Allowing your customers to book your time online is an enormous opportunity. By having a presence online, the number of people who can find out about what you do, and then book an appointment with you will skyrocket. Think about how in the past you could only capture new business through word of mouth and expensive advertising – today you can attract new customers for free. Join the revolution and start taking online bookings.
That said, many small businesses and solopreneurs struggle to capitalize on the opportunity of the web. It can feel as if the internet is saturated with websites, many offering a similar proposition to your company. So, differentiating yourself and getting people onto your site then booking an appointment with you can be very hard indeed. However, with a little planning and research, you will be able to boost the number of people booking appointments on your website.
Let’s look at three things you need to get started.
1. Target audience
Developing an idea of your target audience and how to reach them over the internet is essential. You need to create a set of two to three personas which describe your ideal customers. The persona needs to answer key questions about the customer – location, age, what they might need your service for, how much money they have to spend on your product.
Case study of persona creation:
Emma offers one-to-one yoga classes in San Diego. She creates a persona of her ideal client, describing where they live, their age, gender, income, and personal timetable. Say her ideal customer is a middle-age woman living in a wealthy San Diego suburb who works full time but is free most mornings before 7.30am. Once the persona is in place, Emma can then begin developing her website and online presence to attract that kind of client – placing ads on LinkedIn targeted at her demographic, emphasizing on her online bookings page that she can provide lessons at customers’ homes early in the morning.
With a clear idea of who she wants to work with, Emma is then able to develop a strategy to get those people to book appointments via her website.
2. Create a strategy
After developing a series of in-depth personas, you next need to create a strategy to reach those kinds of people. For different kinds of businesses, this will involve very different tasks. Nonetheless, once you have a strategy, you can then follow it to ensure that you are marketing yourself consistently and professionally. An online marketing strategy needs, at the very minimum, a smart website (it doesn’t need to be over-complicated, just functional), social media marketing and email campaigns.
Let’s see what this would look like:
Mark runs a consultancy which works with small businesses in Arizona. He develops a marketing campaign built around a concept he calls ‘Mark says…’ which provides advice to the kinds of clients he works with. A key part of Mark’s social media strategy is to write one Tweet each day with a piece of ‘Mark says…’ advice. On his website, he writes a more in-depth ‘Mark says…’ blog each week. And, once each month, he sends a ‘Mark says…’ email newsletter to his existing customers.
With this consistent strategy and using the most powerful tools available for marketing himself, Mark builds up his reputation in the minds of existing customers, while fostering interest from potential new clients. This will lead to more online bookings through his website.
3. Unique Selling Proposition
Whether you have a revolutionary new idea for a business, or are carving out your place in a crowded market, to get more online bookings through your website, you need to make it clear why you are unique. You need to think about what you do that is different, why you are better than your competitors, and why your customers should hand over their hard-earned cash to you. There might be many different things that make you unique, but you need to boil this down into a simple statement to place on your website that customers can easily understand.
What would this look like?
Rosa speaks English and Spanish fluently and runs a translation business in New Mexico. She works with a range of clients on various types of translation. However, she needs to boil this down to one unique statement. By carrying out a review of all the existing clients she works with and the projects she enjoys most, she can define her business in a unique way with a statement like: “speedy, professional and prompt Spanish-English business document translation in New Mexico”.
Once this is published on the top of her webpage, on her social media profiles and in the footer of her emails, this kind of statement means people visiting Rosa’s website will immediately understand if she provides the right service for them.