It’s no secret that Google capitalized on creating an organized, personal, customizable schedule that is extremely user-friendly. Whether it’s creating an event, inputting your work schedule, or scheduling appointments, Google Calendars has it all.
I’ve owned my own business for over 25 years, and we serve clients around the globe, so didn’t give much thought to our own local search marketing. Yes, I know, we are a marketing company, but I’ve always focused on creating content and staying active on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But this year I opened a local coworking space, The Village Workspace, on top of running our marketing company (because why not open a space where people gather right before a global pandemic!) and that changed my focus completely around local search marketing not just for local brick and mortar companies, but for any business. There is a lot to consider and a lot you can do to help your business be more findable…especially a local business.
Here are the 5 steps you need to take (yes, NEED to take) to grow your business:
1. CLAIM YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS
I am amazed at how many local businesses do not claim their accounts on Google, Yelp, Facebook or other local review sites. Perhaps it’s a lack of time or just a lack of knowledge. I often hear both from business owners who tell me they don’t have time to manage yet another social platform or they don’t want to get negative reviews so they don’t even go there.
Consumers are more tech-savvy than most businesses and they use the tools that business owners refuse to get on board with. This is just crazy! If you are running a business, you’d better learn to use the technology to connect with consumers or hire someone who knows how to do it for you.
I hear people say “I hate Yelp. People just buy fake reviews” or “I refuse to get on Facebook, it’s all political junk now.” Here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter what you like. It matters that your consumers are using these tools and talking about you whether you’re listening or not. If you are ignoring them, you will be missing opportunities or worse, you will miss out on the feedback people have to help you improve. Now, with that off my chest, let’s talk about how to do this.
To claim your business on most of these accounts, you can simply type your business name into the platform (example: Go to Google and type in your business name). If it asks, “Is this your business?” or if you don’t see a page or profile at all… Claim it! If it is claimed you will typically see a section on the right that opens up with reviews, photos, a map, and more information.
On Facebook, when you search for your business name, you may find other pages that customers have “created” when they “check-in” and didn’t find a page already. These become Place Pages and they stay there collecting comments and reviews until the business owner claims that business. Now you have to do clean-up work to merge or delete those pages. The price to pay for neglecting your social audience all these years.
If you haven’t claimed it, you will have to verify that it is indeed your business, with Google, Facebook, or the other sites by having an automated system call the number that is publicly listed for your business or mail you a postcard with a code on it. This postcard often gets tossed out with junk mail so be on the lookout for it. You have to follow the instructions on the postcard and enter the code to validate or verify the account. It’s kind of a pain, but it’s not rocket science. Get it done.
2. GET YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS ACCOUNT READY FOR ONLINE VISITORS
Now many companies that have done step one think that’s all there is to it. WRONG! You are just getting started. If you simply signed a lease or purchased a building but did nothing else to the space, you are not ready to invite customers in. The same holds true with your online accounts. You are now ready to build out the space to soon invite people in.
Be sure to fill out your profile on any social or review platform as completely as possible. Include lots of photos, videos (if they allow it), details like your contact information, your business hours, information about parking, or finding your entrance if it can be tricky to locate the door. Anything that you can do to make it easy for people to do business with you.
Photos are very important so don’t leave this to the few ugly photos you have with trashcans in the background or that are dark and creepy looking. (I’ve seen some photos on accounts –especially restaurants—that would keep me away for decades!) If you need to hire a photographer for a couple of hours, it’s worth it. Customers will often load photos of your business when leaving reviews and these will be added to your photo area on your profile. Be sure you are mixing in some nice, well-lit images on a regular basis.
3. MANAGE YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS ACCOUNT
Now that your place is looking sharp, it’s important to keep it that way. Don’t open the doors and then abandon the shop. Customers will likely post images to your Google account, along with their reviews. Be sure to check in on your accounts at least once a week, if not DAILY. Download the Google My Business App, the Yelp for Business App, or any of the sites you are using. They all most likely have an app to help make it easier for you to manage messages, reviews, and even upload new photos on the go and with ease.
