You work hard every day. However, you may not see a proper return on all the blood, sweat, and tears that you put into your business if you do not properly brand and market both yourself and your company. You will also need to capitalize on all your positive feedback to propel your business to the next step and ensure that people remember you and your company! It is hard to be the go-to person if no one can find you or remember you.
A strong name and logo are key. Research shows that it takes customers seeing your brand about seven times before coming to recognize it and properly associate it with you and your company. Keeping your branding consistent is important because if it is not consistent throughout, people will not make the connection naturally to you. You cannot have something different on your website, business cards, and truck. You must be consistent to be recognized consistently. Having your trucks wrapped and branded the same way as your website, business cards, etc. will also help to drive recognition and essentially serve as a free mobile billboard advertising you and your company. When you are stopped at a job, passers-by (potential customers) will see that you are out there and people are hiring you to work at their properties, establishing credibility in their eyes. Branding is worth the investment and will pay for itself and then some when done properly and consistently.
There are some basics that you can cover to ensure that you will be both easy to find and memorable, both are key factors to your success. Nowadays, much of this will focus will be around a single component: the internet.
Establishing a website with consistent branding and clear information is especially important for your growth. First, the branding must be consistent with the look that you have established. If people see you driving around in your service truck with a certain brand and search you online, only to see a totally different look/logo/color palette, they are going to think that they have found the wrong website, and that is not good for you. Consistency with your brand is key, even if you have the best website in the world, if the branding is off, it will throw potential customers off. Especially those that specifically searched for you, which means that they were interested in hiring you. If they do not think that they can find your website, your potential customer will quickly and easily go look elsewhere, with all those listings at their fingertips. It only takes a fraction of a second to either gain a customer or lose one.
Once you ensure that your website branding is consistent, having information that is easy to find is also important. Your hours, your location, and your phone number should all be prominently featured. If it is not easy to contact you, then odds are your customers will just move on to a website where they can find this information readily. According to multiple studies, a user will spend under 7 seconds looking at written content on a website. 7 seconds. That is all you have. We are not talking seven football seconds; we are talking seven internet seconds. 1,2,3,4… Slow website? Too bad. 5,6…Cannot easily find information? 7. Moved on to someone else. It is as quick as that. Your potential new customer has gone to someone with their phone number and service area prominently listed. And oh look! They have a 24-hour emergency service! Now they have your potential customers’ attention, and they are willing to read more copy and learn more about your competitor while you are left in the proverbial dust. Services that people often need in a rush (such as plumbers, HVAC, locksmiths, tow trucks, etc.) need to have their contact information readily available. Someone in a panic is not going to spend time scrolling endlessly through your website as though they are reading the great American novel (or a recipe on a website). They do not have time for that, and even if they do, they do not want to wait for you to get to the point. Patience is not a virtue of the internet, and you will quickly be passed up by numerous potential customers. Customers will generally only stay on a web page for 20 seconds unless they see the clear value in yours, so make it apparent why customers should give you the time of day instead of your competitor with the flashy website.
You also need to make sure that you have proper keywords on your website that describe your business and services. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is worth putting time into, so that you can be found by those needing your services. Make sure you mention individual services that you offer on your website so that search engines will readily identify you. If you are a plumber, make sure that you feature plumber, plumbers, plumbing, plumbing services, etc. Do you specialize in emergencies? Make sure your website states so. Maybe you are a rockstar at installing water heaters, have that text listed. Whatever detail you can get in there, the better for customers to find you.
Reviewing Reviews: A Science
More and more people are utilizing the internet as a way to not only find options, but they are also paying close attention to reviews of your company. You should be paying close attention to those, as well!
Creating a website and claiming your Google business listing are both key factors in getting recognition online. It also allows for your business to be reviewed. Reviews have come a long way and are a key factor that potential customers consider when deciding on who to reach out to and hire.
When looking at hiring Plumbers or HVAC technicians, 82% of consumers will look at reviews with 81% of them believing reviews are important for the industry. What does this mean for you?
According to studies by BrightLocal, 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in 2020, with a total of 87% reading reviews for those local businesses. How these possible customers see these reviews greatly affects your bottom line. Do you get a new customer, or will they pass? 94% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business, while 92% say that negative reviews steer them away from businesses. These numbers are important! If you have multiple bad reviews out there, 92% of your potential customers will look elsewhere to hire someone.
