Marketing a service can feel like a more elusive task than marketing a product. Instead of selling a tangible product customers can see and hold, your job is to convince clients that your team can handle their project and deliver a service worth paying for. Consider these ideas to communicate the strengths of your service business.
Focus on Results
You may not offer a tangible product, but that doesn’t mean customers can’t feel the positive effects of working with you. Connect to the emotional or physical sensations customers experience when using your service.
A children's hair salon, for example, provides haircuts in a fun and comforting environment. Parents might be drawn in by photos of clean, smiling kids with trendy cuts; primary colors and images geared toward children; and language that reflects a playful, kid-friendly attitude. Meanwhile, a marketing consulting service might focus on the professionalism, business connection and time-saving benefits they provide. Translating a service into concrete images and clear text makes the ultimate experience feel more real.
Highlight Personal Connections
One major selling point for a service business is the particular brand of customer service clients can expect. In the United States, 70 percent of customers are willing to spend more to choose the company with excellent customer service. On average, they’ll pay 13 percent more to get the excellent service they value.
Creating marketing messages can be as simple or as intricate as you want. All you really need is quality content that reflects your message, a way to collect customer contact info and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure results. Try these tactics to connect with customers:
- Send emails with helpful tips or news about promotions. Frequency is less important than ensuring each message has valuable content.
- Write an e-newsletter with more in-depth commentary on relevant industry trends, as well as info on sales.
- Host a webinar on a related topic customers are interested in. For example, a website design company might go over SEO basics for small business owners.
- Make your website as personable as possible, with video tutorials or a chat service to help customers with questions. Chat services have soared in popularity, going from 38 percent customer use in 2009 to 58 percent in 2014.
- Google and other tech companies offer bounties for helpful hackers who alert them to vulnerabilities in their products. Put your spin on the idea and run a contest for the best tutorial or tip on how to use your service effectively.
- Track email and newsletter open rates or other metrics to assess whether your efforts are reaching customers.
Social media is an ideal vehicle for service providers to advertise their business. So much of your business depends on the atmosphere you create and results that only you can help your clients achieve. Social media can be a way for clients to get a taste of the experience of working with you.
Use high-quality images on all of your social media pages. Keep your tone and voice consistent so customers know to expect the same brand “feeling” whether they follow you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
As for what to post: This is your opportunity to offer a bite-sized version of the real thing. Helpful tips and quick responses to customer inquiries show you’re a responsive source of valuable information. Even an informal, light-hearted social media feed can be a useful way to show a friendly, “human” side to your business.
Social media is also a great source of free advertising. Did you make clients look great by supporting their tech at a conference, or overhauling their office organization? Ask them to tag you in a social media post. More than 80 percent of Americans read ratings and reviews online before making a new purchase, so the more positive customer reviews are out there, the better.
Make Packaging Beautiful
Think of a gift you were excited to open. Chances are, the wrapping made a difference. Eye-catching prints, neat corners or fluffed tissue paper can heighten the excitement of discovering what’s inside.
The same principle applies to the environment surrounding your service. That’s why spas often play soothing music and waft gentle fragrances in the reception area as well as the rooms where clients get treatments. Online businesses use color psychology and typography choices to communicate brand values. Because 42 percent of shoppers base their opinions of a website on the design, this is an important element to get right.
Give Back to the Community
Effective marketing campaigns can start in your own backyard. Giving back to your community by sponsoring or donating services to an event gets your business’ name out to local customers. It also presents you as someone active and involved in helping a good cause.
Look for events that tie in with your brand’s top values. Is your company most likely to help out with a family-oriented event like a ball game, or a competition like a race? Think of where your target customer spends free time, too. The charity fishing tournament may not have been the first event to cross your mind, but if your customers are flocking there, put your logo on a bucket of worms and enjoy!
Collaborate With Complementary Companies
Cross-promoting with a related, but not competing, business can help both of you expand your reach. A personal training business might benefit from cross-promotion with a chiropractor’s clinic, for example.
Start by analyzing your target customer and identifying other types of business they’re likely to frequent. Make a list of area businesses that might be open to a collaboration, and reach out. Some options to work together include:
- Bundling a service package or promotion
- Promoting each other’s events
- Post fliers or offer coupons at each other’s stores
- Amplify each other on your websites or social media pages
These are just a few tips to get your service business marketing off the ground. But at the end of the day, it is up to you to offer quality services and consistent communication to your target market. Not all marketing techniques will work for every business as each is unique, so test these tips until you find a strategy that works for you.
How do you show off your service business’ strengths? Tell us about it in the comments!