A bird in the hand

April 18, 2018

bird in the handShort of your employees, there is no one more important to your business than your current customers. We give this incredible lip service but our actions suggest we don’t actually believe it. Think you’re different – check your marketing budget. What percentage of it is spent on your own bird in the hand – your existing clients?

There’s a level of excitement in chasing after and winning a new customer. I get it — the thrill of the hunt and all that. In many organizations, that’s where the emphasis and rewards are loaded so it makes sense that for many of us, it’s where we gravitate. But whether you own the business or are just responsible for it hitting its marketing and sales metrics – if you want to exceed the goals, focus on the people who have already demonstrated that they’re willing to give you money. It turns out they’re the most likely ones to give you even more.

Consider these facts from both a Forrester Research study and a Harvard Business Review research project:

  • Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers
  • A 2 percent increase in customer retention has the same effect as cutting costs by 10 percent
  • A 5 percent reduction in client defection can increase profits by 25-125 percent (industry specific but seriously – 25% is the low end!)
  • On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their initial purchase
  • The cost of bringing a new customer to the same level of profitability as a lost one is up to 16 times more

As companies ramp up their business development efforts sometimes their best customers feel a little less special. After all, you’re investing all of your time and energy into catching someone else’s eye even though they’ve been loyal to you for some time. When I review an organization’s marketing plan, if their current customers appear at all, they’re almost always an afterthought or certainly occupy the smallest portion of the budget. Given their importance – that seems a bit off.

Here are some ways you can make those valuable clients feel valued.

Listen when they complain: Whether it’s in person, over the phone or on a review site, when your client airs an issue – listen and learn. It’s easy to dismiss a complaint as an aberration or someone having a bad day. Don’t make that mistake. Ask a couple questions. Acknowledge your mistakes if you see the truth in their feedback and ask for an opportunity to re-earn their trust. Make them feel heard.

Give them exclusivity: The more of your smarts and insights you share with the world at large, the more you should offer your clients something you don’t give to anyone else. Hold a client-only event, create a special ebook or do something like what we do at McLellan Marketing Group – create a holiday that honors them every year. MMG’s “Who Loves Ya Baby Day” is one of our favorite days of the year.

Ask for their opinions: Don’t wait for them to speak up. Regularly solicit their feedback on your product/services, how you service them, what else you might be able to offer them that would be valuable to them. Promise to report back what you learn from the inquiry and how you’re going to change because of the input. Then, make sure you do both. Show them you will respond and they will keep helping you get better.

Your current clients helped you get to the level of success you enjoy today. They’ve earned your loyalty and attention. Don’t overlook this bird in the hand.  Serve them well and they will help you create even more success down the road.


Are you building a community?

April 11, 2018

communityLast year, I spent a weekend with my daughter and her boyfriend at a Supernatural Convention in Chicago. If you’re not familiar with the TV show Supernatural it’s in its 13th season, largely due to the huge fan base that it has built and how vocal they are about the show and its very existence. Its parent network, CW, has been close to pulling the plug more than once in its thirteen seasons but the Supernatural community rallies and puts an end to the discussion.

Beyond just watching the show, over the timespan of three years, a small team of fans documented the power of the Supernatural fandom. They raised over $100,000 on to create a 90-minute documentary on the phenomenon.

We just went because we all like the show and thought it would be fun to interact with the cast. I had no idea how huge all of this was until we experienced it first hand.

What started as a weekend lark turned out to be a crash course in creating rabid fans and a community that keeps the business end of the Supernatural franchise humming. I believe that one of the key marketing strategies that organizations need to understand, embrace and consciously invest in is that very thing – creating a fan base or community that is your foundation and strongest platform for amplifying your message.

Here’s how the Supernatural team built their community. There’s plenty of ideas for all of us to steal in their recipe.

Create an exclusive club: Everyone is not going to love you or what you sell. Don’t worry about them. Focus on the people who do. Make them feel special by inviting them to private events, sharing some secrets with them and by restricting access to only the best of the best.

So many businesses invest all of their time and money chasing after the unknown. Instead, identify the customers who deliver your most consistent and profitable sales. Who loves you the most? How can you make them feel special?

Give them access: One of the hallmarks of the Supernatural phenomenon is the amazing access the fans have to the stars of the show. At the conventions, they’re hanging around, joking with fans, posing for photos and appearing in casual Q&A sessions from the stage. They’re also active on social media, sharing fan’s tweets and posts and responding to questions and commentary.

