Starting and running a service business is not easy. From finding initial customers who want to use services, to timely completion of projects at competitive rates, is not going to easy. It takes lots of strategic planning and execution to make it big. If you are planning to start a service based business or you have already started a business in service sector, then marketing is always going to be an issue. There can be many ways to market service business, and that’s the most challenging part of doing a business. Be it a small business or a big one, you have to find new ways to market your service business.
We have worked with thousands of service providers (business) in India in different verticals including interior designers, movers and packers, cleaners, pest exterminators etc. Once the company is incorporated and its ready to operate, the next challenging part is marketing. Sales and marketing is vital and to run any business, especially the service oriented business.
Here’s a detailed Video I did on how to start a packers and movers business in India where I have talked in detail about everything worth knowing to start and market movers and packers business in India. You may like to check this video, if you are planning to start movers and packers business, which is a service oriented business with huge market.
You have certain fixed cost heads like monthly office expenses, manpower and resources and you have meet those expenses irrespective of whether you get enough business for that month or not. Trust me, it always look attractive to start a service business, when you look from the other side of the table. But in true sense, there is lots of competition and you have to beat them all, if you want to make it big in service business.
25 Best ways to market service business online
There are many challenges in operating a service based business and marketing is definitely the one. In this post, I am sharing some of the best ways to market service business effectively and for less. Whether you are already running a service oriented business, or planning to start one, this post will help you market your service business much effectively.
So are you ready to explore?
Here you go.
1. Get a unique logo first
Do first thing first. Get good quality logo designed for your business. Depending on the kind of service you want to offer, you should get a good quality logo done. The idea is to create an identity for your brand that one can easily associate and recall.
Business logo can be designed using various styles like all text, graphics, custom art and drawings and so on. Here are some of the best business logos for example.
- Nike – It has a unique ‘right’ symbol
- Facebook – It’s all text
- Google – all text but various colors
- Snapdeal and Flipkart – custom shape and unique font
- FedEx – multi color fonts and text spacing makes it unique
You know, the idea is to create a unique identity based on your targeted audience. Choose a business name, logo and a tagline which is easy to recall and impressive.
2. Create social presence
Once you have the Logo, you will be all set to create social presence on various social networking website. Now, every social networking website is targeted towards different types of audience. Hence choose one where your targeted audiences are. Like if you are in recruiting, you must be present on linkedin. If you are in cleaning, pest control or other types of home service business, may be a business page on facebook will be more effective for you. The idea is to choose four or five social networking sites where you can find prospects and targeted audiences for your service business.
Why social presence first you may ask? Because it’s easier and you can start creating buzz about your services. And its free, reaches right set of audience and is trend of the hour.
3. Start creating initial buzz
You have created social presence. Next step is to start creating initial buzz about the services you plan to offer. Initial updates and communications on social website should not try hard selling. Rather keep it soft, share knowledge, small bites, tips which may be relevant to your industry and business. Here, the idea is to find initial followers and get some likes. Getting initial followers for your brand may not be easy and it may take some time. So have patience, build it slowly and you will make it.
4. Start building email list
Social networking presence done and you have started building followers and fans. Keep doing that consistently and start building email list. You may share teasers, early bird offers etc and get email ids of prospects who may be interested in your services. Think of different ways to build email list. Email campaign can be very effective when done right, so don’t ignore this, especially in your initial days.
5. Get a website done
Logo is sorted. The next step is to have a functional website. Depending on the stage of your business, you can have a fully functional website with all of the services, offers, contact pages and all. Or if you are just starting up, you may like to keep it simple and stupid, but it must be functional.
List out the major objective of the website and then get website done accordingly. Hire a professional who can design good quality website than trying on your own, unless you know how to design a website. Again for startups, when you are still unsure, you may like to go ahead with basics, but website is going to be the gateway to your business. People will check it the first and hence it should try and win over your customer.
6. Set up an official blog
Regular blogging can be do wonders in marketing service business. It helps you share knowledge, industry news, case studies, how to tips and what not. Apart from bringing lots of prospective customers, regular blogging have huge impact on how google reads and show your website/webpage in its search results. It will help you in SEO endeavors and that’s very important.
Make sure to publish good quality posts on regular basis, because consistency is actually important for success in blogging. And an up to date blog will also help you in building email lists that can be used for email campaigns.
7. Get local listing done
Both Google and Facebook offers local listing and it gives you huge opportunity to market your business for free. List your business on google local listing (Google maps), linkedin as well as on facebook.
There are hundreds of other online business directories and you should try and list your business on as many as you can. Obviously, you will have the option to list as a free member and paid subscriber and you choose one that suits you. Listing as a basic or free member is okay and if you see results and benefits, become a paid member on sites that offer some ROI.
There are many benefits to getting listed on such website. They help you bring free traffic to your website/social networking pages and then from there you can convert those prospects in to customers.