If you are uploading regular images it will help to offset the occasional bad image of your business that gets loaded by customers. When I say “bad image” I mean those images of your business looking empty or with a dirty dish on the table. You can’t take them down, but you can help others see other images mixed in.
4. CONTINUE TO BUILD YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS ACCOUNT ON GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Many don’t realize that Google My Business took the place of Google Plus, in the sense of allowing us to load a regular post and lots of information on our business pages to connect and inform our customers.
While you don’t have to post daily, it is ideal to update your posts at least every 7-10 days. Google keeps your post “in circulation” showing it prominently on your profile for about a week. Make a point to add a new post each week sharing events, promotions, or information that answers the questions of your customers.
Reviews are a huge part of your profiles on any of these sites…thus the reason they are called REVIEW SITES. Now you may think that if you build it they will come, but unlike Kevin Costner, we have to do a bit more work to get regular reviews flowing to our cornfields. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, Google field of dreams and add it to your list of must-watch movies this weekend!)
Google and other review sites want to see that you have reviews coming in regularly. If you get 10 reviews the week you open, and the people posting the review all have the same last name as you, it may seem a bit suspicious. Get those initial reviews but then make a point to ask for reviews monthly…or weekly! It’s never a great sign when you see a few great reviews all posted three years ago and nothing since.
When a customer compliments you on the service they’ve received, thank them and then ask if they would mind sharing that on Google, Yelp or Trip Advisor. Let them know where you’d love to have that review posted. Even better have cards printed up with a reminder to ‘Share the Love on ________.’ Send them a thank you email for telling you about the service they received and add a link directly to your review page on your favorite review sites.
Let people know that it is super helpful to your business and how much you appreciate it! If you do this on a regular basis, you will keep those reviews fresh and growing. This will definitely help new customers to not only find your business when they are searching, but they will see how incredible you are!
5. RESPOND TO ALL COMMENTS—GOOD, BAD OR INDIFFERENT
The last step is to manage your local search account and reply to every comment or question left for your brand. Yes, this means even the negative comments or complaints. It’s terrible when I see a business page and there are comments or great reviews and no one has bothered to respond to them.
The absolute worst thing you can do is delete a negative comment. The person will either come back and post again with even more fury or worst, they will post somewhere else where you have no control. On Google and Yelp, you can’t necessarily just remove a comment left by someone, but you can on Facebook or other review sites. DON’T DO IT! This will bring out every troll hiding under bridges and they’ll be wielding pitchforks. They can be relentless and ugly. Instead, use negative feedback as an opportunity to make things right in the public eye. Let people see how you step up and fix a problem. This will do more for your reputation than having 25 glowing 5-star reviews. Let people know how much you appreciate their positive reviews.
So when you sift through the many hats you wear as a business owner and you set that marketing hat on your head, take some time to show love to your review sites and they will in turn, show you love right back!
What other questions do you have about marketing your business? We are here to help. Be sure to jump into our DIYsocial Facebook group for tips and answers to your questions.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend four days painting at a retreat at Shake Rag Alley, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It was not online and I was not using an app at all. I was actually throwing plaster and paint on wood and canvas creating beautiful art pieces if I say so myself.
My goal was to not think about business for four days and just completely unplug, but that didn’t happen. Each day there were such amazing business lessons that emerged, it was as if I were scraping away the plaster or wiping away the paint to uncover a nugget that was just waiting for me to share. If you are starting a business, these lessons and tips will help you get and stay on track.
YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION PRECEDES YOU
Day one began before day one. It started with information being sent to students prior to the class with supplies needed and information about the instructors. Tom was our instructor for day one but there was very limited information on him. It had his photo and one piece of art that was beautiful. There was a description of the class but no website or social media information listed.
I didn’t think anything of it at first until I saw the bio and write up for our instructor for the next three days. Seth Apter had a website that was incredible. His art was gorgeous and he had lots of it on his site as well as products, workshop schedules, and links to his social channels that showed him in action. He had thousands of obvious fans and followers all commenting on how much they loved being in one of his recent classes or just on how beautiful his art was and that they couldn’t wait to attend one of his many upcoming classes.
I immediately began to stalk Seth on his social channels and even sent a few of the posts to my art-loving daughters to check out his work. While your website can provide information and evidence of your expertise, your social channels can provide social proof of your reputation. I was suddenly excited to attend his classes. His online presence was so impressive that I was expecting greatness before I even arrived. I had no doubt that I was going to be learning from a true expert.
[bctt tweet=”His online presence was so impressive that I was expecting greatness before I even arrived. ” username=”@GinaSchreck”]
What does your online presence tell people about you and your level of expertise? Do people anticipate greatness in working with you or does it need an upgrade?
BE AUTHENTIC WITH YOUR AUDIENCE, BUT SAVE THE THERAPY SESSIONS FOR YOUR THERAPIST
Tom was oddly unfriendly or shy when I first introduced myself to him. I was at the registration desk and the woman checking me in pointed to Tom and told me he was my instructor for this first day. I turned and enthusiastically introduced myself, shaking his hand and telling him I was looking forward to the class. He looked to the side and simply said, “I’m Tom.” He didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t offer any information. I do realize not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am, but I found his reaction odd for someone who was a teacher or instructor. I chalked it up to me scaring him and left it at that.
In the class, he warmed up a bit (with mine and Toni’s help) but then became a bit too comfortable. He began telling us about his other two jobs he held and how financially strapped he was. He told us about the fact he lived alone with his dog and that he had run out of dog food and had to feed him eggs and toast. That just made me start feeling awkwardly bad for him and I wanted to leave to go make sure the dog was okay. When we mentioned to him we couldn’t find his website, he said that was because he couldn’t afford to have one.
I learned quite a bit from Tom and was really pleased with my creation, but left knowing I wouldn’t take another class from him.
Being transparent and authentic with your audience does not mean you need to share EVERYTHING. Be careful not to hang your problems out like dirty laundry because the only stain that will show is the one on your reputation!
[bctt tweet=”Don’t hang your problems out like dirty laundry because the only stain that will show is the one on your reputation!” via=”no”]
FAILURES ARE SIMPLY LAYERS THAT MAKE YOU A BEAUTIFUL WORK OF ART
It is a beautiful thing when painting that you can take any mistake and just add more paint to not only cover it but add a layer of complexity, allowing the mistake to peek through beautifully. In life, we often feel as if failure is permanent and every mistake is worn like a scarlet letter. If only we could learn to see failure as a layer needed for the next color to be accentuated.
Can you look back over your life and see an event that you once labeled as a failure and you now see how that added a layer of strength or character to get you where you are today? Take the time to write it down, or better yet, take out a sketch pad and draw or paint your life’s journey, showing the valleys you have been through and the mountains you have climbed. When you go through the next valley of failure, you can perhaps look at it with an artistic eye and just add the next layer. It will turn out beautiful with enough layers.
If you are just starting your business journey and want more tips to help you get it GROWING, check out “STARTING A NEW BUSINESS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING”
Download your free resource to help you balance the HUSTLE of growing your business with TAKING CARE OF YOU!
My son called me last week to tell me he is thinking of striking out on his own to start his own business. I was so excited for him. He has been an electrician for 13 years working for large and small companies. He asked for my advice on what to do first. I get asked that question a lot but when you are telling your son, you pause and think about it perhaps a bit longer. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, so there is a lot of information I need to pour in this vessel.
Many startups ask, Should I market my business before I open the doors or do I wait until I actually have the business up and running? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The marketing comes first, that’ s which one. You must build your network BEFORE YOU NEED IT. Get out early and connect with people. Provide your expertize early and show that you are here to be a valuable member of the community not just ask people to support your new business.
When you consider what marketing is, it’s communicating and building relationships with your ideal customers. So, if you just take that concept, when should you start communicating and building relationships? As soon as you can. You want to start identifying, connecting with, and building trust and likeability with people, sometimes even before you have an actual idea for your business.
Here is the advice and help I’m giving my son on how to start and market his new business:
Let Us Get to Know YOU:
People want to learn about YOU. Not just your promotions and sales material. They want to get to know and like you through the content you share. Don’t be afraid to share a little personality with your helpful content. Being likeable is huge when it comes to converting prospects to customers and with the use of today’s tools (blogs, social posts, video content) you can easily do this.
