Advertising Your Service Business

December 12th, 2010 BY Claire Moore

Advertising and marketing a service business is probably the hardest task you have to tackle as a business owner.

You’ve worked hard to get the skills and experience that set you apart from your competition. You know you’re the best, but how do you communicate this fact to your prospective clients?

When you think about marketing, do you cringe? Does marketing make you feel like a car salesman? If you’re like every other professional I ever met the answer is “Yes.” But there are ways that you can successfully market your services and still keep your soul and your integrity.

You probably think of marketing as being pushy and trying to manipulate people into doing something they wouldn’t otherwise do. That stereotype is a common one as we have all had our experiences with sales people who clearly were more interested in the sale than in what we needed. I still remember the time an investment advisor (read insurance salesman) called me up and after a short conversation said that he was coming to my office and that he wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. I was taking karate lessons at that time and replied that he’d better not bother to come by or I would give him a karate chop and in a vital area too. It’s pretty bad when you have to threaten bodily harm just to get a sales person to leave you alone.

You don’t want to be anything like that insurance salesman. So, how can you sell yourself without selling out? The key is that you are selling yourself. You are selling you and all the expertise, experience, knowledge, skill, and pride of workmanship that comes with what you provide to your clients/customers. Stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you do. Be proud of all the hard work, mistakes and learning that made you the professional you are today. All of your background not only makes you a professional, it makes you unique among other professionals in your industry.

Yes, you may be one of many bookkeepers in your area but still you are unique. Discover and embrace your “uniqueness” and use it to help you build relationships with your prospects and clients. A service business is about relationship. People prefer to do business with those they know, like, and trust. You can build a lasting relationship with a prospect by learning as much as you can about their business needs and goals and by showing that your primary concern is in helping them meet those needs and goals.

You can build a long-term relationship with a client by continuing to learn about and meet their needs. This alone will set you above much of your competition. By practicing a policy of “continuous improvement” in the services you provide your current clients, you build and solidify your business because it’s easier to sell goods and services to a client you already have than it is to cultivate and sign up a brand new client.

Most, if not all of your clients don’t know enough about bookkeeping to really appreciate the value of what you do for them. So it’s often the relationship that you have with them that determines how they feel about you and your services. Is that relationship one where their phone calls are answered within the hour? Do you offer free advice and referrals that give them added value, such as assistance in applying for and getting loans?

Take time now to do a personal and professional evaluation of your background including your education, experience, additional training, certifications, volunteer work, etc. Look at all you have accomplished and how that makes you unique and valuable in your field.

Now think about what you can offer your clients that adds value to your bookkeeping services. Can you give them periodic income tax projections so that they’re not blind-sided by a large tax bill in April? Can you help them with their employee management issues? Think about the training and experiences in your past that you can leverage into additional services for your clients’ benefit.

© 2009 Small Business Bookkeeping Network All Rights Reserved.

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