How accessible are your leaders? Can your best customers reach them directly? Do they candidly connect with your most important audiences? Do they do it in an authentic way?

Create traditions that inspire emotional connections: One of the most impressive elements at the Supernatural convention was how they’d built some cornerstone traditions, like a Saturday night concert with the show’s stars, into the event. The convention veterans couldn’t imagine missing it and the newbies were hungry to experience it.

What traditions do your customers look forward to sharing with you year after year? If you don’t have any – maybe it’s time to create one. It could be a client only event or an annual charitable activity like working on a Habitat home that you invite them to share with you.

One of the mental shifts we all need to make when it comes to thinking about our customers is that they aren’t customers, they’re fans and the way our business survives is to grow and deepen the connection to our fan base.

Identifying, empowering and celebrating your biggest fans isn’t just fun, it’s a marketing 2018 necessity. Given the power and voice of our customers today, we can’t afford not to make sure they have plenty of good things to say.




The Like Element

April 4, 2018

LikeWe’ve talked several times about the concept that no one buys anything until they know, like and trust the company who is doing the selling. If you aren’t on their radar screen, they can’t possibly know you exist. So marketing’s first job is to identify the right audience and put us in front of them on a consistent basis until we get noticed.

Of course, getting noticed isn’t enough. Once you have their attention, you need to do something remarkable, given how many people are trying to earn their attention. You have to be relevant. And not just once — but on a regular basis. You have to matter to them long before they understand that you can help them solve a problem or achieve a goal.

This week, I want to focus on that middle phase – the like element. Our likeability is completely within our control and yet, I don’t think most businesses or marketing/sales people consciously think about how they can earn that reaction from someone. We also probably don’t give enough thought to how we taint or damage that reaction without meaning to do so.

How do we increase our likeability?

Walk a mile in their shoes: The more you can demonstrate that you understand their struggles, worries, hopes, fears, and desires – the more you can connect with them. This, by the way, does not mean asking them the irritating questions that feel canned and insincere like, “what keeps you up at night?” It’s about truly understanding it because, as best as you can, you’ve put yourself in their place.

Actually be selfless: There’s nothing more annoying than someone pretending to care or help when really what they’re trying to do is figure out a way to get to your wallet. You need to help and serve because it’s the right thing to do, not because it will benefit you financially. Many of the people you help will never spend a dime with you. But some of them will. Enough of them will to make it worth your efforts and along the way; you’ll earn the reputation of being an organization that genuinely cares about the people it encounters.

Let it get personal: You know that sales technique where they teach you to notice pictures or mementos in someone’s office and then try to connect based on those? “Hey, you like golf too?” I am definitely not talking about that. I’m talking about letting people get to know you by sharing the other elements of your life. That might be connecting with business colleagues on Facebook or weaving some personal elements into your blog posts. But being personal is all about being human.

You’re always on stage: That said, be mindful of how you present yourself because who you are does matter. There are some topics that are polarizing by nature. I’m not saying you shouldn’t post about it on your social accounts, support them with your dollars or have a strong opinion. But recognize the cost of that choice.

Don’t shy away from your mistakes: Whether you have a business that is reviewed online or just had an unhappy client express themselves in public – it’s an opportunity to show that you take good care of your customers and are willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Owning and fixing that mistake in public is actually one of the best ways to boost your likeability. Perfection isn’t believable. They know you’re human and are going to mess up. They just want to know you’re going to do something about it when you do.

While this all seems like common sense, you and I both know plenty of examples of businesses that definitely do not live by these principles. Why not earn your prospect’s business for the long haul by being genuinely likable?


Employees – your most important audience

March 28, 2018

importantCompanies fall into a very familiar pattern. We invest a significant amount of time and energy into chasing after and wooing new customers. We spend the lion’s share of our communications and marketing dollars trying to convince people who have no idea who we are that they should buy what we sell. There’s nothing wrong with that effort. But it’s not the most important, your employees are.

Some organizations are wise enough to allocate resources to continuing to woo their current clients, reassuring them that they’ve made a good buying decision, trying to serve them at a deeper level and turn them into raving fans who write reviews, drive referrals and re-purchase.

Both of those audiences, as well as influencers and other key groups, are vital to your business. I’m not suggesting you ignore them. But, I am saying that most organizations ignore or under communicate to the most critical audience you have – your employees.

You know all the reasons why they matter. They’re the ones delivering (or not) on your brand every day. They are the conduits to your customers. They have to deliver on and honor whatever your external marketing is promising. When they have no clue what your marketing is saying, it’s tough for them to have a shot at fulfilling your customer’s expectations.

