Selling a service on the Web goes way beyond
Web-related services like programming or Web design. The possibilities are
endless. You could provide a service that anyone from any part of the world is
searching for and needs...
import/export specialist for Germany
investment specialist in Brazilian bonds
expert in Japanese netsuke
accountant with special knowledge of tax havens
trainer (of just about anything!)
editor for medical articles
who creates indexes for books
translator (do you know two languages?)
Or your service business could be focused on
local needs in your region...
chimney cleaning service
concrete repair service
No matter who you are or what you do, you
could benefit tremendously from a Web presence. Believe it or not, just about
everyone has an expertise in something that they could sell.
Heck, odds are most people are already selling
their services as a primary source of income... but have never thought
seriously about generating customers globally by using the Web's powerful
In fact, selling your professional service
online is, without a doubt, the most overlooked and virtually untapped
opportunity on the Internet. Despite the fact that it requires minimum effort
and cost to bring your skills and knowledge before a hungry-to-buy, world-wide
audience, most Service Sellers fail to do so.
And the few who do attempt to utilize this
medium? Well, the effort is poor indeed. Either they put up a poorly designed
"circa 1997" brochure site that no one visits. Or, they post their
specific service to one of the many online hot spots (like Guru.com, for
Unfortunately, neither of these two practices
gets the job done effectively and efficiently. In order for anyone to contact
you directly about your service (without a word-of-mouth referral), you'll have
to successfully convince that person...
1) You are the best in your particular field,
and OVERdeliver on your service.
2) You are trustworthy, credible, easy to work
with, and the best at what you do.
3) You are competitive in your pricing.
4) Your service provides the solution that
s/he is looking for -- better still, your service is the only solution to her
or his problems.
In order to sell a service online, you need to
establish a relationship with your potential clients. A content-rich website
and newsletter that build trust and credibility will develop and solidify this
rapport. It is only after a relationship is established that prospects will
begin to respond.
And what about local services -- like the
aforementioned chimney cleaning service? Most people assume that because the
Web is a global medium, it's not a relevant advertising conduit for a
locally-based business. After all, if your chimney cleaning business is based
in Hudson, Quebec, it's unlikely anyone outside of a one-hour driving radius is
going to hire you for your services.
In comparison, a database programmer and a
cartoon artist do not face such constraints -- they could be hired by anyone
world-wide. But guess what? The Web works for both.
1) A Web presence
gives your business a distinct edge over your local
competitors, especially when it comes to expanding your current customer base.
For example, Sue wants to hire someone to
clean her chimney but she doesn't have any recommendations from friends. So she
has to resort to the phone book's Yellow Pages where she selects the most
appealing ad. Sue figures her only option is to take a chance and try her luck
with her choice.
More and more people are turning to the
Internet as their preferred source of information. A Web presence allows your
potential client to get to know you and your service better than a small ad
ever could. And this in turn means a confident and less risky feeling about
making a business decision. S/he has a more open-to-hire frame of mind.
If your competitors don't offer this option,
you have a serious edge on getting that follow-up contact about your service.
After all, who do you think they are going to buy from -- a friend or a
2) A local business
can leverage its Web presence by turning its site into a feel-good community
Our chimney cleaner, for instance, writes a
series of great articles on fire prevention and fire safety (with subtle
cross-sells to his chimney cleaning service). Each week he features one article
on his site, and announces its presence to the community through the local
See Tom's Fire Prevention Tip of the Week
Turn your site into an information resource,
and the trust and awareness it fosters will generate more clients.
3) A locally-based
service can use its Web presence to generate additional income from a global
audience as well as build local business.
For instance, great articles about fire
prevention and fire safety appeal to everyone on the planet. And while no one
from Tucson, Arizona is going to request that you clean their chimney, he may
very well follow your link to a merchant partner (ex., a fire extinguisher
retailer), and make a purchase (for which you receive commissions).
4) A Web presence
indicates your consideration of people's busy lifestyles.
You have, in effect, just erected a 24/7
storefront just for them. You may even want to include your URL on your voice
I'm sorry, our office hours are 8:30-6:00
Monday to Saturday, but our website (www.HudsonChimneyServices.com) is always
5) A Web presence is
cheap, and a single lifetime customer brings significant dollars to your
(Think about the additional business
generated by word-of-mouth referrals.)
An SBI! site is a great way to get the Net
working for your service business. Here is a "big picture" view of
your traffic-building, income-generating SBI! process as a service seller...
Identify a great niche
service and its target group.
In order to generate income, enough people
must need and/or value your service and feel
strongly that they will personally profit from the way you deliver it versus
your competitor's approach.
You also need to know whether your marketing
efforts should be focused locally or globally (depending upon the narrowness...
or broadness... and/or nature of your niche).
For an example, a general tax accountant may
only attract traffic from his local area. The majority of his clients like the
peace of mind afforded by being able to drop off important documents to the
office or being able to discuss delicate financial matters face-to-face.
Contrast this with an international tax
accountant who specializes in tax sheltered investments for the wealthy. His
clients could come from anywhere in the world and communication could all be
done by email, fax, or courier.
Create a thumbnail sketch of...
i) Your service -- Write down in point form exactly WHAT, HOW, WHEN, and WHERE
you offer (or plan to) your service. Note your range of flexibility -- how and
where you can adapt your service to particular needs. Describe your strengths
(i.e., the reasons why you are better than the competition) and pinpoint your
weaknesses (i.e., what you are planning to improve).
Give your outline to a family member or a
friend (who knows your business) to see if you have forgotten anything and/or
to check that the presentation is as objective as possible.
ii) Your client -- Develop a profile of your ideal client...
boomer? Senior citizen? Teens?
concerns? Stressed for time?
Rural home-owner? Neighborhood?
Make your sketch as comprehensive as you can.
If your service has more than one kind of client, do a profile for each major
type. As well, ask yourself who should not be your prospect -- this technique
is helpful to keep you focused on your ideal client.
Now combine the two thumbnail sketches (you,
and your client). This is your service business! Use this detailed snapshot
when developing content for your website. It will help you keep focused on your
target group and their needs which is critical for achieving a high Conversion
This snapshot will also help you narrow your
niche, if needed. Use it to discover more profitable angles to your service.
The ideal is to offer a service that is relatively high in demand with few
suppliers (i.e., your competition). Try to adapt or change your present service
to meet that goal as closely as feasible.
Be passionate about
what you do.
Love what you are doing. Your enthusiasm and determination will be
reflected in your business at all levels of operation. It won't feel like you
Offer superior quality service to your
Provide outstanding service every time. Wow
your customer with your fast turn-around, or low pricing, or free trial, or
unexpected extras, or generous guarantee, etc.
Quality and high satisfaction guarantee repeat
clients. And, in turn, these enthusiastic clients generate word-of-mouth
referrals... the most targeted and least expensive way to develop leads,
produce contracts and increase profits. It is as simple as that.
Make every moment and
Identify and focus on attaining your Most
Wanted Response (MWR) (i.e., what you most want your visitor to do). So
that after visiting your site, or subscribing to your newsletter, or reading an
ad, you "most want" your visitor to contact you.
Everything you do must in some way help to attain that MWR.
Strive to get the best possible
traffic-building and lead-converting results for every dollar... and for every
hour you spend on your business.
Time is money. So don't count your hours as
zero cost simply because it does not cost you "out of pocket." Assign
your time a dollar value as well.
However, maximizing profits does
not imply that you must only minimize expenses. After all, if you
spend no money or time on a business... you have no business!
Fine tune your time-management skills.
Whether your service business is a small
home-based operation with a work force of 1 (you!) or a company with 5-10
employees, you are constantly in "multi-tasking" mode. Follow these
simple but effective guidelines...
it once and move to the next step
lists, but stick to The 6 Most Important Things.
how long each task will take.
time slots for accomplishing each task.
on the difficult/important projects first.
stuff away that clutters your computer/office.
I've further reduced this to my 4 DO's, which
appear on a yellow sticky on my computer. Every call on my time must be handled
by one of the four do's...
Do, Dump, Delegate,
Manage your business and money effectively.
Focus on your bottom line, manage your cash
flow and collect payments that are due. If you lack these skills, get training
through books or business courses. Or purchase inexpensive accounting software
programs such as Quick Books.
... to keep track of your records.
Market the smart way.
Get the right message to the right people via
the right media and tactics so they will respond and hire you for the contract,
with the highest ROIs (Return on Investment) possible.
your own Theme-Based Content Site... This is the highest ROI technique for
any Service Seller, yet most don't dream of doing it. This course will put
you five steps ahead of your competition.
A Theme-Based Content
Site is one that is loaded with high info-value Keyword-Focused Content Pages
which rank well with the search engines. These optimized pages will pull in
more targeted traffic and get more prospects to contact you about your service
and hire you for the job (i.e., increase your Conversion Rate). Your profits
grow exponentially when you concentrate on maximizing both
traffic and Conversion Rates.
a powerful Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Create an eye-catching short
statement that sums up in a few words what sets you apart from the
competition. For example, Mike's Pizza restaurant has this USP... Delivery
in 30 minutes or it's free. The message is simple, clear and hot. Weave
your USP into the fabric of your business.
the value of lifetime customers -- An effective way to budget marketing
funds and to get the highest Return on Investment is by calculating the
lifetime value of a client. This will reveal how much you can afford to
spend on the acquisition of new clients. Depending on the nature of your
business, a repeat client can bring you thousands of dollars of income
during the span of your service relationship.
Use the following
formula to find your answer (if you are just starting your service business,
guesstimate the two variables)....
The average fee of
your service X how many times a client uses you = lifetime value of a client.
Knowing this critical
number allows to grow your profits as quickly as possible without overspending
your marketing budget. Use it to measure and track each marketing tactic and
shift marketing dollars to the high performers, thus saving money.
Don't sell. Use great, and related, content that is of value to your
visitor/potential client on your site, in your newsletters, and in your
ads. It is the most effective way to build likability, trust and an
"open-to-hire" attitude in your visitor's mindset.
your work. There is nothing more powerful than a simple statement or stamp
that says All Work Guaranteed. And of course, you must live up to your
testimonials that include the full names of the people giving their
endorsement, the cities/location where they live and their email addresses. An
effective testimonial outlines a specific benefit, something that is relevant
to your target group. It is believable -- you can clean up gross typos/spelling
mistakes but don't turn a testimonial into a polished piece. It is proof that
someone else has used your service and you more than lived up to her expectations.
super-accessible. Place your contact information (toll-free phone number,
email address, fax number, mailing address -- whichever ways you want
people to contact you) in highly visible locations. Some examples... on
your site, place contact info at the bottom of every content page and if
you like, build a special bio page as well (i.e., some interesting
background details about you, including a photo or two). Include a link to
your email address in your newsletter. Add your phone number and email
address to your sig file.
Easy and fast should
be the operative words for how people can reach you.
Make all traffic count...
Have a Second Income Stream. Some visitors who
land on your site may be overly cautious, or they may be just doing some preliminary
research, or they may be a little short on funds at this time, or... etc., etc.
There are many legitimate reasons why not all visitors follow-through and
contact you about your service.
Use this traffic to your advantage by
PREselling related products (or non-competing services) for merchants you
represent through their affiliate programs.
Research and join affiliate programs of
merchants who offer quality products that are related to your service and fair
For example, let's say that you are a dog
trainer. A visitor who has a 3-month old puppy arrives on your site. She is
just "shopping around" and wants to have identified the
"perfect" trainer by the time her puppy is 5 months old. She doesn't
need your service now but she is very interested in the puppy books and
grooming products that you are recommending. She clicks through to your
merchant's sites and buys! That's two commissions for you which equals
Continue doing what is
profitable. Stop what is not.
The beauty of the Net is that everything you
do is completely trackable, totally measurable.
Monitor and track your business constantly,
especially the more abstract aspects like... knowing where your traffic is
coming from, the satisfaction level of your clients, the new trends in your
field, the effectiveness of your newsletter, ads, etc., etc. Concentrate on
actions that contribute positively to the bottom line. Scrap the rest.
In other words... stay on top of your business
so that you can take advantage of new opportunities and avoid any pitfalls.
Combine these service-selling
"business" basics with the SBI! process, as outlined in the Action
Guide, and you will be well on your way to a thriving and trust-inspiring Web
presence... and more contracts.