8. Press release distribution
Changing your office, adding new services, spreading to a new city, do a press release. Again you will have the option to submit your press releases as free or paid and you can choose the option that suits your business or based on the importance of the news you are distributing.
You may also like to build relationship with the journalists. There are many websites that shows the email id of the reporter/author. Reach out to them with relevant press release and they may like to publish it in their online/offline edition. That’s a free and much effective way to market your business.
9. Run email campaign
As I said earlier, properly done email campaign can drive lot of traffic and business. There are various tools and software products you can use for email campaign. My favorite is Mail Chimp, but there are many options out there and you can choose one that suits you.
And what’s the best way to run an email campaign?
Well, it all starts with segregating the prospects or the email list. Some time you may offer two or more services and you don’t want to send same message to everyone.
So create different communication for different types of prospects. Those who have already worked with you should not receive the same message, as those who are yet to work with you. You know, communicating right message to right list is important.
10. Create landing pages
If you are running various types of campaign then you ought to try different types of landing pages as well. You don’t want all customers to land on the home page or same enquiry page.
Create good converting landing pages for different campaigns you plan to run. If you are running a discount for Diwali, the look and feel should be different than the campaign you run on google adwords on a regular day.
11. SMS campaign
Running an offer, offering some festive discount? Run an SMS campaign with all your existing customers and new prospects. SMS is still very effective and if you are sending relevant message, it can help you in business marketing.
But be careful and don’t send SMS to randomly picked mobile numbers. If you do so, you will not find it effective and you may get into legal trouble because DND. It’s not a good idea to add anyone and everyone in mobile marketing. Rather you should communicate about your offers and deals with the customers who have opted to receive such updates.
12. Use Google adwords
Not sure if you have tried this awesome tool or not, but it’s worth trying. Google adwords can be very useful to bring prospective customers to your website and capture leads. In fact google offers free credits (in India) so that you can try and test the performance. Google adwords is always paid, but it gives you the flexibility to set specific budget for the day. In fact, you can set budget for the keywords you want to target and there are many features.
Setting up a Google adwords account is not complicated, but it takes some time to get most out of it. So just hang in, measure your spend and ROI and tweak your strategy accordingly.
13. Social media marketing
Social media can do wonders when you use right set of techniques and strategy. And for local service businesses such a home and office cleaning, pest control, local house shifting etc, it can do wonders. Especially facebook and Linked in some cases. I don’t think twitter is that effective, but facebook is worth trying.
But then, measuring ROI for social media marketing is a little complicated. Facebook ads can be used to promote page, articles as well as to capture leads.
And the key to success with social media advertising or google adwords is to constantly monitor and fine tune your ads, keywords, landing pages etc. Keep monitoring, measuring and iterating to get most out of online paid advertising.
14. Guest posting
You have your own official blog and that’s just fine. But if you can reach out to larger audience who can be relevant to your services then go for it. And the best way to get it right is, to find guest post opportunities on relevant websites.
There are many websites who offer guest post opportunity. Contact the owner of the blog with relevant content ideas and they may publish your post. If not more, they will allow you to add a link in Author Bio section and that’s from where you can drive traffic to your website. And build fan and followers for yourself and your company.
15. Use Quora
Quora is primarily a question answer platform where any can ask questions. And if you can offer the questions which is relevant to your industry, then you will get an additional channel to drive traffic to your website.
Quora also allows you to create your mini blog where you can share various tips and ideas. And you should look to write good quality contents without duplicating on quora posts and answers. Quora also allows you to add external link while answering and you can add links to the relevant blogs and pages to your website to drive traffic. But remember to not over do this.
16. Optimize your website
You already have a website. It’s time now to optimize your website and make it look fresh and updated. Make sure that your website follows the latest trends in technology. Like these days, having a mobile friendly website is a must. Check if your website is mobile friendly and well optimized for google and other search engine.
Search engine optimization is to help google find and show your website and web pages in search results. There are professional organizations that offer search engine optimization services and you can hire one for your website optimization.
17. Video marketing
Video marketing can be very effective for certain services. For example, if you run an interior designing company, you can create a video of the project and use it as part of your portfolio. Show the journey from a newly constructed empty flat to various stages of design and execution through a video with voice over. Create a channel and upload the video on YouTube so that you can share and promote the video easily and for free.
Send such links to the new prospects and let them get the feel of the quality of your work. What do you think will happen, when a prospective client will see the video? Chances of conversion will improve dramatically.
18. Publish infographics
Infographics are the visual presentation of information i.e. when you present the same information through visual means (picture, text, colour etc), it becomes an infographics. You are supposed to share more with less with the help of images, pictures, icons, text etc and present it in such a way that the reader can quickly scan through and get it. There are many tools and website to help you create such infographics and there are many website where you can publish it, including all the social networking sites like facebook, google plus twitter etc. And if your infographics is share worthy, others with publish it on their platform and you will be able to drive relevant traffic to your website. And more traffic, means more business, no?
