Why a Booking Widget is Critical for your Service Business in 2019

Do you have a website where you promote your service business? Do you want your customers to book their appointment through your website? Is it even possible?

You can bet your tax return that it is!

This is what a booking widget is for. A booking widget (like PocketSuite’s own booking widget) is a plugin used for websites. When embedded on a website, your customers can just click and they will be redirected to your booking page where your availability and schedule is shown.

Is it free? Yes and No.

You need to have an appointment app subscription in order to get a booking widget plugin. The booking widget plugins differ for each scheduling app, and so are the ways and methods of utilizing them for your business and setting them up.

Before picking a booking widget, check first if you can easily set it up on your own.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Booking Widget

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when it comes to choosing a booking widget. The problem is choosing the right booking widget that will work with your service business. Before adding a booking widget to your website, you should consider these things first.

  • The type of service business you have
  • The features of the booking widget
  • The compatibility of the booking widget with your service business website
  • Ease of use
  • Number of access points for staff or logins available
  • Flexibility to customize

To help you make a decision, we searched for the top booking widgets on online. Considering features and ease of use, here are the top 10 booking widgets that we found.

Squareup

Squareup is a booking widget that you can add to any website. It works with Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, and Weebly. This booking widget makes booking easier for people who need to schedule their dental checkup or for house cleaning. This booking widget is easy to use. Once you’ve added it on your service business website, your customers can simply click on it if they want to make an appointment. All available schedules will be shown on the booking page. An indicator shows if the date and time are available.

Features

  • It comes with a personalized ‘book now’ button
  • Easy to use even for elderly folks and non-tech savvy individuals
  • Provides options like highlighting the names of your service business staff (for customers to choose from)
  • Sends out automated reminders to customers with upcoming bookings
  • You can personalize the calendar

Mindbody

This booking widget is easy to add to any website and is easy to use. Mindbody also allows widget customization so you can change the calendar’s color or the font. The limiting aspect of this booking widget is that it only allows one booking at a time. If two of your customers booked at the same time, chances are, it will not work or they will get an error.

Features

  • It allows your client to choose their preferred staff from your service business
  • It has neat options for listing staff names (alphabetically or by availability)
  • The booking interval option can be turned on for this booking widget

Bookly

Bookly is a booking widget with full features. It’s basically like having an appointment app on your website. However, this booking widget is not cheap. It is a good widget app choice to use if your website’s platform is WordPress.

Features

  • A booking widget that sends SMS notifications automatically
  • Processes payments
  • It syncs with Google calendar
  • Your clients can book multiple appointments at once
  • It is available in 10 languages (translation-ready)

Launch27

Launch 27 allows your customer to choose their schedule when booking an appointment with you. This booking widget can be embedded as a booking form to your service business site. You can also add a link to the Launch27 booking page if there is not enough room on your service business website to fit the booking form.

Features

  • Easy to use
  • Minimal design to make booking easier even for non-tech savvy folks
  • It sends automatic reminders to booked customers

Jobber

If you are running a service business where your staff is always on the go, you should check out Jobber. Service business providers that do home service (technicians, cleaning) can use Jobber on their phone to check their next job order.

Features

  • Integrated with other apps like payment apps or any marketing tools
  • Easy to use
  • Send out automated reminders to both staff and clients

BirchPress

BirchPress is a popular WordPress plugin and booking widget that offers professional booking management assistance. This booking widget can be embedded on the WordPress platform. Once a customer books a service on your website, you can add an option to collect payment via PayPal or credit card.

Features

  • Customers can book appointments easily
  • It syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook
  • You can choose to have a customized email notification sent to your clients regarding their booking
  • This booking widget also has a reminder feature about your upcoming schedule

Booki

If your service business deals with reservations and appointments in order to run smoothly, you could check out Booki. Booki is a booking widget that can be used by service business providers in the industry of hospitality, resorts, driving lessons, hair stylists, and more.

Features:

  • Unlimited booking options
  • This booking widget syncs with Google calendar
  • Sends automated confirmation for every booking
  • Comes with different calendar modes
  • Can process payments
  • Sends a reminder for each appointment (customized or automated)

Bookeo

Bookeo is a booking widget that you can integrate with your service business to make scheduling of appointments easier. Your customers can just click on the ‘book now’ button and they will get directed to the Bookeo calendar page. When integrated, your page URL or domain name won’t be affected hence your customers can still see your website’s name and not the Bookeo booking widget URL. Note: You cannot use Bookeo appointment app on your service business website if you have a Bookeo booking widget or vice versa.

Features:

  • Customizable booking widget on your website (you can even change the color and font size)
  • Customizable calendar page for booking (only shows what you want to show like available dates for the day, week, or month)
  • Customizable booking page
  • Easy to use for service business customers

Bookme

For a streamlined and easy to use booking page, you can try Bookme. Bookme is a booking widget that works across different platforms. By clicking on Bookme, your customers can check if there are available booking slots that they can reserve. For example: Say you are a cleaning service business provider. Your customers can easily check your availability and book right onto your schedule. Presto!

Features

  • Available appointment dates are made visible while taken dates are greyed out (to avoid double booking)
  • Provides access to multiple service business staff members, if needed
  • Sends out a customized email notification
  • The appearance of the ‘book now’ button for this booking widget is customizable

PocketSuite

The PocketSuite booking widget allows service business websites to have a customized ‘book now’ button. With a customized booking widget, your clients or new leads can easily pick an appointment. With PocketSuite, your customers won’t have to call anymore to make their bookings. A click of their mouse or a tap on their phone can easily lead them to your booking page where they can schedule an appointment, register for a class, or purchase a package from you.

Features

  • Allows multiple booking widgets in a single service business page
  • This booking widget allows you to have customized online forms and e-contracts
  • It provides a unique booking widget code that you can place on your email or your service business Facebook page, Instagram page, or website
  • Can process payments
  • Compatible with different hosting platforms like Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Webs, GoDaddy, and Squarespace
  • Overall has the most features for the best price.

When it comes to a booking widget, there are at least 100 options out there. Before you pick a booking widget, make sure to learn more about the features.

There are booking widgets that are specifically designed for a particular service business only. So make sure you check out one of our recommended ones first!

Ready to accept payments from customers with your brand spankin’ new booking widget? Great, now it’s time for a victory dance!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

How To Generate Online Leads For Your Service Business In 2019

How to Generate Online Leads for your Service Business in 2019

Do you run a service business? Interested in how to generate more online leads for your business in 2019?

In this article, you’ll learn ways to generate enough new leads for your business to do an extra $10,000 in monthly revenue.

You’ll also learn pro tips from real business owners that have been successful using these platforms to grow their service business to $20k, $30k, all the way to $100k in monthly revenue.

You’ll also get a breakdown of how to get started, and any possible risks.

Ready to dive in? Read on…

“Your business can’t be struggling if you don’t check your bank account”

As a service professional, you might be thinking that leads are getting more expensive.

To offer your services to new customers, you need to find them first.

Owning your own business means you run your own marketing team, which means you are the one responsible for driving a steady stream of high quality leads.

With all the competition out there, how can a small business owner get an edge?

In this article we’ll reveal how the top Pay per Lead providers work. For each provider, you’ll learn:

  • How it Works
  • Pro Tips (from real businesses that have been successful on these platforms)
  • How do I set it up?
  • Possible risks

Take advantage of the hours we spent researching. Cut your learning curve by reading this article, applying the knowledge, and learning how to get a head start on your competition with each of these platforms!

Intro to Service Lead Models: Pay per Lead

One customer acquisition model that has been revived from the dead in a big way is the pay per lead or introduction model.

If you enjoy pitching your services to interested clients then pay per lead (“PPL”) might work for you.

PPL offerings have grown in recent popularity as more and more individuals are going out and starting their own businesses (thanks to lower marketing costs, lower legal registration fees, lower healthcare costs, mobile productivity tools).

For the most part, you have to be more a pro-active to get the most out of these PPL platforms.  You – the business owner – can pay for direct access to a client who is looking for specific services that you offer. Then it’s up to you to close them!

This model isn’t new. There are many platforms that offer PPL as a service.
These are the Online Lead providers that we will be reviewing in this article:

  • Home Advisor
  • Angie’s List (now owned by Home Advisor)
  • Thumbtack
  • Talklocal
  • HomeGuide

Let’s get started!

HomeAdvisor

How it works

HomeAdvisor is one of the pioneers of the PPL model. It was founded in 1998, formerly known as ServiceMagic. ServiceMagic was a simple PPL platform allowing professionals of all types (e.g., musicians, handymen, therapists, you name it) to directly pay for incoming leads and pitch their services.

In 2012, the company changed its name to HomeAdvisor, and started to evolve its ad products and focus purely on home services.

As a professional on HomeAdvisor, you can sign up and pay to join the network (similar to Angie’s List it’s a “pay to get access” monthly / annual fee). Once you’re in, then one of the main features is the ability to “turn on” leads.

