Service Business Marketing: Communicate the Obvious

by Jeremy Powers on May 28, 2011

Shouting the obviousSales of your service business are weak. You can blame the economy. You can call it bad luck, bad timing, or bad karma. Maybe your service business just had some bad sales reps.  Maybe your service business needs a branding facelift and a new website.

Poor assumptions cause poor sales

There are many causes for poor sales. My bookshelves are filled with sales and marketing books, and every one of those books sketches potential reasons for poor sales.  In my experience, service companies overwhelmingly suffer from poor sales due to poor assumptions by owners and staff.

Here are some of the assumptions I commonly see:

  • “People know what this type of service costs.”
  • “Homeowners demand I be priced at or below my competition.”
  • “My company delivers the same service as my competition.”
  • “We deliver better service, and customers know it.”
  • “Prospects know what we are selling, they just can’t make a decision to buy.”

That last assumption is a business killer. It is lethal to your business to assume your prospects understand the specifics and value of your offer. You should communicate every little detail and benefit of your service as if your prospect is from another planet.

Reinforce the Obvious

Service business marketing: Talk about the obvious

Your clients know very little about all of the extras your company provides. Often, your most loyal clients are the ones that switched to another provider at some point, and then they recognized the true value of working with your company. Why is that?

The simple answer is that the competition failed to deliver. The correct answer is: most of your clients do not understand or appreciate your service because you have not helped them see what makes you better. It is not their fault; it is your responsibility to communicate what you believe is obvious and apparent.

Reinforcing the obvious benefits – When, where, and how

You company is unique. It is your responsibility to be sure the benefits and uniqueness of your business smack your current and prospective customers in the face. You can make it obvious to everyone why you are the best choice for your target market.

Obvious benefits – when should I communicate?

Always. Nonstop. Relentlessly. The old rule used to be to “3+” anything you want another person to remember. That is, it used to be you had to say the same thing three times to be sure the other party remembered you saying it.

The 3+ rule was considered a minimum in a time before all of the additional messaging noise we have today. Your prospects today receive thousands of messages each day. You need to reinforce your value consistently and relentlessly.

Obvious benefits – where should I communicate?

There are lots of paid platforms to communicate your message:  television, radio, billboards, and mail are some quick examples. There are also many free platforms you can communicate on.

Your website – Your service business website has a difficult job. It must reinforce your messaging to customers and partners, but it must also introduce your company to new prospects. You can start by checking your website against my 7 design tips for service business websites.

Your print materials – Take a look at your marketing brochures, sell sheets, and information kits. If you removed your logo from them, do they really communicate anything unique about your business?

Social Media – Reinforce obvious benefits of your company as you engage your audience on forums, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Do not promote, but inform those audiences about your industry and what makes your company unique.

Obvious benefits – how should I communicate?

Your messaging should not be coming like 105.1 MPH fastball. Slow it down. Bite-sized portions are best. Identify the top three benefits of your service, and repeatedly communicate each of them individually.

In five words or less, what is a major benefit of your service? In copy and in advertising, this is how you should be communicating what makes you better.

What are the obvious benefits of your service?

Let’s all give this a try. In the comments below, tell me, what are the obvious benefits of your service? Have you ever had an “A HA” moment where you realized a prospect was not seeing the obvious?

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Lewis Poretz

Jeremy – love how you break this down. So much of what you talk about is really nothing more than common sense. Yet so many businesses don’t get it right. – Lewis

Jeremy Powers

Thanks Lewis. I find common sense is often very rare.

It is surprisingly difficult for a business owner to understand how much about their business they know. More importantly, it is difficult for business owners to realize how little their prospects and clients know about their business.


Jeremy, Well expressed. I agree 100%

– A lot of times people are so busy pushing paperwork to run the business, they lose track of what it really takes to deliver what they are intending.

leaders have to take the time to reflect and ask themselves these kinds of questions and look to see whats going on in their communications. Lewis, I think you are right on there – sometimes we “know” things, but it helps to have someone like Jeremy put our “thoughts” and “perceived values” out there so we can say, “Yeah! I totally agree..but wait…am I doing this?”

and if not, why not?

Love the post, you laid it out perfectly. Thank you Jeremy!

Jeremy Powers

Mila – I love marketing for small businesses. The return on investment is often huge for clients, and not because I am the greatest marketer of all time. A few simple questions and a new perspective is often all that is needed.

Shahram Khorsand

Jeremy, many interesting aspects of sales and service. I work as a sales manager within capital goods and disposables. This is as true within our field as well. We assume that the customer know everything and it is a waste of time to tell them about us “again”.
Most of the time, the customers forgot or never understood in the first place. Having the sales force to re-iterate company/product/service message is crucial.
I agree in that the message should be simple, slow and always make sure or control that they have understood the core message.

Well written, looking forward to more on this subject.

Jeremy Powers

Shahram – Reinforcing the specifics and unique value of your business is always important, no matter what industry you market in.

I like your phrase “understood the core message.” The trick for many business owners is to identify a “core message” to communicate. 90% of the work is in developing the message. If the message is strong enough, buying access to communication platforms is the easy part!


Additional comment : In small businesses, you also need to reflect on whether you have the skillset to manage all this yourself. People running successful small businesses usualy have a multitude of capabilities. Small business owners have to realize that if they want to get this done right, and they have other priorities (like in the day to day) that it is definitely worth having someone come on board to get things working right for them. this investment allows more time for the business owner to focus on what they need to be doing, supports high levels of service and will inevitably increase sales. There are many options out there, don’t put this kind of thing off, because if you proceed halfheartedly, or without total focus you may harm your image costing far more than good consulting. To the ambitious small business owner: You can’t do everything – get someone to help you (delegate to SM professional) do it as well as you would do it yourself – and keep doing what you are best at! That’s success.

Disclaimer: I am not a social media consultant, and stand nothing to gain from my comments. 🙂

Jeremy Powers

Mila – This is a lesson I have had to learn too! I outsource my taxes, contract development, and several other “core” business functions.

As far as “doing everything” is concerned: when it comes to marketing, many business owners do not know what “everything” includes. The huge gaps I often see are not from lack of effort, but lack of awareness. Sometimes the biggest value an expert can bring is simply informing you of tactics and tools you did not know existed.

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