Creating a Website for Your Service Providing Businesses
If you are thinking about selling a service–over the web. It’s a good question to know what you need to do differently than those people marketing a physical product.
What You Need To Know While Selling Service Online From Your Website
- 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.
- 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 we do.).
- 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.
- 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.
In order to overcome these challenges, there are several strategies you can employ.
Establish your credibility. When you sell a service, you’re typically selling a relationship with yourself. And this requires spending more time and effort establishing your credibility and developing a rapport with your visitors than is typically required on a site selling a physical product.
For example, a site that sells a product like gift baskets might include some brief “About Us” information that gives details about who the website owners are, why they started their business and how long they’ve been online. However, the majority of the site would focus on establishing the value of the actual product–the gift baskets–and providing detailed information about guarantees, delivery procedures, etc. Including reams of misplaced information about the website owners could actually hurt sales more than help. Because your products must get the attention of your visitors.
When you’re selling a service, however, you are the product.
So establishing your credibility–essentially establishing your value–is critical to closing the sale. You need to not only establish the benefits of the service you’re offering but also establish the value of you providing this service.
There are a few different ways you can accomplish this. First, you should include a good, professional picture of yourself. And no, the picture of you in your Hawaiian-print shorts and “Kiss the Chef” hat from last year’s summer barbecue won’t do. Giving your visitors a professional image to associate you with will go a long way toward establishing your credibility.
Next, you need to include a list of your credentials. However, don’t just give point after point of accomplishments; be sure to state exactly how each of your credentials is going to translate into a benefit for your clients. Don’t make the critical mistake of assuming that visitors to your site can make this leap on their own. Clearly spell out the benefits you offer in your sales copy.
For example, if you’re a real estate agent with certification in housing inspection, you shouldn’t just tell your visitors “I’m a certified housing inspector.” Instead you should say, “Not only can I find the best home in the best location for you and your family, but as a certified housing inspector, I can give you an accurate assessment of the home’s structural soundness and let you know about any potential problems to make sure you avoid getting stuck with costly repairs in the years to come!” Doesn’t that sound better than “I’m a certified housing inspector”? Make the benefit obvious!
Provide evidence that you have satisfied other clients with your services.
Depending on the nature of the service you provide, you may choose to do this in a few different ways. Testimonials from clients are a great way to establish your credibility. An online portfolio of your work might be another option (for example, landscapers might include pictures of well-manicured properties they designed and maintain). However, if the confidentiality of your clients is important, you may need to approach this a bit differently by including more general descriptions of problems you’ve encountered and steps you’ve taken to solve them, with no names or clues that could give away identities. If privacy is important to your clients, then visitors to your site should be able to understand why you can’t reveal names and exact details. But again, don’t assume they’ll know. Be sure to explain this.
Be specific about exactly what you’re offering. We’ve already talked a bit about this, but this is such a common mistake I see website owners making–whether they’re selling a service or a product–that I think it warrants further explanation.
You can never assume that providing information about what you’ve done for other clients will enable visitors to your site to make that leap and picture what you’ll be able to do for their businesses. You need to be very, very specific about what you’re offering. To help you do that, look at other similar service providers and ask yourself these questions:
- Do you offer the same services? More? Less?
- What makes you different from your competitors?
- Do you specialize in anything?
- What kind of guarantee do you offer?
- How to deliver your service?
Too often, website owners fail to provide their visitors with enough information. Sales copy with a detailed breakdown of the services you provide, with the benefits you offer clearly explained, will be one of the most critical aspects of your site.
So here, again, thorough sales copy that clearly explains how you’re willing to customize your services will be very important. Do your clients typically fall into a few different categories? Can you talk about each group and explain how you adapt and change to meet their individual needs?
For example, on his website, the owner of a martial arts school offered basic summary descriptions of his classes. Instead of general descriptions, he’d be better off breaking his sales copy down from his existing summary descriptions into more detailed copy that explains the key differences between his child, teen, and adult classes. By focusing on these client groups separately, he could more closely target their unique needs (and therefore attract more customers) by emphasizing the benefits that apply directly to each.
Once you’ve wrapped your head around this concept, everything else should fall into place. Sales copy strategies…traffic-generation techniques…website design strategies…all the techniques and strategies I’ve mentioned above can be used to dramatically increase the leads you attract, the deals you close and your overall online income.
If you want an effective website or one that can help you take your business to another level, you have to be prepared to invest in one. Contact Us for your website design service