What that means is you set a budget and HomeAdvisor sends you new business that you can try to win.

That new business comes from clients submitting job requests. HomeAdvisor lets clients complete detailed service requests.

These services include a diverse mix of home service jobs (e.g., landscaping, remodeling, cleaning, plumbing, etc.), the timing, the location, and more.

You – as the service professional – will get notified of these job requests and it’s up to you to close the customer. You can call the client, email the client, text the client – do whatever you think will win you that business.

As you can imagine, this type of marketing platform is ideal if you want to acquire new clients immediately, which would likely appeal to a new business owner. To have good success, you need to be energetic enough to pitch leads and compete for the business.

I highlight the top 3 tips from this blog for using a PPL platform like HomeAdvisor. They are absolutely spot on! These practices will help you maximize your return on investment:

Pro Tips

 1) Call leads immediately – ASAP!

“This is the single most important factor to making HA work for you, even more so than having good reviews.  I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, if I call within minutes of receiving the lead, I get the business. Some customers have even told me that they always choose the first person that calls”

Check out this screenshot from the Lead Response Study linked below:

As you can see, it’s imperative to contact the leads within 5 minutes (or less!) of receiving them. This study was done on sales leads, but service leads are no exception! Source: http://www.leadresponsemanagement.org/lrm_study

2) Sign up for small job leads

“Leads for big jobs are expensive at $50 and up.  With price shoppers all over the place, this can eat into your profits really fast.  That’s why I recommend only signing up for leads for jobs under $15. You will still get your foot in the door and can bank on the return business.”

3) Eliminate leads that don’t pay

“After you’ve been using the service for a while, it’s a good idea to go back over your leads and see which categories pay off and which ones provide mostly junk leads.”

4) Message the leads again

“If the leads haven’t responded, follow up again within 24hrs.”

5) Keep an eye on your costs

“Costs for leads stack up. Make sure you track conversions from leads.”

Get a game plan in place so that when you do turn those online leads ON, you are immediately ready to close them and beat out the competition!

Home Advisor has also invested in tools like Instant Booking and Instant Connect, which allows clients to reach out to you directly if they like your profile and reviews. These add on features are still a small part of the platform activity, but they are growing.

HOW DO I SET IT UP?

Go to the “Pro” section of HomeAdvisor: https://pro.homeadvisor.com/how-it-works/

Watch the 2 mins ins and outs video tutorial. Then you can sign up for free.

The setup process is multiple steps. You need to provide references and background information as part of the registration process.

HomeAdvisor is pretty thorough in terms of its screening process, so setting everything up takes a bit of time. You get a dedicated marketing consultant contact who will reach out and who you can call or email with questions throughout setup.

Then you are prompted to set up your Home Advisor subscription and decide how much you would like to start paying for leads.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

History

In 2012, ServiceMagic changed its name to HomeAdvisor in an effort to re-brand itself. If you Google “ServiceMagic” you will see a laundry list of customer complaints about the quality of the professionals on its platform.

Homeowners complained that the service providers who performed the jobs did terrible jobs. But more so are complaints from the providers themselves talking about how the leads coming to them were bogus in a lot of cases, and they spend all this money to pitch customers with no business coming to them.

To shake their bad reputation, ServiceMagic brought in a new CEO in 2011 and changed its name to HomeAdvisor.

Cost

HomeAdvisor is also pretty expensive. It costs ~$250 per year to just be a part of the network, and then you need to pay to get leads.

We have heard feedback from participating professionals that you need to be careful turning your leads option ON, because if you don’t pay attention HomeAdvisor can send you a bunch of leads in a short amount of time and start charging your card on file instantly…

Stay on top of your online leads option and turn it OFF if you’re busy with work or taking some downtime.

Also, for a lot of business owners, this type of lead ad model is very tough to master. The risk is you spend a lot of money to get these leads with none of them panning out.

Sometimes you were too slow to call the customer so they went with a competing provider. Other times your bid was simply too high. Or customers can change their mind. You call them and they never pick up.

Just be careful on the upfront spend – before you know it you could be in the hole hundreds of dollars without any clients, any clicks, any “likes”, any reviews.

Moving on, up next we have a Pay per Lead platform that most folks are familiar with by now… Thumbtack, of course.

Thumbtack

How it works

The Thumbtack model is similar to HomeAdvisor. The 2 main differences are: (1) there is no monthly or annual fee to join the network, and (2) the industries it services are not just limited to home improvement – but includes all types of service providers like dog walkers, lawyers, photographers, tutors, and more. As far as customer acquisition goes, Thumbtack is a treasure trove of possible clients.

Clients can go through a similar “concierge” flow, specifying their service needs and their job details get blasted to up to 5 professionals for that specific service and geography. Thumbtack sets the opening bid price for a lead’s contact information. If you win the bidding process, you get to pitch that lead – and the cost is paid in “credits”.

Each credit costs $1.67 to buy and leads can cost anywhere from 2 to 9 credits (so $3.34 to $15.30 per lead). That’s another difference between Thumbtack and HomeAdvisor – Thumbtack has more control over which leads you choose to spend money on (based on limited service requests and client demographic information).

Once the credits are spent – then it’s up to you to close that online lead!

Another consumer use-case is when clients actually Google a specific service name and the location, then Thumbtack’s page results actually rank high on Google and the service providers – you – are accessible directly by any customers.

For example, if I Google “dog walkers in Seattle, WA”, one of the results in Google is the link below to one of Thumbtack’s popular list:

Clients are able to review your profile (like description, reviews, photos, etc.) and “Request a Quote” from you directly. Note that you – the professional – will still be required to pay credits to Thumbtack to find out who requested said quote from you (as no website or phone # details are included on your profile for direct contact).

Converting first-time clients into recurring clients is crucial with Thumbtack as well. If it takes you multiple online leads before closing one, then your initial return on investment might not be that great, but if you can convert that client to book with you in the future, then your ROI could look great. Remember, customer acquisition is a long term game.

Pro Tips

  • Respond as quickly as possible – in recent studies, even 5 minutes may not be fast enough. Yes, seriously.
  • Set up software like Calldrip that calls your phone whenever a lead comes in, then calls the lead. It’s like having a concierge connect you to leads automatically whenever they come in. The software even whispers the client’s name for you or your admin before connecting the call. It’s basically magic:
    • Look up your profile from the client’s side. This gives you two great opportunities:
    • See how you show up from your client’s perspective. You never know what you might uncover! (Is that my personal email being displayed on there? Oh boy…)
    • Take a sneak peak at your competitor’s profiles! Get ideas on how to optimize your pictures, your description, and showcase your services in a more appealing manner. This is actually a perfect segway to our next point:

    HOW DO I SET IT UP?

    You can join Thumbtack as a “pro” for free: https://www.thumbtack.com/pro

    The setup process is pretty simple and straightforward. Along with setting up your profile, Thumbtack will give you a link to your specific profile – they encourage you to send this link to past clients to build you reviews. I would recommend doing this. More reviews and content on your profile will make their system rate you as more relevant (and higher quality) and, as a result, will send you more online leads to bid on.

    Setup Instructions:

    1. Go to thumbtack.com/pro
    2. Choose your City and Industry

3. Log in with Google, Facebook, or Email

4. Follow the prompts to set up your brand spankin’ new profile!

5. Need help? Here’s a shortcut: Use GetHuman to find Thumbtack’s best live support number – skip the wait and talk to a person live if you’re having issues!

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

With Thumbtack being a similar PPL model as HomeAdvisor, similar risks around cold leads and tough bidding apply. You can wind up buying and using a ton of credits, and not get any new business when it is all said and done.

There are some reports out there stating on average you win 16% of all leads you buy – in that case you need to make sure you are not spending a lot to buy said leads…or if you are, you need to make sure the final payment you get from the customer is a lot more than the amount you spent on all the other lost leads.

Another risk is that the bidding and pitching system typically leads to a “lowest price wins” game. Meaning, clients will often tend to accept the lowest priced service no matter how many professionals reach out to them.

Thus, similar to discount platforms, this model attracts customers who are looking for low price over quality, and the next time they need a service (the same service done again even), they will go back to the well for anyone who can give them “bottom-of-the-barrel” prices again.

There also seem to be frustrations regarding the quality of leads. Here is a recent post on Thumbtack’s forum that summarizes the issue folks have been having – it looks like Thumbtack is sending online leads to too many providers, and also the quality of leads seems to have diminished.

That being said, Thumbtack is still where droves of customers go to find a quality professional, and thus still remains a viable source of opportunity as far as getting new clients thru online leads for your service business.

Why don’t we go right ahead into our next pick: Talk Local.

TalkLocal

HOW IT WORKS

TalkLocal has a bit of a twist. As a smaller company, it isn’t technically a PPL company, but more of a “Pay Per Conversation” type of app. And just as it sounds, it takes much more over the phone / conversational take to introducing a business to a potential customer.

