I hear a lot of misinformation on how to use social media to grow a local or service based business. It would seem that business owners everywhere are being lied to en masse in order to be sold on services from digital and social media marketing agencies.
Yes…Social media is an amazing tool for becoming an authority in your space. With enough time and effort, you can be seen as a thought leader and will build relationships with prospective customers in the process. That being said, you might want to read on if that is all you are using it for.
I’ve built and advised some very large online businesses, and my partners and I have combined for over a hundred million dollars in online sales. That statement wasn’t meant as a brag; I just wanted to clarify that the tactics I am about to share with you are ones that are proven to work extremely effectively (many times through extensive trial and error).
When you are running a service-based or local business, I would argue that the aforementioned strategy is not what you need if you are looking to get new customers in the door in the near-term. I also believe that as a local business owner, you should focus on what you do best: provide your customers with a fantastic experience, so that they keep coming back, and they refer you as a trusted provider of the service to their friends and family.
Here’s a great example: If you are a dentist, massage therapist, chiropractor, HVAC business, etc., I firmly believe that writing a blog or posting content on social media every day will be a huge waste of your time if you want people in the door. These tactics can be part of a long-term branding strategy and be effective in building a position of influence, but I wouldn’t hold your breath for the bookings to be rolling in from these posts.
This is why business owners often have a negative experience with social media or have generated few results in the near-term. They are focusing on the wrong objectives and putting their time into the wrong strategies for generating an immediate surge in business.
I started wondering how I could make the tactics we have used for massive success in online sales effective and easy for local and service-based businesses to use and quickly grow their business. So, here are the 5 steps you need to take in order to use Facebook to drive incredible growth with your business:
1. Create a “Lead Magnet”
A “Lead Magnet” typically takes the form of a special promotional offer that gets people into the door to try out your new business. The offer can vary dramatically depending on the industry you are in but is usually something like a “Free trial”, “free assessment”, or a deep discount on a first appointment so that people are incentivized to give your service a shot.
Your offer must be one that a prospective customer gets excited about, and is willing to give you their name, number, and email address to “opt-in” for this. These kinds of offers are the bread and butter of generating new business through sites like Groupon. I strongly recommend a more active and controlled approach to generate business as opposed to using Groupon (which merely puts you head to head with everyone else in your industry).
2. Use Facebook Ads to Send Customers to Your Lead Magnet
Once you have created your Lead Magnet offer, you will need to create a couple variations of a “landing page”. This is a simple page that provides the details of your offer and incentivizes people to give you their contact information and then take an action (like send you an email, call for an appointment, etc).
Social media has been largely oversold to local and service-based businesses in the context of creating content and making posts all the time. Using the advertising capabilities of social media sites is really where things get exciting for you and your business.
Facebook has been the most powerful tool in our arsenal for generating millions of leads for our own and other people’s businesses. We spend over $10,000 per day advertising on Facebook, and the ability you have to laser target your potential customers is absolutely incredible. Creating and testing a variety of ads with a variety of audiences will help you hone in on the best way to get qualified people to your landing pages, accepting your lead magnets, and booking appointments.
3. Do What You Are in Business to Do
Right from a new customer’s first contact with you, there is an opportunity to turn them into a customer for life, and eventually an advocate of your business itself. The more successful I have become with online business, the more I realize that personalized and amazing customer experiences are truly the best way to grow a lasting and scalable business. You can use online marketing to generate endless leads, but unless you are delivering what you’ve promised and built real relationships, it will not be a sustainable business.
It is vitally important that you have a customer experience and satisfaction roadmap, and you prioritize creating strong relationships with your customers. Eventually, a commitment to this part of your growth strategy will mean that you no longer to advertise whatsoever, and that is why this is the most important of all of the steps in this equation.
4. Incorporate “Value Ladders”
A Value Ladder is essentially a pathway to escalate your customers into higher-priced services that you offer. Once a customer is in the door and being treated well, chances are they have the need for other services or products that you might offer. As you provide them with an awesome experience, you should tastefully introduce them to your other services (as needed… don’t push them all down every single person’s throat every single time).
When you present your value ladder properly to your customers, you can completely offset your advertising cost on Facebook, as well as your promotional costs, if only a small percentage of your clients take these “up-sells”. This is a great way for you to make sure your cash flow is intact in the short term, but also that the amount of new customers you are building relationships with is continually expanding.
5. Repeat Steps 1-4
In order to have a business that is bursting at the seams with profitability, you want to repeat steps 1-4 in this process until your pipeline is completely full. As I mentioned, the idea is to be able to dial back how much you are advertising and focus mainly on customer referrals and repeat business.
This process can take some time to complete, but it is one that will work every single time. It will allow you to open a second or third location if that is within your growth plans, or allow you to build a business that sustains itself at a very profitable level without any advertising.
I’ve helped multiple local and service-based businesses incorporate this model of generating new business, and I can tell you that this works every time in nearly every industry. All you need is the patience and willingness to figure out the right offers, targeting, and landing page configurations for your business.
If you don’t want to invest that kind of time or energy, you can totally work with an agency so that you can focus on creating that amazing experience for your customers. If your goal is rapidly and effectively growing your business, make sure they are focused on getting you qualified leads, and not simply managing your social media accounts to get you more followers. It is important to understand the difference between long-term branding benefits and short-term results.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.