The Ultimate Guide to Marketing For Tradesmen
Every trades business needs customers. No matter how skilled you are in your craft, you can’t make a living without a steady flow of jobs.
But marketing and finding job leads as a tradesman isn’t always a walk in the park.
There are so many different marketing strategies out there it can be hard to know where to start, what’s the most impactful, and what’s the easiest – especially when you’re learning all this on the job without any formal marketing experience.
This is a marketing guide for all the plumbers, electricians, oil & gas engineers, HVAC specialists, and other tradespeople out there. If you’re running a trades business and want to learn how to get more work as a tradesman, this is for you.
A note on marketing for tradesmen
The single most important thing to remember is that each marketing strategy contributes to each other’s effectiveness.
The bigger your business, the more complex your marketing strategy will get – and it’s like spinning an intricate web of points in which customers can “interact” with your brand.
Each of these interactions is solidifying your brand in your customer’s minds. Eventually, they’ll ring you up – and the job goes from there.
Getting your name out there
Finding job leads is all about connecting your trades business with those looking for the services you offer.
We’re living in a digital world now, so we’ll split this guide into two parts. Part 1 will cover the more traditional side to marketing. Part 2 will cover everything digital.
Part 1: Marketing for tradesmen
One of the oldest trades marketing strategies in the book, printing off leaflets or flyers is a tried-and-tested way to find more customers.
The best part of this strategy is it doesn’t take much effort to do at all. Simply carry a stack of leaflets in your van, and every time you do a job drop a few leaflets through the letterboxes of nearby houses.
Nobody wants to go out of their way to find a trusted tradesperson. If they find a leaflet posted through their letterbox, there’s a good chance they’ll keep it safe and ring you up when they need work.
We spoke to Luke from Blue Bulldog Heating & Plumbing and he mentioned that flyers were an early successful marketing strategy for him:
“One of the jobs I did today – I was like, hey, where did you get my number? He had one of my old leaflets on his fridge from when I first started. He has kept it all this time.”
– Luke Stanyer, Blue Bulldog Plumbing & Heating
Pros & cons
- They’re extremely cheap to print (cheaper in high volumes)
- They don’t take much effort
- Great for new businesses without an established customer base
Your company vehicle goes with you from job to job, making it your own personal and mobile billboard.
Whether you’re parked in front of a customer’s house or on the move, a van should carry your branding for anyone and everyone to see.
Some simple vehicle wrapping is all that needs to be done here. Include bits of information such as:
- Company name
- Contact details (email, phone, website)
- An attractive logo
- A catchy and memorable tagline
Pros & cons
- One-off purchase
- Inexpensive in the long-run
- Makes you look professional
Front garden signs
Sticking a sign in your customer’s front garden or driveway is an effective way to signal to all their neighbours that you’re here doing a job. It’s another simple way of getting your business into the minds of more potential customers.
These signs don’t need to be anything fancy nor destructive to your customer’s property. Simply a retractable standing sign will do the job.
Pros & cons
- Cheap to make
- Makes you look professional
- Doesn’t take much effort
Business cards are an old school marketing tool, but people still use them for a reason: they work. If anything, they work better nowadays than they ever did. Why?
Back in the day, people were more likely to keep a business card as a way of holding onto your details for future reference. Today, most people will note this information on their phone or directly take a photo of the business card. This means there are far more business cards available to pass on to friends, family, and neighbours.
Since you can print off thousands for fairly cheap, we would always recommend handing out a business card whenever the opportunity arises. You never know where your business card might land itself, but it’s a win if anyone gets in touch with you because of one.
Pros & cons
- Cheap to print off
- Great at networking events
- Low effort
Referrals & partnerships
If you’re looking for how to get more work as a tradesman, partnerships and referrals (also known as partner marketing) are perhaps the most underrated strategy.
We recently wrote an article on the topic – click here to find out more. In short, all you need to do is get in touch with other businesses in the UK to find out if they’re interested in creating a referral network.
You may want to investigate partnering with those in aligned sectors (other trades that pair well with yours) as renovations and new builds often require the expertise of more than one tradesperson. You could also look at others in your same industry if you or they offer specialised services, or operate in different locales and can refer jobs closer to home to each other. Not everyone is a competitor if you know your niche.
These kinds of partnerships are mutually beneficial and are a great way to find more customers.
Pros & cons
- If you have a two-way referral scheme, you shouldn’t be spending any money
- You may be able to make a little extra money referring customers for jobs you can’t complete yourself
- Partnerships benefit your customers as well
Word-of-mouth & recommendations
Anyone who’s run a successful trades business will sing absolute praise for the importance of word-of-mouth recommendations.
Nothing is more powerful than having someone recommend your business. It’s a dream situation in which your own customers become your advocates and advertise your services.