As a professional, you can preview incoming customer leads for free over the phone (as in you get a call from TalkLocal and you can hear the information about the job request) and only pay when you actually opt-in and speak to a customer. It covers about 50 different service verticals, focusing on home improvement like plumbers, handymen, HVAC, and roofers, which are big ticket services. They require more salesmanship and quality and track record matters in addition to price. So when one of those leads closes, it typically pays for all of the ones that you lost.

Just like on Thumbtack, as a client you can go to TalkLocal and specify your location, the job or service details you are in need of, and contact (i.e., phone #) details. TalkLocal then blasts the most relevant service professionals in the area via automated phone call. When the pro picks up, they can opt in to accept the job over the phone, then TalkLocal immediate connects them to the client by calling the client’s phone. Once the client picks up, the business gets charged the “introduction” fee. Then it’s up to you, the business, to pitch your services over the phone.

HOW DO I SET IT UP?

Head to http://www.talklocal.com/claim/ to claim your business on the TalkLocal site. In addition to entering your business information, you select your job preferences, service area radius, and your desired call frequency/bid level all of which can be adjusted at any time.

Joining the Premium plan will send you a higher volume of leads, which the company says on average costs $16 per call introduction. The free plan only sends businesses jobs that member companies (like Yahoo! Local) have passed on.

PRO TIPS

Just like any other PPL platform, TalkLocal has its own quirks and pro tips. Let’s dive right in!

TalkLocal is sending out an automated phone call to all of the potential leads. This is different because it requires the lead to answer the phone.

But once this happens, TalkLocal then sends a follow up call to your phone – here’s where the magic starts.

Some things to keep in mind from a customer acquisition perspective:

  • Answer the phone professionally. Too many Pros are answering the phone like an individual instead of a business. To look more professional, try starting the conversation with a phrase like “Thank you for reaching out, we are a TalkLocal verified provider and I was wondering if you could tell me more about the project?” This sets the frame from the start that…
    • You are a professional company
    • Indeed responding to their TalkLocal inquiry
    • Focused on them and their needs
  • Get details up front. Too often the job scope is not communicated over the phone effectively. For this reason there is frustration on both sides because…
    • The Pro ends up feeling required to complete tasks outside of the job scope (because they’ve already accepted the job without detailing the deliverables beforehand)
    • The Customer feels confused and slighted (because there aren’t clear expectations set for the success of the job, and what is required to classify this job as a success).

For example: Pro answers the phone unprofessionally, doesn’t clarify the scope of the job.

Result: Customer is unsure of quality / professionalism of Pro, and is upset when some of the items that were expected to be completed in the scope of the job go undone. Customer reviews Pro negatively on TalkLocal and other review platforms. Customer, Pro, and TalkLocal all had a bad experience in this situation.

Another, contrary example: Pro answers the phone professionally and asks great questions to drill down on the requirements for the job.

Result: Customer is happy with the professionalism and feels proud of his decision to hire Pro. All job details are discussed upfront, so nothing is left to chance. Assuming the Pro completes all items on time and up to par, customer is happy and decides to hire the Pro on a recurring basis. This reflects TalkLocal and also the Pro well, and can result in additional recurring revenue for both!

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

TalkLocal is small in size so the volume of client requests and introductions will be relatively small – take this into consideration when you spend time setting up and learning the system.

You should not spend hours of time with a platform that may or may not provide you a lot of new customer liquidity. But arguably it shouldn’t take you very long to get set up.

The company states that average cost of a new client introduction is $16. Keep in mind that this does not guarantee you will win this business. As soon as the call is connected, you are out $16.

Arguably, if you are talking to the customer over the phone, the chances of converting that client to a paying customer is higher than sending them a simple bid through a platform like Thumbtack – it’s more personal to talk on the phone!

But the jury is still out on that theory, so you need to do your own testing to see how convincing you are to win a customer at an average $16 per “opportunity”.

HOW IT WORKS

HomeGuide is another Pay per lead platform. The way it works is a bit different from the others – it still uses a credit system, but you can receive a refund for credits that don’t result in the customer responding.

This seems like an improvement on Thumbtack (which sends quotes to so many Pros, the conversion rate seems to be low) however HomeGuide doesn’t have as big of a network, so the frequency of new online leads may be lower.

HOW DO I SET IT UP?

The way to start is to tap “Join is a Pro” in the top right:

Once you complete the setup and add your business info, you’ll have a chance to start bidding on jobs.

You may also have to confirm your email (and possibly your phone number) in order to verify your profile.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

One thing to remember is that you get to keep 100% of the revenue that you generate – HomeGuide doesn’t keep any of the money that is transferred from the customer to you as the Pro.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to keep track of how much money you’re spending on bids.

Additionally it’s imperative to track how many of the bids you’re sending out are converting to actual customers.

This way you can track the revenue generated by the customers, compare that to your total costs of using HomeGuide (or any other PPL platform) and thus determine your Return on Ad Spend (RoAS).

Now we’re thinking like top Pros! Give yourself a pat on the back once you’re completed this tracking – it’s more than 90% of Pros do to ensure their business is running healthy!

PRO TIPS

HomeGuide has a clever way of getting new Pros – they actually send out a cold email blast asking service providers to put their Best of HomeGuide badge onto their site.

This creates 2 virtuous cycles:

  • Creates a backlink from the service Pro’s site to Homeguide, increasing their SEO and thus their search rankings.
  • Creates social proof on both sides:
    • For the Pro (look, I’ve been featured as Best of HomeGuide!)
    • For HomeGuide (this website categorizes service Pros, so they must be legit.)

So what’s the Pro tip here? You can put the image of their badge onto your site without having to provide a backlink! This creates exposure for HomeGuide (great for them) and also allows you to have more social proof on your website (good for you and reassures your customers that you’re a legit business).

What a journey we’ve taken! Let’s launch into some closing remarks regarding Pay per Lead platforms…

Overall Pay Per Lead Platform Thoughts

In this guide you’ve learned:

  • What are PPL Platforms
  • How they work and make money
  • How you as a service professional can capitalize on the vast amounts of potential customers looking for your services on these platforms
  • Things to watch out for
  • How to set each platform up
  • The risks of each platform

The PPL model for generating leads online is becoming more popular with a certain sect of consumers because it makes price shopping quite convenient for services. You tap a few buttons, and then in minutes you’ve got professionals calling and emailing you with specific quotes on cost of service as well as a nice little pitch to go along with it.

It’s almost like a concierge service for the clients, all the while delivering clarity around pricing – and that means lowest price in most cases.

As a result, we’re starting to see the likes of Google enter the space with Google Home Services. They’ve started first in the San Francisco Bay Area (in beta), so if you’re a provider in that area I would sign up. (Update 2019: Google Home Services and Amazon Home Services are now in full swing)

Clients can “Send Requests” for a quote from you directly from Google (without doing any extra work like visiting another site):

Angie’s List is testing out its “Lead Feed” product offering even, which is again very similar to the PPL model.

Point being, you’ve got an increasing amount of options to play around with to test out if the PPL model is right for your business. I would get a game plan in place as to what your course of action is once a warm lead comes your way, then spend some money to see what it takes to convert leads to clients and also get a sense as to how many of these new clients you’re converting to lifelong customers.

Pro Tips for All Pay Per Lead Platforms

Now that we’ve come to the closing of service business leads in the Pay per Lead form… Let’s discuss some hands-in-the-dirt strategies for actually applying everything you’ve learned about PPL platforms. How you can use them to dominate your local service industry?

Pro Tips:

  • Follow up fast. Like, lighting speed fast. Here’s another interesting graph from the Lead Response management study linked above. This one shows how important it is to follow up quickly in terms of leads that became qualified:

    Always track your RoAS. Remember, you’re paying for each lead, not each customer. This requires you to track how many leads you have to pay for before you convert one into a paying customer. By tracking RoAS you are making sure that your initiative on each platform is paying off. To start tracking RoAS:

    • Track your total expenses for each platform (on a weekly or monthly basis). On PPL platforms this typically comes down to  how many total credits you purchased
    • How many actual customers were generated from these efforts (per platform)
    • Revenue (and profit!) generated from customers for each platform
    • Extra credit: To improve your system further, track the conversion rate from:
      • Lead bids to responses
      • Responses to bookings
      • Avg revenue per booking (per platform)

    This concludes our exhaustive article on Online Leads for Service Businesses! You should now have enough info to dominate your local area… and maybe even time for a victory dance!

    Have any further suggestions for how to use Pay per Lead platforms effectively?

    Anything I missed or that should be added? Please contact support@pocketsuite.io

    If you liked this content, check out our Frustrations with Square article! You’ll never feel so vindicated in your life. 😉

    And of course, if you’re a service Pro and you want a way to manage your entire business from your phone, check out the PocketSuite app. We’ve been featured on TechCrunch, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and more.

