Last Updated on March 11, 2023 by Lorna Barrow


cover image for 10 wrong beliefs about marketing a service you should forget

I can always tell when you’re having a particular problem out there. For example, marketing a service.


1 or 2 people, in a meeting somewhere, will ask me a certain question.


Then, in a matter of days, in a classroom in a completely different location, someone will ask me a different version of the same question.


Even in my supermarket, one of the supervisors would be glad to see me…and there would be the topic again.


This was the case last week.


Within a few days, several people had asked me about marketing a service. Me? Marketing?


Well, yes me…


You see, marketing used to be my biggest stumbling block with my training and consulting business, for a number of years.


That was until I finally accepted, if I don’t learn to market me and my business effectively, there will be no business left.


So now, when service providers ask me about marketing a service, I am happy to share what I’ve learnt over the years, because I know many of you have similar problems with marketing your services as I did.


But the one thing I discovered that’s really your biggest problem, is your beliefs around marketing a service that are quite simply wrong. Or ill-informed at best.


Sadly, they’re not only about your capacity to market your service but also about key aspects of marketing which you have not even bother to understand.


So, just for you, I will share the 10 incorrect beliefs that I know you have about marketing a service, and show you why you’re wrong about them.


My goal is simply to get you to a place where you let go of these beliefs and replace them with solid strategies to successfully market your business.


So let’s dive right in…


1. I don’t have to know marketing a service, I can outsource that

This is the most common belief of them all…after all, it was mine as well.


As a matter of fact, many service providers, creatives, independent contractors, etc believe that outsourcing saves time and it is their best option for anything that they don’t want to learn how to do.


But outsourcing has its own required skills and things to do. Here is just a sample of what you need:

  • some idea of what you want from the marketing effort
  • time to sift through potential candidates
  • to be clear about what skills your eventual candidate must have
  • to be clear what your eventual contract should contain or enough money to hire a lawyer
  • enough knowledge about marketing a service to monitor performance after you hire


So you see, even to outsource, you do have to have some knowledge about marketing.


2.  I am marketing a service business, not myself

So declare many a Trainer, Coach or Consultant.


But when you have a small business, even when it’s not in the service sector, you and your business are not as separate and distinct from each other, as people would have you believe.


Ask me, I should know. I had a children store, a confectionery store and a gym among other businesses. In all of them, it was the same thing.


Even though I had hire and trained a staff to deliver outstanding customer service, the forever cry was “Where is the Boss? She doesn’t come in anymore?”


When you’re in the services sector and you deliver those services yourself, you are not only the face of the business, you are the business.


The bottom line is, you should market yourself and your business along with each other, but you should also brand yourself separately.


Yeah…I can hear your confusion.


When you brand yourself, you can leverage yourself as a brand and easily start any business in any niche of your choice. You also stand out in any crowded space.


3.  The purpose for marketing a service is obvious

image of man discovering that when marketing a service the purpose of marketing is not always obvious

One day, in a friendly conversation, I ask a colleague what was the purpose of marketing her services.


You would have thought I had asked the woman when last she had sex!


But in telling others the story, I discovered that they felt the same way she did:


“It is very obvious why anybody would market a business!”


Just in case this is also your belief…you can have several goals for marketing your service.


You can marketing goals such as to:

  1. attract leads for your funnel
  2. increase revenue
  3. gain market share
  4. or yes, to promote your services


You see, when you know the purpose for your marketing, for example, if you outsource that marketing, you place the business or person you outsource to in a good position to help you even faster.


4.  When you’re marketing a service, everybody is a target!

Asking a Service Provider who they are targeting with their marketing is likely to elicit a similar response as #3 above.


I remember trying to help a friend write an ad for her service business and I asked her who she was targeting with the ad. Her reply: everybody, really…


Despite my best efforts, to me, the ad turned out to be as vague as her answer. 


To be successful with your marketing, you have to be very clear about the market niche you’re serving and even then, you sometimes have to target segments within that niche.


