If you own a service based company most likely you are finding it’s harder to capture new customers from advertising and easier to rely on word of mouth referrals. If there was a way to gain new customers through advertising it would make more sense. As of right now, it seems there is no light at the end of that tunnel with the competition and advertising world being the way it is. Let’s dive into some possible scenarios that will help your service business!
Word of Mouth Referrals
This is the best type of business you can get. It goes a long way back to the good old days when we could tell a neighbor about a great service we received and most of the time they would follow our lead. The same concept applies today with the exception of one flaw – The Internet.
Example: Hi neighbor I see you have some shingles missing from your roof…you should call the guy who did my roof a few years ago. I can’t remember his phone number but his name was _____ and I think his business was called something roofing. Call him and mention I referred you!
Most of us would agree this is typically how word of mouth referrals work. In the real world, would you agree that my neighbor might not rush right inside and Google search that roofers name to find the phone number? Maybe my neighbor has to get to work or has something else to do before looking into getting that quote. By the time the thought comes back the first place he is going is the internet to find that phone number. I know you’ve found yourself in this same situation in your life with a referral; your prospective customers aren’t much different.
Sometimes you find the phone number, sometimes you don’t. Let’s say you do find that roofers phone number, next you’re going to look at what other information is provided on that roofing company before making that call. Even though that neighbor is a friend, your needs might differ from his. Some of the things Mr. Neighbor might look at include:
- Pictures of work/Recent jobs completed
- Access to information
Word of mouth referrals are still powerful. The internet has taken some of the power out of it since people have such easy access to the internet with their phone to be able to search for you and make their own assumption. How many times have you referred a friend or a family member to a service or store, then asked them later if they went? It’s about 50/50 isn’t it? As every year goes by the percentage of people that followed a referral will continue to decrease.
In this blog I am going to outline some ways to market your service business in this digital age we find ourselves in while saving a lot more of your hard earned money and getting real results!
Popular Advertising Strategies Include:
- Direct Mail
- Radio & TV
- Social Media
- Websites that are built with Wix, Weebly, YP, Hibu, etc..
- Internet directories such as yellow pages, manta, houzz, thumbtack, etc..
- Email marketing
- Local ads
Allow me share with you some actionable strategies that will help you save your money and get more customers!
Most people need your services quickly. They aren’t looking at Facebook to find you; most of them are on Google calling one of the top 3 that comes up in their search results. If you’re not there, they call your competitor. If they don’t like what they see they refine their search and start over. You do it yourself all the time! Your customers aren’t much different than you. Let’s walk through a couple of scenarios I’ve seen recently…
“I’m a plumber in Baton Rouge, LA. I offer drain cleaning, sewer services, leaking faucets, pipe repair and more! I’m available 7 days a week with emergency service available. Call me today for a fast free estimate”
“I’m an HVAC company in Greensboro, NC. We have been in business since 1973 providing quality service in Greensboro & surrounding. We offer new systems, system repair, maintenance, heating & cooling, thermostats and more! Call today, we are here to serve you”
“I’m a fence company in Mobile, AL. I build chain link, wood, pvc, picket fences and more. I offer gate access controls as well as many other security options. Call today to schedule your free on-site estimate”
“I’m an auto repair mechanic in Houston, TX. Offering expert service on brakes, transmissions, oil changes, tire rotation, tune ups on all domestic and some foreign vehicles. Call or stop by today to schedule service with our ASE certified mechanics”
If I used an example of every type of service industry in the USA we would be here all day, but you get the idea. Your marketing message may sound similar to that on your website and social networks. Could be the reason you’re not getting the customers you desire from the internet in 2020. It’s only going to get worse going forward. People now have watches they can check Google on, what in the world could be next!? Only time will tell.
What does your message really say to prospective customers?
“I’m a service business, I offer the exact same services as all of my competitors do. The only difference is my name, phone number, location and years in business. If you’re in my area some day and you need service please call me because, well, because I’m the best one in this town”
There is no such thing as consumer loyalty anymore with so many options online. Consumers care about 3 fundamental things now.
- Convenience (Is it going to be easy to use this service?)
- Trust (Are these people going to rip me off?)
- Service (Am I going to be satisfied with my results, what if I’m not?)
Think of the last time you went to a restaurant with bad service. Not only did you not leave a big tip, but you might have also spoken to the manager or left a bad review to warn your fellow citizens not to eat there. If you are an auto mechanic, plumber, fence company, HVAC company, etc. People already know what you do. They know what you offer. Should you still tell them your services? Of Course! Then talk about something else. Give them a reason why they should choose you over your competition. The history of your company doesn’t matter to anyone except your friends and family. Use real results of success as value when presenting yourself online.
Your message should reach prospective customers fast! Your message should contain a unique message that creates awareness and urgency. With the rise of internet use among adults 45 and older, we must evolve to fit everyone’s needs young and old. There is a myth out there floating around that older people aren’t as fluent with the internet as young people. Not only is that not true, but it is far from the truth. Check Google Trends to see it for yourself. Another myth is that you don’t need the internet to be successful. This is a dangerous myth with technology evolving so rapidly. No matter how many customers you have right now, you can’t ever let up on internet marketing because the future is unknown and success is never guaranteed.
Focus On Long Term Relationships
One of the most effective ways to attract new customers today is to focus on relationship building. Whether you know it or not you are already in a relationship with many companies across our great land, yes you! Think about fast food, soda, tires, hotel chain, lawyer…Who do you think of when you think of these places? That’s right! They have you in a relationship. Now your business has to develop that same type of relationship with your local prospects.
