All service professionals, from lawyers and dentists to accountants and therapists, have a similar challenge if they are to grow their businesses. They need to expand their pool of new business beyond direct referrals.
In doing so they need to overcome 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 and confidential level, making case studies and success stories difficult, if not impossible.
Those are the challenges. The good news is that you really can market a service business assuming you understand your audience, target your activities to their interests, and connect with them “where they are.”
That said, here are some time-tested ways to market a service business. I’ll first discuss online activities, and then talk about getting the attention of the mainstream media.
Develop an effective website.
Having an up-to-date website is essential, although many service businesses don’t have good ones or don’t keep them current. An out-of-date website tells potential clients you are disengaged and not interested in promoting your services.
Your site does not need to be fancy, but it should have informative content and interesting graphics. Simply describe your services, tell visitors 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 search engines give more weight to words in those positions.
Display your URL (www.mybusiness.com) on your business cards and marketing materials.
I can testify to the power of an up-to-date website. Over the years, my website has been the source of a lot of business. I have done projects for people I have never met, but who contacted me strictly because of what they saw at www.communicationsplus.net.
Develop a good LinkedIn profile.
Increasingly LinkedIn is the “go-to” sites for people wanting to learn more about professionals. In a recent Women In Consulting (WIC) survey, many consultants reported generating business directly from LinkedIn.
So put together a good profile, not just a résumé but a statement of what you do, why you’re different, and why you’re on LinkedIn. Encourage others to link to you. Write testimonials and endorse others. (They’ll probably return the favor.)
Also participate in appropriate LinkedIn groups, being generous with your expertise and knowledge. (“Paying it forward” is a great way to market and be of service.)
For more information about LinkedIn, see the article “I’ve got a Great Profile. Now What? 10 Social Media Tips for LinkedIn.”
Oh, and don’t ignore Google+, which also deserves your attention. The service is becoming increasingly more popular, so develop a profile there as well.
I’ll discuss more online tools in my next post.