    Author: Ilya Ornatov

    Original Article by: Sam Madden

Top 9 Therapy Websites & Marketplaces to Join

Top Therapy Communities

When you are building your therapy, clinical social work or mental health business, growing your customer base and getting exposure can be challenging. With more and more competition, standing out from the crowd can be difficult.

Joining a therapy or health marketplace can be a great way to establish your practice and build your clientele in a high quality way. A lot more so than simply being listed on Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.

We’ve been speaking with dozens of founders of therapy marketplaces and organizations over the past few months, and we wanted to share our thoughts.

Below are nine different types of marketplaces eager therapists can join to help your practice grow, depending on your business’s niche and needs.

Big Brand & Reach

GoodTherapy for Mental Health

As one of the largest mental health directories in the world, GoodTherapy connects patients to professionals in 30 different countries. Each month, the network receives over 1.5 million therapist searches.

GoodTherapy focuses on collaborative care, with a focus on non-stigmatizing language and the client and therapist working together to identify solutions. For mental health professionals, GoodTherapy offers a wide range of continuing education materials, such as webinars, best practices and marketing seminars.

The platform also tracks visitors to your profile as a therapist. You can get access to real-time analytics as to how many clients are visiting your profile, how many are calling you, tapping on call-to-actions, etc.

To become a member it costs $29.95 per month, with discounts if you sign up for longer term memberships.

Platforms Doing Good

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective for Mental Health

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective believes everyone should have access to quality mental care, regardless of income. The mission of the site is to provide middle and lower-income people to affordable psychotherapy and mental health education services.

Individual clients can see a quality therapist for $30 to $50 a visit (well below market pricing). The mental health providers that are part of Open Path’s directory are either therapists building their practice and reputation or established professionals giving back to the community.

There are currently over 2,300 therapists in the community, but with rising client demand, many more are needed.  To join this non-profit network, therapists complete an online application and send in a copy of their license and liability insurance. For most, the process takes under 10 minutes there are no fees whatsoever for participating therapists.

International-Focused Platforms

International Therapist Directory for Mental Health

The International Therapist Directory (“ITD”) is a global listing of professional therapists, counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists who offer cross-cultural therapy. Spanning 40 countries, therapists can connect with clients and also network with other healthcare providers.

As our world becomes more and more culturally blended, with people living and working in new countries, culturally-sensitive healthcare providers are essential to provide relevant and helpful therapy.

The site is focused on professional therapists with credentials at the master’s level or higher, with a thoughtful understanding of the ‘Third Culture Kid’. Healthcare providers in the ITD network have a tendency to connect with one another to refer patients and share their expertise, so their referral network is growing quite considerably.

Member fee is just a $35 annual fee.

Directory, Community, Web-building & More

TherapyTribe for Mental Health

TherapyTribe is an online therapist directory that also offers online support groups with wellness tools and activities.  Offering support for people with mental illnesses, addictions and diseases, the site has a professional directory of thousands of therapists as well as self-help materials.

As one of the largest directories, TherapyTribe receives tens of thousands of visitors each week from people looking for help. In addition, therapists listed with TherapyTribe are featured to support group members using geo-targeting to match by location.  

TherapyTribe is now offering members a free professional therapist website included with their membership.  A membership with TherapyTribe gets your business in front of a national pool of potential clients for a monthly ($20) or annual fee ($199).

Where Physical & Mental Intersect

Essential Yoga Therapy for Holistic Approach to Psychology and Fitness

Essential Yoga Therapy (“EYT”) connects customers with specialized yoga therapists who prepare customized plans to treat chronic pain or illness. EYT focuses on yoga therapy as the evolution of the healing process.  

In addition to giving yoga therapists greater access to potential clients, the site also has quality educational resources. For example, there are sessions on how to teach a class with individuals dealing with scoliosis, covering techniques and pose adjustments that will not hurt the client.  

The site is tailored to certified yoga therapists who focus on the holistic needs and therapeutic practices for individuals. Essential Yoga Therapy also offers in-person training for its professional community to learn new techniques.

OCD-Specific

International OCD Foundation for Niche Mental Healthcare

As one of the oldest resources for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (“OCD”), the International OCD Foundation connects individuals and families with disease state information, support materials and healthcare providers.

The site has a targeted group of therapists 1,200 strong. In addition to a directory listing, professional members also get access to the annual conference access, entrance to the behavioral therapy training institute and clinics with providers specializing in the treatment of OCD.

There are millions of people affected by OCD (1% of the U.S. population to be exact), but finding therapists who are knowledgeable in the disease is difficult. This site connects individuals to specially trained professionals.

The foundation is thoughtful in making membership affordable to its professionals. There are 3 tiers of memberships – from students preparing to be licensed therapists, to institutional memberships – with a sliding scale of membership costs.

Regional Therapy Organizations

The Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work for Regional Care

There are a growing number of regional therapy marketplaces on a state-by-state basis, including the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work (“GSCSW”) as an example. Since 1980, the GSCSW has worked to advance clinical social work practices and empower professional social workers in the state of Georgia.

By becoming a member, social workers can network with other local professionals, access continuing education resources, and keep informed about legislation affecting the field.

Social workers can join the network with an annual fee ranging from $20 for a student, to $110 for a licensed practitioner. Upon joining, professionals are listed in the local directory and gain access to a forum of other professionals to pose questions and receive support.

On Demand Mental Health

7 Cups for Mental Health

Recently launched 7 Cups provides affordable, on-demand mental health services, connecting users to compassionate and trained professionals around the clock. From everyday stresses to more severe needs, 7 Cups offers users a safe space.

With over 800,000 site visitors a month spanning across 189 countries, the 7 Cups platform is rapidly growing and expanding their services. The benefit to the platform is that therapists can provide care online via messages through the app. All therapy is done through the HIPAA compliant platform, and allows clients to get online (and mobile) access to therapists without having to move a muscle.

For the therapist, the fee is $29.95 per month to be listed. In addition to 40% per client interaction if the client decides to book communication time with you.

For people who want traditional in-person care, 7 Cups also offers a practice directory. Professionals can get connected to thousands of potential clients the old fashioned way as well.

Alternative Therapy

Alternative Therapists Network for Non-Conventional Care

The Alternative Therapists Network (“ATN”) focuses on multiple modes of therapy and self-care for patients. ATN connects clients with counselors, yoga practitioners, life coaches, and music and art instructors. It offers a space for clients and professionals to find alternatives to conventional therapy and medication. This is a known challenge to established beliefs.

Users can find out about practitioners, their experience and their approach to therapy before ever contacting them. That way, they can ensure their therapist shares their ideals and philosophies before beginning sessions.

Clients can schedule appointments directly through the site, which makes it easier for therapists and instructors to build their clientele. For a fee, professionals can join the network, get connected to users and get access to webinars and training seminars.

The founding team of ATN also runs Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, sourcing and delivering great content and articles to ATN members.

Recommendation: First Research, Then Join A Network

As a therapist or healthcare provider, building your own practice can be daunting.  Joining a professional network or marketplace can help you establish your presence and credibility. For a small fee, you can increase your clientele as well as network with like-minded professionals.

It’s a worthwhile investment that will expand your practice.

Getting More Clients with Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go Marketing

The obsession of Pokemon Go isn’t just affecting eager consumers and gamers alike.

It actually has potential to affect your business…but in a great way.

And it won’t cost you much.

To sum it up from a local business marketing expert:

“[Pokémon Go] is so popular that people are sometimes crowding parks and other locations, chasing their
            favorite Pokémon characters in order to capture them. Local businesses can take advantage of this
            phenomenon by purchasing “Lures” to entice players into their stores.”

If you haven’t hear of Pokemon Go yet, in short it has been THE most downloaded app in iTunes history (you can download the app for free). It’s an “augmented reality” game, wherein gamers create their own character and go from location to location (yes, in the real world) to search and capture Pokemon characters using help from their smartphone’s camera.

The game is so addictive, it has attracted hoards of people in areas like parks and public city places as they hunt for Pokemon to track down.

As a business owner that offers services or runs group classes outside, it’s a new and very exciting way to tap into large groups of potential clients to gravitate towards you while you’re in a park or outside running a class.

Attracting Potential Clients:

Leveraging the game to capture new (real life) clients is quite simple.

What you can do is purchase what are called “Lures” within the Pokemon Go app, which will entice users to come to a particular location (determined by you) as they hunt for Pokemon characters to capture.

Some fun (and helpful) terminology:

  • Pokecoin = currency inside the Pokemon Go app ($0.99 for 100 Pokecoins)
  • 1 Lure Module = 100 Pokecoins
  • PokeStop = a local business or location

A fun (and easy way) to attract a group of Pokemon Go users:

1) Use social media to pre-announce a Pokemon Go promotion you’ll be running

2) Purchase a Lure Module to lure Pokemon Go users to your PokeStop – your location during a specific time window

3) Be attentive and capture the contact information of location visitors or offer discounts for services right on the spot!

