5 Low-Cost Tips For Marketing Your Service Business

Marketing a business service differs from retail marketing because you must demonstrate your service to get clients. These tips will help you bring in business.

Marketing a business service is not like retail marketing. A service isn't highly visible, and it's difficult to show why your service is better than the competitor's. So how do you bring in more business?

Develop a plan using some of these techniques:

* Speaking

* Press Releases

* Sampling

* Referral Letters

* Newsletters

Don't base your entire marketing effort on one method. Try tactics for each season, for different markets, or to spice up your marketing.

Speaking

You may not get paid for speaking to business and professional groups, but the dividends are worth your time. People who have met you will recall you when they need your service. And they'll see you as an expert.

To start, take a few days to list topics. Send it out to various professional organizations. Offer your services free or for a nominal fee. One professional suggests speaking for free but asking for transportation to and from the meeting.

Use visual aids such as overheads or slides to focus the audience's attention on your subject rather than your face. They also serve to jog your memory. And don't feel shy. Speaking is definitely one skill that gets easier with practice.

Press Releases

Take a look at the People section of your business newspaper. Every one of those items came from a press release. And all those companies are getting free publicity.

What have you done that merits a release? How about:

winning an award

hiring two new employees

landing a big contract

If you can't think of any reason for a release, create one. Donate used equipment to a local school, offer your services to a non-profit organization, and sponsor a festival. Editors use releases that contain real news, not advertising.

Make sure to include contact information, and a little background information about your company. You might also want to mail a copy of your service brochure or company profile with the release. And, if you have them, good quality photos are always a plus.

Sampling

Consumer businesses use sampling all the time, from that free box of cereal to 30-day trial periods. Professionals use similar tactics with free initial consultations. Show off your own services with sampling. Keep your sample costs down, and use a variety of methods to find the right one for your business.



Offer an invitation-only sample seminar to a group of business owners and managers. Provide one free week of coffee service. Raffles and door prizes are another means, and can also provide a mailing list. Just stick to a budget so you don't go overboard.

One way to reduce costs is to choose a very small audience for your offer. For instance, you might give free coffee service to one or two local charities. Then send a press release announcing your gift to get more mileage out of the sampling.

Referral Letters

Develop a strong letter that appeals to professionals. Make a point of mentioning that referring clients to you can help their business as well as yours. While you may not be able to promise that you'll refer every client who needs an accountant in return for referrals, you can promise to send 'qualified' clients or clients within a certain region. You can also provide an incentive for referrals, whether it is discounts on your services or a free gift.

You can also offer services directly to these referral sources. For example, if you offer business plans that an accountant could in turn sell to his clients, suggest a reasonable mark-up. This has two advantages: it provides incentive to make referrals, and it gives the accountant another service he can offer his clients.

Rent or prepare a list of all the potential referral sources for your geographic area (one or two ZIP codes to start with). Do your mailing, then follow up with phone calls within two weeks. If possible, set up appointments. Face-to-face meetings are essential for fixing you in their minds, so they'll remember you when the time comes to make a recommendation. Bringing a sample of your work or a list of your current clients will help establish your credentials. If you're just starting out, you should still be prepared with samples or a presentation.

One business consultant said that a full 60% of his business came from three referral sources he'd contacted in the early years of his business. Referrals tend to grow and build, adding new layers each year.

Newsletters

Finally, newsletters help you keep your services in your clients' minds year round.

A newsletter may be as simple as a double-sided sheet of paper offering tips and news, or even an actual letter format. Most word processing programs have built-in templates for newsletters, and you can use free clipart for illustrations. Offer real news and information your clients can use, some reason to save the newsletters and eagerly await the next issue. Testimonials and letters would also be great additions, and help to promote your business. Just make sure you get permission from your client before printing their words, though.

If preparing a monthly or quarterly newsletter seems daunting, you can use the services of a professional newsletter designer. The designer will help you choose a layout and publishing schedule to fit your budget, and will usually write and edit the articles using material you provide. The advantage of this method is that you get a professionally written newsletter with a well-designed layout. The disadvantage is cost, but this may be more than offset by the increased sales.

In the next few months, why not try a few of these low-cost marketing methods?

© High Speed Ventures 2011