And yet, despite all of that — they’re also who you talk to the least.

I’ve never met an employee for any organization (including my own) that feels like they are completely in the loop. Maybe it’s not possible. But we can do a lot better.

I believe there’s added urgency around this marketing issue. We live in a time when stellar employees are hard to find and harder to keep. Combine that with the reality that marketing’s most potent moment is woven into customer service and care right before, during and after the sale.

You cannot be successful if your team is playing at the minor league level. Your customers and prospects have too many other choices.

So how do you truly communicate with your team?

Make it a commitment: Calendar and conduct regularly scheduled all team meetings (whether that means you do it in a single conference room, over Skype, or have to travel from office to office). Monthly is probably ideal but nothing less than quarterly. In these meetings, you report on company goals, the health of your business, celebrate customer and employee successes and provide a mix of inspiration, vision, and expectations. These meetings are a wonderful time to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond, tell stories about the importance of the work you’re doing and ask for feedback on issues. It should also be where your employees feel comfortable asking questions or expressing concerns.

Tell them first: If you are launching something new (marketing campaign, product, change in policy, etc.) be sure that your team knows about it and has time to ask questions, make suggestions and talk about how they need to prepare for whatever reaction (more traffic on the floor, increased activity on the website, etc.) they believe will result from your efforts.

Create informal and safe spaces: Some of the most effective department heads or CEOs I know have taken the conversations to a more casual and impromptu level as well. They hold “drinks with Drew” or “bagels with Bob” kind of events where people can attend and participate if they want to and know it’s a safe place to ask questions or raise concerns. I have no idea what is magical about conversations held over food and drink but it works.

Bottom line – your teammates should be your #1 priority. Take good care of them and they will take good care of your customers. And there’s no better marketing tool than a delighted customer.



Making your Facebook ads work

March 21, 2018

FacebookMany “serious” businesses dismiss Facebook advertising. They think they understand the audience, and it feels too frivolous for the work they do/what they sell. I’m not going to suggest that Facebook ads are for every organization. I don’t believe any medium is. But if you’ve dismissed it without doing your homework, you may be missing a huge opportunity.

More than 1.4 billion people use Facebook to connect with the people, events, and topics that matter to them. But the beautiful thing about Facebook advertising is the precision of their targeting. If you want to talk to all 1.4 billion users, you can. If you want to talk to the people within a single zip code or even a certain radius of your business, you can do that too.

You can also segment your audience by demographics, interests or who they hang out with online. Without a doubt, the specificity of their targeting is one of the biggest advantages of this particular advertising medium.

If you’re going to use Facebook ads, there are some ways to make it work even harder for you.

Track Facebook ad traffic in Google: Be sure to use Power Editor in Facebook for your ads. When you’re creating your ad, you’ll see a field that says add UTM parameters from the destination URL. When you do that, it will let you see the traffic your ad generates in Google Analytics.

It’s not about likeability: One of the biggest wastes of ad dollars is when people use Facebook ads to generate more likes for their business page. Use your advertising dollars to move someone further along your sales funnel. Drive them from Facebook to your website or some other sales generating site.

Automate with ease: There are tools out there like AdExpresso that will allow you to automate many of the optimization options you have available to you. With AdExpresso you can do A/B testing and store all of your media, so it’s handy for building new assets, easy to understand analytics that come packed with recommendations on how to reduce waste, increase conversations and lower your cost per click.

Use lead ads: Facebook ads used to have a lousy conversion rate on mobile devices. 63% of people who clicked on a Facebook ad did so from a mobile device. But only 34% of them converted (download, sales, etc.). So Facebook has added Lead Ads to solve that problem. Now, when a mobile user clicks on an ad, all they have to do is tap a couple of times on prompts and Facebook fills out the entire form. This is a relatively new offering, but it looks promising.

Use daily budget pacing: Historically, when advertisers elected to create ads with daily budgets, it meant Facebook would spend exactly that daily budget amount each day. Usually, spending exactly the same amount every day doesn’t produce the best results; for example, tests show that allowing daily spend to vary slightly from day to day (based on the different opportunities to show ads each day) leads to equal or better cost per objective than spending the same amount every day.

Facebook now makes it possible to handle your daily budgets better. Each day Facebook will spend, on average, the daily budget that you specify. Based on the different opportunities to show ads to people in your audience each day, on some days they’ll spend less, and one some days more. But in any calendar week (Sunday through Saturday), they won’t spend more than seven times your daily budget.

