How professional services can thrive in the digital age

June 27, 2017

The digital marketplace has changed the way we purchase goods and services, and conduct business from the ground up. While many professions, such as technology services and marketing agencies have naturally adapted to the shifting landscape, a globalized, streamlined form of media is challenging for professionals and tradespeople with a small, local customer base with no particular reliance on digital technology, such as plumbers, gardeners and builders. With traditional forms of media advertising failing to reach an adequate audience, these professionals are faced with the need to modernize their marketing and customer reach or risk obsolescence.

Aside from word-of-mouth, the most effective way to advertise a business was once through the Yellow Pages, but thanks to the internet, the audience has dwindled. Other forms of traditional media have seen a huge readership and viewership decline, such as the newspaper, television and radio. However, the Yellow Pages was unique in that it provided not just advertisements but a direct source for consumers to consult with and easily locate a tradesman, organized by location, profession and name. While it remains an effective way to reach customers who don’t use the internet, such as the elderly, it no longer captures the lion’s share of the market like it used to.

The fall of the Yellow Pages created an advertising vacuum, with numerous companies rushing to fill the digital space. However, when it comes to reaching customers, marketing and digital presence is only one thing a professional small-business owner has to consider. Online shopping has become a retail behemoth and has changed the way consumers will purchase goods and services. A survey found consumers’ top priority is convenience when it comes to shopping online, ranking higher than quality, and even price, and digital retailing giants such as Amazon have rushed to fill the demand with one-click shopping options and automatic renewal.

As online shopping becomes omnipresent, companies who provide services are starting to cater to the boom. Consumers can now book dinner, a haircut, a spa treatment and even a medical appointment online, and now tradesmen are finally entering the same online domain. One prominent marketer of professional trades in Britain is Plentific, where consumers search to find a tradesmen online by entering their location and service required. The system offers the choice of a flat fee for a service or a custom quote, a booking can be confirmed online, and Plentific offers a strong guarantee for their services.

Finding a tradesperson online is significantly more expensive than a haircut or a pizza, and consumers can feel uncertain about sourcing a tradesman online through a simple review or directly. The HomeOwners Alliance, the only such association in Britain, warns that reviews on an online search site can be heavily filtered, as reviews may only be left when requested the tradesman, and a third-party review site has no responsibility for the work a tradesman undertakes. The Alliance recommends using a service with a guarantee, and has partnered with Plentific because of their user-friendly, convenient online service and strong disputes resolution processes.

The growth of the internet has become a watershed moment for retail and services worldwide, and all professionals, no matter how traditional the trade, must learn quickly how to adapt to an online marketplace if they want their business to succeed.


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