. 4: Showing up in the wrong place

Make sure that your promotion and target customer match the marketing tool. In other words, put the information where the right person will see it.

Let's say you plan to promote tankless water heaters to luxury condo owners. Do you think they shop on Craigslist for their plumbers? Probably not.

It's rarely that simple or easy, so spend time on this. Understand your customer, where they shop, and what matters to them.

Mistake No. 5: Not asking for the sale

You didn't spend all that money, time, and effort to get your offer in front of the customer for nothing, right? A marketing promotion should always push the customer to take the next step. Whatever action you want them to make, you have to ask.

Putting your phone number in an advertisement is not asking. That's presenting helpful information, but it isn't asking.

Call now. Book an appointment. Get your free quote. Those are examples of asking. You get what you ask for in this world. That is never truer than in sales. You may not like it, but that is ultimately what we do.

If you want to push the right buttons and get the work, introducing scarcity in your offer can also be beneficial. Scarcity is putting a deadline on offer. It's about making the customer worried that they are going to miss out on an opportunity. Telling someone to "hurry" because the "offer won't last" creates urgency. This feeling is precisely the goal with scarcity. 

About the Author

Anja Smith is managing partner for All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina. She can be reached at anja@acpupstate.com.



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