There are only two problems with word-of-mouth marketing. The first is that for brand new businesses, it can be hard to generate enough work from word-of-mouth alone as it requires pre-existing customers. Secondly, since you yourself aren’t making the recommendations, it’s all organic and somewhat out of your control. You can remind and encourage customers to tell their friends and family but, in the words of Richie Basquine from RJ Heating, “just try to do a good job and hope for word of mouth”.
Pros & cons
- A recommendation from a trusted source is normally all a potential customer needs to consider phoning you up.
- Takes no extra effort apart from doing your best work.
- Is extremely effective.
- Can create a self-sustaining business.
Get branded clothing
Polo shirts and winter coats can be easily made to include your company logo. It’s a subtle yet effective way to look professional and get people to remember your brand. The more they see your logo, the more they’ll associate you with being a reputable, trustworthy, and quality brand.
Pros & cons
- Doesn’t take much effort and can complement other tradesman marketing strategies
Part 2: Digital marketing for tradesmen
Social media marketing for tradesmen
People spend hours on social media every day, meaning a huge portion of your customers are right at your fingertips.
If you’re not already, it’s a good idea to set up business accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. You could also investigate YouTube, although starting and running a channel takes a bit of work, and X (Twitter)
Especially for the younger generation who might have moved to the area you work in, social media can be a great way to find work.
Here’s what we would recommend:
- Create accounts that have your business name, and add descriptions which include your work and service area (e.g Gas Engineer and Plumber based in Sevenoaks area) and contact details.
- Post regularly across these social channels. It’s a great way for you to build brand awareness and authority in your space.
- Join social groups (Facebook is great for this) for your local area. People use these groups to ask questions and look for tradespeople. You can always drop a comment or even message them.
- Run social media advertisements. These platforms have highly complex targeting algorithms that let you reach your potential customers with ease. Try out some advertisements with a small budget at first and then increase it if you’re finding some success.
Here are some examples of social media accounts run by tradespeople we’ve worked with:
Pros & cons
- Organic posts are completely free
- A great way to find younger customers that may stick with you for years to come and have lots of work
- Easily connect with your local area
Google Business Profile
Formerly known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile is a highly effective digital marketing tool for tradespeople.
It appears as a little window on Google search results and Google Maps when someone searches for your business name or relevant keywords. A keyword might be ‘electrician in leeds’, if you are and have let Google know you are an electrician based in Leeds.
Here’s an example of a Google Business Profile:
The best part about Google Business Profile is that it’s free to set up and only has to be done once. You let Google know some basic information about your company such as contact details, business name, opening hours, the services you offer, and website.
Pros & cons
- Costs nothing to set up
- Doesn’t require much maintenance at all
- Great way to boost your online presence
Creating a website
A website is one of the core fundamentals of digital marketing for tradesmen.
A huge portion of your customers will use the internet to search for tradespeople. If you’ve got a website ready for them to land on, you’ll look much more professional and will be able to capture more of this audience.
Your website is also a place for you to be a bit more personal, tell your story, and explain your services in more detail.
Your website doesn’t have to be too fancy. Some simple pages with the right information, clear text, and a clean design will do the job. We recommend creating:
- An appealing homepage which includes basic information about your services and location
- A contact page that includes all relevant information such as
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Working hours
- Physical addresses
- A services page where you can talk about all the different services you offer and their pricing
- An about us page to personalise your brand a little and set it apart from the rest. Don’t be shy to tell your story, as it will help make your business sound more ‘real’ and trustworthy to any potential customer that reads it.
- A page for testimonials and reviews to, again, build trust and credibility
Your website does not necessarily have to get lots of organic traffic to be useful. If you have a website, be sure to link it in all your social media accounts, put it on your van, business cards, and just about everywhere you can.
Pros & cons
- Makes your business look more professional
- It’s your space which you can completely customise to your liking
- Enables you to run search engine advertisements
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
You might be tempted to go all in with SEO after creating your website. However, while SEO can help create a great stream of customers, it can be easy to get caught up in the whole strategy.
Our advice with SEO is to start small and simple and take it from there.
It’s a great idea to use a website builder like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix to help get all the technical aspects of your website sorted. On any of these platforms, the process of creating and publishing the pages we mentioned above is relatively simple and straightforward.
As you’re writing the content for these pages, keep in mind some basic keywords you can use to help attract relevant website traffic.
A keyword is a phrase that people use to search for things online. If your website uses and has content relating to a keyword, Google is more likely to show your website to those searching for it.
Example keywords include:
- flooring specialist in manchester
- gas engineer london
- best electrician edinburgh
- new boiler installation kent
And many more…
Try to include these keywords naturally into your website content, and you should be able to redirect some relevant online traffic to your website.
Pros & cons
- SEO is free and effective
- Not good for short-term results
Online business directories
Websites like Checkatrade, Bark, Rated People, TrustATrader, and My Builder are all legitimate marketing strategies for tradespeople. They’re designed to connect reputable tradespeople with customers and make their money out of doing so.
