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Tommy Lee-Zmuda, installer and founder of The Boiler Business, explains why business marketing and backend systems should be combined, rather than treated as two separate areas of business development.
Do you often read comments like this: ‘Marketing doesn’t work. Pay-per-click (PPC) is a waste of money! Search engine optimisation (SEO) agencies, they’re all cowboys!’?
Last April, our Boiler Business article in HVP explained how to use SEO to attract new customers to your business. A year down the line, there seems to be much more talk among community groups about using various SEO and PPC companies to grow businesses, often accompanied by horror stories and mistrust of those that offer the services.
So, let’s get back to basics and pull out the so-called ‘Marketing Manual for Plumbers’. SEO and PPC are both what we would call ‘top of funnel’ marketing channels.
The focus is to get new customers’ eyeballs on your business and encourage the customer to take action by filling out your online form or calling the company number to request your services.
Now, I’m not going to pull the rug out from under the knowledgeable, experienced, and honest people that serve this industry with those services and say that SEO and PPC aren’t valuable tools. However, content development and optimisation also has a vital role to play in your business’ long term development, which I’ll touch upon later in this article.
Before you get started on any kind of marketing push however, it’s worth asking yourself whether you have the systems in place to support the additional work it will likely generate for your business.
An analogy I like to use is that of a leaky water bucket with many holes from top to bottom. Some holes are wider than others. However, the holes at the bottom of the bucket probably are losing the most water over time. No matter how big the holes are towards the top of the bucket, if you want to capture more water, you must fix your problems before turning the tap on. Is your heating business like this leaky bucket?
A few years ago, we explained to a group of trainees that it doesn’t matter how good your marketing is if your systems are not in place to cope with and make the most of the increased volume of enquiries for new business.
Speaking from experience, I told the group how our first business was too one-sided. Stronger at its marketing than on systems, and built on shoddy foundations. It was a thriving, busy business doing good volume and looking the part to everyone outside of the company. Our logo and slogan were visible everywhere you looked in the local area. But we had built the Leaning Tower of Pisa – it nearly all came crashing down.
Sales software for the industry
Around five years ago, my team adopted sales CRM software solutions to improve boiler sales. These software solutions introduced us to the possibilities of laying out customer journeys specific to the way we wanted to sell boiler installations.
Clickfunnels was the first, costing £150 per month, followed by the better option of Pipedrive for £35 per month. However, after some years of building our customer database, we changed the company’s direction, moving to ServiceM8 onto focus on serving the existing database we had built.
Fast forward to 2022 and, in recent months, two new companies have been offering their solution for our industry, to deliver a ‘Pipedrive-style’ customer journey.
Leadpal and Payaca both focus on using technology to improve your business’ quotation and sales process. Unlike many other software systems, these companies have years of experience in the UK heating industry working with other national brands, which is hugely valuable to the businesses that will use them.
The crucial difference between the two companies’ platforms is that Leadpal must be used alongside your field-based CRM software, such as ServiceM8, SimPro, or Commusoft. If you prefer to use one platform rather than bolting two together, the other option is Payaca. Payaca has broader scope for those who want a front-to-back, all-in-one software solution.
Content development and optimisation
As explained at the top of this article, SEO is intended to optimise your website for search engines like Google. SEO is still an excellent long term investment for your business, but does not address the problem of the leaky bucket and your business systems.
Before investing funds into the top of funnel marketing channels, you need to fix those holes and improve your customer-facing front end communications with backend automation to achieve the best return on the time and money invested.
Software systems such as Payaca and Leadpal allow for the optimisation of content throughout the customer journey, helping you win more work at a higher margin due to the improved perceived value these platforms deliver.
Imagine how effective it would be to create blogs and video content, while also adding to your top of funnel SEO and lead generation.
Is this possible? Yes, it certainly is. If planned correctly from the ground up, your business marketing and systems could be much more effective if combined rather than treated as two separate areas of business development.
Over the last three years, hundreds of heating engineers have embraced business development with The Boiler Business – Built to Last team. Why not start your journey with the introduction one day workshop or jump into a six month programme, surrounding yourself with like-minded people from the industry.
To keep up with all Boiler Business Built to Last events, watch business development videos, and read the reviews head over to the Facebook page here.