Try even printing signs or wearing a flashy outfit to make your presence known as groups of potential clients come flocking to your location.

Chat that client up, pitch your services, then pop that lead directly into PocketSuite for immediate session booking!

Turn Your Thumbtack Leads into Lifelong Clients

Thumbtack Leads

Use Thumbtack to win new customers.

Receive incoming job requests, bid via quote, and get notified when clients are interested…


Use PocketSuite to retain new customers for life.

Schedule jobs, secure payment and deliver your new client a seamless customer experience…

So who uses PocketSuite?…

Why do over 15,000 pros use PocketSuite?…

Direct Client Import

Add any client directly to PocketSuite or import clients directly from your iPhone contact list

Keep all client contact information easily accessible

Track all income earned from each client

Take notes (text, photos) on each customer for private viewing

Track and analyze lead sources by client (e.g., Thumbtack, Yelp, referrals, etc.)


Appointment Calendar Sync

Sync all PocketSuite scheduled appointments directly to iCal

Pick and choose which calendars (i.e., Google, Outlook, etc.) sync with PocketSuite as well

Use a single calendar app to manage both client and personal appointments


Automate Client Reminders

Easily set appointment reminders for each job scheduled

2 hours prior to service? 8 hours? 24 hours? 3 days? We give you customizable reminder options

Clients get auto-texted ahead of each appointment

No need to spend time manually making sure your customers stay on schedule


Industry Low Payment Processing

Accept credit card payments for as low as 2.7% per transaction

  • Get paid for all your jobs entered in PocketSuite
  • Accept deposit payments
  • Reserve appointments with client credit card
  • Send invoices to clients via text

Clients can simply take a photo of their credit or debit card to pay for any invoice or appointment

Payments direct deposited in 1-2 business days


Mobile Messenger

Send instant text messages to any of your clients

Share photos, share contacts, share GPS pin location

Clients receive messages via SMS text – just like any other message – and can respond to you in real-time

Market deals, discounts and send group announcements

Keep all your communication and transaction history organized in a single message thread for each customer


See what our pros have to say themselves…

Brio Photography
Los Angeles, CA
I love the deposit feature! Requiring a deposit for booking has made a big difference in my client follow through.
www.briophotography.com

Adriana’s House Cleaning
San Francisco, CA
PocketSuite has helped me simplify my customer schedules and payments. It’s helped me grow easily in San Fran, and I’m now expanding into Los Angeles.
www.adrianacleaning.com

Beverly The Pooch Coach
San Francisco, CA
Online booking is amazing! I used to play phone tag a lot with people trying to set up appointments before PocketSuite…and I know I lost a bunch of clients in the process.
www.poochcoach.com

Wells BR Fitness
Baton Rouge, LA
I’m literally setting up my entire week’s worth of classes from my phone in minutes with this app. Life saver!
www.wellsfitnessbr.org

Check us out in the press:


Tap here to learn more about all the different features and tools PocketSuite can offer your business today.

 

Best Communities to Help Personal Trainers Succeed

Fitness Trainer Communities

Being an independent health and fitness professional can feel lonely. You don’t have co-workers, you don’t have any staff – it’s you and your clients.

As fitness-focused groups and communities have grown online (on top of what already exists “offline”), fitness, health and wellness professionals are starting to take advantage of the vast wealth of knowledge and benefits out there. Being a part of a group or community won’t just help you get more clients or help you learn tips/tools from successful peers, but they can also act as your psychiatrist – helping you connect with fellow fitness and health professionals across the world relating to your daily frustrations, questions and concerns.

We’ve spoken to thousands of personal trainers, wellness professionals and yoga instructors to get a sense as to the most powerful communities (online and offline) to help them get the upper hand when it comes to building their own small business.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups can help your fitness business in two ways:
(1) Shed light on great educational resources
(2) Connect with peers to help your sanity

LindedIn Groups focus around fitness, health and wellness businesses are hyper-targeted and can add hyper value to your business. Groups that were recommended to us include Fitness Trainers and Coaches (52,815 members), Health & Fitness Industry Professionals (21,507 members), and The Health & Wellness Networking Group (60,790 members).

These groups are best described by a summary from Fitness Trainers and Coaches. “Allowing professionals in this industry to network, gain knowledge and share techniques among other group members so that the common objective of improving the lives of our clients, can be achieved along with the advances in technology.

LinkedIn Groups are great because the members of these communities share training tips. They share useful blogs and they share tech tools that will help their peers succeed. The fantastic thing about these communities is the professionals don’t consider each other competition. Members are open and happy to be helpful to other professionals – it’s not a zero sum game in this community…everybody can succeed together.

LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with peers to help vent any frustration. On top of public communication feed, you can create direct and private relationships with other trainers on the platform. You can share stories, experiences and advice (public or private). Advice based on any working situations or experiences you’ve had with clients. You can decide if you’d like act as social media shrink doling out advice to peers. Act as the patient with a sea of eager fitness, health and wellness entrepreneurs who are willing to help.

Certification Programs

Don’t get me wrong – getting a 3rd party certification as a fitness trainer or health professional is work. Discovering the program that will benefit your business, analyze its benefits, pay money for the certification, and then actually prepare and take an exam to complete certification. The return on this investment can be huge for a variety of reasons.

Popular certification programs include ACE Fitness, IDEA Fit, and NASM. Becoming a part of these certification programs is great because it not only opens you up to a network of other professionals, but allows you to leverage the network for benefits. Things like employment listings, exposure within a client-facing directory, liability insurance discounts, product discounts and more. Here’s a great comparison table detailing the variety of benefits across certification programs.

Communities like these are more active and force you to do work. In return the amount of work you put in can yield tremendous dividends. About 100,000 trainers across the U.S. are part of these certification groups.

Twitter Influencers

There are a lot of these “influencers” on Twitter that dole out useful tips, tricks and advice. Especially relevant within the fitness and health industries that thrive off it. Typically most of these people cater to consumers who are looking for D.I.Y. advice. This is not as relevant to eager entrepreneurs looking to build their own business. Similarly there are many influencers you can follow on Twitter who talk about broad or niche topics that you will find interesting. Therefore, you can then pass on to your clients in the form of consulting advice or enhanced services.

Adam Bornstein (@BornFitness) provides great content and articles around a whole host of educational fitness topics. Meaghan B Murphy (@meaghanbmurphy) is an ACE certified trainer and also provides useful tips focused on training integrated with a healthy lifestyle. Jen Sinkler (@jensinkler) has a hyper focus around female heavy lifting (niche industry for some trainers). Bobby Strom (@BobbyStrom) is known as the “trainer’s trainer” with must-read tips revolving around not just fitness but medical help as well. Bob Harper (@MyTrainerBob) is meal oriented and clearly one who is friendly with food-conscious celebrities. Point being, there are all types of fitness and health personalities you can follow. To further your entrepreneurial career, depending on your business needs.

Twitter communities keep you and your specific industry in-the-know on a variety of topics. Never let any trends, topics or tips slip under the radar – turn this knowledge into power by improving your client relationships and services.

Using Social Media to get you Clients in 2019

Social media has billions of users. No, that’s not hyperbole. Research shows that in 2019, there were over 2.7 billion users on outlets like Facebook and Instagram right now.

That’s a large demographic with some gold for you as a business owner. To keep your service business successful, tap into marketing to that audience.

We’ve painstakingly collected the best tips on how to utilize this massive pot of gold to connect with your audience and present them with more opportunities to purchase your services.

Here are seven ways to dominate social media with your service business in 2019:

 

  1. Set Your Profile Up for Success

 

When users land on your profile, hook them right away with a profile that is set up effectively. What, exactly, does that mean?

Each social media outlet has different standards for setting up a well-crafted profile. What is common across all platforms is that you need to have these three elements in your bio:

  • An opt-in to your mailing list
  • A clear, strong unique selling proposition so that they know what you do within three seconds of landing on your profile
  • Direct them to your website to get information on your business

No matter which platform you choose, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube… you need those three things in your bio.

  1. Create a Content Calendar

This is a crucial step. When planning out your social strategy, do not skip this.

A content calendar keeps you on track for what to post each day. Don’t assume that you’ll remember what you want to post on which days.

Let’s say that you’re planning the launch of a new product or service. Using social media to get the word out is a great way to do that, but if you don’t have a content calendar planned out, then you will end up posting items at random and it will not serve you well and will lead to lower sales for that new product or service.

Creating a Content calendar is a tedious process, but it is one that you need to set aside at least one or two hours for to create it and then at least 30 minutes every week to update it.

Keep in mind that your content calendar won’t always look like another service business’ content calendar. That’s okay! Use what works for you and it will help you stay on track with posting the right content, on the right days, so that you can attract more sales and leads online.

  1. Use Captions that Convert

Now that you have your calendar planned out, it’s time to create captions that will wow your target audience.