Before you dismiss Facebook as an advertising medium – do some experimenting. The cost of entry is low and the potential for most organizations is pretty impressive.



Your voice is powerful

March 14, 2018

voiceOne of the most remarkable aspects of marketing in this era is that every human being is a publisher. We can write reviews that impact businesses. We can share our expertise to create a position of thought leadership. We can amplify the messages that others create/share by volleying their content to our audiences. Each of us has a voice, and it is powerful.

As I scan through my social streams, I watch people exercising that power and it seems that for many of them, they’ve missed a key consideration that comes along with that voice.

You are always on stage. No matter where you are, what you say or who you are with – it is being documented, and it paints a picture of you for all to see. Like it or not, people draw conclusions based on those glimpses into your thoughts, actions, and attitudes.

No matter what your privacy settings are – what you share is not private. Google never forgets anything and in this day of instant sharing, screenshots and phones that serve as video cameras — someone can always capture your most private moments and make them public.

We live in complicated times. Between the most polarizing presidential election I can remember, the Parkland shooting, the Black Lives Matter crisis, police being gunned down in the street, terrorist attacks happening with increased frequency and all of the other social issues – there’s a lot going on. Every one of these moments in history has the capability of inspiring deeply held emotions, opinions, and beliefs.

It’s human nature to have a very visceral reaction to these events. Heck, it’s human nature to have a strong reaction to the more personal events we individually face like canceled flights, a business deal gone bad or the loss of a loved one.

Today – some have a tendency to voice those reactions through all channels, regardless of who can access those channels. And if my social feeds are any indication, people often post those responses to these highly emotional events without thinking about how their reactions might be interpreted by the wide variety of people who see them.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t share your political beliefs, your feelings about the tragedies our country is dealing with or anything going on in your personal life. But I am suggesting that you remember you’re not just talking to a few people anymore. Everything you say, like, share or comment on becomes a reflection of who you are, both personally and professionally. We all need to have a very clear understanding of the implications of that sharing.

Depending on how/what you share – you may very well attract people to you/your business based on your common attitudes and beliefs. You may also, especially if your opinions are expressed in a very strong/pointed manner, repel people from you/your business. And it’s not just potential customers. It’s future employers (who doesn’t Google job candidates today?) and even potential employees.

If you own your own business, there’s freedom to do as you please. After all, no one is going to fire you. But there are many examples of employees being fired for what they’ve posted online.

None of us, from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to the owner or employee of a locally owned retail business, can expect our digital activities to go unnoticed or to have no consequence. Every action adds to your brand – intentional or not. Keep that in mind as you’re about to fire off your next Facebook post, tweet or share that photo on Instagram.

You are what you share. And who you are has always had a huge influence on whether or not someone chooses to do business with you. Today, more than ever.




Hire for the soft skills

March 7, 2018

hireRemember a few years ago when it was simple to hire? There were so many people that had been displaced by the recession that finding a qualified and available candidate was a piece of cake.

That is definitely not the case today. The employee shortage is real and in certain sectors, it’s a serious crisis. Not only does that make it harder to find that next vital team member but it means that every hire is even more critical because you can’t afford to make a mistake and have to start all over again.

We have all experienced the cost of a bad hire. It’s the cost of the investment you made in recruiting, interviewing, training and onboarding them. But it’s also the cost of the damage they do if they’re not as qualified as you think. The staff suffers too when you have a bad hire. Not only do they have to pick up the slack (again) while you replace the bad hire but it ripples through the fabric of your culture.

The only thing worse than a bad hire is a hire that is a bad culture fit because they don’t have the soft skills that you need. It’s easy enough to interview for and test for aptitude. It’s a completely different challenge to screen an applicant for the difficult to discern or measure traits like leadership, adaptability and how they match your culture. And yet, those are the elements that will most likely determine how successful this candidate is in your company.

Why am I talking about hiring in a marketing column? It’s simple – your employees are your biggest marketing expense. Every day their choices, behaviors, and attitudes translate your brand into how your customers and prospects see you. There is no better insight into a business’ heart and soul than to observe its employees.

We have to interview better. We need to ask more questions that give us a peek into how the person works, rather than if they can do the work. Let’s assume you use the first 10-15 minutes of an interview to determine if the candidate is able to do the tasks of the job. (You should be doing onsite testing too but that’s a different topic.)

