Marketing. Every business needs it.
If you’re a service-based business (meaning, you may not have a storefront that customers are driving by on a regular basis), your marketing efforts are extra important for getting your name out there in front of the customers you want to attract.
But — let’s be honest — it’s not always easy. Far from it.
For small businesses, every little bit counts. Every bit of time, and every bit of money.
If you’re not sure where to focus your marketing efforts, or even where to start, the idea of investing your spare time (which you have precious little of) into researching and implementing a killer marketing plan can feel daunting, or even flat out unrealistic. After all, you have invoices to send, subscriptions to pay, and leads to contact, on top of all the actual work you have to do.
You’re busy running a business — you don’t have time to fail. You also have a lower margin of error with a small service-based business, meaning you can’t always afford to test, experiment, and possibly lose at marketing.
Scary, I know. I’ve worked with so many businesses for over the last decade that have had incredible potential for success, but their marketing efforts were falling way flat. And when they did, these mistakes were dangerous for the business. I’m not being dramatic, just realistic.
To ensure you’re spending your time and money wisely, you need a top-notch marketing plan that brings in revenue to your business (sounds good, doesn’t it?), and offers clarity to both your customers and internal team. Clarity regarding your brand, your mission, your services and your purpose.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of supremely marketing your businesses, a great place to begin is learning from others’ mistakes. Take it from me — knowing these basics from the beginning will help take the unknown out of building your marketing strategy, and get you on the road to reaping returns from your worthwhile marketing efforts.
5 Mistakes Service-Based Businesses Make in Marketing
1. Unfocused Marketing
Who is your ideal customer? If you can’t answer this question clearly in about 20 seconds, you’ve got work to do.
Lots of business use what’s called the “spray and pray method”, meaning untargeted, mass advertising. They put out wide-reaching ads with the hope that someone will eventually bite.
The problem here is, you’re a whole lot more likely to get the kind of customers you don’t want, using this method — customers who might not understand your value, your intention, or your pricing structure.
Not knowing ideal customer, including your high-end potential customers, is a rookie mistake. Don’t make it.
If you don’t know your market, you can’t sell yourself. If you do know your market, you can advertise your services wisely and effectively.
Want to read more about how targeting your ideal audience will boost your income? Hop over to Define Your Ideal Customers and Rapidly Increase Your Income
2. Undervaluing Services
I see this all the time. You’re starting a “little graphic design company” (and describe it like that to your peers and friends), and therefore your prices reflect “little here-and-there services.”
Lots of business owners find it difficult to champion the value of their services. Whether it stems from a lack of confidence or experience, this misunderstanding is detrimental to attracting the kind of clients you want that spend massive amounts of money with your business. I’m not exaggerating.
Toss those uncertainty-inducing emotions aside – insecurity and humility – and take a good hard look at the value you bring to your clients. If this were someone else’s business, what would you see as an accurate pricing structure? What do your services bring to the table?
Knowing the worth of your services, and presenting them accurately to your leads, is up to you. Don’t rely on others to tell you your business’s worth.
Another good read on battling those tough emotional barriers: Overcoming Fear in Business
Every business, no matter the size, needs to carve out a marketing budget. Knowing what size budget is right for you takes some business soul-searching.
Ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re underspending, or your marketing campaigns are underperforming:
- Am I getting new leads/clients regularly?
- Is my business growing?
- Am I attracting the kinds of clients I really want?
If your answer is “no” to any of these, there’s room for improvement.
Likewise, you may be overspending on ineffective ads if your answer is “no” to any of the above questions, and you’re putting significant amounts of time and money into marketing campaigns.
Do you research, know your margins, and understand your ROI. Scale up campaigns that deliver, and ditch those that don’t. Leave ineffective campaigns in the dust — learn, improve and move on.
4. Not Setting Benchmarks
How can you know how your marketing efforts are performing if you’re not setting goals and measuring successes and failures? You can’t.
Don’t make the mistake of investing your time into a marketing plan without setting up the metrics to back it up.
Without benchmarks, you’re flying by the seat of your pants. You don’t want to “think” or “assume” your marketing efforts are making an impact. You want to KNOW. And knowing comes with clarity. And clarity comes with metrics and goal-setting.
One benefit of being a small service-based business: you can turn on a dime if something isn’t working. But first you have to know what’s not working. Measure your outcomes, benchmark them against your goals, and pivot where needed. Repeat.
5. Waiting Too Long
Some service-based businesses owners find themselves paralyzed by fear, and simply do nothing at all. They wait, and wait, until the perfect time and opportunity arise to take action.
And it doesn’t come. Or it comes much too late.
Your competitors are marketing, and your ideal clients are looking for services just like yours. Only they can’t find you, and they’re going elsewhere. And now, they’re hooked. They’re in with someone else and less likely to leave because they’ve already invested their time and money. You’re now officially on the back-burner.
It happens all the time: business owners get stuck in the day-to-day, feeling too busy to grow.
Meanwhile, your website, social media presence, partnership opportunities, etc. come in second. Or third. Or last.
Don’t get in your own way with your marketing efforts. Inaction and procrastination will get you stuck. Action, today, will get you results.
Marketing your own business can be daunting. No argument there. But doing nothing leads to getting nothing. Avoid these startup marketing mistakes, and reach out to engaged customers that will buy from you again and again, and refer other clients your way (helping do your marketing for you!).
Feeling ready to start? Good!
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