Making some small changes to your marketing scheme will make your business more appealing to female consumers.
As business-savvy as most in the pumping industry are, some are stuck in the age of June and Ward Cleaver when it comes to one area: marketing. That’s one thing Robin Jones, vice president of marketing for Service Roundtable (a division of Service Nation in Dallas) has learned. Jones presented a seminar on “Marketing to Women” at the WWETT Show in February.
And while the attendance at her presentation was mostly female, Jones says by the end of the program, the men who attended were also agreeing with her comments.
“They all nod their head, [thinking] ‘You’re so right,’” she says. “Guys get it when they come to the presentations; we’ve seen them change marketing plans as a result.
“They’re willing to learn, and accepting of those things they don’t know,” says Jones, whose company is designed to help members in the HVAC, plumbing and electrical industries grow their businesses.
But “some of the older generation feels like they don’t need these tips,” she says.
And so, despite changing some minds, there are a good number of practitioners who still take cues from 1950s sensibilities — such as the belief that the “man of the house” is the prime decision-maker.
Not so, anymore, says Jones. “You should market to the person who’s going to answer the door,” she adds. “It’s often the woman. She has the power in 87 percent of the decision-making relating to repair or replacement.”
Why is that number so high? “Behind that threshold is her world,” says Jones. While she admits that in each geographic region there are different political, economic and ethnic factors at play, in general, women struggle with time, money and well-being.
“The well-being part is about taking care of her family,” says Jones. And decisions about things like plumbing and septic are important to women.
“When you are preparing marketing materials,” she says, “does the headline offer a solution to one of those things the woman is concerned about?”
The marketing and advertising copy should pique the interest of women. “We’re not saying the men are not involved,” Jones says. “But at the end of the day … the woman’s decision kicks in.
“I believe that is a mistake a lot of contractors make or overlook,” she continues. “If it doesn’t reach her, it’s going in the trash.”
Jones notes another issue that can help practitioners market better to female consumers. Male consumers may be more swayed by costs and equipment, but women often purchase on the relationship with the company and the individual service person who comes to the home. “Men don’t do that as much,” she says, but notes that maybe they should.
“You need to build a relationship with them,” says Jones. Female consumers will check a company’s Facebook account and website. She wants to know if you are someone she would feel comfortable letting into her home.
Those relationships are often built on intangible, yet essential, factors — like showing up on time, and dressing and looking professional. While it does depend on the geographic region, Jones cautions service providers to think about things like tattoos and piercings. Will those go over well in your service area?
One final tip Jones suggests is leaving behind a reminder of good service. “We ask technicians, what do they leave behind? It’s nice to leave behind something as a way to remember you,” she says, noting tokens like recipes, coupons, jar openers or other small, branded reminders of the company.
Quite simply, all that customer service and relationship building is something a lot of women respond to. And it’s not a change that comes easily for some practitioners, but Jones feels confident more male owners and their staff are starting to get it.
“I see lightbulbs going off,” she says. “We see people change their marketing and, as a result, they see better profit margins.”
Women often do the legwork to find the contractors — whether it be online or via word of mouth recommendation. And sure, Jones says, men get involved in the decision, but “in the end, it’s more [just for] validation [of the woman’s choice].”
If a woman is happy with a provider, Jones says, “She will recommend to her friends 96 percent of the time.”