Marketing For Service Business: The Dos and Don'ts
Ideas for marketing a business and things to avoid if you operate a local repair shop or a small service company
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Do you run a service business, like residential cleaning or automotive repair? As an owner, you might be constantly thinking about how to advertise your business and get more customers. There are plenty of techniques and approaches out there with success stories of big brands. But before you implement any of the promising advert ideas you’ve heard of, consider that marketing a local business is always a different ballgame.
Whereas marketing a corporation or a product is straightforward (think: advertisements), marketing a local services business can feel like you're throwing yourself at a wall. When you market a corporation, you use the company's name and logo; when you market a product, you show the product and the advantages that it provides. With a local service business, you're marketing a specific place and that place's benefits. For example, when promoting a tire shop, you're talking about the location and the value — whether that value is in the specialization, in the community, in the qualified staff, or the wide range of assortment.
Most of the time, the best marketing strategy for a small service business is to be genuine. However, if your company is truly struggling to get new clients, here are some dos and don'ts you should follow.
Every company is different, so different strategies will work better for some than others. Below are a few local marketing tips to keep in mind for small businesses.
The First Rule of Marketing for Services Companies: Build a Strong Web Presence
When people are looking for your services, they are going to search the Internet. When your website has lots of good information about it, they will be sure to find you. Your website should be easy for everyone to read, no matter their background. Surround your site with images of your work, your employees, and your company, showcase your products and services, communicate with prospects, and conveniently accept payments. It's also important to make sure it's optimized for search engines, which can help you rank higher for your desired keywords. You can also integrate your site or inventory management system to eCommerce platforms and sell spare parts or accessories online.
If you're not ready for a full-fledged website, you can start promoting your business on social media. The first thing is to choose the best platform that suits your company. If it’s a personal venture or has a small staff, then Instagram or Twitter may be more appropriate for reaching potential customers. On the other hand, if you are a small business with a team, Facebook is probably the best place to start. Whatever you choose, your content should be unique.
When you get noticed by your prospects online, be ready to effectively process new requests. E.g. in RemOnline, you automatically get all leads from different sources to your CRM to not miss out on any opportunity.
Screenshot of the Leads tab in RemOnline
Promote Your Business Locally: Become a Community Partner
Word of mouth is one powerful form of marketing. For you as an owner, it is important to be present and actively involved in the community where your business operates. Get your foot in the door by joining groups and organizations that share your values and beliefs. Fasten your seatbelt and don't be surprised if you get a call or email from an organization you did not know existed. And don’t forget about getting listed in community directories.
Source of Small Business Promotional Ideas: Learn About Your Competition
Pick a name and price check out your local Yellow Pages and see how many service-based businesses there are near you, that's right it's a lot! You'll want to pick a name that's an industry standard. You'll also want to pick a price point. For example, if you charge a lot of money for your services, make your marketing materials reflect that, and vice versa.
You've put in the research, now it's time to put it to good use. Take the time to analyze what your competitors are doing in regards to marketing, pricing, and advertising. Studying your competition will teach you what is working and what is not in your given industry. It will also allow you to do more of what is working and lessen the time spent on what does not work for your company.
Focus on Repeat Business: Your Clients Are Your Best Advocates
Small businesses are always looking for ways to improve their marketing efforts. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to reach out to old clients. They love what they've purchased previously and know the quality of your products or services, but also they are familiar with how you do business.
Reaching past clients can be as simple as a phone call, or as complicated as a dinner. Discuss the issues they had with your company and find some resolution. If you can resolve any issues they had, you'll be on their good side and they'll be more likely to come back to you for future business. If you can't, try to offer them a discount or free maintenance visit for your mistake. And don’t be shy to ask your clients to write a testimonial for you.
The first “Don’t” in our list is based on the main principle of modern marketing — people buy from people. So, don’t allow advertisements for your business to come across as one-sided with no “personal touch”. What people want to see are not your ads, but you, the business owner. They want to engage with you online or if they are meeting you for the first time, they want to get to know you. This way, you are the one advertising your business, not the business advertising itself. Be your own brand ambassador and regularly communicate with your target audience.
Don't Spend More Than You Can Afford on Advertising Your Business
You don't want to go broke trying to get your business going so you have to be thoughtful about your spending. Advertising is a big expense, but nowadays it's also something that you have to do just to stay afloat. There are many types of ads that you can use, but most of them have a cost associated with them. Regardless, this is something that you have to consider when promoting your existing or newly started business.
Locals and their immediate communities can be great sources of traffic and potential customers, and they will most likely stay in the area if they find out about your business. Keep your advertising local and inexpensive, and you'll be able to make a profit and stay in business for a long time.
Don't Blindly Follow Advertise Techniques of Larger Companies
Service business marketing on a local level is relatively different than in big national companies. A core part of the marketing strategy in most industries is to get the widest reach possible. This might be accomplished by spending time and money on TV commercials, PPC, or radio ads. It's important to understand that what might be effective on a national level is not guaranteed to produce results in a local market. Online ads, for example, are often not cost-effective for a small business, and services like Yelp and Google Local can be difficult to rank highly on.
However, in service industries, the strategy is different. And here, we are coming to the next rule — don't market to everyone. It's typically wiser to focus marketing activities on specific people and customize your strategy to appeal to them.
Don’t Overlook an Affiliate Program
A common mistake that small businesses make is thinking that affiliate programs are reasonable for “big players” only. Although these programs can be costly for small business owners, they are worth the investment as it is a good way to get more attention and traffic.
Such programs work quite simple: anyone can sign up to be an affiliate and will be given a link that they can then post on their website, blog, or social media account. When someone clicks on the link, they will be taken to your site where they can book an appointment or make a purchase. If they buy, the affiliate is rewarded with a commission on their sale.
We at RemOnline also offer an affiliate program for partners and friends. Find more details here.
For small service companies, good marketing is essential to stay competitive. One way to be more visible is to create a website or a social media profile where you list your services, prices, and give reviews from past customers. Another proven method for marketing a small business locally is to get active in your community’s life and network to find partners. You can also study your existing clientele or sneak peek at some ideas in your competitors’ promotion activities. But always keep in mind that some things don't work on a local level or may cost you more than you can afford.