19. Use slideshows and presentations
Ever heard about slidehsare.net? It’s a linkedin company now. It allows you to publish all sorts of information, research, case study, survey etc in a presentation form. And it’s much easier. All that you have to do is, draft a power point slide, register on slide share and publish your presentation. Once published, you can share and promote the link on various social channels. While drafting such presentation, you can put your company’s logo on it or link to the website or a specific page. And the best part is, slideshare offers embed code for each of the video, which means if your slide is of great quality, it will get shared/embedded on other sites and platforms as well.
20. Share worthy comments
There are many blogs and forums where hundreds of ideas are being discussed every day. Find a few blogs and forums, one which is relevant to your industry. Join these sites to learn and share valuable comments and inputs. It’ll help you brand yourself and you can add your own website as the link to your profile, which in turn will help your SEO endeavors and in promoting your business. Don’t just comment for the shale of commenting, make sure you add value.
21. Retain your customer
In a recent survey done in the US, they found that it’s much easier to retain existing customers than finding new prospects. And even customer wants to remain with a business and avail services from the same company, unless there is a cheaper alternative.
Do whatever it takes to keep the customer satisfied so that prefer to work with you and also refer new customers. A delighted customer could be your brand ambassador, spread the word about your business. And that’s probably the most effective way to market your business. You talk to an apple fan boy and he will give you N number of reasons to remain with apple. Right from the overall user experience to customer support, make improvement where required and go an extra mile to keep your customers happy. This is seriously important in service business.
22. Partnership with relevant brands
There are lots of small business owners who are looking for opportunity to market their business. Find such opportunity and see if there is any possibility of brand association and partnership. Such partnership and associations will be beneficial for both the business.
Look for such partnership opportunities online. Initially, you need not require targeting the big brands. Get along with smaller players and see how it goes and then look for larger associations.
23. Surprise one customer everyday
Now this is exceptionally easy. Make it a habit to speak with one of your customer every day. Just call to say hello, how is life, how was their experience of the customer with your business and all. Not a pure sale thing, but interact like a human. Don’t automate this process. Do it manually, may be post a hand written greetings or a thank you card or whatever different idea you may come up with.
Let it be, a human to human interaction. This step is going to help you figure out what is to be done next to market and scale your business.
24. Practice transparency
In service business, or any other business for that matter, transparency is seriously important. Clear and transparent communication can help you take your customer happiness index to greater heights. People love honest and transparent communication.
For example, you are into home cleaning business and have an appointment with the customer on a Sunday morning. Your team is supposed to reach on the site by 9:30am. Obviously the customer is waiting for your team to come over and start the work. Now if for any reason, you know that your team will be late, just update the client and make him understand the genuine reason of being late.
Now take this. You are aware that you will be late, customer is calling you and you are not taking the call. You are ignoring the call. Your guy is late by 2 hrs and then you respond and make lame excuses. Do you think that customer is going to book your services next time?
Think again. You just lost a great opportunity and you will end up with lots of bad reviews online and bad worth of mouth offline.
25. Practice consistency
Consistency is the key to success in whatever you do. And you must practice consistency in business. Whatever you are doing to market your service business, try and be as consistent as possible. Be it usage of logo, fonts, color combination, tone and style of communication, you ought to be consistent with it.
Running a successful service business is not easy. Among many other challenges, how to market your service business is the biggest and most complicated one. But thankfully there are some quick and effective ways to get it right. And here’s what you can actually do to get it right;
- Get a professional logo designed for your business
- Create social presence on relevant social networking websites
- Start creating buzz as early as possible to make fans and followers
- Start build email list for email campaign
- Setup a professional website and an official blog
- Send press release to relevant sites, blogs and media houses
- List your business on various directories, including google local listing
- Try email and SMS campaign with relevant landing pages
- Try social ads and google adwords for paid advertising
- Use social sites like Quora and look for guest post opportunities
- Look for partnership opportunity with relevant brands
- Do whatever it takes to retain existing customers
- Practice honesty, transparency and open communication
Service business is not easy, but if you can figure it out the right techniques and know how to get it right, it’s going to be much interesting and exciting.
Over to you
With my personal experience, I can tell you there is no entry to barrier in a service industry. Anyone can start any business, but then running and scaling a service oriented business require different kind of approach. Bringing in new prospects, finding new customers and retaining the existing clients are not going to be easy. But thankfully, there are ways to get it right.
We have already discussed some of the techniques above and I plan to add more tricks in this post and keep it updated. I will be adding more tips and tricks to help you promote and market your local service business. If you are into local service business and have some ideas, feel free to share with us by commenting below.