Sunday, November 24, 2013

How Do I Market My Service Business?

From Success Magazine, November 2013, reprinted by permission

Today’s question: What is a good way to promote my business as an independent service professional?

Bob Serling: Great question. To answer with me, I’ve asked Robert Middleton, a leading authority on marketing for independent service professionals.

As a service professional, you have to get your name and your knowledge out there where people can see it. One way to accomplish this is by creating list articles or list reports.

Let’s say you’re a consultant on productivity. Your list report might be something like, “6 Surefire Ways to Help Your Employees Be More Productive” with effective, easy to use productivity tips. Create a press release via PR Web or PR Newsletter to market your free list report. Both are very inexpensive press release services that allow you to target the kind of publications you want. If you’ve never written a press release, you can just Google press release templates and you'll find a number of excellent templates.

Also send your press release to the trade publications for industries you specialize in, who may publish your release for free. Be sure to include your website in the report for more information. On your website, create an opportunity for people to join your email newsletter in exchange for receiving your list article report for free. That starts the whole process for you.

Robert Middleton: Think about how you package your services. In my experience, I find packaging of services is often neglected. We’re looking for leads, for people to come to our site, for people to grow our list—all to help get the word out there, but people often forget that if they don’t package their service in a certain way they will limit themselves.

Instead of selling a one-day workshop for $5,000, turn that into a nine-month program for $30,000 to $40,000. To accomplish this, write up a really good sales letter for that high-end service. As an example, I did this four years in a row for my marketing mastery program. I wrote a really detailed in-depth letter about what this program was, why people need it, what the benefits were, how it worked, how it was structured—everything they could ever want to know about it. Then I had people apply to get into the program. I got 50 to 60 applications every time I promoted it. Then I met with those people, talked to them on the phone, and sold them a $10,000 to $15,000 one-year program and filled it completely four years in a row.

Everyone is focused on getting the word out about their services, but when I look at what they have to offer, it’s often, “Well, we offer management consulting services,”  or “We offer business coaching services.” When they talk to someone they don’t have a package. I call it putting a big package on your shelf so that you can sell it. It’s like if you’re going to sell beans, you can sell a small can of beans, a medium-sized can of beans, or the extra super jumbo size.

Bob Serling: That’s a great analogy.

Robert Middleton: Create bigger programs and write a lot of copy about them, because the more expensive they are, the more you have to write, the more you have to explain, the more you have to build a case for the value of it, the better the results you can get. Not many service professionals do this. We’ve helped people do this for medium-sized businesses, small-sized businesses, corporations, all kinds of businesses, and simply upped their vision or the upped the ante, so to speak, about what they’re offering.

Bob Serling: You mentioned that when you’re selling an expensive package it requires a lot of copy. At the same time, most people are afraid of creating long copy. They think that their prospects won’t read long copy, especially when it’s online. But the fact is that when you’re selling something that is complex, people want a lot of information in order to make an educated purchasing decision.

I was talking with one of my mastermind groups and telling them that the piece I wrote for my last program, which cost $22,500, was 14 pages long when printed out. A lot of people thought that nobody would read that much copy. Actually that answer is partially true—nobody who isn’t interested will read it. So you’re doing those people a service, you’re not wasting their time. But the people who are interested will read it and they’ll read every word because they want to make a good decision for themselves.

Robert Middleton: Exactly. Sometimes they’ll read it a few times.