So you’ve started a service-based business. How do you book more clients? Marketing and networking are the steps where many new business owners get overwhelmed. If you have a service-based business, we have some ideas for you. Here is how to book more clients.
#1: Learn where your clients are (& be there)
The most important way to meet customers is to be in the place where they’re already hanging out, and offer them solutions they’re looking for. Who is your ideal customer, and where do they hang out? Think about where your ideal customer might already be, both in person and online. What kind of publications and social media do they read? Taking the time to write down a picture of your ideal client will help you get a sense of where you might find clients. Then, be there offering solutions they’re already looking for. Here are some suggestions for places you might connect with customers. And here’s another great resource from Inc. if you’d like to read more about how to learn from your clients.
- business networking groups
- professional events
- public fairs and conferences
- recreational events related to your industry
- social media groups
- blogs and podcasts
- publication advertisement sections
#2: Offer value to a specific audience
Imagine that specific person you’re trying to reach and serve. Now imagine their likes and dislikes, their opinions. What do you think they would be looking for in a service like yours? Often you can find a sweet spot where your offerings overlap with something that a particular audience finds valuable.
What couldn’t that ideal client say no to? What’s an offer you couldn’t refuse if you were in their shoes? Think about a different potential audience for your service. What would offer them special value? Here are some ideas for value you could offer to a specific audience.
- first-time visit discounts or bonus offerings
- referral discounts
- money-back guarantees
- multiple-booking package discounts
#3: Build authentic client relationships
Service business owners are often great at connecting with their clients. Authentic relationships aren’t just about offering value, though. They’re about reciprocity. As you connect with more clients, are you giving them space to respond to you and give feedback? To offer something in return, even if it’s referrals? Make sure your business has a method of listening, whether that’s in session or from customer surveys. You might be surprised what your clients tell you, and how that shapes your business.
#4: Upgrade your marketing
Marketing can be a combination of advertising, content marketing, and promotional campaigns and events. If you’ve only advertised in your local Google listings, consider sponsoring content in industry media, and write guest posts for media on topics relevant to your audience. Keep in mind that when you work with other media or interview with other public figures in your industry, you can work together to reach both of your audiences. Marketing isn’t just about reaching people with an offer. Think about it as a way to prove you’re a trusted member of your community who offers information that is useful to potential clients. Here are some ways you could upgrade your marketing:
- sponsor paid content in industry media
- advertise on social media
- create accounts on more social media platforms
- offer guest interviews and guest posts to media
- create a public speaker profile in your industry for events
- Host your own informational event
- create a blog
- start a podcast on industry topics
#5: Use a Client Relationship Manager
The biggest problem stopping you from booking more clients is time. That’s why automating some business tasks is helpful in growing your business. One way to automate business tasks is to use a CRM. CRMs do a lot more these days than manage your contact list. They automate your marketing, scheduling, and more. Look for a CRM that doesn’t just organize but automates as many tasks as possible that take up your time. That way, you can focus on growing your business instead of running it. Service businesses are famously hard to scale, because it takes a lot of time to grow them. Automation and delegating to agencies or software tools that don’t require your time can be a valuable tool to help you get back to serving more clients.