Marketing is a well established and crucial component of business. While the theories and strategies surrounding marketing continue to evolve, the core principle remains the same: communicating the value of a product or service to customers.
Marketing, in various guises, is critical for all forms of businesses, and it is important to recognize that all your stakeholders are unique and, therefore, will have different needs and habits. So with that in mind, in order to ensure your marketing is effectively seen by all, you should aim to use a range of techniques and tactics. Planning and managing your “marketing mix” can be quite a challenge for a busy business owner, so to help you on your way, we have compiled this round-up of some of our favorite marketing ideas for service businesses:
1. Create compelling loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes are great for businesses in competitive markets where customers can easily change suppliers, as they provide customers with an incentive to stay true to one business. Try offering rewards for repeat custom, and think about ways you can thank customers who recommend you to their friends and family. In order to make the most of your loyalty schemes, ensure they are actually compelling as a reward, and make sure they’re targeted and appropriate for each customer.
The most popular loyalty schemes are those with supermarkets; take a look at this example of Waitrose’s loyalty scheme and the rewards they offer their customers. http://bit.ly/1aMDLiO
2. Create promotional partnerships
Promotional partnerships let two complementary businesses operating in the same local area promote the other’s products or services, for example, by offering a percentage off your services to customers of another business. Think creatively about which types of businesses would be a good fit for a partnership and how you can maximise that partnership through various online and offline marketing channels.
For more information on this concept, take a look at this link: http://bit.ly/183pHXW.
3. Share content
Sharing content is done through users selecting the option to copy the information they are viewing and posting it on Twitter, Facebook, etc. by clicking a button. By including share buttons on your marketing material, it allows viewers to pass on the information to a wider captive audience who may not directly get to view it. This option should be provided on all your marketing material, such as your website, blog and newsletters. The share button can also be provided in your email signature, which is displayed on all your outgoing material and can also contain your contact information.
To create share functionality and get a code to embed this function on your website, follow this link: http://bit.ly/1dNtoPN
4. Don’t ignore traditional local marketing
Think about creating quirky and useful printed marketing materials, such as businesses cards and flyers that you can use to promote your business and share special offers. Think about distributing them through partner businesses, local events or any other place that your potential customers may be. Be careful not to forget about the environment, though – don’t go overboard with printing, use a green supplier, and be wary of littering!
Take a look at these unique business card ideas for inspiration: http://bit.ly/1jfTUCv
5. Hold and enter competitions
This is a great idea for start-ups as it allows them to create mailing lists which then form the basis of other marketing activities. Competitions can be carried out in a traditional way where participants find out about them by going in store or coming face-to-face with employees, or online through your website and social channels. Competitions are also a great way to show off your business services by offering them up as prizes.
6. Make use of different media formats
The use of engaging online images and videos is becoming increasingly popular when it comes to marketing a small business. Though be aware of what type of content you place where: people on Twitter are accustomed to consuming shorter, snappier snippets of information and rarely have the inclination to read big chunks of text, so get creative with your content. On the other hand, you may wish to expand on your content and give more detailed information on your blog. Be sure to regularly mix up the information you are sending out to keep it fresh and your audience interested.
Instagram is an increasingly popular photo and video sharing platform that could be a good way for you to share, have a look at the BookingBug Instagram. Also, take a look at the link below for some creative and effective uses of Instagram videos: http://on.mash.to/182L23N
7. Get involved with sponsorships
Sponsorships allow you to market your business to an audience that has been provided by another organization, whilst helping that organization financially. When choosing an organization to sponsor, you must consider whether their values and target audience match yours and whether you wish for it to be a long term or short term activity.
8. Improve your SEO
Search Engine Optimization can help raise the profile of your business online by ensuring your business is posted higher up in the results of searches conducted through search engines. It does this by identifying the different search terms or phrases used by the searcher and finding businesses that link to those terms or phrases. Therefore, it is important that you create compelling content that contains these terms and phrases on your website, so it can be found in the searches.
For more information on SEO, take a look at our recent blog post: http://bit.ly/1cDqufc
9. Use your connections
Some may consider that in business, it’s all about the people you know and the connections you have. However, we prefer to think that it is not so much about people you know, but rather the people that know you. The difference here is that if others are not well connected with you, they may not actually know you well enough to want to do you a favor. So get your business out there and make strong connections. Once this has been achieved, call in your favor. Ask family and friends to market your business through word of mouth and pass along your marketing material to relevant people.
Traditional advertising can be an expensive idea and not always within budget for many smaller businesses. However, newer advertising platforms such as through Google or Facebook let you set very specific budgets, from just a few dollars or pounds per week. The great thing about these digital channels is that you can be very specific with the targeting, so you know your ad is only being shown to exactly the right demographic of potential customer.
Take a look at this link for more information about how UK SMB’s can use Twitter for advertising: http://bit.ly/1hdkAXH
Additionally, a note on measuring ROI: always bear cost versus potential returns in mind. It’s not always easy to accurately calculate ROI of different marketing activities, but it’s important to keep in mind how much you’re spending versus how many new customers you’re welcoming. And don’t forget about marketing to your existing customer base – it is often much cheaper to sell more services to your existing, loyal customers than it is to win brand new ones.
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