Marketing a service-based business

When you’ve got a product to sell, things feel relatively straight forward. People can see what your product is, you can describe it to them, they can touch it, hold it, decide whether it’s the right one for them, and whether it is value for money. But what if the thing you’re selling isn’t a thing at all? What if the product you’re selling is a service, based on nothing but your skill, time, and effort?
If what you’re offering isn’t an object, then the way you sell and market is entirely different. Whether you’re a designer, a writer, a coach, a beauty therapist, or a financial advisor, you really have your work cut out in convincing people that your service is a) something your clients need; and b) worth your clients’ money.
But how do you do that?

Don’t sell

I think, in general, marketing has changed a lot over the past decade or so. The internet and in particular social media have altered the way we see the world, and the way we talk to each other. People no longer respond to simply being sold to. We are now more knowledgeable, more savvy, and it’s so much easier for us to research products and services before we part with our money.

If you consider TV ads as an example, very few of them, if any, are directly asking you to buy the product they are advertising. Instead, they are telling a story. They are appealing to your emotions. They are building a relationship with you based on you trusting their brand.

And that’s what marketing is based on – relationships. Social interaction. Emotional selling. And trust.

Show what you can do

It’s a good idea to find ways to prove you are good at what you do, so that people who are thinking about using your service can see that you have a reliable track record. One of the best ways to do this is to show off what you’ve done before. You can create a portfolio of work, gather testimonials from past clients, give measurable results of how you’ve helped clients with your services, or get reviews on your website or on places like Freeindex.

If people are able to see what kind of results you’ve got for others, they are more likely to trust you to get those same results for them.

Fill a need

When you’re selling a service, it’s important that you think about your customers needs before our own. That means talking about them, and not about you. For example, if you’re a financial advisor, you don’t want to write a log boring post about what you do. People aren’t interested in that. Instead, they want to hear that you can solve their problems. In order to do that, you need to know what their problems are, and then work on telling them how you can take those problems away.

“We are an award winning financial advisory service, we offer multiple wealth management options as well as pensions advise…” Blah – not interested. 


“As you get older, it’s natural that you start to worry about how your loved ones will cope when you’re gone. If you’d like to talk to an expert about your pension, savings, or investments, we are just a phone call away. Don’t leave your family’s future to chance. Speak to us today.”

Which one would you go for?

OK, here’s another…

“Gel nails just £25 – offer only during November!” No thanks, I’ll get my mate Trina to do it.


“Christmas party season is just around the corner, and we know that you’ll want to look your best. So for a limited time, you can come to us for a full professional gel set, while you relax with a free glass of bubbly – all for just £25 for November only.” Free bubbly AND a discount? I’m there, where do I sign??

You see, in both cases, we’re showing the customer the benefit for them. They’re not interested in us, they want us to fill a need, so we have to show them how we can do that.

Call to action

Make things easy – your job is to do everything you can to get your customers to sign up for your service. So once you’ve given them the information they need, don’t give them an excuse to leave. Tell them, in no uncertain terms, what you want them to do – buy your service. “Call us on 123456”, “Click here to download”, “Fill in your details here and we’ll call you back” “Book now”.

I hope that’s inspired you – selling a service can be tough, but if you know what you’re doing, and you do it consistently, you will see results!

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