Your reviews will not be 100% positive, no one expects that. Most people will acknowledge that a stray negative review here or there could be from a particularly difficult person to please or maybe you or your staff were extra busy one day and you were not as polite as you could have been. Either way, as long as those negative reviews do not add up and do not appear repeatedly in recent times, then you should be okay.
A lack of any reviews is also a red flag for consumers, so how, exactly, can you build up your review portfolio? It is quite simple. Put on your disguise and create as many fake email addresses as you can think of and start reviewing! Kidding. It is actually quite a bit easier than that – all you have to do is ask, it turns out. BrightLocal found that 73% of consumers studied had been asked to write a review for a local business. Of those customers asked to write reviews, a whopping 72% of them did go on to write a review! It is relatively easy to get the ball rolling there, especially if you establish a positive relationship with your customers early on. People like to share their opinions of a product or service, good or bad, and if asked to, they are highly likely to oblige! So do not be afraid to ask, many customers will be happy to help you out, especially if it helps to keep their favorite plumber or HVAC Tech in business.
Claim Your Business On Google
In the days before internet reviews, negative words still traveled quite quickly. Now, however, according to the BrightLocal studies, your Google My Business listing is viewed over 1,000 times per month. This has reviews at the ready and is easily accessible by everyone with an internet connection. Ensure that you claim your Business Google listing so that you can easily control what Google lists about your company (hours, location, phone number, etc.). Of course, you cannot control the reviews that are left, but you can complete your profile which will give customers more certainty while selecting you. Google did their own research on this and found that if a Google Business listing was complete, 67% of consumers did not do any additional research, making their decision then and there. If the profile was not complete, 41% of consumers were most likely to keep researching and find a different profile. These studies also found that consumers like to see the following information on the Google Business listings: location, hours, reviews, photos, map, and that the profile is claimed.
Let us say that there are a large number of plumbers or HVAC techs in your area, what will make you stand out amongst the crowd and make a potential customer pick you? First of all, you need to be easily found (having that easily accessible website with key prominently featured to be considered by your potential customers surfing through listing after listing for someone to come and service their cooling unit or fix a leak under the sink will help you here). But having that quick business listing pop up with your important details featured prominently will also help you to drive people to your business.
If the customer is facing a true emergency, they will probably contact the first number that pops up, so ensuring that your service area and phone number are featured prominently is especially important. Also, make sure that you utilize those Search Engine Optimization (SEO) metrics. Taking advantage of this feature can greatly help you in your cause to be contacted for business.
Target Your Audience
Running targeted ads is a wonderful way to get clicks through to your website from customers in your targeted area. As time has gone on, running these ads has gotten simpler and is highly cost-effective. You can utilize social media to run these targeted ads or even search engines themselves, like Google. These companies make it easy to set up your campaign and run your ads only when you want to. You can set a budget and turn the ads on and off with the click of a button. These platforms have made things easy for you to handle on your own without much of a hassle and have made it a simple process with explanations to walk you through step by step, often allowing you to pick specific goals that you want to achieve and catering the ad options specifically to what you would like to accomplish with your ad. If it is to raise awareness, get clicks, or appear towards the top of search results, these programs have you covered and can help you to achieve exactly what you want to, including keyword and phrase suggestions. These ads also often provide you with real-time metrics. You can see the number of clicks or views you are getting, which will allow you to determine what time running ads works best for you and your business specifically.
Keep It Simple, Make It About You
It is okay if Marketing and Branding are not your primary wheelhouse. You can work with that. You know your strengths and know what makes you stand out from the competition. Focus on that and go from there. Are you available 24/7 for emergencies? Are you in an area that has very few technicians available? Maybe you are a master at modern-day systems or a specialist in older homes’ plumbing and heating systems, you know your area and their needs the best. Focus on what you do well and use that as a jumping point.
There are many important aspects of your business that expand beyond the plumbing or HVAC specialty. While marketing does not necessarily come easy or naturally to all there are some easy steps to take to ensure that you are doing your part – as it is a vital part of your business’ success. It can be as simple as ensuring consistency throughout your branded items and automating your ads. Making sure that the information that you do provide is clear and easy to find will help you to be successful. With all the hard work that you put into your business, do not let marketing and branding fall to the side. It will help build not only trustworthiness, but also recognizability.
Written by Catherine Lauer – Marketing Communications Specialist, Supply Smart