[READ MORE ON STORYTELLING IN YOUR BUSINESS HERE: Stories of Wine and Marketing: Storytelling In Your Business]
Show us a photo of you geeking out over new tools. Snap a photo of the pet duck you find in someone’s yard when you go to a job. Share a pic of your kids holding their tools wanting to go to work with you. (Hearts start melting all over the place)
If you are a consultant or you work mostly from home, you can share a photo of your favorite writing spot or a beautiful view on your morning walk as you get centered and ready to take on a big project. This tells us something about YOU! It makes you LIKEABLE.
[READ MORE: 10 Tips on Using Instagram in Your Business]
If you are an expert in something, be sure you are sharing regular helpful tips to draw me in and show me that expertize. Just because someone claims to be an “expert” most people will want to see proof. And today that means through the content you are sharing—blog posts, social media posts, email messages, videos, etc. Share helpful tips that help me and I will appreciate you and most likely come to you when I am ready to spend money.
If you are a relationship coach or expert and we meet at a dinner party, I might end up asking you about how to deal with a coworker who sits near me and smells bad. “How would you handle that type of situation?” These tips build trust, credibility and, depending on how you answer this question, possibly likeability. Share Q&A posts like this on social or your blog.
If you are an electrician and we meet at this same dinner party, I might ask you, “How hard is it to install the new outlets that have USB ports in them? Is this something I can do on my own?” Share these answers via short Q&A videos.
Stay Mobile and Use Tools:
To do what you have to get done each day, you either need to buy some roll-over minutes to expand your 24-hours or learn to use your smartphone to stay productive in the “slivers of time.” Whether you are waiting for kids to finish soccer practice, or standing in line at the grocery store, you can get a lot of your marketing and follow up work done when you have a mobile phone with the right tools loaded on it. You can take payments, check on invoices, answer emails and so much more. A good mobile device is your office on-the-go, and what entrepreneur is not always on-the-go?
Using a social dashboard tool like Hootsuite App on your mobile, you can respond to comments or questions on the go. Having your email app on your phone allows you to be more responsive. There is no reason you should have to wait until you are home at night to respond to get back to people. If you add in MailChimp, Canva, and Quickbooks, you may never have to go back to the office again!
DOWNLOAD THIS GREAT RESOURCE TO GET YOU GOING!
When it comes to marketing your business, new or old, consistency is key. You cannot just market when you “have time.” If that were the case, it would NEVER HAPPEN! You have to make time to plan out your marketing content. For some reason when we get busy marketing seems to go by the wayside and then shortly we are not busy at all and we panic. Keeping the marketing train going will help keep your business consistent.
Use tools like Buffer to plan your marketing content and schedule it. Spend a 2-3 hours on the weekend scheduling out photos, Q&A posts answering different customer questions and links to interesting articles you have so you don’t have to worry about it while you are busy with your business. You can respond to others and add in spontaneous content as you find it or as things occur, but you will have consistent content out there even if nothing new pops up.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of people who do what you do. It is the person that keeps doing it day after day, month after month, year after year, that stays in business. Everyone knows what to do but very few actually show up every day and do it. Be consistent and show up (physically and virtually) every day and 22 years later, you’ll be telling others how to start their business!
[bctt tweet=”Everyone knows what to do but very few actually show up every day and do it. #Consistency #Marketing” username=”@GinaSchreck”]
Mistakes I Made and Things I Wish I Had Done Differently:
Build Your Email List
You will likely hear this one from any entrepreneur you meet, and it’s true, start building an email list from the beginning. Don’t keep random email addresses in your Gmail or on business cards. Sign up for an email service like MailChimp. I like Mailchimp because it is free until you have 2,000 contacts and it has free automation features to set up a sequence of emails to go out without you having to do much, once it’s set up. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing in the beginning, just sign up for this and put everyone you meet into this database. You will be happy you did.
