Lately, I've been receiving a lot of questions from people selling a service--or thinking about selling a service--over the web, asking what you need to do differently than those people marketing a physical product. It's a good question. Because while almost all the selling and traffic generation techniques I teach work equally well for both product- and service-based business models, there are a few unique challenges faced by those selling services that warrant special discussion.
Challenge #1: You are the product. When you sell a service, you are the product, whether you're a real estate agent, doctor, lawyer, bed & breakfast owner, auto-mechanic, caterer, hair stylist, fitness trainer, accountant, investment advisor, childcare provider, housekeeper, dog walker, landscaper.whatever. You're selling your time with the promise of a particular result as opposed to a tangible product.
Challenge #2: Your time is limited. Unlike someone selling a physical product that can be stored and shipped on demand, you can only provide as many services as your time allows. And assuming you pause to sleep and eat like the rest of us, this means you're limited to an 8-hour day. (Okay, 12- to 16-hour days if you love your work as much as I do.)
Challenge #3: You must prove your ability to deliver measurable results, while emphasizing flexibility. People will want to see proof that you've delivered great results for other clients, but they'll also want to know that you're flexible enough to meet their own unique needs. So you must walk a fine line, making sure that you keep confidential client information confidential, while (1) proving that you've satisfied the needs of other clients like them with great results and (2) demonstrating your ability to customize your service to meet their personal, unique needs.
Challenge #4: You're using a global medium to attract local business. Service-based businesses frequently rely on local clients. Sure, the owner of a bed & breakfast in Seattle may be thrilled to be attracting clients from Australia's Gold Coast. But is the landscaper in Seattle going to be equally receptive to securing a weekly hedge trimming and lawn-mowing client from Australia? Probably not. So service-based sites that rely on local customers need to actively pursue sources of local traffic.
Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.