3 Avenues to Profit Online: #3 Service
The final way to make money on the Internet is by offering a service. This is often a wasted or misused opportunity. Many organizations don’t really promote their service. They have a brochure site that tells a little about themselves and an overview of what they do, and nothing else. That is not promoting your service. Why? It doesn’t let the visitor engage with your organization.
It is very hard for most service based companies to sell what they do over the Internet. The exceptions to this rule are B to C organizations, with lower cost services, that people have a good understanding of, and limited package options (carpet steaming, dry cleaning, etc.) If there are too many options or the service is not immediately understood visitors will resist buying directly from the site. Even home services like a plumber meet a lot of resistance since problems and project prices can vary so much. As a general rule if an organization has to pick a package or run a quote, it will be very difficult to generate sales directly from a website.
That doesn’t mean business won’t be generated from the Internet. The site simply needs designed to start a dialogue between the organization and site visitor. The simplest form of this is a form. A contact form or request a quote form allow a visitor to put in information about their unique situation and needs. The company is then in a position to provide more service specifics and pursue a sale. This is a good technique for businesses that people tend to understand but need an idea of how the service effects their personal situation.
For businesses with more in depth services or higher priced services, the interactions need to be a little easier and tend to draw out into a relationship. For the web to help make a sale it needs to provide the visitor some information about the service and the types of problems it solves. These initial interactions could be whitepaper downloads with valuable information relating to the service. It might be an email newsletter sign up that lets them get ongoing information or offers about the service. It also might be a blog or multimedia tutorial that offers more in depth thoughts and information about the service.
In the case of more complicated services, the intent is almost always to generate a lead for the sales force. The site is not set up to make a sale but to provide an opportunity for the sales force to speak to an interested party. The trick there is making sure there isn’t a disconnect for the site visitor and that action is taken at the appropriate time.
I will write a post in the near future about site to sales disconnects and some common mistakes made in trying to move a person from site visitor to sales prospect. As for building a service business through the Internet, it’s the same as product. You have to find a market and get them to the site. From there site visitors need opportunities at genuine offers that they desire. The business is built around the service provided. The Internet is simply a vehicle to let potential clients know you exist and let them take the first step in showing interest in what your company does.