Author Topic: Most effective way to promote local service business?  (Read 2197 times)

1tolivesimply

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Most effective way to promote local service business?
« on: June 15, 2017, 09:50:51 PM »
In late January, my wife and I decided to go ahead and start our own business.
By the end of March, we had our business/dba, licenses, logos, business cards, flyers, uniforms, a website and a few providers (all we need), in other words, we were ready to start marketing the products & services we offer.
To date, we have had a few jobs and have given a bunch of estimates (hoping they decide to move forward with the projects in the near future).

So far, our marketing efforts have been through word of mouth/networking (telling everyone we know about the business), fb, nextdoor, and by mailing/distributing about 2000 flyers in some neighborhoods.

We have received calls from:
- A BUNCH of companies offering to put us on the first page of Google.
- Yelp
- The local newspaper's advertising department
- BBB
- Local chamber of commerce & similar groups
- Valpak
- Outdoor advertisers, and many, many more, I just lost track

As far as I can tell, all of them have pros and cons, and as I usually tell them, we would LOVE to put our name out there on every single marketing option there is. Unfortunately, though, it all costs money, money we have not made yet. A dilemma obviously, because we don't want to go crazy spending money, but we also need the customers.

So the question I would like to ask other service business owners (plumbers, electricians, painters, HVAC, Carpet cleaning, etc) is:

Based on your experience, of all the options I've mentioned, which one would you recommend as the most effective way to promote our business?
Would you recommend any other ways to get our name out there?

PS: We understand word of mouth is one of the best, if not the best way to get customers, however, we need to find some more clients so they can refer us to others.

Thanks!

SC93

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 10:10:26 PM »
What is your business? My GUESS would be cleaning. If it is cleaning, what type? Residential or commercial?

1tolivesimply

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2017, 10:15:50 PM »
Not cleaning, we could classify it as a handyman business although for a specific niche.
We can take care of both, residential and business customers.

MaaS

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 12:29:51 AM »
I'd avoid pretty much everything listed there. Spend your money on digital options where you pay for results, and actually know if your dollars returned anything.

For a local service business, AdWords/Bing ads and Facebook ads are king. If done well, they work like gangbusters. The targeting options on Facebook are pretty impressive. Almost a bit scary.

Note: I'm not a service business owner, but I'm a consultant who works with small businesses and startups.

former player

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 05:35:36 AM »
Where I am (rural UK) I'd suggest -

1.  A notice on the village shop notice board
2.  An ad or flyer in the local parish (church) magazine and free 5 parish magazine
3.  Finding contacts in the nearest and most local levels of government administration/police service/fire service/school janitor or administrator, etc. - basically any public sector building in the area - and letting them know of your services
4.  Talking to other local service people - quite often if say a window cleaner is doing a job the householder will mention something they need doing and ask for a recommendation.

Don't know if any of these are adaptable to your location.
Be frugal and industrious, and you will be free (Ben Franklin)

1tolivesimply

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 06:27:57 AM »
For a local service business, AdWords/Bing ads and Facebook ads are king. If done well, they work like gangbusters. The targeting options on Facebook are pretty impressive. Almost a bit scary.

We will be trying these out soon, however, they also fall into the "will they work?" category.
Glad to hear you help other business owners and believe they work though. Thanks.

Where I am (rural UK) I'd suggest -

1.  A notice on the village shop notice board
2.  An ad or flyer in the local parish (church) magazine and free 5 parish magazine
3.  Finding contacts in the nearest and most local levels of government administration/police service/fire service/school janitor or administrator, etc. - basically any public sector building in the area - and letting them know of your services
4.  Talking to other local service people - quite often if say a window cleaner is doing a job the householder will mention something they need doing and ask for a recommendation.

Don't know if any of these are adaptable to your location.

They're definitely adaptable.
We have tried # 1, will need to look into # 2.
Numbers 3 & 4 fall into the networking category, which is something we need to do. We just don't know that many business people, so we need to get out there.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 06:34:15 AM by 1tolivesimply »

SC93

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2017, 09:31:15 AM »
As for all the people calling and asking you to spend money with them.... think of it this way, if any of those really worked would they need to hire people to call new business owners and try to make money? Of course anyone that doesn't even know anything about SEO can get your website to the 1st page...... for a few weeks. That's no trick. Heck, I can make you a quick one right now and by tomorrow if you search for that exact name it will be on the first page.... but if the potential customer knew the exact name of your business they wouldn't need to search for you. Bottom line, if you waste your money on anyone that calls you, you will need to get it in writing that within 60 days they must send you a bottle of vaseline.

