Your small business is based on quality, dedicated, personal service. You work hard to make sure every customer is satisfied, and satisfied enough to recommend you to friends and family. Growing and promoting your service-based business is different than growing and promoting a business that sells a product; in many ways, you and your workers are the product.
With a tangible product, potential customers can see and touch the product. With a service-based business, you don’t have that tangible asset to convince them to buy.
Your advertising efforts need to be adjusted accordingly. Here are some cost-effective advertising tips that will help you get the most from your advertising efforts:
1) Start with your service.
Even more than other businesses, your success is going to rise and fall on the quality and reliability of your service. Whatever it is you do, make sure you do it as best as it can be done. The more successful client engagements you have, the more word will spread about your business.
2) Create a comprehensive advertising and marketing strategy.
Don’t just go at this haphazardly; look at this list, and figure out which of these tips are right for your business. Integrate those tips into your overall advertising strategy. Make sure your marketing message is consistent throughout.
3) Focus on relationships.
Service businesses are built on trust. Your customers trust you to do something for them; you need them to trust you enough that they’ll recommend you to others. It’s up to you to provide not only a quality service but quality customer service, as well.
4) Use the power of social networking.
Your business will rise and fall on just how social your customers are and whether or not they’re willing to recommend you. If you don’t have business pages or profiles for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites, it’s time to set them up. These sites don’t take anything more than your time to set up and maintain. Just make sure you continue to devote some time to them, or they’ll quickly be forgotten by customers.
5) Get business cards.
Business cards may be old tech, but they’re still one of the best marketing tools around – especially for service businesses. You can have them printed relatively inexpensively. Give them out liberally. If you have the budget to take the extra step and make uniquely-designed business cards, all the better.
6) Ask for referrals.
Talk to your family and friends. Let them know what you’re doing, and ask them to recommend you to others. Make sure they each have a nice stack of business cards to hand out when they refer others to your service business.
7) Get involved in the community.
Your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary club can be great places to find new customers for your service business. Perhaps even more than that, these groups can allow you to make connections with other businesses. You may find that there are synergies, where a retailer might recommend your services to her customers, and you might recommend that retailer to your clients. Be actively involved in some of these groups.
8) Do something newsworthy.
In some cases, simply renting an office and putting a sign out front is enough to get your business highlighted in the newspaper. If you’re offering a service that’s new to your area, your local paper may consider it newsworthy. In other cases, donating some of your specialized services to a charity might gather some attention, instead.
9) Spend some time on local web search optimization.
The Yellow Pages are a thing of the past. When clients want a service, they go to two places: they start with word of mouth, but if they can’t get a good recommendation they turn to the Internet. If you already have a website, you might be surprised just how affordable it can be to do some local, geographic-based search engine optimization with your site.
10) Consider an email marketing campaign.
Email marketing campaigns, when done correctly, can be some of the most successful advertising methods you’ll encounter. Email is, when compared to others, a relatively inexpensive medium. It can be a great way to get your business name out there, and gives satisfied customers something that they can forward to friends and family.
Advertising for your service-based business doesn’t have to break the bank. Implement some or all of these tips and you may be able to build your business to the point where you can invest in more expensive – but more effective – advertising, as well.