I don’t know about you, but as a service-based business, i.e., selling my time and expertise, I have found marketing difficult. No, not just difficult, more like it’s some unattainable knowledge that everyone else has but me. Is that just me?
And every single book I’ve read on marketing assumes you have a product to sell. But unlike a product, a service is something you can’t see, hear, or feel.
For my services, while I can guarantee professionalism and that every deadline given will be hit, I cannot and will not make any outlandish claims in terms of results.
Other service providers, however, can make such claims. For example, a foot health practitioner can guarantee that after a session, your feet will feel amazing, and a fitness coach can guarantee that if you stick with the program, you will be fitter at the end.
But I digress, how do you market something that doesn’t make use of any of your senses?
A product can be tested and returned and is usually the same no matter who sells it to you, but a service, even if consistently high quality, cannot always be identical and cannot be “returned” in the same way.
As such, service marketing is a category of marketing that takes into account this unique aspect.
Over time, marketing experts have realized that strategies for successful service advertising deserve their own category.
Classic marketing calls the main factors of the overall strategy “four P’s”; Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement.
When you’re marketing a service, you need to add three more;
- People – are key to service because they create the experience
- Process or service delivery to the client is particularly crucial
- Physical Evidence refers to the need to provide actual evidence to support quality claims, given that the service is not tangible.
Take my business for example, as a writer and editor, I can show evidence, in the form of testimonials that I (a) get to know your business so I can write about it and (b) will just get the work done. However, a hair salon may have quality decor, comfortable chairs and free mineral water as concrete signals that their service will match the price.
Trust is key
If you want to be successful in improving your sales, you need to build a relationship of trust with potential customers, and content marketing is a great way to achieve this goal.
That said, any service content marketing strategy must contain both quality and quantity:
- Quality – content must encourage engagement and interaction with your target audience
- Quantity – content must be posted regularly
In the remainder of this article, we will talk about ways to make your content interesting to your target audience that will, hopefully, lead them to certain activities, namely visiting your website and sharing your content on social networks.
Considering the total number of posts during the day on social networks, having your posts shared a number of times is very important. Surely you want your posts, in which you have invested a lot of effort and time, to receive social confirmation through as many shares as possible. Also, if your content is shared more on social networks, you will find it easier to reach your perfect audience, because it is among the friends of your audience that you will achieve a greater reach of your posts.
Top tips to encourage audience engagement
Assuming that the content you create is informative, educational or entertaining and gives some value, below are 4 top tips you can follow to encourage your audience to interact, and if you reach the very end of the article, you will find two bonus tips!
Tip 1. Get to know your audience
Before publishing your content (blog or social posts), and even before creating it, you need to know what motivates people to share certain content.
Research has shown that some of the top motives for people to share content on social media are to:
Essentially though, these motives can be reduced to one big one: to connect with other people and feel helpful in the process.
That’s why one of the goals of your content marketing strategy should be to make your readers feel “smart” and useful when they share your content.
To do this, why not write about some of the latest developments in your industry, and give practical and useful tips that solve various problems, all related to your product or service.
So, first, research well what your audience wants and then start creating content intended for their interests.
Tip 2. Build authority and convey emotional stories
Building authority in a particular niche is very doable but not easy. It needs a long-term content marketing strategy and takes constant work to create content that gives your audience value. However, this is not an impossible mission.
First of all, you need to build and establish trust with your audience. You can do this by posting content that will make you look like an expert in your field in the eyes of your audience and back it up with relevant data.
An additional element or layer that you can add to your content should be emotions. Share stories that will touch people’s hearts or make you laugh with some anecdotes because people like to share content that makes good news, news that will in some way positively affect their presence on social networks. But, and I say this with a big but, make it relevant to your business. Just don’t go all Facebook on LinkedIn!
Tip 3. Encourage curiosity
Your content’s task is to pique your audience’s interest from the very beginning and stimulate their curiosity to read the text to the end.
And this is very simple.
You need to start with a well-formulated title or opening line that will attract attention.
Then, right at the beginning of the text, hint at some unknown and interesting information, which you will state somewhere further on in the text, as this will motivate readers to read the text further until they reach the desired information.
It is necessary to share this information with the readers, not only to satisfy their curiosity but also so they can see you keep your promise. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than clickbait!
This article itself could serve as a great example. The title states that the article is about content tips for service-based businesses, and at the beginning of this section, it says that I will share two bonus tips at the end of the article. I have fulfilled my promise, so keep reading because the tips are very useful.
Tip 4. Design content that is visually appealing
Readers will, very quickly, create a first impression in their subconscious based on the title of your blog or the first line of your social post.
Based on that impression, they will decide whether to stay and read the rest of the text, click off your website, or keep scrolling.
If they stay on the post, they will next scan the text to determine if it is worth their attention. If it is, then they will keep reading it.
That is why the design of the text and post itself plays an important role.
You should also use certain visual forms in your text, such as photos, videos, or infographics, to improve the structure of the text itself and keep the reader’s attention.
We all know that on social media these days video content is king. However, this doesn’t mean you have to go on camera, as there are some great, free online software apps that you can use to create a text or audio-based video.
** BONUS TIP 1 **
When you’re writing a blog, try and write as long and comprehensive a text as possible on your chosen topic. BUT, make sure you divide it into several parts and use subheadings. This will make it easier for your readers to scan and, at the same time, give them the satisfaction of having the answers to all the questions that interest them on that topic in one place, which will hopefully lead to the sharing of your content.
This also works for social posts where you can use line breaks and emojis to create the white space.
** BONUS TIP 2 **
It’s essential to back up your text with quality and beautiful visuals because the visuals are one of the reasons why people share certain content. They won’t share something that doesn’t visually fit their social media account.
Colours also affect your audience’s first impression but don’t overdo it. In social media posts, it is enough to combine and match a maximum of two or three colours.
Many small business owners often complain about the lack of engagement on their social posts, and very often give up very quickly.
But here’s the thing, social media engagement is not going to happen overnight. As you have read, first you need to establish a trusting relationship and you can do that by creating social content or blogs that inform, educate or entertain.
Once you start gathering an audience, if you continually post quality content it should eventually translate into more engagement in the form of likes, shares and comments.
I once read that the best way to garner engagement on social media was to be super helpful, super funny or super polarising.
My advice to you, however, is just be yourself. You are a perfect original!
What are your top tips for marketing a service-based business?
Let me know in the comments below.
Further Reading from Kook Content
Is marketing a dark art? Find out here.
Want to create a quality content marketing strategy? Discover how here.
Kook is a copywriting and content creation agency. They work with SME businesses and large start-ups managing projects, creating copy and social content, and occasionally providing voice overs!