Everyone wants to beat out the competition, but how do you totally dominate your market, and make your company the “go to” company for the services you offer? It all starts with brand awareness efforts.
When you think of pop, do you immediately think of whatever off-brand your grocery store sells? No, you think of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or their products, like Sprite. That’s market domination, and it didn’t happen overnight. It happened as a result of consistent efforts to get the Pepsi and Coca-Cola brands out in front of people and into their homes.
You may think that a product is very different from a service business, but in this respect, it’s not. You need to become the Coca-Cola or Pepsi of your industry for your local market, and it starts with simple brand awareness. So what can you do?
Local Radio & TV
While more and more people are getting their news and music from places other than TV and the radio (like Facebook and Spotify), TV and radio aren’t dead and they can be great places for you to meet your potential customers. These media outlets have demographics of their listeners and viewers and you can use that information to figure out which stations, channels, and even times, your target customers favor.
Maybe the majority of your target audience watches the local news segment in the evening or the weather first thing in the morning. Maybe they listen to a morning show or traffic report on their way into work. Use that knowledge and get radio ad and TV commercial slots around the same times and on those same channels and stations.
But it goes beyond advertising. Keep your eyes and ears opened for opportunities to provide value and establish yourself as a local, trusted expert through these mediums. Journalists are always looking for a story, so tie your business in. Are chimney fires happening a lot in your community? As a chimney sweep, that’s a great opportunity for you to educate your community on how to prevent fires, what to look for in a chimney sweep, and the importance of chimney inspections and sweepings. Offer to share your expertise on air and get your local community familiar with your company.
Magazines & Forums
Magazines and forums are also great outlets for establishing your authority, educating your community, and building brand awareness. With trade magazines, local magazines, consumer focused magazines, and forums like Quora, the opportunity to answer the questions your customers and potential customers have, find out what they want to know and what’s important to them, and get your name out in front of consumers has never been easier. Spend a little time each week writing and looking for opportunities to answer questions, educate, and inform. Once you identify which publications you can add value to, reach out to the editor-in-chief or a particular journalist who seems to cover related topics, and pitch a story or article.
Like magazines, forums, local radio, and TV, blog posts are a great way to get your name out there and provide value to customers and potential customers. The more you blog and the more value you provide with your blog, the more opportunities you have to show up in search results when customers and potential customers are looking for expertise and answers to questions related to your industry. Think of questions you’re commonly asked on the job and use your blog to answer those questions. Talk about industry trends and products. If it’s something you think your customers would find interesting and helpful, blog about it!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube offer more avenues for expanding brand reach and establishing trust and expertise. Within Facebook, you can join local neighborhood groups and keep an eye out for anyone who is in need of your services or dealing with a problem that you can solve. Don’t get pushy or sales-y or you could be removed from the group, but look for opportunities to help those in your community and build familiarity.
Instagram and YouTube are great for sharing quick videos that educate consumers and show what you do. How-To videos are sought out by everyone from Baby Boomers to Millennials, so if you can provide instructional videos that solve problems for your customers or educate them, do it! Explain problems, when and why they require professional resolution, and when and why they’re an easy fix. You may think that these types of videos will cause you to lose business, but they actually establish you as an authority and give your customers a glimpse into the knowledge and expertise that goes into troubleshooting and solving the issues you solve for them.
A lot of people leave Pinterest out of the conversation, but it’s still a powerful and popular social platform, so if your work is very visual (if you’re a house painter or a fireplace installer, for example), Pinterest is worth spending some time in. Post before/after pictures of your work, share trends, and make sure you use the right tagging and description info so your images have a chance of showing up in search results.
Print Ads & Traditional Advertising
We can’t discount the effectiveness of print ads and other traditional advertising, but some traditional print advertising opportunities will provide more value than others. Circulars aren’t always the best route when you’re still building brand awareness because they primarily engage price shoppers, and price shoppers, in our humble opinion, aren’t all that loyal. They usually go where the best price is and they’ll only use your services when you’re running a special.
