An increasing number of people are taking their business out of the office. Like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, service-area businesses can build their brand and their customer base via online marketing. Dog walkers, plumbers and wedding photographers have these things in common.
Their online marketing strategy should be tailored to their business type. Businesses like these usually meet their customers on-the-go, whether at a park, the customer’s home or a church. In many cases, they don’t have a shop or brick-and-mortar location that customers can visit.
Here are some pointers to better online marketing:
Identify the areas you will serve
Once you embrace running an on-the-go business, you should define the territory or region your business will serve and research the area. What other businesses are active in your local market? How do they define their target region? Knowing what your competitors and other local service area providers are doing can help you come up with a clear plan for your business.
Decide just how far you are willing to roam for a job or a customer. It can be tough to turn down customers, but sometimes the travel and expense of getting to the customer can eat into your profits. Once you’re clear on your boundaries and limitations, spread the word online.
Build a website
Customers are looking for goods or services like yours online. Make sure your business shows up by creating a website. With nearly all consumers consulting online sources to review products and services in their area, having a presence on the internet is more important than ever before.
Many small business owners avoid building a web presence because they see the internet as confusing and complex. Luckily, template-based products like GoDaddy’s Website Builder make it simple to build a website, even if you’re not tech-savvy. And if you’re too busy to do it yourself, consider hiring a professional website designer.
Whichever website route you choose, make sure your site is responsive. Basically, this means that your website will be easy to view and navigate on different devices, like mobile phones. Your customers are on the go, too. And remember to mention your specific service area or region on your website – your customers (and search engines like Google) will want to know.
Take some time to do a little bit of basic search engine optimisation, or SEO. Make sure your full company name, e-mail address and phone number are displayed on the footer or the sidebar of your website. And ensure the NAP data (name, address, phone) matches your Google Maps (Google My Business) listing information.
Showcase your business on local review and directory sites
Service area businesses will often find themselves having to overcome a unique challenge. Many of these businesses – like house cleaners, plumbers, painters, pet sitters, garden services and electricians – offer services that require entry into people’s homes. And most South African are wary about who they let into their homes because of security concerns; we have also all had bad experiences with some service providers. Customers will want reassurance that they can trust you. That’s where word-of-mouth referrals come into play.
In today’s world, these word-of-mouth referrals have become more figurative than literal. People are increasingly turning online and trusting the opinions and advice of strangers as if they are friends or family. Getting good reviews from Google users can help. Also, try to join neighbourhood Facebook groups and get involved – recommendations from people in your suburb or town can generate great business for you.
Most of these groups have strict rules against service providers aggressively promoting themselves, but you can pick up many leads from people who are looking for service providers by asking the group for recommendations. Also, try to get local citations through directory services such as Brabys, EasyInfo or the Yellow Pages.
These and other related sites are perfect platforms for service-area businesses to display their talents and capabilities. These websites thrive on matching a potential customer with a service provider in their area.
And with hundreds of monthly unique visitors, you can see why review sites and directories are a great place to list your business online.
Are you ready to put your navigation skills to work online? Once you target where your customers are searching for you – such as search engines, review sites and social media – you can fine-tune your online marketing approach to focus on the sites that really matter to you.