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10 EXPERT TIPS FOR MARKETING A SERVICE-BASED BUSINESS

Marketing Service BusinessMarketing your service-based business can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. There’s a lot of confusing terminology and moving parts.

Marketing can also take up so much time, which let’s face it, most of us don’t have! However, there are steps you can take to successfully market your small business without the stress and in a more productive way.

Marketing consultant and business coach Hayley Robertson shares her top ten expert tips for marketing a service-based business.

1. Strategically position yourself in the market
When it comes to successfully marketing your service-based business, the first step is to decide on your market positioning. Your decisions include selecting a target market or niche, specialising in a specific area, and tailoring your service offerings, so they are better or different to your competition. Many people are fearful of doing this, as they believe it will reduce both the size of their available market and revenue opportunities. However, it’s proven to have the opposite effect.

When you create marketing messages that speak directly to your target market, they are more likely to resonate, and it will be easier for you to stand out. When you specialise in a specific area, you become known as an expert in something, which is a fantastic way to build credibility and trust with potential clients.

And when you differentiate your services, it gives you an opportunity to value-add and set premium pricing. A great way to communicate your market position is via a unique value proposition (UVP) or an elevator pitch. Work on developing a concise sentence that includes your target market, the solutions you provide, and what makes you better or different to your competition.

2. Research your target market
Conducting appropriate market research is the key to attracting your ideal clients and developing irresistible service offerings. Research provides examples of the language your ideal client uses when talking about your services as well as insights into the struggles they face, enabling you to design better solutions.

There are several ways you can conduct target market research including:
• Inviting past or potential clients for coffee or lunch and asking them questions;
• Searching Facebook groups for problems to find out what they’re struggling with;
• Reading relevant book reviews on Amazon.com to see what solutions they value;
• Sending out a survey to your email list which includes open-ended questions; and
• Reading industry reports and case studies on services in your niche.

Market research is not only necessary when you first start. There are valuable insights that you can gather via feedback forms to continuously improve your services.

3. Invest in your website
When you’re a service-based business, your clients are likely to “visit” you via your website. As such, it’s essential to provide a great first impression. Also, to ensure your website functions well and is easy to use. If you’re not confident with the technical side, then invest in a website developer to help you. Alternatively, educate yourself on how to build, maintain, and manage your website.

Another way you can invest in your website is with high-quality photos. It makes all the difference! Also, if you find writing difficult, then employing an excellent online copywriter could deliver better returns through higher conversion rates.

4. Develop a strong brand
When it comes to branding your service-based business, focus on creating your:
• Mission statement;
• Personal story; and
• A brand style guide.

Your mission statement articulates whom you want to help with your business and ‘why.’ It’s an integral part of your brand, as it’s a way to build a deeper connection with your potential clients. Another way to build a connection is to share your personal story. It can be challenging to write and talk about yourself, so be sure to ask for support if you need another perspective to help you. Both your mission statement and a personal story should be present on the ‘About’ page of your site.

The final part of your branding is your style guide which includes your visual identity and brand values. Create a professional looking logo and select the fonts, images, and colour palette that you will use consistently.

Also, spend some time thinking of 4-5 words that describe your brand values. These values will guide your brand’s tone and presence as well as help you with creating content.

5. Package your services and create offers
Packaging your services makes it easier for you to avoid trading your time for money. You’re able to ‘hide’ your hourly rate inside a package price and sell your services based on value rather than on cost. It’s important because it’s the total price that you want your potential clients to focus on and determine value.

As an example, if you had a high hourly rate but took less time to complete a task, then your total package price may be the same as a competitor’s who had a low hourly rate but took longer. The objective is to present your services on the total value you provide, rather than get caught in a conversation around hourly rates which are directly comparable to your competition.

Also, as your business grows and your templates and processes mature, it will take you less time to deliver your services which will improve the profitability of your service-based business.

Regarding offers, this is a great way to create urgency in your business and build momentum. An offer could be a special bonus that is only available for a limited time or a new service that is available exclusively to people who are on your email list as examples. When creating offers, try to avoid discounting your services and think about how you can value-add instead. Sometimes all our potential clients need is a good reason to take a risk and finally work with us.

6. Start writing or speaking
Content is a valuable marketing asset for your service-based business, whether it’s written, video, or audio. There are two types of content that you can create – core content and promotional content. Your core content builds a platform for you to showcase your expertise and position yourself as an authority. While your promotional content helps you build awareness with your community or followers.

There are many formats that you can choose from for your core content including a blog, video series, podcast, live video, events, webinars, email newsletter, and information sessions or presentations. If you’re not sure what type of core content to produce, consider two things:

Firstly, what kind of content would be the easiest for your ideal clients to consume? As an example, if you’re providing technical ‘how-to’ information would it be better to write a blog, or to record a video series including computer screenshots showing them how to do something?

