Marketing my service business – where do I start?


It’s vital you determine how far from base you’ll travel to service customers.

Many businesses find that it becomes uncompetitive for them to travel too far because the increased time, fuel and logistics makes their quotes higher, and subsequently, uncompetitive against companies located much closer to the client. It’s very true that the best work for your business is usually that closest to your base, so you need to ensure above all, that you’re ‘working’ your home patch fully as this makes the most sense.

However, many businesses find the profitability of work taken on from further afield is sustainable, particularly if they have niche products on offer or hold exclusive franchises for products and services, and hence are advised to have a dual marketing strategy in place. The first part of this strategy is hyper-local marketing which will need to ensure effective advertising saturation of the business’s own local patch – the second part of this strategy is a Regional marketing strategy devised to gain business further afield.

Hyper-local marketing
Advertising Inspector’s favoured method for marketing at hyper-local level is through delivered publications. A great format for this is A5 because it’s highly portable and compact enough to place through letterboxes.  A5 delivered magazines are generally available across most areas of Britain and mean that for your money, you get total blanket exposure. Blanket exposure is great because you know your advert is being seen in every property where the publication’s delivered – you know the job’s been done at 100% efficiency. Conversely, with non-delivered magazines and also paid-for publications and newspapers, you never know if you’ve reached everyone, this sort of uncertainty makes them unreliable.

Although there are many excellent community A5 magazines available, beware the pure ‘advertiser’ type magazines because they have dramatically reduced effectiveness- you’ll know the ones we mean, page upon page of garish advert with little else.  Read more about the pros and cons of magazine formats here.

Regional Marketing
A great format for long-reach regional marketing is the A4 glossy.  Don’t expect to find any A4 glossy magazines that are delivered across a region, the sheer volume requirements would make the cost unviable for any publisher, so the next best option is to have a decent print run and a good quality distribution network for the publication that you’re considering.  Be extremely wary of publisher claims at the A4 level.  Rates tend to be high and obtaining value-for-money difficult.  Of particular concern is how difficult it is to obtain figures of actual print runs for these type of products – you’ll often see ‘readership’ or ‘media opportunities’ quoted, but these terms have no meaning for your business, other than enabling the publisher to sidestep the single most important question – how many do they print and distribute!   If the publisher won’t or can’t give you this figure, then they have something to hide.  Equally important is access to their circulation audit – many magazines don’t have this information available – which should immediately sound alarm bells in your head.  Would you go into a shop and ask for sugar and pay £1.25 without actually knowing how much sugar the shopkeeper was going to give you? – exactly, you’d be potty if you did!

There are many regional magazines across the country and it can be difficult to really understand which ones to choose for your campaign.

The critical factors are:

  1. Print run (for free mags) or magazine sold (paid-for mags). This should all be solidly backed up with audits and/or print certificates.
    If you or your marketing agent hasn’t established the facts fully, then you’re vulnerable.
  2. Outlet network (of critical importance is the profile of outlets and breadth of cover).
    Again, evidence should be sought – failure to establish the facts may mean you’re exposed.
  3. Quality of content (see our breakdown under our Comparison Tables).
    Don’t be fooled by whitespace and waffle – good quality meaningful content will ensure the magazine gets kept on the coffee table and your advert will gain extended exposure. Also be wary of advert/advertorial coverage, an excess of which can negate any advantage that this type of long shelf-life marketing can provide.

Don’t miss out on our publication Comparison Tables – we have these available now for magazines covering Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset at glossy, A4 level (we’ll be compiling these for other counties shortly).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *