As a service provider, customer acquisition presents you with an entirely new set of challenges, as compared to traditional manufacturers. Your service is much less tangible, and hence the potential customer has to be approached in innovate ways. Below are five tips for how you as a service provider can go about customer acquisition: which marketing strategies work – and which ones don't.
1. Service instead of product – establishing trust
Your service has added value; it's your job to convince new customers of this. All prospects will ask themselves these or similar questions:
Is the cost of your service appropriate, and how does its quality compare to what the competition has to offer?
Will I be satisfied with your service?
How important is this service to me?
After all, services aren't tangible products which the customer can physically inspect. Therefore it is essential to establish a relationship of trust, so that the customer is willing to give your product a real chance.
A personalised form of address and smooth interaction are crucial here, and can even become deal breakers. For example, you might offer free trials and money-back guarantees. This way you are able to show that it is not your intention to peddle something to them that they don't actually need.
2. Inbound marketing
Passively waiting on product recommendations is not enough. Especially nowadays, in the digital age, you should specifically make use of new strategies such as Inbound Marketing, in order to put your service offer out there. Product recommendations are becoming more and more ubiquitous and influential across the Internet: Ask your customers for feedback, and (e.g.) Google reviews. Be active on forums and social media, so that you can directly address questions posed by prospects and existing customers. Every positive comment helps tomorrow's customers to make a purchase decision. Indirect advertising such as articles on your service in online magazines, or test reviews on various internet portals, will yield valuable qualifying leads.
3. Demonstrate your expertise, but don't promise too much
In direct customer interactions, establishing and expanding a basis of trust is key. In that regard it is important that the customer doesn't feel beset, or worse still – tricked. Establish your expertise by proving yourself competent, and by giving good, honest and realistic advice to the customer. A customer's satisfaction is measured in terms of his initial expectations. If these two diverge too much, you risk a state of disappointment. Of course you shouldn't sell yourself short either – a good and experienced marketing consultant will help you to find the path that is optimal for you.
At the beginning of your marketing plan should be defining who your buyer persona is, in order to render your marketing efforts as effective and customised as possible. The dispersion loss incurred by traditional "broadband advertising" is enormous, which is why it is essential to rethink and optimise these techniques. It is better to approach fewer people – but the right ones! These insights can put you in a position where you are able to offer added value that is of interest to precisely those people, and which might mean they walk away from the competition and come to you instead. Find out what your target audience needs – and offer a solution that is optimal and fair for them.
5. Visualising the abstract – your website
Especially when it comes to apparently abstract services, new customers can easily be left feeling like they are buying the proverbial "pig in a poke". Hence it is crucially important that you demonstrate your service in highly visual and transparent ways, and explain it in as easy terms as possible. For this, a professionally executed and well-structured website is often a fantastic solution. Complex processes, and their advantages compared to what the competition offers, can be visualised using graphics, images and videos, and further supported by testimonials by prior satisfied customers.
Your website is your digital business card, your figurehead. That part of your business which is available to anyone and from everywhere, 24/7, so that they can obtain information. Therefore you should seek professional advice – design, content and technical optimisation shouldn't be left to chance, or implemented only half-heartedly. A convincing web presence pays itself off a hundredfold in terms of new business.
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