Most plumbing company marketing sucks. But then, most small business marketing sucks. It doesn’t have to suck. Here are nine rules that can make your marketing better.


1.  Why you need to market

Sadly, many plumbing contractors think marketing is unnecessary. They believe their service is so extraordinary that people are compelled to recommend their company to everyone they know. However, the plumbing contractors who perform better in a community generally market better.  
Good marketing makes business easier. It makes consumers feel better about calling a company.  It makes employees feel better about where they work, and makes prospective employees more likely to approach the company seeking employment. It even makes word-of-mouth work better.


2. Drop the jargon

Marketing is communication. To communicate, you need to speak the same language. Si je commence à parler français (if I start speaking French), you won’t understand me. You might pick up a word here and there, but not enough to communicate. When you use industry jargon, you might as well be speaking French. You are not communicating. Do not use jargon. Explain things.


3. It’s all about the customer

Many plumbers think consumers are interested in their companies. They are not. Consumers are interested in themselves. Good marketing communication is focused on the consumer. What is interesting to her? What does she care about? What concerns her?

If you send out a consumer newsletter (and you should), talk about things interesting to the consumer, not about your company. If you use social media to communicate with your customers (and you should), give people reasons to follow your social media pages and posts.  

Offer up tips for making people’s homes better, even if they aren’t related to plumbing.  Offer coupons and special savings. Using special discounts is one of the main reasons consumers say they welcome company emails.


4. Speak like a human

Most advertising and marketing is spoken with a corporate voice. It’s dry, dull and formal. A lot of plumbers think this is how they should speak — it’s not. Speak with a human voice. Speak with your voice. Be real; be yourself.


5. Have a conversation

In your marketing, start with a picture of the consumer. Give her a name. Describe her. Imagine you are speaking directly with her. Have a conversation. Granted, it will be one-sided, but the conversational approach works.  

After all, marketing is a conversation. Centuries ago, people would go to the Saturday market where they would share the news and have conversations with the various shop owners and merchants.  Think of marketing as a conversation and approach it differently, more effectively.


6. Tell stories

Some of the best marketing is in the form of a story. People love stories. Before we had a written language, stories were the way we taught lessons. Tribes would sit around the campfire and the storytellers would share stories that taught the people valuable lessons. Storytelling is part of our DNA. How can you use stories to communicate?


7. Be local

Should you outsource your marketing? There’s something to be said for engaging professionals who know what they are doing. You would not expect a marketer to do a good job plumbing, so why expect a plumber to do a good job marketing?

If you feel it necessary, by all means, use marketing pros for the technical aspects of marketing.  They are going to be better at SEO, SEM and digital marketing. Also, use professional graphic designers.  This is money well spent.  

But, do not expect someone from three states over to understand the people in your market.  You have to teach a marketer about plumbing, about your company and about you. That is hard enough.  Do not add to the burden by hiring someone from another town or state. Get someone who understands the local history, subtleties, nuances and culture. Get someone local.


8. Know when to be brief

There are times when long copy is appropriate. Long copy can work with direct mail, consumer newsletters and web copy. Give people the information they need to make decisions.  

There are other times when you need to be brief. If you are driving around and your wife calls to ask you to pick up some eggs from the store, you might remember. If she asks you to pick up eggs, bread, flour, shredded cheddar cheese, one-quart plastic bags and Italian roast ground coffee, you’re not going to remember everything. To have a hope, you would have to pull over and write it down.

You are trying to remember the list from your wife. Do you think a marketing message on a billboard, side of a truck or over the radio has a prayer?

Squeeze your messaging down to one thought and make it concise. Think of the memes that appear in social media.


9. Use contrast

Contrast is differences. When images have good contrast, elements stand out. You want to create a contrast for your company. How does your company contrast with other plumbing contractors? What makes you unique? Boil it down to something short, simple and catchy and it becomes your unique selling proposition. It tells people why you are different.

Contrast applies to more than copy. How can you appear different? How can you provide a different experience?  How can your trucks look different? How can you answer the phone different?  Create a contrast between your company and all of the lookalikes.