For example, my main niche is small business owners. But it can be further sub-divided into women, retailers, newbies, etc.


And within my main niche, this post is for Coaches, Trainers, Consultants, Creatives and similar service providers.


5.  I am an introvert, I’m not good at networking

Thank you for your declaration that you are an introvert. I too am an introvert. But I am also crazy about business, smart and practical.


Therefore, I understand that networking is a great way to market a service, even when you work from home. After all, as much as 80% of your business can come from your network.


I also know that networking is a skill. This means you can learn it and with practice, you can master it.


Carolyn Gregoire writing in the Huffington Post states that giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful for the introvert than having to mingle with those people afterwards.


I know this to be true. I can rock the room with a presentation but when I’m finished, I always feel like going straight home and curling up with a book.


But do I? I do not. Because I know that it’s the one-on-ones after my talks that represent my best bet for getting business.


So don’t let being an introvert make you avoid the spotlight and prevent you from marketing your services.


Just remind yourself that performers like Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Emma Watson all identify as introverts. And that’s also true for an estimated 40 percent of CEOs.


6.  I am creative…I don’t do structure

image of woman who mistook her chaos for creativity when marketing a service

Sigh…BIG sigh…


This comes up nearly every time I suggest to a newbie in the industry, that since you’re marketing a service, you need a marketing plan. Even the last young man I had this discussion with said it to me, with an air of absolute smugness:

I am  a creative! I don’t do structure!


Lord knows it took all my self-control not to ask him, equally smugly: Did Jesus ride to Jerusalem on your back?


Let me break it down for you.


A marketing plan can be a simple one-page document that describes your market niche, who you are targeting and why, and which type of strategies you are comfortable with.


However creative you brand yourself to be, when it comes to the operations part of your business, you had better install some form of structure and consistency. Your customers expect it and it will guarantee you flexibility in your business dealings.  


In addition, there are some unexpected benefits in drawing up your simple marketing plan.


When you come up with this simple plan, if you’re planning to outsource, as many of you said you would, it is a good way to be clear what you want and to communicate your requirements to the service provider. 


It also sends a strong message to the business you’re hiring to bring their best game because you know something about marketing a service. 


7.  I am different and that sells!

So am I. So is John. Sheila is too. As well as Jenny. But as marketing a service goes, that sucks.


Dear Service Provider,


There is a significant difference between you being different and what differentiates you in your chosen market.


A key aspect of your marketing, is to find out what makes you different from your competitors, and leverage that to market yourself. It’s your Unique Selling Proposition or UPS.


And how do you find this out? You Ask.


Here’s what happened to me…


I was so sure that my hot content made me different. After all, I was coming from so many disciplines, skillsets and experiences.


And then I asked some people whom I had trained and work with:

what do you like most about me when I work with you?


I was so sure of the answer, I mentally gave myself a prize for getting it right


Lordie Lord! 


The participants loved:

  1. my energy,
  2. my half-crazy personality,
  3. how I break down complex concepts into simple steps,
  4. the way I make them feel and
  5. how I rock my jeans and heels in the classroom.


Oh! And the content too…coming in way down the list.


For me that was an eye-opener. I always thought I was different but their answers were not what I expected at all!


I learnt a BIG and humbling lesson from that survey. 


Oh! and in case you’re wondering…the business owners and clients and love the fact that I design solutions to match their personalities and provide strategies with simple steps which they can implement fast.


Phew! at least I got that right…

8.  Content marketing is just about generating lots of content

Nothing could be further from the truth.


As a coach, consultant or a trainer, content marketing is actually a great way to market your service.


But it is not about generating random content.


The content has to be relevant to your target market, creative, engaging and actually readable. Not to mention SEO friendly.


You see, content marketing is really a strategy for building trust and authority and establishing you as a thought leader.


Don’t forget that people buy from people they know, like and trust.


What better way to get people to know you, then like and trust you enough to buy your services?


