Often people in the brick-and-mortar world, especially those in service industries, don’t see how online connections can help boost income and sales.
I repeat myself regularly on this blog and will continue that tradition by saying … no matter what your business, you must have an online presence. If you want to do business with millennials and you do not have an online presence, you do not exist. And I know we all love to pick on millennials but let’s be fair. I’m not a millennial but if you are not online, I don’t know about your business either!
We can all think of ways to use online marketing to get people into an offline store but what if you are in a service business? There are a number of ways, many risk-free and without too much time and effort, which uses your online presence to boost business.
No matter what your business, you have your own specialty within the market: your niche. Position yourself as an expert in your niche. Here are seven ideas to use your expertise to bring in customers for your service from the online world.
An authority blog has its finger on the pulse of everything going on related to your niche, because YOU have your finger on everything in your niche! It’s your niche.
Before you run off saying, “I’m no authority,” realize that you are and that you have just what someone came online to find. You know more than they do on the subject. You have the just answer they are looking for.
Probably the easiest way to get started with an authority blog is to think of all the questions that you are asked regularly about your business and products and services. Answer them! Help people. Give them good information. Show that you know what you are talking about.
For example, say you have a housecleaning business. Don’t people ask you all the time how to clean this and that? Are you really giving away trade secrets by answering them? Hardly! If you tell them how to clean something, is it really going to take business from you?
Again, not really. They were not planning to use your service today. But if you help them, tell them some really good tips and keep your name in front of them, who ARE they going to call when they need someone?!
Or you have a pet-care service. What do pet owners need to know about leaving their pets alone? What care do senior dogs need? How do you give a cat a pill? Tell the story about when you went to the house with the cat-from-hell and had to give him a pill when the owners were away. How did you do it?
This is stuff you know off the top of your head but will help people who just came online looking for that answer!
Customers and potential customers will take you more seriously if you are an author.
“Hold on,” you say? “I’m not an author. I don’t want to write a book. I don’t know what to write in a book!”
But you DO know what to say. You say it all the time when people ask you questions and you answer them. You say it all the time on your authority blog. When you have enough blog posts, think about expanding on some of them and re-purposing the collection as an eBook.
It’s easy to create an eBook in Word, upload to Amazon Kindle, and publish it. Of course there are always folks who will help you do this for minimal charge. You might even have some teenagers lying around the house who would help you out!
You can even take that same file and turn it into a paperback book through Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing arm called CreateSpace.
A “webinar” is a seminar conducted online. Webinars create buzz around you, your brand, your products and your niche. They create the perception that you are in the know and are worth doing business with.
Think about doing a webinar on the topic of your book or some of your blog posts. You could talk about or do demonstrations on some of your products or services.
I just saw a very informative webinar by a chef. He did an hour on some basic cooking techniques that we all could use. Then he offered his cooking classes for sale. The point is, we all walked away from the webinar having enjoyed and learned something and wondering if maybe we would like to pursue it and learn some more.
I’m not suggesting that you have to do an hour long class but I’m sure you could turn some of the information from your posts and book into a good class.
Going back to the cleaning business, I have a good example. House cleaners can get in and out of your house in a matter of hours and get it all clean. How come you can’t do that?
Well, first off, they are pros! They have a set routine and pattern that they follow.
But also, they go in and simply clean. When you do it, you pick up the laundry and put that in the washer. Then you sort through the bills. Then you empty the dishwasher and rearrange a cabinet while you are putting stuff away. Then you go put the laundry in the dryer. On your way upstairs you stop at the door to check on the mail and sweep the front porch while you are out there and pull a big weed that is growing out of the flower pot. You see why you can’t clean the house in a couple of hours? You’ve been working for hours and haven’t started cleaning yet!
So what if I could tell you exactly what to do to clean your house in a couple of hours, step by step? I could, you know. I used to have a cleaning business! If I had the business still, would telling you how to do this take business away from me?
No! You want to know how to do it yourself and are not looking for a service. But when you get tired of it or you are having a big party, or your in-laws are coming over, you might consider a service and who would you think of?
A membership site is a useful additional stream of revenue that also positions you as an expert. If you have done a number of webinars and have a few eBooks, you might consider putting them together on a membership site. You might consider fusing your on and offline worlds.
