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Marketing your service-based business the smart way

There are several low-cost and smart ways to market your business, but you must first start out on the right foundation.

I still come across people who want websites, but they are not sure about how to market their services—thinking that “if we build it, they will come”—but it doesn’t work like that.

SEO can help drive traffic to your website where people will finally end up to make a purchase, but there are several things that need to be established first in order to market your service and finally bring in those sales. So here it goes:

Know your target customers

You must first understand your customers’ core frustrations and demonstrate a solution. Sometimes an online survey can go a long way in market research and really help you understand what your customers want and don’t.

Locate your customers

Find out where they hang out in public and online. Do a Google search and gather a list of blogs, forums and social media groups. Subscribe to newsletters and magazines your target audiences read; and visit conferences and meetups your target customers will attend.

Have an informative website

This means your website answers all the questions your ideal clients may have about your services. Your website explains to them why you’re best at serving them versus someone else. Your site gives them “social proof” of your ability to deliver through testimonies and case studies. And finally, your website has a strong call-to-action. The client must be asked to take action whether it is to contact you, subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media. Whatever that action is, it needs to stand out and be clear.

You can read more about effective websites and user behavior on this site.

Engage your customers

Once you’ve found their location, your goal is to make connections, offer value and finally serve them. Don’t go for the sell just yet, just answer questions on their forums, provide helpful comments on their blogs, be a guest blogger and submit an article to that target magazine that brings value to the readers.

While you’re offering value to your future customers, make sure your name and website are widely present. Most blogs allow comments to include your website link and forums allow a signature or byline. Take full advantage of these. Your call-to-action is for people to visit your website.

Don’t forget about low cost offline marketing

Direct mail still works and is relatively inexpensive at $0.17 per mailer (not including printing of course). Contact your local postal office for more information. While networking and trade shows can have a slow return, they’re still great and low-cost ways of getting your services in front of your audience. But finally, my favorite low-cost offline marketing is Meetups. Get an account with Meetup.com. You could start a local meetup offering free advice or training to those who join, and your members will return the favor by buying your services.

Build your email list

When it comes to service-based businesses, and depending on your services, many customers don’t just buy on the first visit to your website, so make sure you capture them before they leave your website by having them signup on your mailing list. This can be done two ways: simply ask to place them on the your email list through a short form and/or offer something of value, like a free informative whitepaper in exchange for their email address. The latter works the best.

Content marketing

Email newsletters, social media talks, blogging, and videos are all forms of content marketing. The strategy is: if I continue to give you valuable free content, you’ll eventually buy my products and services. Content marketing is time consuming and it’s best done by a dedicated person who can consistently provide valuable content in the voice of your company.

Get Listed

Aside from getting found in search engines through SEO, you’ll need to get your website listed in niche directories your target customer will visit. Service listing sites often come up higher in search results and so you need to be listed there. Here’s a few to get started with:

  • Google+ Business
  • Manta
  • Yelp
  • CitySearch
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Business Central
  • Facebook Business
  • Home Advisor
  • FourSquare
  • Superpages
  • Hotfrog
  • Angie’s List

It’s important to note that it’s best to have a website before you get listed, because when they find your listing, they’ll soon be clicking on your website link to check you out. If you don’t have a website, it’s best to take the time to fill out the listings in their entirety so that potential customer can learn as much as possible to make an informed buying decision.

With all that said, get to work. The foundation you set now will work towards your success in the future. God bless you and may your business prosper.