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As a plumbing business owner, you’re no doubt facing heavy competition in your area. You could probably get a long list of local plumbers with a simple Google search.
Now, picture a potential customer searching Google, someone having a horrible day because her toilet is overflowing. Is there anything online about your business that sets it apart for a stressed-out homeowner? The overwhelming majority of plumbing businesses are not doing anything differently.
All the plumbers in your area are competing for a limited number of homeowners who may not know the difference between your company and another. It’s also likely you’re all leveraging the same marketing tactics such as door hangers, billboards, TV and radio spots, and direct mail.
Unfortunately, no matter how well designed your materials or well produced your commercials, these tactics won’t make you stand out by themselves. When homeowners need a plumber, they’ll likely go with the first Google listing unless you give them a good reason to choose you.
A growing number of plumbing businesses across the country are strategically using public relations to differentiate themselves from all the other companies in their market. Here are a few PR tactics that will allow you to stand out as the market expert rather than looking like just another door hanger.
Get on the news
Earned media opportunities — appearances in local news outlets such as newspapers, TV, radio and magazines — are still the most effective public relations strategy for differentiating you from your competition.
Your customers are savvy, maybe even jaded, when it comes to advertising. They see so many marketing messages every day that they become difficult to remember or distinguish. Even worse, many consumers distrust most types of paid ads.
But while only half of consumers trust ads, 92 percent trust earned media, notes PR software and services provider Cision. Appearing as a source or featured guest on local news outlets, speaking on topics your customers are concerned about now, cements you in their minds as a service provider more knowledgeable and trustworthy than the rest.
Gaining these opportunities isn’t easy, though. It requires time and effort to create relationships with journalists and develop quality story ideas. You can try to establish those contacts on your own, but for best results, I recommend choosing a reputable public relations agency specializing in plumbing, not just an agency that is local in your market.
Be a speaker
In my experience, most communities have local business groups, civic clubs and home-focused events that need speakers on a regular basis. Many groups and clubs meet monthly or weekly, and each meeting has a keynote presentation involved. Home and garden shows also host keynote speakers, and they attract your target customers: homeowners looking to improve or renovate.
These speaking engagements can serve a similar function as earned media opportunities, but they form a much more personal connection with the audience.
Speaking engagements serve double duty. They showcase your business, and they give you a valuable opportunity for in-person networking. Meeting face to face personalizes your plumbing company for those in attendance, pulling you out of the Google search and turning you into an acquaintance or even a friend. That connection is the gold standard of all marketing.
Start by finding a good angle, problem or little-known fact to form the core of your presentation, then develop it into an engaging experience. A public relations professional can help you with this, and with securing invitations for the best opportunities.
Share to social
I’m a big believer in making the most out of every opportunity. That’s why I recommend boosting the results you get from earned media and speaking engagements through your blog and social media. These opportunities provide clickable, captivating content for you to share, so don’t miss out. Your posts will show your followers that you’re an expert in your field, boosting their trust in you even more.
But it’s not the only benefit. When a media outlet posts your feature online, they’re likely to backlink to your website to give readers more information. That backlink boosts your own website’s search engine optimization. And when you create a blog post linking back to the story, it boosts your SEO as well.
When you post on social media about your news appearances or speaking engagements, be sure to tag the journalist, the media outlet or the organization that hosted your speech. This way, you reach their followers in addition to yours and build goodwill for future invitations.
All these strategies pair well with the traditional marketing you’re already doing, differentiating you from your competition and getting better ROI on your advertising. By adding public relations to your marketing toolkit, you raise awareness of your brand and make it more likely that customers will choose you when they need help.
These initiatives can be undertaken in-house, but they take time, effort and expertise to get the greatest effect. A public relations agency specializing in the home services industry makes a great partner if you’re looking to set your business apart from the rest.