Bookstores are hosting book clubs. They have special nights where they have authors come in to talk about their books. It’s a social night for people who love to read. They come and discuss the books and love to meet the authors. A glass of wine and a cookie won’t go amiss either. The thing is, they have created an experience out of something that is usually a solo activity [reading].
Chefs teach people how to cook. People know that one gourmet class does not a chef make! But they love the experience of seeing a real, live chef up close and learning something from him.
Can you do something like that in your store? The bakery hosts a pie contest or the butcher shop hosts a chili cookoff? The cleaning service could do a shindig about green cleaning using simple household ingredients. Record it for your online peeps so they could feel part of it.
It would depend on what kind of service you offer of course, but with a little creativity, you might see that there are ways to bundle your posts and books and webinars to create something that your peeps would really like.
Do you only charge money for the service you provide? How about your expertise? Charge for your expertise through consultancy fees. Leverage all the knowledge you have to direct business owners to make smarter choices.
What might that look like? Again look at the housecleaning service. Your service is in Chicago and your online peeps are all over the United States. Can you help them by giving advice on how to choose a good service? Or advise on what a service should do for them?
How about other cleaning services? Could you consult with others who want to do a cleaning business on how to get started? Could you advise on how to train a good cleaning crew?
Whatever niche, you have knowledge that you can leverage.
An affiliate marketer sells products for businesses in exchange for a commission. Affiliate marketing is a fast and easy way to add products to your website with only a few clicks. It is generally risk free and adds to the authority of your blog.
There are affiliate products available for any niche. Go to Google and type in “your niche and affiliate” and see what comes up for you. i.e. [“housecleaning and affiliate”]
You can start out with Amazon, which has low commissions but a high rate of click-throughs and sales. Then you can investigate niche-related products for sale at popular affiliate marketplaces.
Affiliate programs sell digital or physical products. The most popular digital product affiliate marketplaces are:
The most popular physical product affiliate marketplaces are:
* Affiliates (cj.com)
Keep in touch with your people via social media regularly. It’s important to keep your name out in front of people. Let them know about each blog post or webinar or whatever you have coming up. Post pictures of what is going on with your service, your team, your successes.
Social media is social so keep these social so that you can make a connection with people. Keep the sales for later!
Don’t ever forget the good ol’ gift certificate. On your blog post and webinars and website, always mention that gift certificates are a great gift for that person who has everything.
Going back to the housecleaning business again, if people are coming to you to learn how to clean their own house, they may not want your services now but they have grown to trust you. You have given them great training and they know other people who do NOT want to clean their own houses. The gift certificate would be the perfect gift for those friends of theirs!
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and say, I don’t have time for this. I have a service to run. I need to be out in the field doing xyz or managing a team doing xyz and where will I have time for writing books etc. The thing to remember is not to be short-sighted and see only today, the here and now.
The thing is, you will not be doing this 24/7. You build up blog posts over time and then do the book and then expand to the webinar. Or vice versa! If you think you have a great webinar ready to go, do it! Record it and break it down into smaller pieces like books and posts.
Whichever way you do it, you won’t do it all at once. But when you have these in place, they are working for you 24/7. They are working alongside you. You might be cleaning or doing your payroll, and the website is working away, attracting people, teaching them and selling a gift certificate or two!
I know you like to recycle and re-purpose offline stuff. It’s time to re-purpose and reuse and leverage your knowledge and expertise! Go on, be an authority!
Patt Timlin is a marketing expert set on sharing her expertise with other online marketers to help them achieve the dream of working online. She is secretly pleased with the surge in content marketing as revenge of the English majors! Entrepreneur, blogger, guide, helper – Patt loves the online world and loves to share it!
Patt is the author of:
BloggerPatt! [just for the fun of it!]
Please reach out on Facebook at Spot4connections on Facebook
Patt Timlin is a marketing expert set on sharing her expertise with other online marketers to help them achieve the dream of working online. She is secretly pleased with the surge in content marketing as revenge of the English majors! Entrepreneur, blogger, guide, helper – Patt loves the online world and love to share it!
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