Market When You’re Busy
Another thing I had to learn the hard way is you need to market your business even when you are so busy with current customers that you don’t think you need to. Your marketing is relationship building for the future as well as for the present. When you turn that off, you will feel it in 6 months. If you have blog posts or videos you have created, add them into a tool like SocialJukebox to put them into an ongoing post schedule. This tool will help you keep your existing, and even old content, in front of a new audience as long as you’d like. It is different from tools like Hootsuite, as this tool puts your posts into a “jukebox” and puts it on auto-replay forever. It will mix them up and play them on different days and different times. You can adjust the schedule to ensure they don’t replay too often.
I’d love to hear your challenges or fears of starting and growing your own business. Throw them in the comments area and we will chime in with some ideas for you. If you want regular tips and tools for marketing and growing your business, be sure to join us in our DIYsocial Facebook Group—It’s FREE!
Perhaps you’ve heard this term, “Lead Magnet” and wondered what it is. Maybe you’ve heard them called freebies, giveaways, value offers or a slew of other terms. The bottom-line is they are a crucial part of your marketing mix and without them, it is hard to measure your success and many times, it’s hard to get to your goals without them.
WHAT IS A LEAD MAGNET?
A Lead Magnet (I’m going to use this term but you can call them whatever you’d like) is simply a piece of content or an item of value that people would exchange their contact information for. Perhaps you would exchange your email address for a free ebook. You might sign up on a website with your email address to get 20% off an order. You enter your email address to gain access to a free webinar or online course. All of these are lead magnets. What’s NOT a lead magnet is a piece of content that just talks about YOU or your brand. Lead magnets are not promotional content. They are not a piece of sales copy. They are helpful and/or valuable content to the prospective customer.
Even if you think the item is super valuable because it tells your prospects about the services you offer…that is NOT a lead magnet. That is a promotional piece of content.
WHY SHOULD I GIVE MY VALUABLE CONTENT AWAY FOR FREE?
This is often the response of people when I say we need to take their template, their eBook, their white paper or tip sheet and give it away for free. Do you remember the days when you paid to create brochures and flyers and then you bundled them up and went to the post office and paid them to mail these? Well what did that cost you? You are going to pay for your marketing one way or the other. Why not use a method that is working for today’s consumers?
And if you are going to tell me the printed brochures do work for you, then you can get a pass on this post and get your gold star. Keep doing what’s working. But for those who need to find a way to reach today’s savvy consumer who is searching Google for answers, this is for you. Keep reading.
WHY ARE LEAD MAGNETS IMPORTANT IN MARKETING?
In marketing, we have goals such as brand awareness, building trust, increasing brand engagement, and establishing credibility, but these are harder to measure. We also have more tangible goals like building an email list, increasing website traffic, driving traffic to sales pages and helping to convert to sales. These actions are usually done with the use of lead magnets. These actions are easier to measure because there is an action people take when they download or sign up for something.
(Be sure to read last week’s post that helps you see how this all fits together to reach your strategic goals: “3 Step Formula to Ensure Your Social Media Activity Will Help You Reach Your Goal” )
Lead magnets are important because they form a bridge from EXPOSURE or AWARENESS, to TRUST and LIKABILITY. They give people a stepping stone to stand on and decide if they want more of you before you expect them to open their wallets. And the higher your price tag is the more steps you may need. You may need a free tip sheet that then gets their email and then in a series of emails you send helpful content that has a link at the bottom to download your research paper or eBook. Then you might have to invite them to a free webinar to then talk about the coaching program or consulting practice you have.
They also help start to qualify a lead and gain a small commitment from them, moving them toward a sale. If I create a piece of content that is for leaders managing teams of people in candy factories, I might just know something about the person who downloads this item.
EXAMPLES OF LEAD MAGNETS
Here is an example of some lead magnets. I’m sure there are many more we could think of, but this will get you started:
- Tip Sheet—Top 10 tips for ____.
- Resource Guide—Step-by-step guide to ______.
- Must have apps/tools for your life/business.
- e-Booklet (keep it short)
- Research findings
- Sample questions to help someone __________.
