Service providers have a different set of challenges when it comes down to marketing our offerings in comparison to our product-based friends.
And it really comes down to one crucial difference: we are selling something intangible.
We are selling our time, our effort, and our experience. We aren’t selling something that someone can see, feel, or exchange at the store.
Sometimes we are limited geographically as well. If we are a home builder, an auto repair shop, an orthodontist–we can only serve people in our local area.
That means we have to be smarter with our marketing strategy and be more intentional about choosing marketing channels where our target audience is looking for us.
We don’t always have glamorous photos that we can populate Pinterest with, nor do we have access to global marketplaces where we can advertise products in bulk.
Our services are unique, and our marketing strategy should be no different.
So, as both a service-based business myself and an expert in marketing strategy, I’m here to give you a shortcut to maximizing your marketing efforts.
Let’s dive into the best marketing strategies for service-based businesses.
Strategy 1: Leverage SEO.
SEO is one of my favorite digital marketing strategies for service-based businesses. It works like MAGIC, and I’m going to give you a scenario to really illustrate my point here.
Imagine it is the dead of winter, and your furnace goes out. It is sub-zero temperatures outside, and all the space heaters and blankets are not cutting it to warm your space.
You know you need someone to repair your furnace. Maybe you are a DIY type and tried a Youtube tutorial, and still–nothing.
The next step you–and the majority of people in the world–take is to go to Google. You type in furnace repair near me, HVAC company, or emergency heating repair, and Google–the place that has all the answers–gives you a beautiful list of local businesses near you that can solve your problem.
People who KNOW they have a problem use search engines. Most service-based businesses solve problems.
And showing up on page one when someone is typing in their problem is INVALUABLE.
SEO can get you that digital real estate and ensure your business shows up exactly where people are looking for you.
This is why SEO is a great marketing strategy for small businesses.
Now, SEO takes time. This is not a quick turnaround or instant gratification. No, at the bare minimum, it takes 3-4 months even to have Google realize you exist, and in competitive spaces, it can take up to a year to show up on page one. So invest early in SEO.
Strategy 2: Attend networking events.
No–this strategy is not in the digital realm, but it is highly effective for service businesses, especially if you are just getting started.
Networking is a fantastic marketing strategy for service providers because it gives you visibility in your local area.
People are more likely to do business with people they know and trust, so getting your face and name out there increases your likelihood of booking clients and receiving quality referrals. Networking is how I grew Succeeding Small into a 6-figure business, so I can tell you first-hand that this works!
There are some amazing nationwide groups that you can visit, such as 1 Million Cups, or you can search for local events, such as ones hosted by your local chamber of commerce.
Once you find an event that you’re interested in attending, make sure to prepare. Dress professionally, bring business cards, and set a goal for yourself. Your goal can be to find potential clients, but you can also think outside of the box a little bit. Do you need referral partners in other industries? Maybe you’re looking for a mentor or coach that can help you scale your business.
I encourage you to attend at least one networking event per month, but you can go as often as you have time.
Now, a caveat, networking isn’t exactly scalable. It is dependent on YOUR time. This is why it’s great for businesses just starting out, but it doesn’t always make sense for a scaling small business owner to be spending so much time doing physical, in-person events. So I would always pair this strategy with some digital marketing because that can compound your marketing efforts and generate you leads WITHOUT costing you your time.
Strategy 3: Join Facebook groups.
Facebook groups are a great place to get in front of your target audience or advertise in your local area. There are TONS of Facebook groups for cities, neighborhoods, and niches where people ask for business recommendations, look for offers and collaborate with one another.
This can be a great place to market your service-based business.
Many existing groups have rules against advertising your business, so make sure to follow the community guidelines. Even if you can’t promote directly, groups can be a good way to build relationships and gain exposure.
Now, this strategy may sound a bit intimidating, but it is absolutely possible for service-based small businesses.
The first step is to simply do something newsworthy. Usually, this will involve giving back to your community in a way that’s relevant to your business. You could donate to a charity that aligns with your business values or donate your services to someone in need. You could even do a company-wide volunteer day.
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do and acted on it, you can submit a press release to local news outlets. If you don’t feel comfortable writing your own press release, most marketing agencies or PR firms can help with this.
Another way to get featured in the news is through a site called HARO, or help a reporter out, which connects reporters with subject matter experts. This works better for nationwide companies but allows you to promote yourself and your business through respected media outlets.
Whichever strategy you choose, getting featured in a news article is a great way to expand your business’s reach and demonstrate your expertise.
Strategy 5: Make a Google Business Profile.
A Google Business Profile is one of the most important parts of local SEO. Setting up a Google Business Profile allows you to control how your business shows up to searchers and share things like your hours, location, and contact information.
Not only does this help you get found online but verifying your business through Google also builds trust in your potential customers that you are a legitimate business.
Your Google Business Profile is also an easy place for your customers to leave reviews, providing that social proof that’s so important for service-based businesses. Managing your business reviews through Google lets searchers see how you interact with your customers and respond to complaints.
A Google Business Profile is just one more way to build trust in your business through search.
Strategy 6: Run special offers.
Offering a sale or special promotion is a great way to encourage prospective customers who are on the fence to make a purchase. We all love getting a good deal, and decreasing the price helps people feel like they’re not risking as much.
You can’t just offer a sale, however, and expect a good turnout. You’ll have to promote your offer across multiple channels to get the best results. You can run Google ads, send out an email blast, share your offer on social media, and create a landing page for your website.
Once customers purchase from you for the first time, they’re more likely to purchase again. So, even if you don’t make a great profit on your discounted service, your promotion could pay dividends for months and years to come.
For many service-based businesses, making that initial sale is the hardest part, so offering a deal that they can’t resist is a great way to get people invested in your brand.
Recap of the Best Marketing Strategies for Service-Based Businesses
These are 6 of my favorite marketing strategies for small businesses. There are so many other amazing options to gain visibility and build trust with your target market, but unfortunately we can’t cover them all. Choosing a few social media platforms to post on regularly and share valuable content is another important strategy we will dive into in future episodes.
Just in case you missed any, here are 6 amazing strategies for growing your service-based business that you can start implementing today:
- Leverage SEO
- Attend networking events
- Join Facebook Groups
- Get featured in the news
- Create a Google Business Profile
- Run special offers
If you don’t know where to start with your small business marketing strategy, reach out to the marketing professionals at Succeeding Small. We’ll take care of everything from strategy to implementation. Schedule a free strategy session to take your marketing to the next level.
Until then, keep succeeding small.