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3 Subtle Advertising Techniques That Will Help You Win More Work

January 18, 2022 - Marketing & Sales - 11 minutes

You can be forgiven for thinking that to win over new customers you simply need to shout louder than the competition. Don’t worry: you don’t need to use a flailing inflatable to get their attention, either!

However, as competitive as it is for field service businesses, it’s true that it’s not always the loudest companies who will find success…


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More often than not, it’s subtle advertising techniques that will help your business to sell more. That’s because they help you to get consistent attention that has a long-term impact, rather than stop-start successes.

Yes: being loud and spending a ton of money on advertising can work well for you, but for many field service businesses, loudly advertising yourself isn’t going to be a sustainable or cost-effective model to follow. 

That’s why it’s important to focus on more subtle advertising techniques. Also called “indirect marketing”, it’s advertising for when you’re not necessarily trying to sell a specific product or service. 

You’re selling yourself & your brand.

Let’s say you run a plumbing business. The points below may not all sound like typical advertising techniques, but they can help your plumbing business to advertise and generate a surprising amount of attention. They can make your service memorable and set you up for success to sell and win more work!

Let’s take a look:

  1. Be real: talk a like a human
  2. Give advice: become a conversational consultant
  3. Be proud: show off what you do

Why subtle plumbing advertising techniques are effective

Typically, the aim of most advertising is to lead customers towards making a purchase.

Subtle advertising techniques, though, are more about promotional activities.

Sure, they can eventually lead someone to a sale, but they’re far better at helping to establish your brand. They’re strategies designed to increase awareness of your brand and get attention.

You can think of subtle advertising techniques like bait that helps to attract customers; they get them curious before they decide to bite. 

For instance, it might be that your plumbing business is advertising by making a statement about being more eco-friendly. Maybe it’s a charity fun-run at a local public event, or perhaps you’re sharing helpful advice about saving money on heating bills.

All of these are promotional activities—like news and press—that name your brand, but without directly plugging or promoting your services. They’re subtle plumbing advertising strategies.

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These ideas are just a few simple ways you can build awareness and it goes beyond saying something simple like: “Hey, we can do [X service] for you”.

Instead, you attract customers with your business’s personality. They might then start thinking “Hey, I like this about that company” and that means you’re more likely to come to mind when they do need you for an actual job.

Fortunately, establishing subtle advertising techniques for your plumbing business is easier than you might think.

What’s especially important, though, is that these subtle advertising techniques are genuine. That’s why we’re kicking off with our first point…

1. Be real: talk a like a human

There’s nothing worse than coming across as fake or phoney. Prospects aren’t going to respond well to a company that seems disingenuous or only after their money.

No matter how you’re dealing with customers, whether in person, in an email, over the phone, or online, it’s important that you: 

‘Be authentic and let your personality shine’ [these] are words of wisdom that brands will often hear” and for good reason!

HubSpot

Your customers aren’t fools, either. Whether it’s a visit to someone’s home or taking care of an entire office building, your customers are people and they should be treated as such. So, talk like a human!

“Think about the brands you remember. They are human and real. They get stuck in our minds because they touch on a part of ourselves that we didn’t think anyone else could see.”

Forbes

For instance, that means if a customer asks you a direct question, answer it. Whether it’s on price, a project’s time-scale, or something else, your honesty will save you time. This strategy will help everyone figure out if a project is worth pursuing.

Sure, you might be aiming to win their business by sounding professional, but that doesn’t mean you need to pretend. Or worse, come across as robotic.

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The more honest you are, the more confident customers should feel that they’re getting the solution they need. 

Most customers aren’t likely to know the ins and outs of all the technical and manual work that your engineers are doing; so when it comes to troubleshooting a problem and walking them through what you can do, keep it simple.

Customers will often be looking for reassurance and so your team is responsible for making them feel confident that you can help them. You’re here to do a great job that leaves them happy, and they’ll remember that.

So, how is this a subtle advertising technique for your plumbing business? 

Well, a great experience is far more likely to get people talking about you.

And when it comes time for you to request feedback or for them to leave a review, they’re likely to mention how great your service was. This sort of detail is also what other customers will be on the lookout for as they shop around, too.

Ultimately, if your business comes across as friendly, helpful, and engaging, then continued success is far more likely. That only gets better with each and every job your complete.

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2. Give advice: become a conversational consultant

Building on the initial bit of rapport you have with customers is also incredibly important.

And when it comes to selling, upselling your customers may be a goal that’s on your mind. After all, if you can do one job for them, why not try to find out if there’s more you can do, too?

Of course, it’s important to avoid seeming pushy.

