4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Service Business Online


photo credit: flickr

Service businesses don’t get much love on the internet. It seems like all the best online marketing advice is reserved for software startups or product based companies.

What about folks who sell good old fashion services? We have needs too.

The good news is there are strategies that are working incredibly well for service providers. These strategies are proven, battle-tested, and ready for you to put to work.

#1 – Email Newsletter

Social media gets all the fame and glory. But according to a study by McKinsey & Company, email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Why is email such a powerful medium? Not only is delivery almost guaranteed — there’s a lot less noise in the inbox than on social media. Your email is far more likely to reach its recipient than a tweet or Facebook post.

The challenge is getting permission to enter the inbox. To entice prospects to join, your newsletter offer needs to evoke the fear of missing out.

Case Study: Bond Beebe Accountants & Advisors has an entire library of accounting newsletters. From taxation to payroll, their newsletters are indispensable to CFOs and Controllers — the kind of people who decide which accounting firm to hire.

#2 – Guest Blogging

If you’re reading this, you’re witnessing the power of guest blogging first hand. I’m a service provider and I know my target audience reads Duct Tape Marketing — that’s why I’m here.

If my strategy works, you’ll be intrigued by this post and you’ll click over to my website to join my newsletter. After that, it’s up to me to make sure you never regret it.

The odd guest post here and there won’t do much for you though. Guest blogging only becomes powerful when you start regularly showing up on your industry’s popular blogs.

Case Study: Rachel Rodgers is an intellectual property lawyer. She recently made waves among Copyblogger’s massive audience of digital media producers when she wrote this post on how to protect your content.

#3 – Podcasting

Podcasting today is where blogging was 10 years ago. It’s getting crowded, but there’s still tons of opportunity to stand out and reach your audience.

You don’t need to be some kind of entertainer or radio personality to produce a successful podcast either. In fact, the easiest way to build a popular podcast is to interview other experts in your industry.

Interview based podcasts are not only less work to produce — they also grow faster because your guests will share the interview with their networks.

Case Study: Trent Dyrsmid is a digital marketer who runs the Bright Ideas podcast. His podcast quickly rose to the top through high profile interviews with people like Jay Baer, Guy Kawasaki, Rand Fishkin, Michael Stelzner, and more.

#4 – Online Courses

Online courses are becoming a popular medium for service providers because they offer an opportunity to build extreme trust before the sale.

If your space is ripe with DIYers who think they can do it on their own — they’ll jump at the opportunity to learn how to do what you do. Then it becomes your job to demonstrate why the task is better left to the pros.

On the other hand, if you offer a service that people know they can’t do on their own, your course will differentiate you from the competition by demonstrating your expertise and authority.

In both cases, if your course delivers the goods, you should be top of mind when it comes to making a hiring decision.

Case Study: Henneke Duistermaat offers a free 16-part snackable writing course on her website. Why would Henneke give away her “trade secrets” for free? Because she knows that many of her students will eventually end up hiring a professional copywriter.

Where should you start?

If you’re just getting started with your online presence, start with a simple email newsletter.

Email is a low-stakes way to get your feet wet and start producing content right away. Done right, the process of publishing an email newsletter will generate plenty of ideas to fuel your guest posts, podcast, and online courses.

Ready to get started planning a newsletter? Download this worksheet today.


IMG_1864Ahmad Munawar is the founder of Boutique Growth — a digital marketing agency for professional services firms. He helps professional service providers and consultants generate more leads, win bigger deals, and accelerate growth. Ready to take your service business to the next level? Join his once-a-week email newsletter for expert marketing advice you don’t want to miss.

Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine

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The Duct Tape Marketing website generates leads, does yours? Created using PlaceIt

Your website is a very powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. It is completely customizable, flexible and is the base for all of your marketing efforts in the modern world. Without it, you would be missing out on the countless people that search for your industry and product online.

But even with a powerful website and a content marketing strategy, most websites don’t instinctively collect leads on their own. You could have all of the website visits in the world, but unless you have an opportunity to nurture those leads and convert sales, those metrics are just hollow numbers that may not affect your bottom line.

The most useful websites to small business owners actively collect leads for the owners to convert. They have mechanisms in place that get their visitors to volunteer their information. With that, you have a lead that is not only well informed about your brand and product, but has also expressed interest in learning more.

Preparing the site

Before you can actively seek your visitors’ information, you must first have the infrastructure to collect that information. There are numerous tools that allow for lead capture on most websites. You can have a subscription plugin, something like WPSubscribers. This tool allows you to put a widget in the sidebar, header or footer that allows your customers to submit their information (you’ll see something similar on the right of this post.)You may have seen several sites with popups (you may have even encountered ours on this site.) These can be created by tools like Smart PopUp or PopUpAlly..

Of course, most of these tools can be integrated with the email service you already use. If you aren’t using email services like to reach out and collect email lists, you really should, but that’s a topic for another day.

So how do you get them to submit their information? Well, as usual, it all begins with content.

Give them value

An email address is valuable these days. So many people look to keep their inbox as free as possible. It means something to most people to hand it over. That is why you must be willing to give them some value in return.

Be prepared to create something special in return for their email addresses. Most businesses create weekly newsletters to send to their customers. Here at Duct Tape Marketing, we offer our “Best Stories on the Web Weekly,” a collection of some of the best small business marketing tips and stories on the web. It just takes a bit of time to curate and load into an email blast, and you’ve got a valuable piece of content for your audience.

Another strategy is to offer an eBook or White Paper in exchange for the information. You’ve heard of companies that use this strategy. In my hometown, there’s a local lawn service company that offers a “Guide to choosing the right lawn service” for free. The white paper offers very valuable information without selling, all while providing their salespeople the information they need to follow up and complete the sale.

You can even collect your content in themed eBooks and get more mileage out of the great content you’ve created in the past. These are very similar to white papers, just a bit longer.

Your website is powerful, but you can lose business if you can’t use it to gather leads and close sales. Unlock all of its power by turning your website into a lead generation machine.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC