Simple ideas to jump start your marketing

Could your marketing use a boost? Here's a few quick ideas to jump start your marketing.

Could your marketing use a boost? Here's a few quick ideas to jump start your marketing.

Rent your customers' yards: Following every service call, but before collecting payment, ask the customer if you can rent his yard for a month by placing a company yard sign near the curb in exchange for a $10 discount. Corrugated plastic yard signs can be purchased for as little as $3 per sign. Spiff the plumber $5 and for a total investment of $18, you've got a mini-billboard for a month. Moreover, you're building your brand awareness within the neighborhood as the neighborhood plumber.

Advertise in newsletters: Homeowners associations, churches, garden clubs, and other organizations produce newsletters that are typically read more closely than the local newspaper. Newsletter ads are inexpensive and associate your business with a group that's important to the newsletter recipient.

Give discounts to employees of commercial customers: If you perform work for commercial customers with lots of employees, create a special discount card or flyer the employees can use. The perception is your company must be pretty good or the boss wouldn't use you. In addition, the employees of your commercial accounts think they will get better service since their employer is an important customer of yours.

Use QR Codes for static ads: QR or quick read codes are beginning to show up in more and more places. They are a form of a bar code that can be read by any smart phone (some require downloading a free app). The QR code can load a phone number, message, contact information, or website. It's the latter that's getting the most play with marketers. For static ads that do not change frequently like billboards, yellow page ads, and refrigerator magnets, write copy instructing people to scan the code for your special of the day. The QR code should take customers to a webpage where you can change the offer as needed. If the callboard is full, reduce or eliminate any discounts. If you need calls, increase the incentive.

Give gift certificates over coupons: When appropriate, give people gift certificates with your company instead of coupons. We get coupons all day, every day and throw them out if not immediately needed. Gift certificates, on the other hand, are saved. They are perceived to carry tangible value, yet it costs you no more to print a gift certificate than to print a coupon.

Provide gift certificates to 5K runners: People who run in 5K races drink lots of water. They are also health conscious. This makes them great candidates for a reverse osmosis or other type of home water purification system. Most 5K races provide runners with race packets at registration. The packets typically include coupons for shoes, energy bar samples, and so on. Race organizers like stuffing the packets with items of interest to runners. Many races will not even charge you to add the gift certificates to the packets.

Use an e-mail signature: Set up an automatic signature for your e-mail that includes your company name, phone number, website, and a reason to call your company for plumbing services.

Give airline frequent flyer miles: You can purchase frequent flyer miles from major airlines to use in marketing promotions. Some sell certificates with as few as 250 miles for $7. Most require 500 mile certificates. Promote that you give miles in your marketing, on your trucks, on your website, and through social media. Homeowners who have no preference for one plumber over another, but who build their frequent flyer miles will select you simply to get the miles.

Bundle electronics with water heaters: Face it, replacing a water heater doesn't get anyone excited. To most people, it's a painful experience and nothing to look forward to. Change that by bundling low cost, high appeal consumer electronics such GPS units, digital photo frames, or even Blue-Ray players with 10 year water heaters. Not only are you making the purchase of a water heater more enjoyable, you're giving people a strong incentive to buy up.

Run an Oldest Water Heater Contest: At your next home show, give away a water heater to the homeowner with the oldest water heater, provided the homeowner pays your company for a discounted, but professional installation to code. Every homeowner registration is a qualified lead. Not only does the homeowner believe he or she might have the oldest water heater around, but the homeowner's willing to pay for the installation. While there can only be one winner, everyone can win second place or honorable mention, which is a gift certificate with your company. Get a supply house to donate the water heater if you promote their brand and your cost is practically zero.

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable, a business alliance of plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and service contractors. Learn more about the Service Roundtable at www.ServiceRoundtable.com, or e-mail Matt at: [email protected].