Just because you want to let the customer know all their options, it’s not going to do anyone any good if your engineers or customer service staff just try to reel off every option under the sun. That’s overwhelming and is going to put off more customers than it helps to create. 

In the vast majority of cases, people don’t want to be sold to, at least not obviously, and that’s where developing a consultative approach comes in. It’s a particularly effective but subtle advertising technique.

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Similar to our first point, it’s all about building rapport with your customers. And you’ll find customers respond positively with this approach, so long as it’s handled properly.

By asking open questions, your team can discover more about what a customer really wants, needs, or may benefit from. After all, you’re the expert at what you do and if a customer has hired you to do a job, there’s already reason to believe they’ll appreciate the advice you have to offer.

This is especially true if it seems like a customer might be spending too much (or even too little) on a product or service. Ask questions like:

  1. “What sort of results are you hoping for from this service? Because there are other options you could consider…”
  2. “Based on everything we talked about, do you have any hesitation that our solution isn’t right for you?
  3. “Looking at the proposal/quote/estimate, is there anything that you don’t feel confident about?”

A consultative approach may not result in an immediate sale, it might even result in losing a sale—but it’s all about building trust with your customers. It’s more important to build and strengthen a relationship than it is to push hard for the sake of a quick sale.

Don’t burn bridges if you can help it!

After all, you’re far more likely to stay in touch and, later, win new opportunities if you’re communicating properly with customers. In this way, you’re more subtly informing customers and advertising what you’re capable of.

Not to mention, you’re finding out useful information that will help you to deliver a more effective and informed service that you can be confident is right for them.

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3. Be proud: show off what you do

Perhaps the simplest way to go about advertising yourself is to show what you’re capable of to your prospects. Seeing is believing, as they say! And these days, it’s easier than ever to create, share, and demonstrate effectively what your business is capable of because of how easy it is to create a video or snap a photo.

You’ll see a lot of this online, browsing through Facebook or searching through Google Reviews, but customers and businesses alike are sharing real-world examples of work that’s been done for them and it’s often free advertising for the plumbing companies, like yours, doing the work.

For example, a business might praise their engineer on social media: “Jack, our trainee plumber, did a bang-up job installing this new heat pump! Just look at that beauty!”

It’s a simple but effective way to show:

  1. Products you’re capable of installing
  2. That you’re proud of your work
  3. That you respect and value your employees!

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that?

At the same time, you’re not directly selling your services, but subtly showing examples of well-done jobs, which will get customers to notice you.

It might sound simplistic, but that’s precisely the point!

If you’re not taking simple steps to visually share your work, prospects won’t see it. It doesn’t take much to show a bit of appreciation that will end up having a positive impact.

How about an example? 

I recently witnessed a fantastic sales process, where every single one of the subtle advertising techniques was used to perfection. My parents were hiring a carpet fitter to sort out their stairs and first-floor landing. 

1. The guy they ended up hiring was a proper, salt-of-the-earth gent: he was prompt, presentable, and friendly.

2. He asked all the right questions: he gave a mix of honest opinions, but also respected and answered the practical and personal questions asked. (After all, it’s their home so he put in the effort to make sure their style, personality, and the impression they wanted to make were recognised). Asking something like: “How do you want it to make you feel, and not just to the touch”, was great.

3. The pitch he gave was wrapped up very neatly as he showed off numerous quality samples of his products. These photos showed work he’d completed for other customers in their homes.

The conclusion? 

It was made very clear that his work was as good as his word. From start to finish, the experience they had was excellent. On top of that, they also went on to recommend his services to their own friends: so that’s his advertising done for him!

There’s no reason the same strategies can’t work for you, too.

The Takeaway

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For the most part, it’s all about taking the time to build trust and engage your customers by creating rapport.

New and returning customers alike will see that you’re not only able to assist them by fixing an asset, completing an installation, or doing a great clean-up job, but that they can feel good about choosing your services, too.

As we said, it might not always seem like you’re advertising yourself; but that’s why subtle advertising for your plumbing business can be more impactful. When done right, they’ll make an impression that helps you to take customers on amazing journeys.

Some of the best ways to do this are by enhancing your staff and being open and honest with your customers. And unlike promoting your business on social media or buying a giant advertising board, these methods won’t cost you the earth, either!

Subtle behaviours and indirect strategies that will yield impactful and consistent results.


To get started, be sure to take a look at The Customer Communication Toolkit.

By structuring the simplest of interactions with your customers, you’ll create stronger relationships that benefit everyone.

Download your 10+ free email & SMS templates, today!

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I'm eager to share great stories, advice, and tips that can help inspire and motivate field service businesses to find success. It's that, or I'm hunting down the best bagel recipe I can get my hands on!

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