The R4 framework that makes marketing easier for service-based businesses

Ever feel like marketing is like eating an elephant? Here's how to break it down into bite sized pieces
The R4 framework that makes marketing easier for service-based businesses

Whether you’re just getting started or your business has been established for a while, it’s sometimes hard knowing exactly what areas of marketing you should be focusing on – there are so many platforms you need to be aware of, and so many bright shiny objects.

Here’s the secret – Don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one go!

You need a simple way of looking at marketing that helps you define priorities…. and that’s the framework I am going to give you today.

The 4 R’s of Marketing is the simplest way to define the different aspects of your marketing, and then what needs to be done in each of those areas.

Note: Bear in mind this is more about putting things into practice. There is pre-work that you really should consider, i.e. identifying exactly who your market is, how you solve their problems and what your offer is.

1. Reputation – The Foundation

This is where you do the work that defines the way people see you, creating the assets and properties you present to the world:

Your website and landing pages

it seems pretty obvious but it’s essential this is a professional representation of what you do. You might like to think most of your business comes from networking and referrals, but people will definitely check out your website.

What does your website say about you? Are you losing people you should have converted?

  • If it’s outdated or the visual aesthetic is off, this is a potential loss of business.
  • Does it properly address the needs of your ideal clients? You might be losing what could have been really great clients o another business with better messaging.
  • Is your offer or call-to-action weak? You might be losing visitors that will never return.

You don’t need to be reviewing and updating your website all the time, but it’s a good idea to review it at least annually to make sure you don’t even need to just tweak your messaging.

The 3rd party platforms where you have a presence

You don’t have to be on everything but recognise the channels you do want to develop a presence on and be consistent about updating them.

The reviews people are leaving on 3rd party platforms

This is something you cannot control entirely, but beyond giving good service i definitely does not hurt to make a practice of asking your clients to leave reviews. Do a search on Google now and look at the Maps results that come up – there’s a very god chance that those with more and better reviews are getting more clicks!

Main Reputation action points:

  1. Review your website
  2. Make sure your Google Business Profile, and any other platforms that are important to your business are fully completed and up-to-date
  3. Start asking for reviews from clients (for most businesses, but not all,  you would prioritise Google reviews).

2. Reach

Here’s where you focus on getting traffic to your “Reputation” assets, and if you’re not careful can be a black hole for your marketing budget. It’s important that you understand the way people will find you and prioritise those channels first.

Your Google Strategy

If there is anything that I can stress more than anything else, don’t get caught up on “free”. If your offer is right Google Ads can deliver immediate sales and positive return on investment (note that cost per click is quite expensive in some industries and may be cost prohibitive unless you have your offer really dialled in).

If you’re getting a positive ROI on Google Ads then there is no reason to stop running them, even if you are getting organic traffic.

The added benefit of Google Ads is that it can inform your SEO strategy – you’ll be able to see what people are searching for, what they are clicking on, and what leads to conversions. With this data you have a good idea of the “buyer” keywords it is worthwhile going after as part of your long term SEO strategy.

If you are a local business, focus on local SEO – optimising your Google Business Profile and making sure you are optimising for local search terms.

Your Social Media Strategy

There are sooo many social media platforms out there now. For your own sanity identify the ones that are worth your time – which ones your market is on, and you can get your content in front of.

Again, if you’re hoping to get results for “free” by posting a lot of content and hoping something goes viral, it may not be that simple. Typically, as social media platforms evolve and become more saturated their algorithms don’t tend to favour organic business content, and you will find yourself needing to pay to get reach.

It’s important if you are paying for reach that you have a strategy in place. You may find a 1-2 approach yields better results, i.e. filter your audience by first promoting content your target market would be interested in and will likely engage with, and then run your offer to those that engaged with your value-driven content – I go into more detail here.

Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing has become an increasingly important part of digital marketing – it’s an important part of SEO and drives your social media presence.

