Plan Your Marketing Strategy
No single marketing strategy will bring a consistent stream of clients ringing your phone. To attract and retain clients, whether you sell products or services, you must employ a variety of marketing methods.
The following list contains a range of marketing methods and strategies. Even if you’ve been in business for years, pay special attention to the first five. Markets evolve, and it's crucial to consider whether or not what you're selling or the services you provide is what people are looking for and want.
If you've been in business for a long time and haven't modified your marketing strategies, take a serious look at the online and digital marketing methods. Regardless of how your current clients discovered you, businesses and buyers today frequently utilize digital media to find information about their needs and research service providers before picking one they want to hire. The bottom line is you want them to find your business when they are looking for your services.
1. Define Your Marketing Goals
Before you can choose the best service area business marketing techniques, you must first analyze your objectives. Here are a few sample questions to ask yourself:
- Do you need to raise or build your brand recognition in the areas your serve?
- Do you want to be known as an expert in your field?
- Are you introducing a new service or product to complement what you currently offer?
- Do you wish to increase the size of the jobs you do?
Different goals often require different techniques to achieve results.
2. Describe What Makes Your Services Different
To win clients, you have to differentiate yourself from the competition in some real or perceived way. A unique selling proposition (USP) is how you can do that. Your USP becomes a crucial aspect of your overall marketing approach. Lower prices, higher quality, hours of operation during the day or evening, years of experience, and speed of service are just a few of the various variations that could attract clients.
Here is a way to develop your USP:
- Browse reviews of services similar to yours and note comments posted by reviewers to understand what's essential to them.
- Develop a list of the characteristics and benefits of the services you perform, followed by another list of what your clients are most interested in or satisfied with.
- Summarize your notes in a sentence that explains why people should select you over competitors.
3. Define Your Target Market
Create a buyer profile or buyer persona for your ideal client. What type of person is most likely to use this service today? Don't fall into the trap of thinking that "everyone" or everyone in a specific demographic is your ideal buyer. Even if this is true, "everyone" is not a market that can be efficiently reached on a modest business budget. Neither is "all homeowners in a 30-mile radius" or similar big demographic categories. You need to niche down or narrow your target and focus on the most likely prospects that you can afford to reach.
To dig deeper, think about:
- Why do they need or demand your services?
- What is the nature of their job?
- Where do they live if it's a service you provide at their home?
- What are their ages?
- What are their earnings?
- What other elements contribute to their likelihood of becoming a client?
- Where are they most likely to look for or learn about the service?
- How much money would your ideal client be willing to spend?
- How often would they engage your services?
- Whom might they approach for a recommendation?
After you've answered those questions, consider this: are there places I should be networking, or what should I do to make myself known to potential clients or to those who offer referrals? After you've answered the questions, follow through on them.
4. Understand What the Client Wants to Buy
Buyers may not want to buy what you wish to sell, or they aren't interested in the service(s) you provide. Buyers are ultimately looking for a solution to a problem or a benefit your service provides. Think about this; if you are a plumber, clients aren't interested in plumbing. What they really want is the leaking pike repaired. Or, to take it a step further, they want the leaking pipe fixed so it will stop the annoying drip, drip sound, and their water bill will go down. Clients of a web design agency don't need a database or a design. What they want is a website that will help them look professional, get noticed in search engines, and gain new clients. If you want to know what your clients are really buying, ask them. You'll get better results from your marketing if you can focus on the solutions and benefits that clients want to buy rather than the services you want to sell.
5. Learn the Best Place, Time, and Format to Reach Your Ideal Buyers
Once you've determined your target market or ideal buyers, consider where and when they might want to learn about and/or hire your services. If you're not sure, ask potential clients how they discover and choose your service(s). Their responses can help you decide how much time and effort to put into content marketing, social media, networking, referrals, and other business-generating methods. After you've answered the questions, follow through on them. Place your company's promotional materials in areas where potential clients are likely to come across them.
6. Make Yourself a Valuable and Trusted Resource to Prospects and Clients
You have most likely heard that people like to buy from people they know and trust. They also dislike being "sold" to. Becoming a trusted resource for your prospects and offering knowledge that will assist them in making an informed decision will go a long way in increasing your clientele.
7. Set up Professional Social Media Profiles
You and your business should have social media presence on all of the social media channels that are important (i.e., used by) your clients. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram are among them. Make sure that each profile is professional and includes a link to your website. It never fails you meet a prospect, and they lose your business card. People will often turn to the internet to try to find you. Having a profile on the major social media platforms will allow people to find you and your website link.
8. Claim Your Place on Google Business Profile and Bing Places
Google Business Profile and Bing Places for Business aren't simply for restaurants, coffee shops, and retail shops. A prospect can search for any type of service by location, and Google will return a list of businesses that provide the service in the area they were looking for. If you live in a city, there's no guarantee your business's profile will appear on the first page. However, having a profile provides you with a distinct advantage.
9. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
If your service(s) is one that clients research before purchasing, you'll need a content marketing approach. The same is true if being known as an expert in your field is critical to achieving your marketing objectives.
Among the tactics and strategies, you will want to employ are the creation of articles about the service or services you offer. You'll most likely want content that addresses clients' inquiries at each stage of the buying cycle.
10. Volunteer to Speak at Local Business Groups
Speaking at local or other business events might be beneficial if your marketing goal is to become known or seen as an expert. In order to draw members to meetings, business groups frequently require engaging speakers. Your presentation should cover some aspect of your specialization while focusing on the audience's informational requirements and the problems they want to solve.
11. Submit Proposals to Speak at Industry Association Conferences
National, regional, and even local conferences are always looking for speakers. Submitting a proposal to speak at events such as these can help build your credibility and show not only your peers but prospects that you are an expert in your field. Make sure to promote your participation in the panel before the event, and include a link to any videos or other post-event promotions that the conference planner has made available.
12. Seek Referrals and Recommendations
Always be on the lookout for ways to encourage clients and friends to refer you to their friends. Such suggestions bring ready-to-purchase clients to your door, clients who trust you already (thanks to the recommendation), and are thus easier to persuade to hire you. Some recommendations and referrals come naturally, but you can improve your referrals by being proactive in getting them.
13. Utilize Your Network for Business to Business Referrals
People recommend people they like, and most small business people usually like other small business people, especially when they send them business. Giving referrals is almost more important a networking tool than getting them.
14. Build an Email List and Send Relevant Information out Consistently
Your mailing list should be made up of your clients or people who have asked to be on it. Having a newsletter signup box on your website is one good way to get people to “ask” to be on your mailing list.
15. Call Likely Prospects
Cold calling is tough, and you must be able to deal with rejection. However, you shouldn't be making cold calls. Huh? With today’s resources, if you are resorting to hitting the phones, do your homework on the person or business you plan to contact. Make sure you aren't calling to pitch your services but to offer a solution to a problem they may or may not know they have.
16. Don’t Be Hasty to Discourage Tire Kickers
It's difficult to know where to draw the line with prospects who continue to ask questions without any sign that they intend to employ your services. However, the barrage of questions may be used to size you or your business up as much as they are to obtain information.
17. Have a Website and Promote It
It astounds me that there are still businesses without a website. I continually run into small business owners who either don’t have a website or claim to have one, and it turns out that it's a social media profile.
If you plan to focus your efforts on social media networking or in-person networking, you still need a website. Prospects will want to see samples of your work, learn more about you, and, if you're a consultant or other expert, they'll undoubtedly want to read the content you've written about your field. With your website, you have complete control over what they see. With social media, you have no influence over the ads that appear next to your postings or the restrictions, not to mention what happens if they change how things are done.
18. Have a Fully Functioning Website
Another surprising occurrence is the number of small businesses that join local business networking groups and have non-functioning websites listed in the membership directory. Occasionally, this is due to an error in the domain name in the directory listing. Unfortunately, sometimes it means that the company that owned the domain name let it lapse or that the website was never built. Do not allow this to happen to you. Make sure to register the domain name or have a reptuatble agency do it for you. After you've published your association directory listing, double-check it to ensure there are no typos and that the link works. Examine each page of your website to ensure that no links to blank or "under construction" sites remain.
19. Be Creative
To develop the best marketing strategy for your service area business, sometimes you need to “think outside the box.” Think about whether marketing to a different demographic or industry can help you develop your small business. Perhaps you need a new approach, a new or updated look, or to help you promote your business.
20. Don’t Stop Marketing
When the leads start coming in regularly, it's tempting to scale back on your marketing and networking efforts. However, that can be a huge mistake. Effective marketing isn’t like a water hose you can turn on and off. To keep the leads flowing, you need to keep some marketing efforts going.
There you have it twenty-one marketing strategies for your local service area business. I wish I could say that these were all that you needed to do, but these were only a sampling of things that you can do. If you would like to learn more about marketing your business or would like to have a conversation about how to market your business better, contact me! I am here to help you and your service area business grow!