This is where you need to spend the most time planning out your social strategy to get clients for your service business.

Do not–I repeat do not–skimp on your captions.

  • Create captions that are at least 50 words long.
  • Tell a story
  • Use power words; words that hook people and convert them to engaged leads.

These three tips alone will give you more likes, clicks, and shares on your content. The key is, watch for growth within one to two weeks. Seeing a change overnight is a great story, but it’s not the norm.

Make sure you are tracking your analytics to see what captions are working best for you for your target audience. This tells you how to communicate exactly what they want to hear from your business.

  1. Don’t Skimp on the Photos

As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  That is even more true on your social profiles.

Make sure that the photos you’re sharing accurately and compellingly represent you and your service business.

Your photos don’t have to look super polished, airbrushed, or like the fancy destination trips that have now become the norm for marketing from business owners, especially solopreneurs.

You don’t need a fancy photoshoot. You don’t need a fresh set of flowers. You don’t need to go sit by the beach with your laptop, smile, and type away in the sand.

All of those things are good and have their place and time. For you, however, your audience will be more engaged when you share the real nitty-gritty photos of your service business.

Sharing your process makes you more relatable to your target audience. Be real. Stay authentic and you will be rewarded with loyal followers and new clients. Use every chance you get to do so with a photo.

Almost anything that happens in the daily life of your business is a shareable moment.

Share photos of your wins and photos of your process. For example, a photo to share could be right after you sign a new client. If you have a certain ritual that you do afterward, like drinking some tea, show your tea mug in a photo and share that you have signed this new client.

If you’re really hard pressed for photos, choose free stock photo resources that have the same look and feel as your business and select photos to share from there. Don’t worry about being perceived as a fraud or a copycat. The resources are there to keep your business successful.

  1. Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags

In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. On social outlets, it’s all about hashtags, hashtags, hashtags.

Hashtags are a way for people to find you more easily and get to know your business if they are not familiar with it already. Hashtags are important because they connect you to a broader audience and help you get in front of people who you can have as clients or people that you can partner with.

Remember to create a specific hashtag for your business. This helps you with branding your business in a professional way and it will also help you when you’re looking through your post and seeing what has been re-shared. After you’ve created a business-specific hashtag, focus on hashtags that your target market is searching for on social media.

Don’t just copy someone else’s hashtags. Find hashtags specific to each of your posts, save those in a file for later, and switch them up every other post so that your social profiles have a variety for each post. In addition to the fact that your audience will appreciate this, the algorithm that evaluates your social profile will love you for this as well. In no time, and with some luck, you’ll be able to hit the Explore page on Instagram! (That’s a huge win if you can do that).

  1. Tastefully Tag

Along with accurate hashtags, tagging profiles who are similar to yours is a good option as well.

The key is tastefully tagging. Do not tag at random. This does not help your business and it can also get your account shut down. No one wants that.

If you have recently worked with a media outlet, an influencer, or another brand, it’s a good idea to tag them within your next one to three posts.

If you’re trying to gain the attention of an outlet, influencer, or brand, and get new clients, tag them, but do it as a shout out where you’re talking about how you admired something that they do in business. That is a tasteful tag.

  1. Don’t Sell in Every Post

Getting clients on social media really comes down to not selling every single post.

Build relationships with your target audience. Get to know them, ask them questions about their life, their business, their kids, their pets. Don’t get so caught up in the fact that you want them as a client that you forget to see them as a person.

To get clients on social media for your service business, the best way to do that is to use the 80/20  rule. That rule says that 80% of your post should be focused on your audience or providing value to your audience. Then 20% of your post should be presenting a way for them to work with you or buy your product.

Conclusion

By following these steps, you set yourself up for success to get clients from social media for your business. Go over each one carefully and refer back to the list often. This is the key to get clients from your social profiles for your service business.

Do you crush it on social media? Leave a comment and let us know!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Top 100 Ways to Meet New Customers

New Customers

No matter what your field is, getting new customers is a lot of work.

When you run a small business, budgets are tight and your time is limited. Making the most of your money and resources is essential for your business’ success.

The truth is, it shouldn’t be that hard to meet new customers.

So we’re here to help.

The below 100 tips (yep, one HUNDRED) can help you market your small business effectively and connect with new customers.

1.     Create & launch a website

2.     Create a Yelp profile

3.     Ask clients to review you on Yelp

4.     Add a Google Local profile

5.     Launch a Google AdWords Campaign

6.     Start a YouTube channel with tutorials and advice videos

7.     Join Thumbtack to buy leads

8.     Subscribe to HomeAdvisor

9.     Do an Angie’s List trial

10.  Get on Groupon or Living Social and post deals

11.  Sign up for Superpages

12. Respond to Craigslist job requests

13.  Join TalkLocal to get new leads via phone

14.  Get a new client from an On Demand service, then pull them off platform

15.  Get BBB accredited

16.  Connect with leading city bloggers and ask them to review your business or sponsor a post

17.  Advertise on area blogs

18.  Write a D.I.Y blog and disseminate to your clients

19.  Write an “Ask the Expert” column for a local paper or city blog

20.  Guest blog on influential sites

21.  Engage in blog forum discussions in your area

22.  Send 1 business-oriented Tweet every day

23.  Make a Twitter list to connect with local influencers

24.  Post 1 business-oriented photo on Instagram every day

25.  Start a Facebook business page

26.  Ask clients to review you on Facebook

27.  Kick off a targeted Facebook advertising campaign

28.  Give a discount to clients who share your Facebook page

29.  Offer giveaways and promote them on social media

30.  Promote your clients online, encouraging them to share with their friends

31.  Partner with other local businesses to offer packages

32.  Join your city’s Chamber of Commerce

33.  Make flyers and hire a TaskRabbit to pass them out on neighborhood doorsteps

34.  Print business cards and hand them out to / leave them for clients

35.  Leave flyers with local apartment complexes and homeowners’ associations

36.  Place flyers in local businesses to advertise your services

37.  Advertise in church bulletins

38.  Set up a display at a farmers’ market or craft sale

39.  Sponsor a non-profit event or fundraiser

40.  Submit your business for community recognitions

41.  Attend conferences

42.  Contact local universities and offer yourself as a speaker

43.  Post your information on community boards at libraries and grocery stores

44.  Sponsor a local sports team for kids

45.  Attend new resident meetings to showcase your services to potential customers

46.  Volunteer in the community to connect with other leaders

47.  Leave branded pens behind at local businesses

48.  Advertise on pizza boxes or grocery store carts

49.  Create keychain tags and give them out at fairs

50.  Attend traditional networking events

51.  Create bookmarks with your info and donate them to the library and local schools

52.  Donate a gift certificate to charity auctions

53.  Do pro bono work for charity (networking!)

54.  Offer appreciation day specials for teachers, veterans, etc.

55.  Ask friends and family to share your information on social media

56.  Give clients a 25% discount on each referral they send your way

57.  Send happy birthday texts/emails to clients

58.  Send a thank you text when a client refers you to their friend

59.  Survey customers to identify areas of improvement

60.  Send a thank you note or update after completing a job

61.  Throw in some freebies—like candy—whenever meeting a client

62.  Start a loyalty program

63.  Send exclusive holiday offers to current customers

64.  Send a monthly newsletter to your customers

65.  Offer a coupon to new newsletter subscribers

66.  Distribute a press release to your local newspapers

67.  Write a letter to the editor of an online publication

68.  Create a media kit for reporters to use when covering your business

69.  Create an online magazine

70.  Monitor your online reputation

71.  Write an eBook

72.  Get attention – challenge other industry influencers in your writing

73.  Start a podcast

74.  Host webinars

75.  Create an e-brochure to share on region forums

76.  Join HelpAReporter.com and offer yourself to journalists as an expert in your field

77.  Write whitepapers and distribute them to people in the industry

78.  Create an online portfolio of your work

79.  Teach your expertise in an online course

80.  Buy marketing lists for email campaigns

81.  Advertise on the radio

82.  Advertise on a billboard

83.  Advertise in other people’s newsletters

84.  Cold-call new leads each day

85.  Offer mini-trials of your services

86.  Include a link to your website and a coupon code in your email signature

87.  Sponsor a Pokemon Go location

88.  Host a Meetup in your area to network and find prospective clients

89.  Put a magnet with your contact info on your car

90.  Wear a company-branded t-shirt

91.  Use Fiverr to get new logos, flyers or brochures

92.  Research the competition’s pricing and adjust as needed

93.  Offer a satisfaction guarantee

94.  Provide outstanding customer service

95.  Set up a professional answering service

96.  Post your pricing on your website

97.  Get a QR code

98.  Offer free tools or downloads

99.  Create a promotional calendar

100. Film testimonials or customer interviews.

While you may not be able to do everything on this list, experimenting with different ideas outside of your comfort zone can yield impressive results.

During the next slow season, use these tips to kickstart your marketing efforts and connect with new clients. Or start today – what are you waiting for?