But producing content at the last minute on a whim is going to be painful, and short-lived.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how to do it:

  1. Take the time to identify your content pillars (the core categories you will right content around) – maybe 4-9.
  2. For each come up with maybe 10 topics you will produce content for – you may come up with this using keyword research, looking at what Google suggests as related searches, questions people ask you, or addressing questions people should be asking. You should have no problems coming up with 10 topics for each and now you have enough topics you can produce content for to last you a year.
  3. For each topic break it down into the sub-topics that should be addressed (in a blog post these will become subheadings or talking points for a video).

When it comes to producing content, try to get used to using video (particularly if you are selling yourself as a service, e.g. coaches and consultants, so people can essentially see what they are getting).

The reason that video makes sense is that you can share it as is, extract audio for a podcast or transcribe it and proofread it to turn it into an article, and from there you can break it up into smaller short form pieces of content to promote your complete content piece.

A big reason that video makes sense is because it can be more time effective. If it’s not overly promotional and you’re providing value then people will watch it with minimal editing – add it to your website as a blog post with a transcription under it and you cover off multiple learning styles, get out content quicker than writing a blog post (because you have to worry about grammar and punctuation), and have made it easy for Google to index your content.

Other Traffic Methods

Don’t rule out old school marketing tactics. Networking, collaboration, expos, buying placement (newsletters, Magazines, TV, radio, etc), direct mail and even cold calling may be worth considering depending on your business.

Main Reach action points:

  1. Start with paid traffic to a targeted audience with a specific offer. This will get sales in the door in the short term while you are waiting for long term strategies to bear fruit.
  2. Optimise your Google Business Profile to improve its position in Google Maps results.
  3. Invest in a block of time to come up with your content ideas and put in place a production and posting schedule (and a plan for how you will promote the content you are producing).
  4. Consider what you might target for SEO. 

3. Retargeting

Here’s the thing… People these days have myriad distractions and a plethora of choices, and they really don’t care about you!

In years gone by, we could get people to sign up for a newsletter, but that is not so easy now that people have become wary of sharing their email address and being drowned in emails from every business they displayed a fleeting interest in a year or whenever ago.

The answer… Retargeting (Google calls it remarketing).

You’ve done all of the work to get people to your website – a lot of them are researching for. future buying decision, got distracted by their child or whatever. With retargeting you can target people hat have previously engaged but not taken action yet.

You may spend a few dollars getting your ads in front of these people, but you know their definitely in the looking zone and worth targeting.

Main Retargeting action points:

Plan for this, even if you’re not advertising right now, and install the tracking code to “capture” your visitors so you can market to them when you have your ads ready to run. Some of the main platforms:

4. Reselling (or Reactivating)

If you have a database of contacts and leads then this is money waiting for you to tap.

For previous clients, you presumably already have a position of trust, i.e. you have overcome the purchasing barrier, so they are more likely to but again – whether it’s a repeat service, an upsell or a cross-sell.

For leads and enquiries that have not converted yet, a “no” is sometimes just a “not now”. Your goal is to remain in the mix so when they do decide to do something you are top-of-mind. Some may unsubscribe from your messaging, and that’s okay because you know for sure they are a dead lead then.

The secret is to continue nurturing these contacts – a promo out of the blue will not work. You must continue building on your position of trust, adding value into the relationship, so when you ask them to do something they are predisposed to do it.

Main Reselling (or Reactivating) action points:

  1. Get into a habit of emailing regularly on a consistent basis. You want people recognising you and opening your emails when you hit their inbox – the more engagement the less likely you will land in Promotions or Spam.
  2. Make this part of your content marketing – if your blogging or creating videos send it out to your list.
  3. Add value, don’t just sell.
  4. Consider SMS marketing for reactivation campaigns that have no-brainer offers…. I think a good percentage of us have received an SMS reactivation campaign from our local gym at some point offering a free week!

What’s Next?

The secret to marketing is structure – the 4 R’s give you a framework for different parts at different stages of your marketing. If you have holes in your marketing consider working on the action points I’ve outline above.

Reputation is foundational and is the core part of your digital presence – it’s where traffic converts into leads, appointments and sales so you’ll want to fix any holes there first before moving onto the rest of the R’s.

As you build up your marketing assets keep track of them, how they are performing and as required review and refresh. Look after these and your business will grow.

R4 Marketing System for Service-Based Businesses