9.  The flashier my ads the more sales I will get

This one made me pause and start to think…because I heard it from at least 4 service providers in a short period of time.


First, I seldom do ads. That’s chiefly because I learnt early in the game that trust is a key aspect in selling any education or lifestyle services.


Unlike a product, people tend to buy a service based on referrals and testimonials from their peers.


 Therefore, putting out a flashy ad and waiting for sales…good luck with that!


Having said that, I did put an ad on Social Media for my “Public Speaking for Everyday Business People Workshop.” And it worked, but here’s why.


I was very clear who I was targeting with the workshop and by extension the ad. As a matter of fact, I specifically identify them in the ad.


Because of my writing and speaking, I had already connected with the people I was targeting and had built a significant amount of trust and respect.


Then my marketing consultant advised me about the importance of including the price and where I should include a specific colour in the ad.


I made sure that the image would resonate with my target group and at the same time, represent what I was selling.


I included a photo of myself, some bullet point info on what makes me the right person to facilitate this workshop and links to other key information.


And yes, I promoted it using Facebook paid services, targeting the demographics which their analytics told me made up my following. (did I see somewhere that they are doing away with these analytic in June. Sigh…)


Believing that a flashy ad alone can get you sales…Wrong!


10.  I don’t need to have any hotshot public speaking skills

Whenever I hear this declaration, I laugh right out loud!


I know that the declaration is as much to get my attention, as it is about what they believe about marketing their services.


You see, both in terms of my training and coaching, public speaking is my best seller. So I also laugh because I don’t have to sell meat to vegans.


But I bet you won’t believe this…


I DO agree with you that you don’t need to have hotshot public speaking skills to market any service. 


You don’t have to be able to rock a room and blitz out everybody. As a matter of fact, that might work against you.


But you DO need enough public speaking skills to be able to sell your services or tell your story. Yeah…in business, stories sell.


You also need enough public speaking skills to:

  • build confidence before you speak
  • manage your physical state when you speak
  • manage your feelings and expectations
  • figure out what backup options exist
  • own and influence your prospects
  • figure out and craft your message
  • be confident but personable when you speak


These are not hotshot skills. They’re just everyday public speaking skills…


 Marketing a service: What I want you to remember

 So…I’ve taken 10 of those wrong beliefs that I got directly from you and showed you why there are false.


Just in case I haven’t done so before, I’m specifically asking you…no I’m insisting, that you forget them, no ditch them starting now.


The best way I can help you with that is to let you know what I want you to remember.


Here’s what I mean.

 The word “marketing” has a mysterious and complex ring to it which scares you and gives rise to all sorts of misleading and false beliefs in your mind. Relax…that’s just good marketing!


While full-blown marketing might not be something you want to do, you should acquire some basic knowledge of marketing a service. It will benefit your business and serve as a source of professional development for you. 


The best marketing is about figuring out the needs of people, whether they be practical, irrational, ridiculous, sexy or exciting. Then you convince them that you’re the best person to satisfy these needs.


You’ve done a lot of marketing in your life before, you just didn’t realise it. If you’ve ever sent out a resume, gone to a job interview, gotten all dressed up or played “hard to get,” you were marketing.


Now that I have given you enough information for you to take marketing a service seriously…you can no longer ignore your half-hearted attempts to market your own services.


Starting immediately, if not sooner, do something to kick start your marketing upgrade.


Just start with the area where you think you’re weakest, and continue to take on increasingly difficult areas.


Before you know it, you will be marketing like a BOSS! 


To your marketing truths…


Marketing A Service? 10 Wrong Beliefs You Need to Ditch to Win!

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Lorna Barrow

Lorna Barrow is a Business Breakthrough Specialist, an unfiltered Transformational Speaker, a Writer, a Coach and a self-confessed Small Business Junkie. She recognises that small businesses are unique and when it comes to helping you and your business make that BIG breakthrough, she's all in for you!

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