Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, explains how social media has been a vital marketing tool in building the Pimlico brand and growing the company.

Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that we’d be living in an era where the image of a business could be controlled by a smartphone or a tablet? Where humans constantly ‘tweet’ each other, and any public figure who falls out of favour can be mercilessly ‘trolled’ for the slightest indiscretion?

As business people, we live in a world where brand messaging can go ‘viral’, powered by ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ that can hit like a tornado, and wreak just as much havoc! This, my friends, is a direct result of new media marketing – social media, which is an essential tool for business, and that goes double for start-ups.

Social media is used by an estimated 39 million people in the UK alone, and it would be absolute business suicide for companies to ignore these users as a potential target market. In fact, they’re a perfect market to tap into when building a customer base.

At Pimlico, social and digital media is a big part of our marketing and PR plan. We are steadfast in writing daily blogs, and these blogs are my vehicle for sharing relevant content to all of our customers and staff.

We blog several times a day and push these messages out on our website and social platforms. Sceptics say you can’t have your cake and eat it too – but being able to instantly update the public on the changes in the business, and in doing so increase brand awareness, is a pretty sweet deal to me.

Social media gets your company culture in front of the public in a way which you can control. You can give your business character and have a voice on wider issues in society.

Nowadays, it pays to be interesting and engaging. Gone are the days where a customer is looking for reams of text on who you are and what you do. That is punishingly tedious, and just not the way the world works anymore.

Though, creating a reputable and respectful brand image doesn’t begin and end with social media. There’s a lot more that goes into it, but there’s nothing more important than getting the basics right first.

At the beginning of the Pimlico story, I completed my three year apprenticeship in plumbing, and learned a lot about what people thought about plumbers. I didn’t realise then, but this was invaluable market research, where I planned to put right all the wrongs I saw in the industry when it came to how I operated my services.

It wasn’t long before people told their friends and neighbours about the plumber who bucked the trend, and who you could actually trust to turn up and not rip you off. Soon enough, things started to snowball.

Since then, the marketing of Pimlico has increasingly become all about cramming all the positive aspects of Pimlico’s unique service into the brand, with the idea being that whenever someone hears our name, sees the logo, or spots a Pimlico van, that all the positive attributes associated with the company name will pop up like a jack-in-the-box.

These are the basics I’m talking about; mastering your trade, and finding out exactly what your industry demands. At Pimlico, we put so much care in building and defending our brand and its values in everything we do. Yes, it’s about offering a great product, but it’s also the shining vans, the rapid service, the clean smart corporate uniforms and, perhaps most of all, the attitude of everyone who puts on that uniform.

The point here is that the stronger the brand, the stronger the company becomes, and it works the other way around too. Because the stronger and more successful the company is, so too does the power of its brand increase.

At Pimlico, we have had over 40 years establishing what we stand for in business; our brand values. And now all of us involved at every level, in every department of the company, continue to maintain and increase standards in every task we perform.

It's taken a lot of years of hard work to get where Pimlico is today, on the verge of our first £50 million sales year. Having created a premium reputation within London, it takes a lot of attention to detail to maintain it, and social media has given businesses like mine a platform to continue to develop our brand voice.