Another reason circulars are probably not the best route when you’re working on brand awareness and getting your business name out there is that we’re all used to getting so much junk mail that many of us don’t even look at circulars anymore — they immediately go into the recycle bin. So spend some time thinking about the types of customers you want, what they’re reading and paying attention to, and which types of traditional advertising might provide you the most value and get you out there in front of your potential customers. And don’t discredit traditional advertising that isn’t direct mail related! Is there a great local diner that’s slammed with business every weekend? Consider paying for a spot on their laminated placemats or coffee cups. When people are sitting there sipping their coffee and waiting for their breakfast, they’ll see your business name, and the more frequently they’re exposed to your business name and logo, the better. Local event and sports team sponsorships can be great advertising options as well. Be creative and think about what type of print and traditional advertising makes sense for your business!
Networking & Local Chambers & Associations
Even with the Internet, networking and involvement with local chambers of commerce and associations are still among the most lucrative forms of advertising, in terms of building brand awareness and dominating the market. So join your local chambers and community groups, introduce yourself to others in related service verticals, and pass out your business cards. The more you introduce yourself to those in your community, the more opportunity there is for others to share your business card or recommend and refer you to others in the community.
When you take the time to network and establish yourself as a trusted expert with others who are plugged into your community and out and about meeting your potential customers, you create a network of people who act as an extension of you, and do a lot of your brand awareness marketing for you.
There are countless ways to spread brand awareness and dominate your market, but you have to implement them to really see the benefit. So choose a few of the suggestions here and get out there and be the Pepsi or Coca-Cola of your industry and market!
Do you have a personal Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account? Well, so do most of your current customers and future customers. What better way to grow your business than by connecting with those customers through social media? Social media also allows your business to connect with other local businesses, which is always a plus.
A wise group of people, The Spark Marketer Crew, enlightened me on the important role social media has in branding your business, increasing web traffic to your company website, and making your online presence stronger. It just makes sense. Social media plays a major role in businesses today because most customers do their research on a business via their computers and smartphones before they make that call.
Our company has been using social media for years and it has been a great tool for us for building relationships with other businesses and customers. We started off using Facebook, then added Twitter and Instagram. These social media platforms allow us and our customers to engage with each other on a regular basis, not only when our services are needed.
Don’t be afraid to try social media for your business, but remember, it takes time and commitment for it to grow — but it’s all worth it.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Don’t use your personal account — have a separate social media account for your business.
- There are many social media platforms to choose from, so choose the one you feel the most comfortable with. In my opinion, Facebook is the easiest.
- You need to post daily on each of the platforms you choose and always have an image with your post.
- Keep it professional, but fun. Share repair work photos, employee work anniversaries or birthdays, helpful tips that you or your customers would enjoy, etc. Mix it up!
- Like and share the posts of others.
- Don’t always try to sell something — it’s social media. You need to find a balance between business and popularity and use the platform to be social.
Social Media for business is necessary if you want to stay in front and grow your company, but it takes time and commitment. Stick with it! Your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram followers will be people who know your company and have most likely done business with you in the past. Use social media to show them who you are and what you’re about and to build relationships, turning one-time customers into long-term fans. These are the customers who are going to tell their friends about you!
Linda Roydhouse is co-owner of Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County and offers social media management tools, tips, and consulting services to other business owners through Roydhouse Effect. Check her out!
We love partnering up with local service businesses as they power on towards their dreams, but the reality is, not every business is ready to make that commitment, financially or otherwise. If you fit into that category, we want to give you 6 tips for what you can be doing until you are ready to work with us. Here you go!
Getting involved in local networking groups like BNI, your local Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Jaycees, Gold Star Referral Club, etc. is a great way to get your business name out there and gain referrals. It’s also beneficial for you as a business owner to connect with other business owners and build relationships with those in your community. So get involved, even if you don’t think of yourself as the networking type.
2. Make The News.
Most people watch the news, which is why getting a local news spot is one of the best ways to get your name out to those in your local area. Reach out to a local reporter and give them a story. Are you a chimney sweep? Maybe it’s chimney swift season or there have been a series of chimney-related house fires. Look for opportunities to present yourself as an authority and educate or inspire those in your community.
