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Leveraging the Chem-Dry Social Network (Part 1)

One of our own, Amy Diamond Ray, from Johnson County Chem-Dryasked me a great question the other day on the Facebook group that I think is worth addressing in the Digital Minute. She said (in part),
“Can you put out some information on how franchises can help other franchises using social media networking? …What helps most, as far as improving my google ratings while also improving the ratings of my fellow zees? Links? How and where is the best place, or way, to create Links with other sites within our chemdry family? Tags? Does it do any good to tag another franchise in my posts? Or In my comments?


“I see that Links and link structure are important, but can you explain where and how to get those links on a level that the franchises can understand? It seems we have a large base of franchise business sites that should be able to really help each other if they understood better just how to do that.


“I want to know what I can do on Facebook? On Instagram? Twitter? Google+/GMB? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Blogger? Tumblr? If I hashtag another franchise in the comments, does it help them at all?”
 
I’m going to try to address this as succinctly but fully as I can. To keep this digestible, I’ll break it into three parts and cover them over the coming weeks:

1) You’re part of a network. USE IT.

2) “Think before you link.” (I like that, I might trademark it.)

3) Look at the big picture.

Well, here we go.

1) You’re Part of a Network. USE IT.

One of the great advantages of being part of a franchise network is the opportunity it gives you to connect with people in the same boat as you. As we’ve seen many times over the years, you become like family and support one another professionally and personally. Some of you will attest to having some of your best friends be fellow Chem-Dry owners.

When it comes to networking your businesses online, I only have one suggestion. As my friend Starsky would say, “Do it.”

It would benefit you as a business owner to connect with other Chem-Dry owners to help each other grow. BUT, you have to do it carefully. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Instagram “Pods”: A recent trend among social media influencers (people with a large-ish following that are paid to promote products) is the concept of having a “pod” which acts like a co-op. A group of 10-30 people or businesses get together and they agree to help each other play the algorithm by commenting on each other’s posts to boost the engagement numbers. This, in turn, tells Instagram that the original poster is providing engaging content and should therefore be recommended to even more people. It’s a way of gaming the system that’s working for now, but may not work in the future.

So, if you want to, you can work together with other Chem-Dry owners to engage in each other’s content, but you have to do it in such a way that the comments and interactions feel “organic” and not robotic. For example, on a before/after that a fellow franchisee shares, you can comment with something like “That’s a great example of what Chem-Dry can do!” instead of typing “Amazing!” (which will quickly get marked as spam).

Sharing on Facebook vs. Google+: As much as I want to tell you that Google+ is a dead platform that nobody uses (which is true in some senses), it still poses some opportunities that Facebook doesn’t. When you post to Google+, make sure it’s something that refers to your website (a new blog post, a new YouTube video on your site, etc.). You can also do something similar to what I mentioned with Instagram where you co-op with other franchise owners to share each other’s content, which links back to your partner’s website and boosts SEO value. HOWEVER, sharing similarly on Facebook, doesn’t boost SEO because all Facebook traffic is tagged with a value of “no-follow” to Google, which means that when someone gets to your website from Facebook or interacts with what you post there doesn’t influence Google’s algorithm or your search rankings. But it DOES work into Facebook’s algorithm (essentially the same as Instagram because they’re the same company) and make it more likely that you’ll be recommended to a potential customer or follower.

In plain English, feel free to share each other’s posts and content on Facebook, and tag (mention the company name to create a link) your partner Chem-Dry franchisee on Facebook, but don’t expect the post to benefit you or them outside of Facebook. If you want to help each other boost your SEO (again, carefully and not to be overdone), you can share your fellow franchisee’s Google+ updates. Work together to share the brand.

Big Takeaway:

There are great advantages to being part of a branded franchise network. Use strategic partnerships with other franchisees to grow your business. Remember the following principles:

  1. You’re part of a network. Don’t waste it. USE IT.
  2. Find a group of “friend” franchises (There are 1,000+ of you, so that shouldn’t be hard).
  3. Work together to share content and support each other’s posts.

If you’d like help figuring out what you can do better, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

ScheduleCoachingCall

 

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Hunting for Customers

It’s that time of year again. Here at headquarters, we see people all around preparing for whatever hunting season it is right now (I’m not one of them). I also see social media posts about getting ready for their annual deer/hog/duck/jackalope hunts. Even if you don’t hunt, let me explain why this is on my mind.