I have the answers you are looking for, I've been in the service business since 1995. While cleaning was my main business, I've owned several different types. Send me a message about your business and I will give you the answers. Not because I care what the business is but I only help when I know exactly what it is. If you aren't willing to share with me in private, I won't share with you in private. :)

MaaS

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2017, 01:20:04 PM »
We will be trying these out soon, however, they also fall into the "will they work?" category.
Glad to hear you help other business owners and believe they work though. Thanks.

Yeah, just like in investing, there's no guarantees.  If there were, everyone would be doing X activity and cleaning up. :)

The core difference between "traditional" marketing and FB/AdWords is you'll know with the latter. I speak to people every single day that spend $500 on a magazine ad only to realize far too late that they have no idea if it worked. Best of luck!

Thinkum

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2017, 04:35:30 PM »
Have you joined any local business clubs like Rotary, Meetup, Kiwanis, etc? You can try to build relationships in the community to grow organically without spending a lot on ads. Though I think ads can work, they need to be thought out and not just blasted in mass like a lot of agencies would have you believe.

1tolivesimply

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2017, 06:23:05 PM »
Send me a message about your business and I will give you the answers.

PM Sent.

Have you joined any local business clubs like Rotary, Meetup, Kiwanis, etc? You can try to build relationships in the community to grow organically without spending a lot on ads.

More networking :)

nara

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2017, 07:33:04 AM »
In our type of business referrals are primarily how we get our new clients. A web presence and marketing materials just provide some assurance to individuals who have already been referred to us that we are a legitimate company. But trust is king.. and people only trust you when they see others have used and were happy with your services. For your type of business I would think Angie's List, Google business, Yelp, and BBB would be good places for customers to see objective reviews on your business. I know my dentist's office gives money off to their patients for posting a review on google...and that was actually why I selected this particular dentist in the first place (based on a high number of positive reviews. It is also extremely important to network with other business owners in your industry... Half of our referrals were from other professionals who I had worked with in the past and who knew me well and referred clients to me because they were full, etc. Your competitors can be a very valuable resource if you find ways to have your business compliment each other.

sirdoug007

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Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2017, 08:29:20 AM »
If your business is fixing something you need to think from the perspective of someone who just had that thing break.

Where would you go first to find someone to fix it?

I'd probably go to google and yelp.

The nature of your business is that most people won't need your service most of the time. So you have to get your business in front of those that do.

Ask friends how they would go about dealing with the problem you are solving and take notes!!


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Axecleaver

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2017, 10:50:40 AM »
+1 to Rotary and Kiwanis. I would also market to real estate agents individually, and real estate offices/brokerages. Advertise in senior housing/distribute flyers there, less money to spend on repairs but it's a group that needs handyman type services more than most. Find the people who connect you to your end-clients and sell them on your work. You could also consider social clubs in your area, such as Elks clubs, Habitat for Humanity, small business incubators, etc.

evaporator

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2017, 07:06:37 PM »
BBB, Yelp, Angies List, all waste of money. If you have an 'A' rating at the BBB your customer will find out without you paying, same with Angies List.
I'd suggest get a good local webmaster, they can do it all. They can work on your website,  SEO ongoingly- which you have to do-, and maintain Google Adwords, Facebook ads campaigns. FB ads and google adwords are very effective, can be targeted to your customer, and very inexpensive compared to the others on your list.

Fishindude

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2017, 10:07:23 AM »
I would spend a little money on some basic brochures, business cards and a website, then make face to face sales calls on the clients you would like to do business with.  Be persistent and keep calling on them periodically.   We call that the rifle approach, rather than the shotgun approach.   Why spend money on random advertising going to many people that have no need for your service?

Uniforms and vehicles with a consistent logo and appearance are also good.

1tolivesimply

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Re: Most effective way to promote local service business?
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2017, 07:27:02 PM »
I would spend a little money on some basic brochures, business cards and a website.
Uniforms and vehicles with a consistent logo and appearance are also good.

All have been done.

Thanks, everyone... One way or the other, most responses only confirm what we already knew. The best way to get the word out is through networking and the best way to get clients is through referrals.

We just need to find a few more clients/jobs to get the referral ball rolling.