How to Market your Esthetician Business on Instagram

Are you a solopreneur Esthetician or an Esthetics business?

Then you’ve probably noticed (in between ordering more facial scrubs and checking your inventory of lancets) that Estheticians are killing it on Instagram. Why do you think that is?

In this article, we’ll cover the absolute need-to-know tips for crushing it on Instagram with your Esthetics business.

But before we dive into that, the first thing you need to realize is…

Instagram is basically the modern-day landing page.

When clients look up your business, they’re officially more likely to check out your Instagram page than your website.

“Why is this strange phenomenon happening?” you might ask, bewildered.

The answer is something you might not expect and it’s called… honest signals.

HONEST SIGNALS

Honest signals refers to the concept that there are certain things you can fake in order to convey something and other things you can’t fake.

A website is something you can fake. Nowadays, with the advent of easily-accessible and idiot-proof website builders like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, it’s easier than ever to make your business come across divinely professional with little-to-no coding knowledge.

Just slap together a website in 10 minutes using a pre-built template and you’re good to go!

A business Instagram page, on the other hand, although containing less overall info than a website is actually more of an honest signal because of one thing: the pictures.

Most of us grew up with the web, so we’re accustomed to fabricated images (i.e. stock pictures) and can easily discern between them and “real” pictures.

On the other hand, creating a website professionally and easily at a low cost is now a widespread commodity, making it more difficult for us to determine a business’ professionalism just going by their website alone.

10 years ago, if the business had a nice website, you were able to trust that business with a high degree of certainty. It was an “honest signal” because 10 years ago websites were actually arduous, required custom development work, and super expensive to build, conferring onto their owners a true honest signal of value and trust.

This is what the client thinks:

“Well, if they can afford a website like that, or invested that much into it, they must be a legit company.”

Nowadays, just because you have a nice website, doesn’t mean your business will be the right fit for a client.

As of this writing, with that same website, the client thinks:

“The company probably just used a template from Godaddy website builder or Wix to throw it together in a few minutes.”

Instagram, on the other hand, features prominently the photos that you choose to display.

And unlike a cookie cutter website template, it’s hard to fake good photos (given what we discussed before regarding how folks typically have an eye for spotting fake vs real photos).

So now that we’ve exposed the tricky way Instagram forces business owners to put more of the ‘realness’ of their business on display, instead of hiding in front of a well-crafted template, here is the real question:

How do we as business owners take advantage of this format instead of letting it scare us into not posting anything? (Which might be the worst thing of all – to the modern-day world of service business clients, you basically don’t exist if you don’t post online)

There are three things I’d like to discuss:

  1. Useful, relevant content (for *your customers*)
  2. Calls-to-action (you have to ask your customers to *buy*)
  3. Using the bio link wisely (you only get one)

The first of which is useful, relevant content.

USEFUL, RELEVANT CONTENT FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS

The first mistake I see Instagram business profiles make is oversell (too many calls to action) without any actual substance (useful content).

The issue with this is that your content isn’t engaging, and doesn’t draw folks in.

So your Instagram page looks like a wall of tacky neon and multi-colored flyers for your business. In fact, this may be the majority of the content you post anyway.

Think about what would be useful for your customers to know.

One great example is to post ways that they can actually avoid using an Esthetician and do it themselves.

For example, post content about how clients can take care of their own faces so they don’t need to get a facial or extractions.

Believe it or not, this actually makes them want to come see you because it does the following…

  1. Builds trust – in this example, you or your business is the authority on the topic of skin care
  2. Provides actual valuereciprocity is a strong human urge. You can delightfully encourage folks to give back by using your service to thank you for the value you’ve given them, expecting nothing in return!

More examples of useful, relevant content for Estheticians:

  • How to set up your morning skin care routine
  • How to keep your skin young with [Insert Product Here]
  • How to prepare for your first extraction or facial
  • What to do after you have a facial so you don’t ruin your perfect skin
  • When to use mud versus milk versus oatmeal versus algae
  • Why massaging your skin can be game changing
  • How to deal with the sun…is SPF1,000,000 sunscreen high enough
  • Why using too many products on your skin can be very dangerous
  • How vitamins and water are literally all you need

So now we’ve talked about Instagram business profiles that have lots of substance and value added content (and as a result growing follower base and great engagement), we’re going to take it to the other extreme:

An Esthetics business owner who posts only great content, but never asks for the sale.

CALLS TO ACTION

You’ve got to ask for the sale!

Consider this, studies show: 90% of customers won’t buy unless you ask.

With a figure like that, and all of these possible customers browsing your Instagram, you’d be crazy not to at least ask occasionally for the sale!

But what’s the best way to do that?

Several ways:

  • You can use the comments section in each of your pictures to refer folks to your bio link, and have a link to your online store or your PocketSuite booking widget there.
  • Then there’s the bio link, which some folks will directly access without looking at the comments or your pictures.
  • Instagram Stories are a great place to put a call to action (it can literally be a video of you asking folks to swipe up to claim their offer) but your account needs at least 10,000 followers to enable it, so if you have less you’ll need to direct people in your Stories to access the offer by tapping the link in your bio
  • Finally, we have the description, where you should be placing an offer so irresistible that your potential customers are just aching to tap that bio link! As an Esthetician, try a free facial with purchase of a recurring membership.

At last, we arrive at the best practice tip, which is how to make best use of the sole link in your bio.

USE YOUR BIO LINK WISELY

…because you only get one!

Instagram’s single-bio-link “feature” constraints mean you can only have 1 link in your bio.

So how do you take full advantage of this?

The best advice I can give you is simple and to the point – paste PocketSuite’s booking widget in there so clients can book your services online, right from their phone or computer.

Combine this with an amazing offer in your description and you’ve got a recipe for a bunch of new bookings coming in out of the blue from your Instagram!

Trust me, you’re going to wonder how you ever lived without it.

Aside from that, with a service like Linktr.ee you can add a whole bunch more!

I hope these 3 tips have given you enough actionable content so that you can market your Esthetics business or yourself as an Esthetician solo-preneur on Instagram effectively.

If you haven’t checked out PocketSuite’s booking widget yet, try the 7-day free trial to test drive it!

Once you’re signed up, paste it into your Instagram and let me know how many extra online bookings you get!

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!

Getting More Clients with Pokemon Go

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!

Best Communities to Help Personal Trainers Succeed

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

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

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

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.