Do you feel like you’re beating your head against a brick wall trying to get more customers? Are you throwing money away on lead generation schemes without seeing any return? Wondering how your competitors can land so many new clients?
Well, I have some good news for you: There are only two reasons why you’re not getting those new customers. That’s right – only two things stand between you and more business.
The Two Problems
#1 – Potential customers don’t know you exist
#2 – They don’t believe that you can get the job done right or at the right price
Think about it …
If a potential customer hasn’t heard of you in some way, such as through ads, online search, or word of mouth, how can they possibly contact you?
Clearly, whatever you’re doing to reach them isn’t working. Maybe your ads are targeting the wrong audience, or you’re not showing up in Google searches, or none of your customers are talking about your work (or they aren’t talking about it in a positive way – and that’s a whole different problem).
The other possibility is that potential customers know who you are but for some reason you’re not on their list of possible service providers.
Maybe you don’t look like a professional business (hint: a good website and a professional email go a long way here), or they can’t find enough information about you to tell them exactly what you do, or perhaps you don’t have enough (or any) online reviews praising your services.
So which reason is it for you? What’s not working for you – your visibility or your appearance/reputation?
How to Fix the Problem
Of course, knowing why you’re not bringing in more business doesn’t help you if you don’t know what to do about it. So here are four things you can do today to increase your visibility in your local market AND help potential customers see you as the provider of choice.
Build a Good Website
If you don’t have a website for your business, get one.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive but it does have to be simple, clear, and provide a good user experience. Check out these articles for more information on what to include on a website and the mistakes to avoid.
People have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (yes, it’s a scientific fact!) and it’s getting shorter every year. Make sure they can find exactly what they need on your website within 2 seconds.
What do they need?
Your phone number (and maybe your email), your service area and the services you provide, a little about you, and a Request an Estimate form.
If they can’t find that information, they’ll leave. Immediately. And all of your hard work putting together a website has gone to waste. You’re not going to get new customers if they don’t even look at your website!
Use a Professional Email
By 2013, about 84% of email was considered spam. As a result, email providers and readers have raised the standard for what makes it through to the inbox. Between the spam filters put in place by email providers and the “rules” that email recipients create to block unwanted emails, a huge percent of emails are never delivered or end up in the junk folder.
One of the key factors affecting email deliverability is your email address. Customers (and potential customers) are expecting to see a professional email. Which looks more professional to you – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? If both of those landed in your email inbox, which would you be more likely to open? And which would end up in junk? Yeah, I thought so…
So get yourself a professional email address. One that uses the URL from your website. Of if you just don’t want a website, use Google Apps for Work to create that email. At only $5/month it’s a no-brainer.
Get Listed on Local Directories
When people are searching for a new service provider, where do they usually look? Yup, Google. Maybe Bing or Yahoo. Or maybe Angie’s List, Yelp, BBB, MANTA, etc. So are you listed there?
You can list your company on most directories for free. The more the better.
The key is to ensure that your company name, address, and phone number (called your NAP) is exactly the same on every directory. The search engines use that listing to figure out who you are – even a comma or spelling difference (e.g., Street vs St.) can make your listing not show up in the search results.
And set up a Google My Business page. It’s simple to do. Google’s the #1 search engine and it likes to show its own listings first – your Google My Business listing will likely appear at the top of the search page when someone looks for you.
The goal is to be everywhere online. When a potential customer searches online for the services you provide, you want to show up over and over again in the first few pages of the search results.
Build Your Reputation
Who would you call first – the company with 17 5-star reviews or the one with none?
It used to be that word of mouth spread between neighbors or friends. Now people look online. They don’t trust what you tell them about your services – they want to know what other people think. And even if they’ve never met those people, an online review is far more credible to them than anything you can tell them.
So build up your online reviews. The more reviews (assuming they’re positive reviews!), the more likely people are to choose you over your competitors.
Ask your regulars to write a review. And after you’ve completed a job for a new customer and you see that they’re happy with your service, ask them for a review. Don’t wait – do it on the spot.
Give them a card with the link or send them an email with a link to your Google+/Google My Business page. When you’ve collected enough reviews on Google+ (a minimum of 7 are needed for it to show up on the search results, but go for at least a dozen), then ask for reviews on Yelp. Rinse and repeat with whichever review sites are most important in your area. Focus on one at a time for best results.
None of this is difficult or especially time-consuming. But it’s the little details like these that can make or break your business. Don’t be the one left wondering how others manage to grow their business year over year – just follow the four tips above and you’ll be bringing in new customers before you know it.
If you’ve tried any of the tips above, or have any others to share, please leave me a comment below.