Selling services is a whole different world from selling goods. Without a commodity and inventory, you must sell your prospective customers on ideas, intangibles and promises. This takes a much different strategic approach and practices that many service-based business owners never quite understand. Here are five marketing practices you should implement to maximize the potential of your service-based business.
5 Marketing Practices for Your Service-Based Business
1. Find Your Unique Position
You must know what differentiates your service-based business from the competition. If you don’t see it, you must work at finding and naming it. A small service-based business cannot afford to be merely similar to or better than the competition. It must be different, clearly so, and measurably distinct. And, the difference cannot be something vague and difficult to prove like "quality" or "customer service".
Your differentiating factor could be price, delivery assurances, turnaround time or other benefits that are unique to the WAY you do things more than WHAT you do. In addition, whatever you decide on, you must simplify it to a few clear and impactful words- your central message for marketing and sales.
2. Optimize Your Visibility
You can't let your business sit back and wait for discovery. You also can't afford to simply wait for customers to find you in the phonebook. A new business must proactively make itself known and felt as much as possible.
Your modern business has many more marketing channels than in the pre-Internet era- there are social media opportunities, paid advertisements, emails, videos, and more. You have hundreds of ways to reach markets, and you must choose the most advantageous and productive for your unique industry and audience. Depending on the nature of your service-based business, you can network with peers, support community interests and share local-based solutions.
3. Sell Value, Not Price
As a small business owner, you simply cannot afford price wars. Chances are you have no financial buffer, and price wars only lead to complications that may be hard to escape. The service you offer is not a commodity with a manufacturer's suggested retail price that customers can compare against, so you want to stress its value to the consumer. You might bundle services or offer payment options. If your customers value time, accuracy, readiness, follow up, customer service, innovation and so on, that’s what you must sell- not the service itself. Price will follow customer need in an open market.
Take a look at: What Is Your Marketing Equation?
4. Formalize and Revise Strategy
Strategy differs from planning. Planning brings organization to any venture, and you must plan from the beginning. Strategy, on the other hand, is the how-to. It’s the manual to get you where you want to be with the business. Strategy integrates tactics with forward momentum. It includes schedules, calendars, metrics, KPIs and other achievable benchmarks. But, it aligns these tactics with a targeted purpose. With that said, your strategy shouldn't be etched in stone- part of your strategic approach should be to revisit and revise your strategy on a regular basis in response to, and in anticipation of, changes in market demands.
Check out: 10 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners
5. Make it Personal
Product-based businesses put a quality item in front of the customer and seek reviews on the product's performance. The person selling the product is generally not a making-or-breaking factor in the purchasing decision, and may not even been seen or known at all (like when shopping online). But, service-based businesses do not offer a tangible product- instead, they offer a service that depends on interpersonal relationships to be a success.
Service-based business owners build their brand by involving the prospects and clients in the process. As a service provider, you are consultant, expeditor, expert and more. But, it’s up to the client to complete and sustain the process- so you must encourage their participation, facilitate their role, and partner more than sell.
These five marketing practices are simply starting points- each needs its own tactics and strategy that you will bring to the table as an expert in your field. And never forget that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint- once marketing practices are put in motion, they need regular nurturing and adjustment to maximize the time and money spent. Never lose sight of what makes you unique, how you bring value to your customers, and always be working on your strategy and relationships!
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