How to Market a Service Based Business on Social Media

How to Market a Service Based Business on Social Media (An Interview with Christy Laurence from Plann)

October 21, 2017

How to Market A Service Based Business on Social Media-min


Service-based businesses, I SEE you!

And, I’ve heard EVERY excuse in the book as to why Instagram isn’t the right platform for marketing your business.

“I don’t have a product to showcase, so it’s not for me”..

“My business isn’t visual or sexy, there’s no point”..

“I’m way too busy, and stuffing around on Instagram is just a waste of time”..

“I’m a builder/accountant/air-conditioning technician, my market isn’t hanging out there”..

“I’ve tried social media, and it didn’t work”..

Any of these sound familiar?


What if I could show you that Instagram CAN work for you, that your future clients ARE on there, and that if you’re in a non visual or unsexy industry there’s a good chance to stand out because your competitors and industry peers haven’t worked out how to do Instagram well (or at all)!

Would it make you consider jumping on board/amping up your current efforts?

Well, guess what..


Meet Christy Laurence.

 Christy Laurence from Plann
She’s the creator of the Plann app, an Instagram planning, scheduling and analytics app to help business owners up their Insta game and to make growing a biz online a breeze.

And she’s clearly doing something right, because there’s now 60,000+ users (including me!) on the app, PLUS she’s the 2016 Australasian Startup Founder of the Year (from StartCon).

A pretty well-equipped person to grill about all things Instagram marketing for service-based businesses, right?

So, rather than me continuing to bang on about the virtues of all things Insta-for-businesses-that-sell-services, I thought I’d fire my questions at Christy and get her expert insight.

And if her answers leave any doubt in your mind as to whether Insta is right for you, well, then I give up.

Market a Service Based Business on Social Media - Stevie Says Social

Instagram is known as such a visual medium – and it is, of course. So – the million dollar question – what does that mean for service businesses that aren’t inherently visual?

This is such a great question!

Instagram is highly visual and sometimes this does put a barrier in the minds of service based businesses but it definitely doesn’t need to be there!

The beauty of Instagram is that you’re selling a lifestyle to your target audience (your customer). So if you think about it, you’re potentially selling organisation, results, a team member or even your creativity, and these are the decisions you need to curate your gallery!

Mixed with behind-the-scenes shots (show yourself!), a consistent filter, creating photos on your phone (or free stock images online!) all you need now is story-telling-caption-writing and you’re away!

There’s a perception that Instagram is just young girls posting selfies.
Can you give us any insight into the current user base and demographics of Insta?


Woah, that’s so far from the truth!
Instagram recently hit 800M active monthly users, making it the fastest growing channel in history (the amount of people using Instagram Stories alone is more than SnapChat’s entire user-base!).

There’s also 20M businesses registered on the platform so if you’re in B2B or B2C the opportunities are huge!

Plann Instagram Feed-min

 Instagram can be such a time suck, when not used in a strategic way. Have you got any tips for time poor service-based providers that want to jump on board but don’t know where to start or don’t have the time?

Plann, obviously!

This is the exact reason I built the app, I spent too much time wondering ‘what am I going to post?’ and couldn’t have the control over my branding that I wanted.

Here’s my top 5 tips to run your Instagram account, instead of Instagram running you:

1. Organise it a week in advance, the hour you put aside once a week will save you an hour each post in the future when you’re flustered.

2. Decide what you’re promoting at the start of the week and think about Stories that could match

3. Grab your hashtags and save them in advance (The Plann app thankfully makes this really easy!)

4. Don’t overthink your captions, be authentically you.

5. Create a mixture of themes to talk about (education, inspiration, community, lifestyle) so that you’re telling a well-rounded story.

Instagram and Service Based Businesses

Do you have any examples of service-based businesses that are nailing their social media efforts? What are they doing well?

Yes, I come across them every single day!

The very first one that comes to mind is @tylerjmccall, he’s brilliant!

Tyler is consistently sharing what he learns, is vulnerable and has created a strong engagement within the community he haxs created.

He understands that by showing he’s a real person (and people buy from people!) by scattering photos of himself through images that show organised, curated, bliss.

His strategy on Instagram Stories is very real where he will discuss topical/trending so that he’s always looked at as a thought leader and trying out the newest toys and sharing results.


What should service-based businesses expect from their Insta efforts? Is it just about chasing followers and engagement, or can they actually get leads and sales if they do it right? And if so, HOW!

I would never suggest a service based business to go out thinking they’re going to get 50,000+ followers unless they’ve spent time growing a personal brand, or a huge FB group etc.

Service based businesses are more likely to be a slow burn, however are more likely to make sales through Instagram because they can build trust and with consistent posting + engaging it keeps you top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

I would suggest adding value (slightly higher skew towards the ‘education’ themes), mixed in with a few behind-the-scenes to show what you’re working on.

I’d love to give you a personal example!

One of my own pain-points I was screaming for help with was organising the Plann blog.

I was posting on Instagram about a recent blog post and I received a genuinely insightful comment with a question.

Who was this person?

‘Virtual Assistant specialising in organising the little things so you can focus on the big things!’

WHAT? This person was reading my mind.

I popped over into her gallery and saw she understood Instagram (had a theme, had quotes relevant to someone she was targeting, knew she wasn’t trying to appeal to everyone)

I literally DM’d her on the spot and gave her a 3 month contract on the spot.

Had she not been engaging with her audience, and kept up her posting, I wouldn’t have known she existed.


Instagram Visual Planner

 What are your top three tips for service-based businesses that want to up their Insta game and nail their efforts?

1. Understand who your audience is and get RIGHT inside their heads.

The Plann app helps people sure, but it’s really a tool to stop Instagram freak-outs and help people grow with a clear head (and make real sales!) without stressing about their vanity follower metrics.

By tapping into what the pain-points are I am able to relate to people much easier and craft my captions-  which means I don’t have to struggle coming up with new caption ideas.

2. Don’t ‘sell your wares’, sell the outcome.

If I was stranded on an island, I don’t care how fancy your boat is.

Show me that you can get me to the nearest place with wifi and I’m all yours.

3. Engage, Engage, Engage

OK You’ve got your feed Plann’d out, and know your best times to post. You’ve just got back an hour a day where you can spend that engaging with your audience and recruiting audience members.

Ask questions, real questions, trust me!
“I like this” or an emoji is not enough.

Here’s my favourite scenario:

You’re in a wine bar and someone says ‘wow, I really like that shirt!’. If you said “Thanks!”, you’ve just stopped the conversation, ongoing relationship, and potential collaboration.

If you’d said “Thanks! I got it at Zara and it was on sale! Do you want me to send you the link?”

Who are you more likely to be friends with?

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