Directories & Free Listings

Hair Cuts

Why are online directories helpful? For one – they’re free.

An important way to leverage these listing is to make sure your business profile and contact info are on as many of these free directories as possible.

Reason being – many clients clients do some sort of research about your business before they reach out about a job request. So the more your business is present across all these listings online, the more comfortable clients get that you’re a legit business.

In addition, as your business presence increases across many of these sites then this builds up your SEO (“Search Engine Optimization”), so that your business name has the higher likelihood of popping up high on Google search results when a client is doing a search for [service industry] in [city, state].

In addition, free listings give you a helpful platform on which to build public customer reviews and content, which will in turn help your business go viral.

What’s the deal?

Yelp is one of the more well-known websites when it comes to people searching for services.

Yelp has built a highly engaged community of consumers who are passionate about writing reviews on businesses. As a result, Yelp is very useful in terms of asking your own clients write glowing reviews to help you grow…that’s the magic here.

Once you set up a Yelp account, first – send every single client you’ve done business with in the past a link to leave a review on your profile. And don’t worry how your clients will react to this – this is not an abnormal request. Your clients won’t hate you for asking them for a review. Most customers know how helpful Yelp can be and just need to be asked directly to leave you a review. Your customers are busy with their own lives as well, so send follow up emails if clients don’t review you right off the bat. Send one, then another 1 week later, then one more 3 weeks later. Then stop. You want to remind clients to review you but 2-3 follow up emails is a good amount until emailed requests start becoming “spammy”.

Adding reviews to your profile is crucial because the more reviews you build on your Yelp profile, the higher up you show on Yelp’s search results. Essentially you’re leveraging your clients to help with marketing.

Yelp gives your current clients a voice to express their opinion of you, which puts you more prominently in front of new clients searching for services in your industry and location. Put some upfront effort in to really get clients to leave you reviews. Heck, even ask a few friends to leave you positive reviews to get the ball rolling. It depends on your industry and location, but the global rule is the more positive reviews the more likely you will reach that #1 listing…

The secondary effect in building up a Yelp profile is that many other (smaller) directories use the ratings data on Yelp as their own reviews. Yelp allows other platforms to tap into business reviews, and display Yelp reviews all over the web. So building up your brand and quality rating profile on Yelp will indeed pay dividends for you across the web.

How do I set it up?

Make sure to “claim” your business profile here: https://biz.yelp.com/  Search for your business – just so you know, sometimes Yelp will auto-add businesses to their site or clients will add businesses even without being asked by the business owner. If you do not see your business listed, then just tap on the “Add your business” link towards the bottom of the page…

Setup takes just a couple minutes, and then you are free and clear to share your business profile link to all your current clients!

What are the risks?

Yelp has been known for its sketchy “fake review” strategies. That is, if you don’t pay to advertise on Yelp (we’ll cover that in the “Paid” section of this Handbook), then they’ve been known to sick fake 1-star reviews on your account to penalize you. This topic has been widely covered and has been consistently denied by Yelp management: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/yelp-extortion/

There’s no real way to fight this risk. The one thing I will say is to make sure you have your profile on other platforms (as discussed below) as well so in case the “review-extortion” happens to you, clients can see more legitimate reviews of your business elsewhere.

What’s the deal?

Google’s basic search platform has enabled local professionals to get discovered easily online. Local and Google My Business allows you to get listed and show up on Google search results in a more relevant fashion.

Google processes over 40k search queries every second, so it makes sense that your profile should show up in search results. Adding your business profile on Google will ensure you show up in the major search engine’s results list. Similar to previous free listing sites, fill up your profile with client reviews so your business can show up as close to the top of search results as possible.

Google is always a great place to appear because it’s just a box that can be checked – in the client’s mind – about your business’s legitimacy. Not to mention, setting up your business account will allow you to delve into other Google advertising products (as discussed herein) to evaluate their usefulness in terms of growth.

How do I set it up?

Set up your business to be listed on Google: https://www.google.com/business/  You’ll be able to find your business (if it’s already listed somewhere on Google), or add it yourself. In a matter of minutes you’ll have your profile live, and it’s up to you to start sharing it with clients to update reviews!

What are the risks?

Just like with many Google products, Google My Business has not seen a lot of active investment from Google (so it seems). That means the amount of information a client can find on your Google profile is rather limited. A screenshot below is an example of what your business will look like – not as content-rich as other listing platforms.

In addition (and the sad reality), your business is always listed next to competing professionals so the client can never really get a focused view on just you with a bit of distraction.

What’s the deal?

Facebook (“FB”) is typically known as a place to simply share photos and comments with friends, but the FB team has spent a considerable amount of time and money building up its business ecosystem – specifically for small business and service providers.

Facebook just recently launched it Facebook Services search product: https://www.facebook.com/services. FB users can now search, browse and book local service professionals direcly on Facebook (albeit they are in the early stages of this search directory). Translation: you want your business to have a Facebook Business page ASAP.

Similar to Yelp, once you set up your FB business page, start filling it up with content. First off that means reviews. Send your FB page to clients and friends (either email them your link or message them your link through FB messenger) and ask them to post reviews on your page. That not only will make you look like a higher quality business to prospective clients, but will now boost your ranking on the new FB services search…

Other “content” (as I mentioned above) means photos and posts. Show off your personality, build your brand – post pictures and any relevant articles or announcements that are relevant to your business.  Even post deals or coupons. Show visiting clients that there is indeed activity and engagement going on on your FB page. Let prospective clients know that there’s a person behind that business name.

The great thing about FB is that clients can like, comment and message you – loads of ways to engage with current clients and show off engagement to leads. Not to mention – the average American spend 40 minutes a day on Facebook, so you’ll be showing activity where your future customers are spending tons of time.

How do I set it up?

Setting up is easy and free. Just go to “Create a Page” FB. Choose “Local Business or Place” as your entity, and then choose the correct “category” and sub categories…these and also your location are important so that you show up on the relevant search results when FB users are searching for service professionals around them.

One other crucial setup piece is to make sure – once your FB page is live – is to give clients a CALL-TO-ACTION on your page. That means giving them something to do once they arrive on your page, read your content, and are ready to reach out. FB added a “Book Now” call-to-action. You can link to your website or any nifty booking tool you have already set up (e.g., like an FB booking link).

What are the risks?

Facebook requires a good amount of time to keep investing in. If you set it up and don’t continue to post status updates, announcements, photos, etc., then your business can look a bit dull and inactive. That might reflect on your very brand – inactive, not particularly caring, unresponsive even. Now, that’s probably not true (since we know that most professionals like you are simply busy), but with so many professionals to choose from and so many platforms to search through, prospective clients have the ability to be picky and jump to conclusions.

Get in the habit of posting at least 2-3 times a week some sort of relevant content to make your clients feel comfortable that you are the man or woman for the job!

What’s the deal?

Craigslist used to be one of the highest trafficked sites across the internet. It was the place to go if you want to buy or list any services, products, etc.

It still is highly trafficked although not as “professional” (per se) in terms of purchasing and offering local services as its peers. But don’t get me wrong – interested clients are still on the platform.

Clients can go on and search the Services section of Craigslist:

So depending on the industry they are searching for, prospect clients can search in an industry section and browse the postings of those people who offer the requisite services. Searching for a music lessons? The choices are plentiful of local folks willing to help – each posting can be clicked on with your – the professional’s – details.

As you can probably see for yourself, the marketplaces and directories today are enhanced versions of this type of model with better design and offerings. But at the end of the day, this is commerce at in its most basic form, and a place where you can absolutely meet interested customers.

How do I set it up?

Go to the account creation page on Craigslist, and all you need is an email to set up an account. No one can browse your profile – people can only browse classifieds (that’s what Craigslist calls job posts) that you post. So go create one.

Go to your home screen and tap on the top left where it says “Post to classifieds”. Choose the “Service offered” option so your post fits in the proper category.

There you’ll be able to fill out the specifics of your skills and offerings. You can post as much or as little detail as to the services you provide in each posting. I would try to appear as legitimate and detailed as you can. Especially since Craigslist doesn’t have reviews or other types of fancy content ability as others. You can share your business information where potential leads can research more information about you.

What are the risks?

Craigslist unfortunately can be known for some sketchy dealings. There’s limited oversight so posting can definitely filter into the “adult services” bracket, which generally attracts sketchier types of folks.

Due to this risk, some people advise hiding your contact details on the postings on Craigslist at the risk of you getting low quality or sketchy people calling you. Craigslist supports hidden email addresses so clients can reach out to you via the job posting, but they can’t see your actual email address.

The site is declining in overall traffic so you can attract some potential clients on it today. Three years from now I’m guessing this won’t be part of your overall lead generation strategy.

Overall Free Business Listing Platform Thoughts

Yelp, Facebook and Google really are the “Big 3” when it comes to listing your business online to get consumers to find you.