There are many ways to build relationships with your prospective buyers. You just have to know where to look. Keep in mind where your customers are looking for your services. For example, if your service is auto repair your customers will be looking in Google but not as much on Facebook. Most SEO companies focus on broad keywords like “Auto Repair City/State”. That’s a great search, but wouldn’t you agree that if someone needs brake service they would just search for “Brake Service City/State”?
The phone can be your demise
Nowadays consumers have much easier access to the World Wide Web. There is no reason for them to get into their vehicle to drive around to find the services they need. Most businesses are finding that walk in traffic has slowed down tremendously and the phone and email is getting ever so popular. When your business phone rings don’t answer it if you’re too busy to answer someone’s questions. I have seen many businesses slow down because they give short answers to customers’ questions about services & pricing. If I call a fence company and ask how much they charge to build a fence and they throw a price out there at me I will feel compelled to call the next one on the list. Remember, consumers are looking for Convenience, Trust and Service on the phone too!
Ask for referrals – Begin a customer loyalty program
This may sound ridiculous for a service industry but you will be amazed at the results this will bring your business. If you visit your customers homes during the day to give estimates or work design some post cards with your logo on it to give to the customer once the project is completed. The post card should be a loyalty program offering a discount for referrals, discount for future services, entrance into a drawing you might give away a YETI cooler. The importance of this is so they will remember you and tell their friends and family about your company in a bragging way. When you hear a friend brag about a service they received we tend to remember that even if we don’t need that service ourselves right that moment. Make your customers want to brag about you.
Stay in Touch
When your customers sign your work order form once the job is completed do not let them leave until you get their email address. Using any email account you can save your customers email addresses and send monthly newsletters, review requests, holiday greetings, updates on new services or products, etc. Staying in touch with people with a simple email once in a while is a sure fire way to make sure they never forget about you. It doesn’t take much of your time to add email addresses to a contact list and break it down by month or however is easier for you. When you email asking for reviews, be sure to include a link the customer can click on to leave the review. Remember, when people are unhappy they love to leave bad reviews and they will figure out how to do it. When people are happy they don’t think about the reviews, but if we send them an email with a link most people will be more than happy to leave you a positive review.
Teach your service & sales staff to SMILE at your customers. This is a common courtesy that seems to be going away as we go farther into the future. A smile is still one of the most important things you can do to earn someone’s trust and friendship. Remember, people only buy from people they like. Also remember, people like people who are like themselves and people don’t like people who aren’t like themselves. Learn about the magic of rapport and teach your staff to be experts in this field. There is an excellent video on YouTube, go there and search for “The Magic of Rapport by Tony Robbins”. If I had a service industry I would require every employee watch that 22 minute video.
Internet Marketing 101
I know you get phone calls every day of every week from a solicitor claiming to be Google. I have news for you, they are not Google. Next time someone says they are Google, ask them to tell you about the Google Panda update. They won’t be able to tell you and they probably won’t call you again. Google Panda was a major update Google made to their search engine back in 2011 that literally shook the search engine world like an earthquake.
Knowledge is Power
You’re a business owner, meaning you specialize in that business and you’re an expert. I am an expert of internet marketing, I know the basics of what a dentist does but I wouldn’t dare try to do his job. However, I still want to know the basics on what it takes to keep my dental health up and reduce my trips there. Same goes for you with internet marketing. Don’t rely on what advertisers tell you or what you see on TV. The only real answers are on Google and are easily found through the following places that you can go to Google and search for anytime free:
- Google Trends
- Google Webmaster Guidelines
- Google Search Console
- Facebook AD guidelines
- Search Engine Journal
- Google Analytics
As a business owner you should know about all of these listed above. They are all critical for your success online in 2020 and moving forward. You don’t have to become an expert on internet marketing, you just need the basic knowledge so you’ll have more control over how your customers find you and more importantly, your ROI for marketing efforts!
Optimize Your Web Presence or Get Rid of It
That’s right, if your website isn’t properly optimized where a user can find it by typing in a keyword search related to what you do then take that website down right now and start over. You wouldn’t build a department store and put it 5 miles down a dirt road where no one can find it right? Then don’t do that with your website, stop wasting your money! If done properly your website can be optimized where it can be found by prospective clients. Before you hire someone to do this for you research their credentials, ask for referrals and take your time! This is your business we’re talking about. The proper keywords can be found easily by using the “Google Trends” console as well as many other tools. Do your research; spend some time looking at this. We are talking about the future of your business here! Don’t let some advertiser tell you what’s best for your business, only you know what’s best.
Make Good Sense on Social Media
Service industries can spread awareness through social media marketing but it is very tedious and if you’re not careful you can waste a lot of time and money with no results. Some businesses create a page and send friend requests to as many people as possible so they can invite them to LIKE their business page. Only one problem with that, those people don’t need your services right now so it’s a waste of time. Some businesses run Facebook Ads and target their city showcasing their services. Only problem with that is, how do you know who needs your services in your city in order to target them properly.
Example: I worked with an attorney years ago that practiced personal injury. He was posting Ads telling the public if they were injured in an accident to call him for a free consultation. (Hope someone that has been injured sees that).
Solution: I suggested instead of asking people to call him, write blogs about accidents & injuries and inform people on what their rights are ahead of time. (That promotes awareness). We created a blog with a picture of a wet floor sign and wrote about seeing this sign in a store and falling next to it, do you have any rights? That created curiosity and prompted users to stop and read what he had to say even though they haven’t been injured. People love free information, that’s why you’re here right now! J
Call me today for a free consultation. I look forward to speaking with you!