These websites can do a much better job of SEO as it’s their primary purpose. This is their unique selling point and how they are able to attract both tradespeople and customers to the same place.
Many have application processes to ensure you are a legitimate and honest tradesperson. This is done to create a fair and trustworthy system where your services and reviews speak for themselves.
Remember that while these websites are a solid way for tradesmen to get leads, they also cost a fair bit of money. They’re still likely to turn you a profit, but see if you can use other more cost-effective marketing strategies in the long-term to save money (and cut out a middleman).
Pros & cons
- A good source of high-quality leads
- Can cost a decent amount of money which you need to keep paying
With a website, you can start to run Google ads. These are also called pay-per-click search engine advertisements as you only pay if someone clicks onto your website.
While they are one of the best advertising methods for tradesmen, bear in mind that you’ll have to keep feeding money into the system to get results.
Here’s an example of a google ad for when we searched for “PAT certificate bristol”:
The sponsored results are all advertisements, and they take up a big portion of the visible results page. Even if your website was ranking on the first position of the organic results, these sponsored listings get pushed to the top.
Pros & cons
- Relatively affordable way to get leads
- Can be a little complex to set up and manage
For tradesmen just starting out, email marketing is not the best digital marketing strategy. However, once you collect a solid few hundred emails, it can become one of your most reliable sources of job leads.
This is for several reasons including:
- Emails are completely free
- You get to curate and send emails to your own personal audience of potential customers
- Emails have a much higher engagement rate than other digital media.
You should always make an effort to store and keep track of your customer’s emails. Even better is if you’re able to organise them based on their status. For example, some might be recent customers while some others might not have worked with you in several years.
The next step is to send out emails now and again to re-engage with these customers. A gas engineer might want to send out emails reminding customers to check their boilers before the winter hits, while special offers and promotions are always appealing.
Another big use of email marketing is with reminders. Many trades professions offer regular servicing jobs for gas boilers, electrical systems, legionella checks, and more. Reminding customers that they have a servicing due is a win-win situation and can significantly boost the number of jobs you get.
Read more about FieldRocket’s email reminder system to find out how you can automate this process.
Pros & cons
- Completely free
- It can take time to collect a large database of emails
Word-of-mouth is so powerful because it offers a way for the customer to verify the credibility and quality of a tradesperson’s work from a third-party source they trust.
Online reviews function in almost the same way. Rather than simply taking your word for how good you are, a customer can listen to 10s if not 100s of reviews from real customers who have worked with you in the past. As long as you do good work and your reviews reflect this, leveraging them is an extremely powerful and underrated marketing strategy.
All it takes is for you to encourage some of your customers to leave reviews after working with you. Most people are happy to do this, but simply forget.
Honestly and being genuine is generally the best policy with reviews. It’s often obvious when someone has gotten their friends and family to leave fake reviews. As well as this, remember to respond to all reviews – but especially the negative ones. It’s much easier to turn a “detractor” into a loyal customer than many would think.
Some quick facts:
- A 5/5 rating often isn’t as good as a 4.7, 4.8, or 4.9. To customers, it suggests there are too few reviews for an accurate rating or something suspicious is going on.
- The trades industry is one of the 3 most reliant on reviews.
- 88% of customers are likely to use a business that responds to reviews, but only 42% if they do not.
- 38% of customers believe a 4 star rating is the bare minimum.
Pros & cons
- Almost everyone reads reviews, and they’re incredibly persuasive
- You’re at the mercy of your customers
Best marketing strategies for brand new trades businesses
When you’re just starting out, it can seem like there’s an endless list of things to do. Especially with all the different marketing strategies we’ve listed, you might be wondering where you should start.
Our single most important piece of advice would be to focus on the strategies which offer short-term results.
Then, once your schedule is getting a bit more busy, you’ll find you have the freedom and flexibility to look at some of the more long-term (yet just as effective) marketing strategies.
Remember to ask people where they found you
Marketing is a long-term project for your business, and it should be constantly evolving as your business grows and you learn more.
By simply asking new customers where they found out about you, you’ll be able to see which marketing strategies are working the best for you. Once you know what’s working and what’s not, you can refine your strategy and spend your time where it counts the most.
Managing all your new leads
With more and more jobs coming into your business, it’s important to have the structure in place to handle them all. Job management software like FieldRocket is designed to help every step of the way – from managing customer details to scheduling, creating quotes and invoices, and issuing certificates.
We’ll help you streamline your workflows and claw back the time you spent marketing (and more!)
If you’ve been thinking about implementing software into your workflow to save time, here’s what you can do next:
- Visit our resources centre where you'll find more articles like this one and a full list of our certificates.
- Start a free trial to see exactly how our software works for your business.
- Book a demo with our customer success team. We’ll help walk you through the ins and outs of our software, how it’ll help you save time and money, and anything else that springs to mind.
- Know someone still using paper? Help them and us out by sending our software their way!