And what I think you should do instead.
I've seen it time and time again. In fact I fell into the same trap when I first started my personal concierge business over 12 years ago.
How are people going to find out about me? How on earth am I going to get clients? I know! I'll pay for some advertising.
That's exactly what I did.
Now you do need to keep in mind that 12 years ago when I started my business, facebook didn't exist (maybe it had just launched but I certainly didn't know about it!) and 'social media' was a term I'm never heard of. However, I still had many other ways I could promote my business. Why did I choose to spend money on advertising?
Quite simply, because I thought that's what you were supposed to do. Every day we are inundated with all forms of advertising - billboard, radio, online, TV, junk mail...... It's no wonder most of us think paid advertising is what you do to market your business. In fact, most people use the words 'Advertising' and 'Marketing' interchangeably. I've begun to realise that when I talk 'marketing' within our forums and facebook group, some people assume I'm talking about advertising, paid advertising at that.
In fact, I'm quite passionate about undertaking marketing activities that are extremely low cost, or better still, no cost. It's a bit of a personal challenge for me. The best part, these types of activities are actually much more effective than advertising.
So why doesn't advertising work in our industry?
I'm not saying that you should never advertise and that advertising isn't right for any personal concierge business, ever. What I have found to be true is that more often than not, paid advertising simply doesn't pay off for our type of business. Firstly, most of us have an extremely low marketing budget, especially when we first start out. I shudder when I hear about people spending money on advertising in local newspapers. Secondly, it's super hard to explain exactly what a personal concierge does within the advertising space or radio time you have - unless you have a huge budget (see point 1!).
I know we talk about an elevator pitch, and I certainly think it's worth working on yours. However, I feel these are only useful to gain people's attention, so that you can then converse with them one-on-one about what you do and how you do it. An elevator pitch without room to explain exactly what you mean, which is all the time or space you usually get within a paid advertisement, will almost certainly fall flat. I believe you need the opportunity to find out more about the person or people in front of you, so that you can tailor your message to them. It's no use talking about dog walking and car servicing when they don't like animals and don't have a car. Yet with paid advertising, it's very hard to know who specifically you're talking to, so you can tailor your message appropriately.
Broaden Your Marketing Horizons
As a Business and Marketing graduate, one of the first things I learnt about at University was the 4P's of Marketing (also known as the Marketing Mix). Now, there are many different versions of this, and people also like to add more P's. Today I'm going to keep it simple, with the intention of showing you how much more there is to marketing than just advertising.
The 4 Ps of Marketing
Below I've listed the 4P's plus a fifth P that I believe is very important for our industry. My notes are just an overview, to give you an idea of what each P means.
Product - what is your product or service, what are you selling, and how is it packaged?
Place - where are you selling and how are you getting your product or service to your customers?
Price - what is your price point, what are your bundles, and what are your policies on discounts?
Promotion - how are your clients going to find out about you? Advertising, public relations, networking, public speaking, endorsements, referrals, social media, website.......(see - Advertising is just one small part of Marketing!)
+ People - this bonus P relates to the people you employ in your business, whether it's your staff, subcontractors or vendors, and how this reflects on the culture and profile of your business.
The Best Ways To Promote Your Personal Concierge Business
There is an almost endless number of ways to promote your personal concierge business (you can download my FREE eBook "50 Ways To Find New Personal Concierge Clients" for many ideas). Today I'm going to give you my personal top 6 which I believe all personal concierge business owners should focus on as a priority.
- Networking - I do tend to harp on about networking (you can see that here and here). As hinted above, I believe getting in front of people is the best way to explain what we do. You can ask questions and tailor your responses regarding potential services to suit their interests and personal situation.
- Media Coverage - If you can get interviewed for a newspaper or on radio, or have your own article published, you are going to establish a lot more credibility for yourself and your business. Plus, you will often get vastly more page inches or air time than paid advertising, and it's free! My tips for getting media coverage can be found here.
- Public Speaking - I know this can be scary and daunting, but I do believe becoming a proficient public speaker opens up lots of opportunities for you to promote your business. Imagine having a captive audience of 5, 50 or 500 people! It also means you can take advantage of impromptu opportunities that come your way, rather than shying away from the chance to share how amazing your business is. I offer my ideas on public speaking here.
- Referrals - After networking, referrals are the best way I've found new clients. This works both for established businesses and new business. You need to firstly identify who your ideal client is, and then identify people within your network who you believe would be happy to refer you to people who fit that profile. One tip is to write a short blurb on your business (focusing on the benefits for your ideal client) and email this to the people you are asking referrals from, to ensure they communicate the right message. Keep in mind, the best referrals come from current clients who love what you do!
- Website Review - I suggest you do a thorough website review to ensure you have easy ways for people to contact you, a clear description of what you do and how you do it, ensure you are focused on your ideal client and the benefits they will receive from your service, as well as testimonials, social media links, and examples of the tasks you undertake. Plus, I strongly suggest you include a photo of yourself and share information about yourself and why you've started your business.
- Social Media - Social media is great to provide examples of what you do, demonstrate your personality, and also to provide social proof through testimonials and stories. However, there are two key things to keep in mind when it comes to social media. 1. You don't need to be on everything. If you're only comfortable with facebook, stick with that. If you'd rather focus on images, then instagram may be for you. The last thing you want to do is feel overwhelmed. 2. You need to ensure your ideal client is actually on the social media platform you are using. If they're not, then you're completely wasting your time.
Overall, I'm not flat out against paid advertising. You may want to investigate Google AdWords or Facebook advertising, as an example. However, if you are automatically drawn to advertising simply because you think this is what you should be doing, then I do encourage you to consider the six options I've listed above. I feel these examples are a much wiser investment of your time and money, and if you focus on a few of them consistently, then I truly believe you will see the positive impacts on your business.
Do you have other suggestions? Do you disagree? Have you had great success advertising your personal concierge business? If so, I'd love to read yourc omments below.