After they’ve cleared that hurdle, most interviewers actually go into selling mode, talking about the company and trying to woo the applicant. Avoid that temptation and instead, ask questions like these to get a read on their soft skills.

  • Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you’d never done before. How did you react? How did you approach it? What did you learn?
  • What has been the biggest change you’ve ever had to deal with? How did you adapt to that change?
  • What’s the most interesting or surprising thing about you that is not on your resume?
  • What’s the biggest misperception that coworkers might have about you and what might make them think that it’s true?
  • Describe a time when you were working on a team and someone on the team did not understand you. How did you know they weren’t tracking with you and what did you do?
  • What was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make in the last six months? How did you approach it?

These are tough questions to ask and even tougher to answer. Which is the point. You’re considering setting this person loose inside your organization. They’re going to influence your team and either impress or alienate your best clients. I know it’s easier to interview with safe questions that only focus on the tasks of the job. But if you get this wrong – it’s a mistake that can cost dearly.

Ask the hard questions. Find the right brand advocate. It’s worth the effort.


Virtual Reality – see the 360° opportunities

February 28, 2018

virtual realityHow many of you or your kids have received a virtual reality headset lately as a gift? I’m here to tell you that virtual reality headsets are THE thing lately. If you’re not familiar with how they work, virtual reality (VR) is an immersive experience where your head movements are tracked in a three-dimensional world, creating visual experiences that are so real, your mind and body react as though it’s actually happening.

This concept was first introduced in the 90s but the technology was just too new and expensive to take off. Not the case anymore. For those of you in the 45+ age category, this is today’s version of when Pong hit the market. Next thing we knew, gaming systems were everywhere and marketers were scrambling to jump on board.

History is about to repeat itself. One of the things you should be thinking about as you tweak your 2018 marketing plan is how might I weave virtual reality into how we tell our story.

VR can be used to accomplish many marketing goals like:

  • Demonstrating your products features, functionality and usage
  • Sharing your brand’s bigger picture/mission through storytelling
  • Creating a branded entertainment experience
  • Drawing people to a trade booth with an interactive experience
  • Helping people “see” themselves using your product or service

The beautiful thing about VR is that, as a medium, it checks a lot of boxes that we want to have our campaigns achieve.

Novelty: This isn’t something everyone is doing. If you jump on soon, you’ll be one of the first. You can benefit from a lot of extra buzz and media exposure that will come from being out in front of the crowd.

Memorable: The human brain is wired to remember experiences that connect emotionally. We also remember the things we talk about. VR is the ideal way to deliver on that marketing goal.

Distraction free: Because the technology is so immersive, the viewer is completely engaged in the content and more focused on the messaging and story. You can talk to them without worrying about multi-tasking or fighting for their attention.

As you think about a virtual reality project, there are definitely some things you need to consider. If you’re going to take advantage of the virtual reality phenomenon that means you need to recognize that this is a very different medium. You can’t take a 2-D video or experience and hope to convert it into a 360° experience. You will have the ability to take someone into a completely new environment and you need to think of it as interactive theatre, not a theatre show they sit and watch from a distance.

For the next couple years, you’ll need to take into account that this may be their first VR experience. This is a unique opportunity to wow them and really embed your brand into their psyche. But don’t wait. This isn’t a trend of the future – it’s here and it’s not going anywhere.

Your audience can buy VR viewers like Google Cardboard for less than $25. They’re going to be hungry for brands to serve up opportunities for them experiment with the new technology. Because viewers like Google Cardboard interact with cell phones, it’s easy to get the content to them.

This probably isn’t something you have to do in 2018. But the companies that do will take a very comfortable leap ahead of their competitors. It’s rare in today’s marketing world to have the opportunity to truly do something that will put you in a different league. It’s up to you if you’re willing to take the risk to get there.



Hack your work day

February 21, 2018

hackWhether you own your own business, run someone else’s, are responsible for an entire department or just have to pack 60 hours of work into a 40ish hour work week – I feel your pain.  Don’t you wish there was a hack for that?

No matter what industry you’re in, my guess is that your workday is a little like mine. There’s never enough time and no matter how carefully you plan – unexpected fires end up dominating your day. Combine that reality with the pressures of demonstrating ROI faster and probably with fewer people and a stagnant budget; it is even more daunting.

But that’s not even the greatest source of pressure. I’ve been in business for almost 30 years and the pace of change just keeps getting faster and more disruptive. We’re moving so fast that I don’t even think we realize how dramatic the change is. Facebook has only been around since 2006. The first iPhone made its debut in 2007. Forget all of the other changes we’ve experienced. How have just those two introductions influenced your work and your life?

