All service professionals, from lawyers to dentists, have a similar challenge if they are to grow their businesses: they need to expand their pool of new business beyond direct referrals.
Unfortunately, they face several obstacles:
- They don’t want to appear to be “selling.”
- They typically don’t “make news.”
- They often work with people on a personal level, making success stories difficult.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can effectively market a service business. Here are some time-tested ways to promote your service, online and off.
Develop a good website.
This should go without saying, but having a good website is essential. The site does not need to be fancy, but it should have good content and visuals. So describe your services; tell what makes you different, and describe your ideal customer. If possible, include testimonials and case studies. Regularly update the material.
Write with both your audience and the search engines in mind. That means putting keywords high up on the page, and in headlines and subheads, as the search engines give more “weight” to words in those positions.
Print your URL on your business cards and on all marketing materials.
If possible, include a blog on your website, where you provide information your customers and clients might find valuable.
Social media probably won’t directly result in leads, but it can increase your credibility and help establish you as a knowledgeable professional.
So set up a profile on LinkedIn, the business social media site. Use keywords in your write-up. Make your profile complete—include your picture, your areas of expertise and the URL to your website.
Invite business colleagues to “link” to you. (I know some people disagree, but I only link to people I know. I ignore invitations to link to someone who just happens to be in one of my groups.)
A good way to increase your visibility is to ask or answer questions. (Click on the “more” tab at the top, then click “answers.”) You can select the type of questions that interest you from the list on the right. By answering questions every week, you will show up on weekly update, reminding people in your network of your expertise.
Depending on your business, Facebook might be better for you. It’s certainly good for business-to-consumer services, as well as for any highly visual business.
You may want to have a business profile separate from your personal one, and restrict access accordingly. I know some businesses that use Facebook as their websites, posting updates there instead of maintaining two separate entities.
Definitely a thought.
I hope this has you thinking. I’ll cover some additional ideas in my next post.