- Printable guides/cheatsheets
- Series of video tips
- Single short video course
- Discount code to use on purchase
- Free item (perhaps customer pays shipping only)
- Case studies
- Your best resources (equipment, suppliers, etc)
- Short e-Course
- Monthly HOT TIPS (aka not-so-boring-newsletter)
TIPS FOR CREATING GREAT LEAD MAGNETS
There are a few things to keep in mind as you create a lead magnet. One, you should keep them short and “digestible.” If you give me your 78 page eBook, I will probably save it for later reading…to be read right after those 900 wordy emails and 42 e-zines I have saved in that same folder. Keep the content valuable and short. You want people to download the item and use it right away to see how awesome you are. They will come back faster for more if you keep things short and sweet.
Secondly, you want to be sure the lead magnet is indeed, valuable. Just because you think it’s the most awesome piece of content you have ever seen, it doesn’t mean that people will find it valuable enough to turn over their precious email address for it. It’s like when I see, “Sign up for my newsletter.” You know someone thought that was going to draw people like goats to tin cans, but let’s get honest with one-another, who REALLY wants another email coming in? No one. But if you had something like, “Get our monthly tips and resources,” that might be more of a draw. I’ll never forget when a client told me that he subscribed to many newsletters from professional speakers and was shocked at how useless and self-promotional almost all of them were. Make sure your offer or lead magnet is really providing value.
Lastly, always but your next move or call-to-action at the bottom of your lead magnet. If I download your resource guide and love it, I find it so helpful, I will probably be in the mindset to consume some more! Have a link at the bottom or at the end that takes me to that next step.
TOOLS TO USE TO CREATE LEAD MAGNETS
Lead magnets are not created out of some special magnetic app that you must use. You can use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to create your item and then save it as a pdf (most lead magnets are saved as pdf for easy delivery and to preserve your formatting). You can have someone work their magic on the document to make it a visual wonder in Adobe Illustrator, or even have a professionally produced video piece to use…but you don’t have to.
Keep it simple but make it look professional and VALUABLE! A bunch of text thrown on an image that looks like a poster in the breakroom of the post office is not going to cut it. If you do not have an eye for design, either pay someone to lay out a template for you or use one of these tools:
Beacon is a template tool for creating guides, tip sheets and more. The monthly cost is steep ($30) but it might be worth it for a few months to build your inventory.
Canva is another tool that you could use to layout a great template and then plug your content into it.
Zoom Webinars is a great platform to host your webinars.
WHERE TO USE A LEAD MAGNET ONCE YOU HAVE CREATED THEM
Now that you’ve created a few lead magnets and have started beefing up your inventory, plan on creating one or two a month, if possible. You want enough of a variety that you don’t have to offer the same item everywhere. Here are some of the spots you can use your lead magnet to draw people in:
- End of blog posts
- Social media posts
- The end of a live or pre-recorded video
- In your newsletters
- In your email signature
- In your LinkedIn connection messages
Now it’s time…time for you to create your first lead magnet or another lead magnet if you have one that might need revamping. As you work on that, we’ll get next week’s post lined up to show you the next step in your marketing plan.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below with questions you have or other ways you have used or seen lead magnets used.
Be sure to download your FREE Strategic Planning Guide to help you map it all out and start turning all that activity into results!
It’s early on a Sunday morning. I love coming down in the morning before everyone else gets up to have some quiet time. Don’t get me wrong, I am the most extroverted person (which is a big part of my problem) and I love being around people, but without time to sit and be still the chaos of the past week and the noise of the business week ahead crowds out the creative juices that I know are inside bubbling up.
We need quiet time, whether that is each morning, or at least once a week, to let everything from our head sift down and settle a bit. It’s only then we can find the gold nuggets that need to be plucked and polished for the week ahead. These become our important items to work on for the week.
During the day when the “urgent” comes barging in, interrupting our progress, we can more calmly address it and then look over at those nuggets we have sitting in front of us and get back to our plans.
So this morning or this afternoon, get away from the noise, take a walk alone, sit by a river or in a rocking chair to find a sliver of quiet space to reflect and then let the determination for your business goals begin to bubble up and start taking shape into action items.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you find it difficult to find this quiet time to plan or do you have a process you use?
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