If you thought that all competition in the home service industry was local, think again. Online giants such as Amazon and Google are now offering plumbing, HVAC, electrical and more. Businesses may think they need to start competing on a global scale. But tried-and-true local public relations strategies can help your business survive and thrive.
Hands down, Amazon is the most trusted brand for online retail. A 2018 NPR/Marist poll (https://n.pr/2Hmmnt3) indicates that more than 40 percent of America’s online shoppers say they buy from Amazon once a month or more; 44 percent say they start with Amazon when they shop online.
Amazon is reaching into more markets each year. Automatic deliveries of nonperishable household items such as paper towels and toothpaste have added a convenience factor for consumers. Acquiring Whole Foods gives Amazon a foothold in the perishable grocery market, too.
And in 2015, the online retailer expanded into yet another market: in-home services. It started with housecleaning and has added more services over time.
The initiative has been a mixed success. Amazon showed signs of revamping the housecleaning portion in 2018 by hiring its own staff to provide this service in certain test markets. The question remaining is whether consumers’ trust for Amazon as a retailer extends to Amazon as a provider of home services. For a local plumber, you might wonder how you can compete with giants like Amazon and now Google for business.
This is where a great public relations and marketing strategy comes in. Instead of asking yourself how you can compete with Amazon, think of the ways that Amazon can’t compete with you. Find ways to stay relevant and make sure potential clients turn to you first when they need plumbing services. Here are some ways you can stay a step ahead of the online giants.
When you book a service through Amazon, you don’t know whom you’re getting. The process is faceless until the service provider shows up at your doorstep. Leveraging the personal side of your company is the best way to set yourself apart from Amazon. Your local plumbing business has a name and a face in the community. Start by establishing your business as a good community partner and a trusted source of information and services.
Getting news interviews with local media outlets is an excellent way to build trust and get into the forefront of potential czients’ minds.
Be sure to put your personal story on your business’s “About” or “History” page. Talk about the value of being a family business and how much you enjoy serving your hometown. Make these pages personal and local.
These strategies help positive feelings about your business flourish in the minds of potential clients. When welcoming people into their homes, consumers feel much more comfortable with companies they know and trust. By establishing that trust ahead of time, you’ve made yourself a better choice than Amazon.
Build good reviews
Online reviews are key to building trust and drawing clients to you. Put in the time and effort to build good reviews and ratings on Google and sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. When a consumer is looking for a home service provider, these are the places they visit first.
Ask your clients to leave reviews, especially after they’ve had a good experience. Monitor your reviews and be responsive.
The toughest part is responding to negative reviews, but it’s also the most important part. Show that you care about customer satisfaction and stand behind the work you do. It will build even more trust within your local market. If potential clients see professional, caring responses when you get something wrong, they are more likely to call you instead of an unknown contractor on Amazon.
Boost trust, SEO with content
Content marketing is another area where your business can beat Amazon. The content of your website plays a huge role in what potential clients think of you when researching your business. It plays an even bigger role in where your business lands in Google search results. Search engine optimization is the practice of building often-searched keywords into your website so you are shown higher in relevant search results.
Blogging thoughtfully and regularly puts content on your website that will match you to your clients’ frequent Google searches. Blogging shouldn’t be a constant sales pitch, though. Your blog content should be helpful and relevant to your clients’ needs. For example, give DIY advice on maintaining your home’s plumbing, write about what to do when pipes freeze and add a blog about the benefits of a tankless water heater.
If clients find helpful information on your website, they are more likely to trust you for home services over an Amazon contractor. And when an emergency strikes, good SEO will put you at the top of the search results when they say, “Hey, Google. Who is the best plumber near me?”
Once you’ve identified the ways your business can stand out from the online giants, you can put your plan to work and stay relevant to your local consumers. The task takes time but it is well worth the investment to give your clients a reason to choose you over Amazon.
You don’t have to go it alone, though. A professional public relations and marketing agency has the know-how to effectively share your story with local media and build stellar content for your website or blog. Be sure to select an agency with plenty of experience with home services clients, too. With their help, you won’t lose ground to Amazon. You’ll grow instead.