3. Give Back.
Getting your company involved with a charity is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Not only is charity work good for your spirit, but it communicates to your employees and customers that you care about more than just what you can gain from those in your community. You’ll meet new people, get involved in meaningful, big-picture work, and you may even discover new ways to raise funds and awareness through your business throughout the year. Everyone wants to find purpose and meaning in their day job, especially on the tough days when things don’t seem to be going right. Partnering with a charity and using your business to give back can provide that purpose and meaning.
4. Sponsor Teams & Events.
Have you considered sponsoring local sports teams and events, like little league teams, football teams, soccer teams, golf tournaments, tennis matches, local chamber events, community fairs, or town festivals? Getting your business involved through sponsorship can provide yet another way for those in your community to discover you and the services you provide. Plus, like the other tips on this list, team and event sponsorship provides the opportunity to build relationships and network with those you may not have otherwise come in contact with.
5. Get Social.
Everyone’s getting social on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and if you aren’t there to be a part of the conversation, you’re missing out! Some studies have shown that more than 60% of consumers check a business’s Facebook page before deciding to do business with them. Would those looking for you find you? Social media also provides great advertising opportunities, and since social profiles are free, they’re a cost-effective way to communicate important things like hours and services to those looking for you. Get out there, create social profiles, post engaging and informative content, and let your customers and potential customers see your personality, core values, and what makes you and your business special. Get creative, have fun, and socialize with your customers!
6. Get Your Culture, Procedures, And Customer Service Right.
When it makes sense for you to start investing in online marketing, you want to make sure you get the best ROI. But no matter how many potential customers your website or Ad spend sends your way, if you have scheduling problems, procedural problems, or customer service problems, you’re going to lose out and fail to convert some of those leads. So take this time to work on getting your company culture, procedures, systems, and customer service 100%. By getting all of these things established and in peak condition before you’re ready for us, you’ll be able to confidently serve the customers that find you through your online marketing efforts when you are ready for us. You’ll already have operations and customer service down to a science so you can focus on retaining the new customers coming into your sales funnel so they don’t go looking for anyone else.
If financial constraints or other constraints are preventing you from working with a digital marketing company, don’t get discouraged; there are still things you can be doing. Go out there and make the most of this time — we’ll be here for you when you’re ready!
You might think that because we’re a digital marketing company, we’re only advocates for online marketing tactics and efforts. Not so! One of the best things you can do for your business is actively put forth effort both online and offline. Many times, offline efforts end up showing up online, and since the two really go hand in hand, it’s time to start thinking of them as two pieces of the same puzzle. Alright, let’s get right to it….Here are four things you should be doing offline to build business online:
Sponsor local events, activities, and sports teams.
Sponsoring events, activities, and sports teams is a great way to build brand awareness, earn a reputation, establish trust and authority, and stand out in your community. People want to do business with local companies who are invested and established, and community sponsorship is a great way to communicate that you’re that type of company.
Whether it’s a little league team, an annual town parade or festival, or a charity event, sponsorship is a great way to get involved in the communities you serve and let potential customers know who you are and what you’re about.
An added perk is that, oftentimes, these sponsorships will earn you links or citations online. Think about it: it seems there’s a website or a landing page for just about every event out there. When you’re a part of an event, there’s a good chance your company will be mentioned or linked to on the event’s website or landing page. In other words, your offline efforts could end up not just building authority and boosting your rankings with potential customers in your community, but also building authority and boosting your rankings with Google.
Invest in B2B relationships.
Don’t embrace the scarcity mentality that’s so prevalent in business and think you have to cut yourself off from everyone and hoard customers for yourself. Instead, get involved, network, and invest in building relationships with other businesses in your community and industry. When you build authority and trust with other businesses in your community, they’ll be proud to pass your name along to their customers, because they’ll know you’ll provide excellent service and an excellent customer experience.
Connecting with others and developing referral relationships can lead to more (and more satisfied) customers; a stronger, closer-knit community; and maybe even links to your website from your referral partners’ websites. Let me give you a quick example of a referral relationship here in my community.
I recently locked myself out of my house and since I hadn’t lived here long, I’d yet to make additional keys or hide a key. The only way I was going to get in was to call a locksmith. Being new to the area, I went to Google, and after several calls, I finally got through to someone. The locksmith I reached wasn’t going to be able to get out my way anytime soon, as it was a Friday at rush hour, so he gave me the name and number of a locksmith closer to me. I called the locksmith he referred, he got me in, and I paid him for his time.
