Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (1) Introduction

Greetings business owners! My name is Joe Kowalski, and I’m the CEO of the CRM ServiceMonster. I’ll start with: I have nothing to sell you in this space. I don’t believe in buying social media maintenance services. We do not offer them. We do all of our own marketing in-house, as I believe you should. Paying a company $400/month to post generic content to your Facebook Page and manage the occasional ad is far less effective than learning how to do it yourself. Notice I did not say “not effective.” A robotic, business-only approach is perfectly acceptable if you’re looking to get EDDM (every door direct mail) and postcard prospecting results.

I spend a lot of time talking to business owners about how to use social media as an effective marketing platform. I hope this series of posts will get you headed in the right direction, and clear up some of the confusion and fear many have. I can’t give you a map; instead, think of it as guide to writing maps. No one has this mastered. No one. It requires constant education, thought, and failure. The platforms are changing all the time. How users adapt is changing all the time. It requires wit, cunning, and a healthy ego to get the results we all want. And like anything else worth doing, it requires persistence. Social media marketing is a constant experiment in social engineering and the only way to win is to play the long game.

As I write this, Facebook is currently the service provider’s best source for monetizing social media. It’s also a great place to learn the basics because you can do so much with it. Your end game is acquiring leads and maintaining relationships with current clients. Your ability to market well on Facebook over the next three years is directly related to how well you understand it. Always be learning, and follow those who do it well (take the hint and follow me to steal all of my chops, live – links at the end). In three years, the window closes forever. It’s only a matter of time before Fortune 500 marketing departments realize their budget is more effective on Facebook and price the rest of us out. The same thing happened to pay-per-click a few years ago. Social marketing is extremely undervalued right now, but like pay-per-click, it won’t stay that way forever. Social media can be the answer to your growth, or the nail in your coffin. You can choose to use it effectively, but even for ‘professionals,’ it’s a little bit of both.

Social fear is real. Many people I talk with want to engage in social but are afraid of some potential scenario, afraid of rejection, afraid of looking silly, or afraid of failing. You will fail. Sometimes no one will show up. Then three will. Then 15. Then 26. Yes, maybe someone will be mean. Perhaps someone will leave a negative comment or review. Perhaps someone will just be a downright ass-hat. Remember you can only control your own actions. In business, in marriage, in life. If you handle yourself in a courteous, calm, and helpful manner, even negative comments or downright attacks can be handled with grace. Many times I have found these engagements to be an excellent opportunity. When other rational people see how you handle an irrational situation, they feel they’re getting a true sense of who you really are. Authenticity is critical to amazing social media results. Don’t be afraid of interaction. Embrace it. Just try not to let it eat at you too much. That’s the hard part.

You can practice your social skills, too. Talk to people. I don’t mean online. I mean in the grocery store. Engage the clerk or people in line with casual conversation. Project positivity and wit. Try a little bit of charm. You know, like we used to do. Smile more. Here’s a dirty little secret: You scale your business using social by engaging one-on-one. It’s totally counterintuitive, but that’s the social part of social. Realize how much that one ‘like’ really matters.

It’s not easy. It takes a ton of hard work. In the new frontier, business isn’t contained between Monday through Friday, 9-5. That’s a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow, but you can still have balance. You must use your passions to drive you. If you’re cheering on Friday and bummed on Monday, go get a company to do this for you, because you’re not going to have the drive to do it well.

Social media is the most powerful marketing engine of all time. I suffocate when I think about removing social strategies from our marketing plans. The return on investment (ROI) for service businesses has ventured into the ridiculous, if you’re using it correctly. Most businesses do not. Too many business owners fail to understand how to make this platform work for their business. I still hear a lot of people complaining about how Facebook Pages for business have changed. We’ve been posting on our business Page since 2010. Of course it’s changing. I understand you don’t like that you can’t reach the audience that likes your Page effectively without throwing down five bucks, but realize the value in the service. Stop bitching and adapt, because the market doesn’t care.

In 1995, if you didn’t have a Yellow Page ad, you were all but non-existent. In 2005, if you didn’t have a website and search engine optimization (SEO), you were all but non-existent. In 2010, if you didn’t have a webform, you were leaving money on the table (you have a webform right?). And in 2016, if you don’t have a Facebook Page, you will soon be all but non-existent. You’re asking a lot out of your clients if you’re not at the party.

More and more people are using social to decide where to spend their money. It makes sense. 100 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, 50 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, and today, referrals are the driving force behind every business. People just happen to refer business to their friends via Facebook. Local Facebook groups are pushing leads to businesses they enjoy working with.

Business is a game of people. Of relationships. You make your money by selling solutions to problems. No amount of marketing is going to make someone with clean carpets get carpet cleaning. That’s why prospecting is so hard. You are hoping that some random chance will cause a client who has a problem to find you through a radio ad, a postcard, or a door hanger.

We all know the best leads come from referrals. We also know that our best clients are repeat clients. Repeat business has higher margins. Plain and simple. What makes referrals and repeat clients so much better than a cold lead? The relationship. You can actually establish that relationship in advance. That’s smart prospecting.

How much would you pay, to get in a room, in front of one thousand perfect potential clients? How much value is in the ability to talk with them, engage with them, present your goods and wares and your personality, your brand? Would you take a plane flight? Get a hotel room? Take a couple days away from the family and the business? Of course you would.

Do you ever think about TV and radio and lament on the reach that they present, and your lack of resources to reach that audience? Then understand that social media presents the most effective, lowest cost, and best targeted opportunity in human history. You are in front of your perfect clients on a daily basis. The effectiveness of television at a fraction of the cost. Sold? Yeah, me too. Moving on.

Continue on to part 2 in our series on social media for service businesses.

The full series of social media tips for service businesses is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

Greetings business owners! My name is Joe Kowalski, and I’m the CEO of the CRM ServiceMonster. I’ll start with: I have nothing to sell you in this space. I don’t believe in buying social media maintenance services. We do not offer them. We do all of our own marketing in-house, as I believe you should. […]