And guess what – it’s only going to get more disruptive and faster.

Let’s review. You’re doing more. You’re being interrupted more. You’re expected to deliver more ROI and faster, please. Oh yeah, and the world is spinning faster and faster while you try to do all of that.

If you want to have any chance of winning the game, you need to change the rules. I know I’ve had to do that to juggle running a couple of companies, serving 100 clients and producing as much content as I need to do. Here are some ways to hack your work day that help me and my team make it all happen.

Claim YOUR day: One of the best changes that have come with this work evolution is the recognition that there is no such thing as 9-5, and everyone has an optimal work window. At MMG, we have people who start at 7 am and people who roll in closer to 9:30 am. We all know when we’re at our best, and we’ve figured out how to allow everyone to work at their peak times and still honor all of the collaboration we need to do every day.

Know your cycle: You don’t have the luxury of not doing your best and most important work when you’re at your best. So you need to know when that is. And odds are, you have different ideal zones for different types of work. You need to take into account two distinct factors. When is your output at the highest level and when are you the most efficient with the work?

Make a list of the top 5-8 tasks you perform on a regular basis. Email, meetings, ideation, writing, etc. Then, spend a couple of weeks trying to do those tasks at different times of the day. Monitor/record your outputs in terms of both quality and speed. Look for patterns and then build a grid that shows when you should ideally do what. You won’t be able to honor it every day. But if you can three days out of five, you’ll be stunned at the increase in the volume and the value of your work.

Shape your schedule: If you don’t allocate and protect your thinking time, your trend tracking time and your vision creation time – it will never happen. You’ll never have a day without a fire. You’ll never have a day without too many emails. Whether it’s a full day a month or blocks of time every week – put it on your calendar now and protect it.

If you want to be at the top of your game, you’re going to have to give yourself an edge. Give these hacks a try and let me know if they’ve helped.



Be findable

February 14, 2018

findWhether you’ve had a website for a couple decades or a couple weeks – you built it so prospects could learn more about you, customers could communicate with you and potential employees could find you and check you out. For most organizations, their website is the biggest workhorse of your marketing arsenal.

But a website is definitely not a “build it and they will come” sort of marketing tactic. You need to draw people to your site. Odds are you’ve talked about search engine optimization along the way. And rightly so. When done well, SEO helps people who are looking for what you sell, find someone with your expertise and locate a place to spend their money.

If your business has a physical presence, you should not just be worried about your keywords but you also need to focus on ranking for local results. While many of the standard SEO practices we know and love benefit local SEO, there are a few other steps to take so you can start showing up in the local results for your area. There’s huge potential here, and the competition is only getting more intense as time goes on.

Local results appear for people who search for businesses and places near their location. They’re shown in a number of places across all of the search engines. But for now, we’re going to focus on Google since it owns the lion’s share of search results relevance. Let’s say you search for “Mexican restaurant” from your mobile device. Google will try to show you the kind of nearby restaurant that you’d like to visit.

You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area.  We need to fix that so that your customers can find you and know you’re close by.

After you’ve set up your website (and maybe you’ve also added a business blog and some social channels), the next step is to start optimizing for both organic search and local results. Fortunately, many of the organic search efforts, like the blog and creating links back to your site through social, will also help with your local results.

But that’s not enough.

  • Create a Google My Business Page. Be sure you fill out the page completely and include your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number), business hours and some high-quality photos.
  • Include your my Business Page on your domain email.
  • Make sure that your business listing is verified by Google. Easy and free to do, this is a biggie, so don’t skip it.
  • Put your NAP information on your site’s footer so it appears on every page.
  • Earn backlinks and citations from other local businesses and websites. Ideally, these backlinks would reference keywords that are very relevant to the work you do.
  • Encourage and earn reviews on Google, Yelp, and other sites. Link back to these review sites from your own site.
  • Utilize Schema Markup. Visit and mark your NAP information at the Schema site.
  • Make sure your website is mobile responsive and your site (both desktop and mobile) loads quickly.

Even doing a few of these will deliver better local results, and your business will reap the benefits of your effort. Google just released some data that shows that over 50% of local searches result in a visit to the local location that very same day.

Remember that this doesn’t take you off the hook for organic and potentially paid searches. You still need to drive traffic to your site to impact your rankings. The local optimization alone won’t do it. But the combination of organic, paid and local search best practices means you’ll have more people on your site and in your store!

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