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Small Business Online Marketing -- Service Business

Updated on August 9, 2008

Defining Your USP

Online Marketing for Your Service Business


When I work with service companies they always tell me that they don't need a website because their clients need to be local not across the country. I tell them about my friend George who built a plumbing and boiler repair business through Google ads. With many service based businesses we go looking for them when we need them. In the case of a broken boiler or stopped up drain we want someone now.

Many of us haven't cracked a phone book in years. I know I have one because I carried it in off of the step last week, but it's still in the bag that it came in. We know that we can find anything we want by Googling it. The service business that is not prepared to be there when we are looking for their service will miss out on our business. I haven't read recent statistics but I know that the percentage of people searching online has grown and will only continue to grow as the generations that grew up with computers gets older. My four year old daughter already has her own computer. I didn't have a computer at home until I was in my mid twenties.

How can you be there when your customers are looking for you? One way to do it without having to build a website is to do a Google AdWords campaign. To make sure that is it only being seen by your local customers you can geotarget your ad. That's a fancy way of saying that you can enter a set of zip codes that you ad will show for. That works much of the time, but where I am in Billings, MT we have Bresnan Cable. Anyone using Bresnan gets displayed ads for Denver, Co because Bresnan funnels all of our traffic through Denver.

To get around the ads displaying for Denver I search for plumber Billings, MT. This displays ads for any plumber that has used those search terms in their ad. That is the other way that you can target your ads by using the city and state names for your target cities. That isn't useful for Raleigh, NC though since that's where AOL is located and they are like Bresnan.

You really should have a website as well as your Google ads. If you live in a city with less than a million people you should be able to get near the top position for your keyword and city, state with basic search engine optimization. This is because there won't be as much competition. If you are in a larger city you will probably need to hire someone to help you with your optimization.

Your website should have the following at a minimum:

  1. Contact information
  2. Your address - it can be very helpful if you have Google Maps so people can find your business or a printable map so that your customers can easily print it an dtake it with them.
  3. Your hours of business
  4. Your qualifications
  5. Your Unique Selling Proposition. - Whatever it is that sets you apart from the competition. See the video at the right if you don't know what I mean by USP.
  6. Lead capture form. - It's helpful if you offer them a free downloadable report or electronic book - George provided a report telling them what to ask when they called someone to repair their boiler. You may not be surprised that the report spelled out all of the qualifications that George and his business partners had.
  7. An "FAQ" section that provides answers to your clients' most frequently asked questions
  8. Testimonials from happy customers to prove that other people have benefited from your services

You website should be focused and it should not have the following:

  1. Ads for other businesses. Your business needs to be the focus of the site.
  2. Personal information about you and your staff. You need to stick to your business and why they should be doing business with you.

The main reason that your local service business needs to have an online presence is because your customers are looking there for you and that is only going to increase


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