Marketing Challenges Faced by Small Service Businesses.

Written By PhilG

Bradford Marketing Hub contains articles and information that help small and medium service businesses.

If you run a small local service business, such as a hair salon, plumbing service, law firm, or local restaurant, you face a particular set of marketing challenges that are specific to your industry.

Marketing challenges are just hurdles to jump.

If you learn the rules you’ve more chance of winning.

Marketing challenges are just hurdles to jump.

Below, I list some of the most pressing marketing challenges typically faced by small local service businesses:

Services are intangible.

If you’re buying a new suit or hat you can go into the shop, pick up the item, examine it, try it on, look in the mirror and see if it suits you. But you can’t do that with a service.

Kitchen fitters such as Wren have show rooms where you can examine the cupboards and units, but you can’t take those units home with you. You’ll end up with something similar to what you saw in the showroom, but you know Wren used their best and most skilled fitters to set up their showroom.

Your kitchen will be fit by different fitters, and you must trust Wren to get it right.

Trust is the bedrock of every service business, do all you can to win your customers trust.

Customers sit on the fence.

Partly due to a lack of trust and partly because people hold back until they’re forced into action, some customers sit on the fence as long as possible. If you, as the sales person, are enthusiastic, passionate, and have an unshakable faith in your product, customers are more likely to believe they’ll get what they’re promised if they buy.

Customers are not buying a tangible product, they’re buying you and your skills, the attitude and skills of the person who will provide the service. Be confident, smile, listen to what your customer wants, and tell them, yes you’ll get exactly what you’ve asked for.

Visibility and Local Competition.

Local service businesses often operate in a saturated market, with many competitors offering similar services. Standing out can be difficult.

Online Presence.

Putting your business on the internet by creating a good website and using social media can be hard. This can be extra tough if you’re not really into technology and don’t know much about making websites. Some people manage to do it on their own, but others might need to ask experts for help.

Local SEO.

Optimising for local search engine results is crucial for service businesses. You need to ensure your business appears prominently in local search results when potential customers are looking for services in your area. Local SEO is a specific skill in which reviews and back links play a big part.

Reputation Management.

Online reviews and word-of-mouth play a big part in the success of your business. Replying to all reviews, good and bad, shows your customers that you listen to their voice and make improvements where necessary.

Limited Marketing Budget.

Operating on a tight budget makes it difficult to find the money for marketing. Measure every marketing process you can. Once you know what works, your marketing budget changes from an expense to an investment.

Seasonal Fluctuations.

The demand for your services can change depending on the season, so plan your marketing to match periods of high and low activity and you’ll overcome one of your main marketing challenges.

Customer Trust.

In the service industry, trust is the foundation of your business. When things go wrong and people have bad experiences, it can hurt how people see your business. So, it’s important to act. Ask customers for their thoughts and reviews, and make sure to respond when they reach out. When people say good things, say thank you. If someone’s not happy, listen carefully and try to make things right. And if you make a mistake, work to fix it as best you can.

Referral Marketing.

Service businesses often rely on referrals from satisfied customers. Encourage referrals, reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Technology is your friend.

Keeping up with new technology and adjusting to how people do things differently, like booking appointments online or paying with their phones, can be hard for some service businesses. If there’s a way to make your service better, earn more money, or make your customers happier, try to see if you can use that in your business. You don’t have to be the very best with the newest stuff, but you don’t want to be left behind either.

Pricing Strategy.

Getting the price right is difficult. You want to be competitive and profitable. Every town has star businesses that are in high demand. If that’s you, you can charge a premium.

Marketing Expertise.

Most plumbers and accountants lack marketing expertise. They have two choices: they can invest time in learning, or they can hire a marketing professional. Keep a note of every tactic that brings in business and always focus on return on investment.

Local Partnerships

Building partnerships with complementary local businesses or organisations can be a great idea but it’s also one of your marketing challenges. Make sure partnerships benefit both sides.

Customer Retention.

Keeping existing customers is more cost-effective than finding new ones. Build customer retention strategies and loyalty programs.

Local Advertising.

You can advertise in the local paper and target local residents online via Facebook, etc. But be careful, not all advertising pays. If you know someone honest with a business like yours, ask what works for them. Then invest small amounts first and make sure your plan works before making any big outlays.

Data Privacy and Compliance.

Find out if data privacy regulations apply to your business, especially if you collect customer information.

A quick recap.

Pay a lot of attention to your current customers. Ask them to tell their friends about your business. As for you, use the internet to tell people in your area about what you do. It’s also a good idea to work with other nearby businesses, recommend each other where possible. Make a plan that focuses on what your customers want, and make sure that’s what they get.

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