Secondly, what type of content are you going to enjoy creating and have time to produce regularly? The truth is if you hate writing or have limited time, then you’re less likely to be able to produce weekly blog articles. Live video may be a more realistic format for you.

The key here is consistency, so select a core content format you can use to create a base for your content marketing strategy. Once you have a solid foundation for your core content, then creating promotional content becomes a whole lot easier as you can repurpose it in multiple ways.

7. Build a community
There’s only going to be a limited number of people who are ready to buy from you at any given time. Additionally, it’s near impossible to be able to identify these people specifically with your marketing. It’s also not uncommon for people to take some time before making a purchasing decision.

Often, potential clients may need to see or hear from your business multiple times before they trust you enough to give you their money. That’s where building a community comes in, and it can become an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Growing a following on social media is a great way to create awareness, provide value, and nurture sales prospects. However, you don’t have any ownership over the connections or data on these platforms. As such, be sure to focus on how you can convince your social media followers to join your email list. Also, add list building strategies to your website and online marketing plan.

There is a direct correlation between the size of your email list and the revenue opportunities for your business. So, ensure you have at least one task on your marketing to-do list every day to grow your community.

8. Look for collaboration opportunities
If your business is new, you probably won’t have a large community of followers or high brand awareness. However, there will be others in your niche who offer complimentary services which you could partner with. If they have been around for some time, they will have a client base who may need your services. And in time as your client base grows, you will be able to refer business back to your partners as well.

Adopt a strategic approach when looking for collaboration partners. I recommend trying to build fewer, but more thoughtful connections. For a collaboration partnership to work well, there needs to be value in it for both parties. Find out what your potential collaboration partner would find valuable and approach them with the view to give, rather than to receive in the first instance.

Collaborating with others takes time, so ensure you have set aside the right amount of time to build a healthy relationship.

9. Ask for testimonials and referrals
There is a high level of trust required in a service-based sales transaction as your potential client is making a purchasing decision based on what value they think they are going to receive. As such, they will be looking for evidence of results from past clients to give them confidence. Having a strategy for collecting testimonials is essential for a service-based business.

Prepare templates that help your clients give testimonials that demonstrate the transformation they achieved while working with you. Sentences such as… “When I first started working with [name], I was {struggling with XYZ}. However, now I {have achieved/seen XYZ results} and have no hesitation in recommending her”.

Also, decide where you want to build your list of testimonials online for social proof. There are many platforms available nowadays, so choose the platform that is most visited by your potential clients and ask clients to leave you a recommendation there.

When it comes to referrals, these can often come from business partnerships as well as networking. Try to put yourself in a position where you are meeting or attending events with potential referral partners as much as you can. Referral partnerships are a relationship that is built over time, so ensure you focus on making a connection first before asking for business.

10. Write a plan and track your performance
Many people hate planning! It can mean structure and effort, and that’s just not for everyone. But, that’s ok. Some of us enjoy planning while others simply don’t. However, a marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated or long. It can even be on one page if that’s what works for you.

A marketing plan needs to have your objectives or what you want to achieve; the activities you are going to undertake to achieve your goals; and the targets you are going to set yourself so you can measure and track your performance.

When you’re investing time and money in anything, the results or the outcome will be directly linked to what’s put into the process. So, if you don’t see the results you want from your marketing efforts, take a step back and consider what you’re putting into it.

Do you have a plan in place (even a simple one) to help you make strategic decisions?
Have you identified what works best and are you focusing more of your time on that activity?

When you have a plan that is measurable, it makes it a lot easier to track your performance. It provides you with an opportunity to review what’s working, and what’s not. And then make adjustments to improve your performance.

When you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to developing a solid marketing foundation for your business. And the best bit is that over time, marketing your service-based business does become easier.

When you work with more clients, you gain a deeper understanding of what their main challenges are which gives you ideas for developing services and promoting your offers. Just remember to take things one step at a time and stay focused on the end goals and objectives that you want to achieve.

 

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Hayley Robertson, My Client StratgeyAbout Hayley Robertson
Hayley Robertson is an MBA-qualified and experienced marketing consultant and business coach. She is also a small business owner and founded My Client Strategy to teach service-based small business owners how to successfully market and grow their business without the stress and overwhelm. Hayley is based in Melbourne and provides virtual marketing strategy sessions, training, and coaching to clients Australia-wide. She loves to write and enjoys sharing her marketing knowledge, tips, and strategies on the My Client Strategy blog.

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