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Mistakes Plumbing Contractors Make with Internet Marketing
One of the biggest challenges contractors face now and for the foreseeable future is marketing. As crabby and expensive as it was, I now look
fondly back to the days of the phone book. The days where you knew the Yellow Pages and Yellow Book were grossly over-charging, but also knew for a fact that if you spent the money for the “double truck” or the coupons on the front cover you would cover the cost of advertising and make a decent profit. For the last 7 years or so the phone books have become less and less effective. I know this because I’ve had the privilege of working with contractors that track their advertising quite pedantically. I’ve seen their reports showing their cost per call creep up to a point where they couldn’t justify the costs. Yes they would lose the revenue the books still brought in, but it would just be postponing the inevitable. The phone books would eventually wear the company down to a teeny tiny nub.
How Do You Replace the Revenue?
That’s a great question, one that doesn’t have a direct answer. It shocks me how many plumbing contractors across the U.S. still don’t have a website, but it goes further than that. It is no longer effective to have “just” a website for people to find you. It must be a living, breathing thing. So here is the plumbing contractor’s biggest mistake with Internet marketing, so listen up real good: lack of patience. The #1 reason an Internet marketing plan fails is because of lack of follow-through and execution by the contractors themselves. Most sound Internet marketing plans have the contractor providing regular content to the site, whether it be in written form, pictures or videos. The majority of failed Internet marketing plans see sharp drop offs in contractor participation after 4 to 6 months because the results are not immediate. We are so to used the causality between traditional advertising and the phone ringing, that the commitment to Internet marketing is foreign. If the business is not seeing growth similar to what traditional advertising would bring, the plan is discarded and a new marketer is brought in. Worse still, the company reverts back to traditional advertising, which is a recipe for failure.
What Can You Do for Your Plumbing Company?
Without getting into incredible detail, here are some things you can do to increase traffic to your website and convert those tire kickers into revenue.
- Begin a PPC (Pay Per Click) Campaign. This is somewhat controversial. The great thing about PPC campaigns is that they start right away. The minute you pay up your campaign will begin. There are some pretty severe drawbacks to doing a PPC campaign and I’ve seen several “expert” PPC companies fail miserably. Google wants companies that do PPC to stay in PPC so your campaign should get better as time goes on. The only issue is how much money are you willing to shell out until your campaign is fully Krausened? Another problem is that your campaign is really only as good as the person managing the keyword buys. Simply put, how well do they know your industry? Do they do research on keywords people are using in your demographic? Do they waste money on buying keywords for your company name? There are not many PPC people that can give you a sweet spot as to how much to spend on your demographic in your field. It becomes counter productive for them to say, “I know I can get your cost per call down to $48.00 per call if you spend 5K per month. I know I can manage your account well enough for you to be happy.” So it becomes sort of trail and error. Is the phone ringing enough with our current campaign? No. Let’s up the budget by another 1K. You can see that this can get old but there are some companies that are thriving using PPC.
- Write content, post pictures, and update social platforms every single day. You can hire writers to write at 20, 30 or 50 dollars per article however most of those articles read like a writer trying to write about something they don’t really know about. If you are a plumbing contractor write your own stuff or pay for a plumber who can write to actually write. I’m sorry, but it’s the only way to accumulate real organic rankings in your field. Google knows if your posts suck. I will say that you don’t have to be a perfect writer to gain traffic in your field, but you must know what you’re talking about.
- Stop thinking about everything you write being a “call to action.” I know it’s natural to want to write about sump pumps in the spring when people need sump pumps replaced, but people get fatigued from reading continual sales pitches. Ask yourself this: “Is what I’m writing about benefiting society in some way?” Are we adding something to it or are we writing about something for our benefit? If your posts only contain information on things you plan to sell, you will lose the game. Gary Vaynerchuk writes “The biggest problem right now in “the game” we all play is that EVERYBODY is obsessed with grabbing attribution. That one last action that happens directly before the “sale.”
- I hate the phrase “differentiate yourself or company.” That shouldn’t be said anymore; it should be implied. People want to know who you are as a company and as a company owner, especially if you’re in the service business. You can no longer be the owner, estimator and boss: you must also be the face. If you don’t want to be, hire someone willing to take on that role. Post things about what interests you, even if at times it’s outside the plumbing business. Heck, I do playlists for my readers because you know what, I have other interests outside of plumbing and I think getting to know me is better than not, and your customers will feel the same way about you. I told a contractor recently to have their service technicians take “Selfies” of all the work they complete, whether it’s a pipe repair or a full bathroom remodel. That does two things, one it places your service techs out front and center, there is no hiding what they do or who they are and two, each picture will be geo-tagged for the town in which the work was completed.
We all know this for sure, the Internet isn’t going away. It is evolving to do more and more wondrous things, and with that evolution comes more opportunity to succeed but also to fail. Just because a company was great does not mean it will continue to be. If you plan on embarking on a large scale, long-term Internet marking plan, stick to the plan. Use the same tenacity, work ethic and dogged determination it took to get you where you are, or where you were when things were great.
I will end this piece with another quote from Gary’s article because in telling us what not to do, it lights the way for your future. “There are too many people who are preoccupied with “what will the time I spend writing this article or filming this video get for me? TODAY”
You must experience a paradigm shift as it relates to your Internet marking plan. It must be truly long-term. If you have any questions about a long term internet marketing plan please don’t hesitate to contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org . We can hold the light for you, but you have to do the digging.
A big shout out to Gary V for the inspiration. If you haven’t read anything by Gary Vaynerchuk here is a link to his website.