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The home service industry has its ups and downs. Some months are full speed ahead. Some months, you’re waiting, hoping that the phone will ring.
The challenge is gaining attention during the lean times. Developing solid public relations and marketing strategies can go a long way toward gaining you and your company the visibility it needs when business is slow.
With more than 100,000 registered plumbing businesses and countless HVAC and electrical service businesses in the U.S., it’s easy to get lost in a crowded marketplace.
Becoming known as an industry expert can set you apart. By developing your reputation as the go-to person for helpful information and industry insight, both the media and potential customers will start seeking you out.
How do you do that?
The first step to becoming an expert and increase your visibility is making sure that customers and prospective clients can find you through Google or other search engines. That begins with creating a quality, useful website that is easy to navigate and offers strong and useful content.
A company blog should be the cornerstone for creating good, informative content for potential customers.
Consistently producing blogs that incorporate keywords and link back to useful sections of your website and credible third-party articles will slowly but surely increase your search engine rankings. This means people will more easily find you on the internet and increase your visibility.
Need some ideas for content? Promote the good causes and charitable giving that your business supports. Celebrate company milestones and anniversaries by telling your story. Send out news releases, post videos to social media, and write blogs about the events. Is a customer willing to offer a testimonial? Post that to your website.
Every bit of content you create gives you a little more visibility.
Example: The New Flat Rate, which provides a menu-pricing system for home service businesses, proactively produces content such as blogs, videos, and articles.
Engage your audience
Once you’ve created content, it’s time to promote it on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. That’s where your audience can be found. According to the Pew Research Center, about 68 percent of online American adults use Facebook.
Start by posting links to the blogs you’ve written or share interesting and helpful news about industry topics.
Directly interacting with your audience on social media is also important. Offer information that addresses the pain points of your readers – whether how-to tips on common problems or a quick run-down how to use your technology or software services to make their lives easier.
Share news about important industry issues or trends. You’ll find more and more people will follow you on social media as you establish your expertise. Increasing the audience for your content means more attention being paid your company.
Just remember that “engage” is a verb. Social media success means actively sharing and interacting with the audience – not just selling. Don’t be afraid to share a little about your corporate culture and the team members who make your company go.
Social media audiences like to know there are real people behind businesses who have senses of humor, who do good deeds and support good causes. Social media is a perfect way to share those stories.
Example: Brooklyn-based Petri Plumbing & Heating features members of its team as well as happy clients on its Facebook page.
Generate word of mouth
Creating visibility for your business isn’t confined to the online world. You can’t neglect the real one.
There is still an important role for traditional networking and face-to-face interactions with potential customers at industry events.
A very effective way to promote yourself as an expert is by speaking at trade shows. Despite the scariness that many people associate with public speaking, having the chance to promote your expertise and brand to a captive audience of potential leads and decision-makers is invaluable.
And it’s effective. According to Statista.com, of people who attend trade shows and events, about 80 percent go on to purchase products or services they learned about while there.
Getting a speaking engagement takes more than just showing up. It will take some effort and discipline to secure speaking opportunities at the right events. That involves coordinating with event staff and developing compelling speaking proposals.
A speaking engagement that nobody knows about won’t help you though. Be prepared to promote your speaking opportunities at upcoming events with social media posts and news releases in order to generate interest.
Example: ServiceTitan, a platform for home services companies to streamline operations, improve customer service and increase sales, regularly sends representatives to speak at industry events.
Get media coverage
To maximize your visibility, your company needs to gain the attention of the media. For a home service contractor, this could mean getting an interview with a newspaper, TV station, or other broadcast media to talk about how homeowners can deal with extreme weather events or protect their homes from natural gas hazards.
Earning this coverage requires consistent effort. Start by sending out press releases to promote your business as an expert in the industry. Cultivate relationships with the press and trade media, who will begin using you as a resource for quotes and information on industry topics.
Securing media coverage is great. Making sure that your message isn’t lost in translation during the process is even better. It pays to spend some time crafting your message and being prepared for interviews. Give great quotes that will make a great story. If you’re being interviewed on television, be aware of your body language and dress for the occasion.
Example: Max Rose, owner of Asheville-based Four Seasons Plumbing, was interviewed by NPR about his efforts to recruit and retain skilled workers.
Taken together, trying to figure out how to juggle all the components of a proper public relations strategy can seem a little overwhelming, but your company doesn’t have to do it alone. A professional PR agency that specializes in the home service and B2B industries can help. They have the expertise to develop and implement the public relations strategy that will get your business noticed – even in the slow times