Some other directories include Yellow Pages, Porch.com, Manta, Merchant Circle, and the Better Business Bureau. A good resource if you want to dig deep into online directories can be found here.

If you have the time, set up profiles on all these websites – it can build your SEO as you can link back to your website or Facebook Business page. Meaning you will show up organically when people Google for specific services near you.

The goal here is to just attack that low hanging fruit. You’re doing your business a disservice actually by not being listed on these directory platforms. They provide many potential clients with the easiest ways to find you. Don’t make that step difficult – you’ve already got enough things to worry about!

Social Media

Social Media

Believe it or not, the typical American checks social media 17 times every single day. One rule of thumb when it comes to trying to attract customers: Be where your clients are!

Organically introducing your business into the daily lives of consumers is a great way to build your brand and presence. Social media enables you to build your own brand for free! An effective way to get your Call to action in front of new leads.

What’s the deal with Facebook?

Facebook doesn’t just have to be a place where you simply list your business and build content in the hopes that clients find you (as discussed above). You should first set up your business online on Facebook. Test the waters posting a variety of content to build your brand and get the fundamentals down.

Then you can actually be pro-active with Facebook and seek out potential clients on the platform. Since Facebook collects information on individuals (i.e., what they “like”, what their interests are, where they live, what they engage with on Facebook, etc.), you’d be surprised how much accuracy there can be with respect to finding potential clients using FB advertising. Core campaigns you can test out are the following:

Note that with these campaigns, you’ll pay to drive interested people to your website or your FB page or to take a specific action (i.e., Engage, Like, Click). You want these people to see your page or website, and be impressed and want to call you or email you about booking you. That means, you want to have lots of great content on your FB page to increase the “conversion” of these customer visits – that is, make sure when they do come to your FB page or website, they take action!

That’s why it’s crucial to build up those FB reviews, post interesting photos, make community announcements, share articles or write blogs yourself about you and your industry. You can pay FB to drive people to your business page, but to get the most out of Facebook advertising, the key is to make that page worth going to

An added benefit to FB is the ability to re-market. What that means is, you can have people “like” your posts or page, and you’ll be able to know exactly who they are. So these are leads…leads are interested people who could become clients, but (for whatever reason) they simply aren’t ready to book you.

So you can reach out to these leads directly, and you can (more efficiently) post more pieces of content on FB which will show up in their FB feed. If you have a personal FB account (as opposed to a business account), then you know what your “feed” is – that’s the main HOME page on Facebook where you see all the various posts and ads flowing (from friends and businesses).

How do I set it up Facebook?

Before you try to set up any advertising campaigns on Facebook, visit the Facebook for Business page. From this page, you can watch simple and helpful videos about which campaigns to run and test out, such as:

·         Pay per Post Engagement

·         Per Page Like

·         Every Website Click

These videos will do a better job in describing how each ad product will work. This will give you a sense of what might work for you based on your goals.

Once you’re ready to get started, go to your Facebook Ads Manager to start a campaign. Then get underway!

You’re going to have to stay on top of these ads and iterate. Do not overwhelm yourself with tests when you get started. Play around with the audience, the copy, and the graphics on your ads. Get comfortable with how it all works before you go crazy and start spending hundreds of $’s.

What are the risks of Facebook?

I just alluded to it in the paragraph above, but these Facebook ad campaigns can be time consuming to get set up and monitor. There’s a bit of a learning curve as there are a lot of variables to pick and choose from in terms of ad copy, graphics, audience demographic, interests, “cost per” pricing model, budget, etc. Then when the campaign goes live, you need to monitor the campaign to make sure it’s performing OK.

There have also been questions around what a “LIKE” is worth. Probably one of Facebook’s most well-known engagement actions is liking something – as in like a business page. Go ahead and enter into Google search “What is a like worth on Facebook” – search results here.

With a lot of debate as to the return on investment of getting a like. One of the main reasons is because Facebook has now reduced the frequency of business page posts appearing in the news feed of those people who have indeed liked your page. FB’s argument is that they want the consumer’s feed to be more relevant to them (more info on their rationale) and less commercial. So a simple “like” won’t make your business – you need more engagement from your audience than just that.

What’s the deal with Twitter?

Twitter is a lot more fast-paced than Facebook. Typically the behavior of a lot of consumers is opening Twitter up multiple times throughout the day to read or post quick pieces of information or updates or news. As shown in the chart below, people spend ~60% less time on Twitter each day than Facebook:

Twitter provides a different scope of content with its limited 140 character rule on tweets. To be perfectly honest, consumers don’t go on Twitter to help discover someone to hire, although Twitter would probably disagree (since they are biased of course).

What you can use Twitter for is to help build your brand. Maybe post updates on jobs completed, or happy customers, or photos of the service you performed, or any interesting links about news in your industry.

A lot of white collar professionals are also on Twitter because it’s a great place to get breaking news quickly. These white collar professionals should be your clients! They know Twitter well and will respect any service professional who leverages the platform and talks about interesting industry or business information.

Use the hashtag tool! When you do tweet something, at the end of your tweet add “#” and your industry name. (Read why hashtags are important for more info.) This will organize all your tweets and content onto a public thread about that very industry topic. It simply helps organize your tweets and increases your chances of being discovered by consumers of your vertical interests.

Twitter also supports advertising products where you can pro-actively promote yourself to a target audience of Twitter users based on their demographics, profiles, and types of tweets they engage with. Call-to-actions can be clicks on your website, email address collection (for re-marketing), or simply more followers:

How do I set up Twitter?

Just head to Twitter.com and set up an account. In about 2 mins you can start tweeting anything you like. If you know anyone (friends, peers, current customers) who is on Twitter, follow them and they most likely will follow you back. This is where you start your network.

To set up advertising campaigns just go directly to Twitter Ads here. They will walk you through how you can set up different Ad campaigns based on your goals. 

What are the risks of Twitter?

I would be weary of focusing a lot of your efforts on Twitter to grow. Twitter is so fast-paced that it does not accommodate for potential clients to spending time evaluating you and your tweets. In addition, your profile on Twitter doesn’t leave a lot as it relates to client reviews and engaging content. You typically use Twitter to link back to the important stuff.

I would create a Twitter account and be somewhat active mainly as a way for prospective clients to “check the box” when evaluating you as someone to hire. Having a Twitter account will show that you are indeed social, are thoughtful, have something to say, and just improves your brand standing in the consumer’s eyes. 

As you can probably imagine, I would also advise you not spend money on Twitter. Most companies that do spend money are large companies that want to pay for impressions re brand building, or mobile apps that have easy call-to-actions (like “Download Now”) when in a tap of a button they can get a user or customer. There are plenty of other platforms that are better designed for your service based business to help you grow more efficiently.

What’s the deal with Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing app. People can join Instagram, post photos, follow friends, and attract followers.

It’s almost like Twitter but more photo/visual-focused. To cut to the chase, use Instagram if you run a business where photos are fun and important. A beautician, a pet professional, a photographer, etc. – these are all service based businesses that would be fun to follow on Instagram (and I’m talking about that personally!).

Instagram is used as a brand building tool (to show off your work), and when you get enough followers then you can go viral. As shown below, you can also include a bio and even a link – a link back to your website or even any bookings tool you have one set up.

How do I set it up Instagram?

You can download Instagram from either the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store. Note that this is primarily a mobile tool (less so desktop).

The strategy here is similar to Twitter – follow people, get them to follow you back, build a presence and post interesting stuff.

You can even pay to advertise on Instagram. Since FB owns Instagram, advertising on this photo platform is simple after you set up FB campaigns (as discussed on the above).

What are the risks of Instagram?

I would steer clear of paying for Instagram advertising. What you see are brands like Coca Cola, Uber, McDonalds, etc. – more consumer brands – advertising on Instagram as a fresh way to build brand. You’re out priced when it comes to spending on ads.

Also, you’ve got to invest the time to post continually, and – hate to say it – posts need to look good if you’re going to get any traction of interested followers. So you need to be dedicated. The risk to spending too much time is the return – when post on Twitter and Facebook, for example, that content can show up on Google search which is much more easily accessible by your clients to see. Instagram is relatively isolated to unless a client is actively search for your name or business, getting “discovered” is quite tough.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t the only social media platforms out there.

Check out others including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and more. I would prioritize LinkedIn first – not really from an advertising perspective. More so to create a profile on you the business owner. Lots of times clients Google the business owner before booking a service. LinkedIn has phenomenal SEO to the point where your profile will show up in search. It’s just a nice trustworthy source for clients to make sure you are a real person with experience.

Social Media shows your face where your clients are looking. In part also builds a personality and brand. You can make announcements, post content, engage with followers / likers. Even pay to pro-actively engage with others. Don’t let them fool you that you must spend to go viral. You won’t grow your following if you don’t have good content. Just keep on sharing what’s going on with your business and with you, and you’ll slowly but surely build up an audience who will start talking you up.