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How to market your service business for success

Whether you’re offering cleaning services, pet sitting or you’re a mobile makeup artist, you’re competing with a massive 5.7bn businesses operating in the UK.

This provides more than a healthy amount of competition and, without a physical product to market, a fair amount of challenges too.

So, how do you get your service business noticed?

In this article we’ll go through exactly how to market your service business for success...

What’s your USP?

Your USP should be the foundation of your whole marketing campaign. In simple terms, it’s what makes your service business unique and valuable to your target market. That could be pricing, turnaround times, delivery times or the actual service you offer.

Successful USPs can be incorporated into any marketing you choose to do.

To define your USP, you need to find what differentiates you from your competitors. It should be something unique, clear and measurably distinct, not just quality or customer service.

To begin you need to follow these steps:

  1. Describe your target audience

  2. Explain the problem that you solve

  3. List your most distinctive benefits

  4. Define your promise

Once you have all of the information above, combine it into a short paragraph. Then take your paragraph and try to narrow it down to one sentence, only highlighting the key points.

Once you have defined your USP, display it clearly for your potential customers to show them exactly who you are. This could be on your website, your social media or on marketing materials.

Reel customers in with offers

Knowing and understanding your competitors and what they’re offering can give you a real edge. It helps you to price your services correctly and create offers to entice new customers.

But before doing this, you first need to define some things in your own business:

1. Your target audience

Instead of trying to appeal to the masses, you need to define your target audience. In doing so, you’ll be finding the people who need your service. In turn, there’s a chance they’ll pay a good price for what you’re offering. A good place to start is answering the following questions:

  • Customer base- who are your current customers and what do they buy from you? What are their common interests and characteristics?

  • Competitors- who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers?

You can do this by studying your competitors. Purchase a service from them, check out their price lists, and study their offering in more detail.

Next, do some analysis:

  • Your service- write a list of all your service features and list their benefits. Once you have this, write a list of people who would benefit from your service.

  • Demographics- figure out not only who needs your service but also who’s most likely to buy it. Take things like age, occupation, location and education level into account. You can find this out by creating a survey on a site like SurveyMonkey. This will allow you to study the respondents and find out what groups are most interested in your service, based on who responded and the answers they gave.

2. Your pricing ‘sweet spot’

First things first, you need to crunch your basic numbers, such as:

  • How much money is needed to offer your service?

  • How much money is needed to cover overheads and marketing?

  • How much money do you need leftover as a ‘buffer’?

Once these figures are available to you, you’ll be in a much better position to work out how much revenue you need. You’ll then be able to analyse your findings to create your price positioning.

Once you have your price position, the next step is promotions. Offers and promotions are a great way to incentivise people to choose your service over a competitor’s. Whether it’s offering money-off discounts for new users, or exclusive sign up deals, it’s bound to get people's attention.

In fact, a survey by RetailMeNot found that promotions impact the entire customer journey, from acquisition through to loyalty. According to the survey, 80% of respondents felt encouraged to make a first-time purchase with a new brand when a discount was offered to them. And 74% agreed that special offers are a top factor when deciding what to buy and where to shop.

However, you should always bear in mind that while promotions are a great incentive for consumers, you’ll need to ensure that the revenue coming from offers is still enough to cover your costs.

Of course, a great way to optimise your pricing is by working with SumUp.

Get in touch

Get involved

Even a well-established service business needs the local community to buy in. So, when you’re starting to market your service, look at ways to get involved with the local area.

  1. Sponsorship- if you have the scope to do so, look into sponsoring a sports team, industry event, or charity. This means your logo will be seen by lots of people in different places.

  2. Donate a prize to a charity event- a voucher for your services would be a great addition to a local charity event. It’ll get your name out there and a new customer to trial your services (if they like you, they could also tell their friends).

  3. Sustainability projects- you could organise and sponsor a sustainability project such as a beach clean up or pitch in to help local charities. People will then associate your business with something positive.

You can’t wait for customers to find you, you’ve got to make yourself known. These methods will help people notice your business, even when they aren’t looking for it.

Ask for referrals

Don’t be shy about it, if your customers are happy with your service ask them to leave referrals.

It’s been proven that referrals can help elevate your business. The UK Domain reports:

  • 85%- of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 

  • 68%- of consumers left a positive review when asked to do so. 

  • 73%- say that positive reviews help them trust a company more. 

Try handing out business cards to gain referrals. Put all of the information and instructions for leaving you a referral onto the card and hand one over to your customers as you leave.

To make it more tempting for customers to leave a review or referral, offer them an incentive in return. This could be a discount on their next service, entry into a prize draw, or an exclusive service you don’t otherwise offer.

Referrals can also be sent to you via email or left as a review on your social media platforms. You should ask your customers to post about you on their own social media channels, too.

To make sure your referral programme is working, you need to manage it efficiently. Assign one person or a team to handle the responsibility of customer reviews. Then always try to respond to reviews. For positive ones, thank them and encourage them to use your service again. For the negative reviews, be polite, apologise that their needs were not met, and try to work out a way to rectify the problem in the future.

Make use of social media

Social media has become an integral part of running a service business. Having a Facebook business page allows you to be in contact with your customers, advertise your services, inform customers of your opening hours (and other business information), and let them leave reviews--all for free.

Facebook isn’t your only choice, you can also set up business pages on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Smart Insights revealed that a huge 90% of consumers use social media to interact with companies, which proves that social media is the communication platform of choice for almost everyone. Take advantage of that and stay on top by responding to customer enquiries and replying to comments.

Make sure to post relevant and interesting updates--this is how you will build a following. Remember, though, that organic reach on social is always likely to be limited. It’s often worth considering investing in paid social advertising, reaching your customers on the channels they’re active on.

For example, if you use Facebook to market your service business then you’ll be able to create ads by going to the ‘Advertising on Facebook’ tab. Here, you’ll be taken through simple steps to create an ad and target your ideal audience.

Social media ad platforms allow you to start advertising from as little as £1, so you don’t need to spend too much to get started. The golden rule here is to start small and zero in on what works. Do more of what does, cut back on what doesn’t.

Show customers your value

In any industry, there’s going to be a battle between you and your competitors to offer the best prices.

But not everyone is going to choose a service solely based on the cost. Customers are going to look for the best deal, not necessarily the cheapest price. So, stress the value of your product to your potential customers, and let them know they’re getting the best possible option.

  1. Offer ‘Buy More, Get More’ discounts - if a customer purchases your service once, offer them a discount to buy in bulk. For example, if you are a beautician, let customers purchase their treatments in bulk for the year and give them a discount for doing so.

  2. Different payment options - not everyone has cash anymore, offering card payments is now a must. SumUp offers a fast and easy solution for this.

  3. Fantastic customer service- friendly staff and an easy to use service should not be underestimated. Research suggests that 73% of customers have ‘fallen in love’ with a brand and remained loyal because of friendly customer service reps.

In an open market, where consumers are faced with a lot of choices, the price of the service will usually follow customer needs when a decision is being made.

To sum up...

There’s always going to be competition when it comes to service businesses, but don’t look at that as a bad thing. Let your potential customers know exactly what sets you apart, show off your service offering and start marketing your business for success.

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Ashleigh Grady