Now, I’ve taken all the necessary precautions to avoid ever needing a locksmith in the future, but if I ever do need one, I’ll probably try the first guy again, because he proved to me that he cared more about me and my needs than about closing the sale. He was willing to give up business because it benefitted me. That’s the kind of company I want to work with, and he showed me that through a referral.
Get involved in your local BNI or Chamber of Commerce.
One of the best ways to build those referral relationships is to get involved with your local BNI chapter or Chamber of Commerce. These local groups allow you to learn more about what’s going on in your community and what other local businesses are in your area, and provide a place for you to mingle and mix with those you may not otherwise spend any time with. If you really want to see the referrals start coming in and learn from other businesses in your community, these are groups you have to get involved with.
Many local groups such as these also mention the businesses associated with them on their websites and provide links. Links and citations = higher rankings. Plus, being a part of local organizations shows your potential customers that you’re invested in your community, which makes them more likely to trust in and invest in you.
Ask for reviews.
And finally, ask for reviews! At the end of a service, let your customers know how much you value their feedback and how much you rely on referrals and online reviews for business. Whether you want to believe it or not, your satisfied customers aren’t likely to leave you a review if you don’t ask — so ask! To make the “Ask” easier on your techs and the review simple and streamlined for your customers, get The Spark Review Engine™. It’s designed to make getting more reviews as easy as pie. And the more positive reviews you have online, the more potential customers will trust you and the higher Google is likely to rank you.
So go get started!
Mick Jagger sings the above sentiment in the Rolling Stones’ song ‘Shattered’ written back in the 1970’s. It is just as relevant now when teaching social media to others, not just the ‘how’ but the ‘why’. (Once you grasp the ‘why’, the ‘how’ gets a lot easier.)
What is a cocktail party but social gathering, with the goal to meet other people and get to know them better? In terms a business owner can easily understand, it’s networking. It’s connecting with people and entities with whom you’d like to do business.
Like a large cocktail party, social media’s multiple channels can be dauntingly vast and off-putting. What makes it worth staying and mingling are the aforementioned connections, as well as social media’s ability to help establish your business’s presence locally and on the internet. Yup, we said it – your internet presence, i.e. ranking on search engines. I see we have your attention.
With most social media channels your posts will get indexed by search engines, alerting them that you are being relevant. If you are more relevant than your local competition, who do you think will rank higher on someone’s internet search for your services in your service area? This is good stuff.
But how does it all work? Do you HAVE to be on every social media channel out there? One does not have to be active on every channel. Presence on three to four social media networks is the norm. Find the ones with which you are most comfortable and dabble.
Find Your Voice
Think about how you want your brand to be presented. Who is the best person to represent the voice of your company? It’s you or a trusted member of your staff. Can others do the job for you? Certainly, you receive enough spam email and robo calls hawking these services, but it is a step removed, and though it can be crisp it is not as authentic as your own voice. Find your voice.
Find Your Medium
Do you take video at your business? Youtube and Vine are for you. Do you like taking photos on the job and around town? Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are great opportunities to share. Don’t forget Twitter. You’ve got options!
Don’t think you have the time to make it work? A smart phone can record a photo and a moment for later posting, either sitting in the passenger seat heading towards the next job, at the office after work, or later after dinner at home. Both paid and free tools exist to help with scheduling so you can get work done ahead of time and remove some of the pressure.
Find Your Flow
Presenting your latest offer or deal repeatedly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is not ‘doing social media’. It is a part – you get partial credit for that. For full credit you also need to follow other accounts, share some of their posts, like some of their posts, and comment occasionally. It’s interacting. It’s being social. How do you enjoy listening to that one person at a party who talks incessantly about themselves? You likely find yourself looking for the door or hoping for a rescue text or phone call. Don’t make your customers feel that way.
Find Your Sweet Spot
Sure it involves a little trial and error – after all, what works for one company may not work for another – but social media is a must. Figure out what works for your business and what engages your customers – find your sweet spot.
Social media for business is a little like a great chili recipe. There are dozens of viable and successful ways to do it right. The most important thing being: you are the one directing the kitchen.