Like Picking Apples

Envision with me, if you will, that you’re wanting to hunt ducks. You happen to live on a large plot that’s right next to a marshland FULL of mallards, teals, and wood ducks. You could literally walk out 100 yards with your dogs and your shotgun and bring in your limit within an hour or two. It would be as easy as picking apples from a low-hanging tree.

Would you rather do that or drive into the city and try your luck at the local park pond?

Now, ignoring the obvious infringement of city limit hunting ordinances, which one makes more sense? Of course, the first one! It’s obvious!

Your past customers are like these ducks sitting in the marsh behind your house. You know they’re there. They’re “expecting” to hear from you at some point. They’ve worked with you before and know you. Why would you ignore them?

Rule #1 for owning a Chem-Dry during the pre-holiday season: MARKET TO YOUR DATABASE. Use what you have available:

– Postcards from Postcard Guru or Franchise Print Shop.

– E-mail with ConstantContact.

– Voice/Text Messages w/ Specials with CallFire.

Whatever you choose (hopefully a combination of ALL of them), just DO IT!

Going for New Game

Think for a moment about hunting for new customers. Say you’d never hunted deer before and you asked a seasoned expert where you should go. He told you to get up into the mountains where they’ll be looking for available food. Would you go to the foothills and then wait for one to walk down out of their way and right past you? NO!

If you want to land new customers, you go where the new customers are. Yes, I’m speaking again of Pay-Per-Click. PPC has proven to be far and away the most reliable source for new customers for virtually every Chem-Dry franchise I talk to. Very rarely do I come across anyone that it hasn’t worked for.

New customers are searching daily for your services. Why wouldn’t you want to be one of the results they see?!

One of the great things is that we’ve done some of the hard work for you. We’ve found vendors that are not only reputable, but that are reasonably priced as well. Check out vendors like Net Search DigitalLocal Search MastersWeb Marketing Services, or Centermark. They know their stuff. If you EVER have any questions about whether or not their services will work for you, call me!

Big Takeaway:

Fall is an INCREDIBLE time of year to be a Chem-Dry franchise owner. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be working full days every day. But make sure you have your bases covered.

  1. Market to your database. Use postcards, e-mail, and phone or text messages.
  2. Find new customers through Pay-Per-Click marketing.
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Social Media, Local SEO, Pokemon & You

Adobe Spark (9)

A virtual phenomenon swept the country last year aiming to get “gamers” who stereotypically live in their parents basements, wear sweatpants, and subsist on hot pockets out into the real world, interacting with the elements. You may have heard of it – “Pokemon Go.”

While I have to admit that I tried it out and enjoyed it for a while, it became a waste of time. HOWEVER, my son has recently taken it up and since he’s only 8, I have to go around with him.

Essentially, the game consists of walking around your neighborhood or city hunting and “catching” virtual and fictitious animals with ridiculous names that you can then use to battle against other players’ collections.

But part of the game is “checking in” at various places of interest to collect supplies. They’re called “Poke-Stop’s.” Walking around with him got me thinking, “This is what Chem-Dry owners should be doing!”

You Want Me to WHAT?!…

Okay, so I don’t literally want you to go out playing a video game. You have more important things to do. But I want you look at it this way:

As a service-area business, you want to be local. SUPER local. A great way to do that is to tie your business to local places of interest. What does that mean?

Here are a few ideas:

  • When your technician gets lunch, does he/she go to a popular local diner? Have him/her snap a quick picture of their plate along with your business card.
  • Cleaning for a business? Take a picture of your team out front of the establishment before you begin. Encourage people to come by the next day to see what a great job you did.
  • Participating in a town parade? Share your parade position and what you’ll be handing out.

Ideally, you should pair a picture every time you do this (it improves engagement). But the biggest thing is that you “check in” when doing so. It’s easy.

How Do I Do That?

On Facebook (Desktop):

Click to start writing a post from your business page. Then “Check In” to a local place. If you’re not actually nearby, you can search for it and select the location.

 

Facebook Mobile:

pencil

Just touch the “Publish” icon to start typing a post (the pencil & paper one like you see over to the right).

Then, from the next screen, touch the “Check In” icon at the bottom right of your screen. Again, if you’re nearby, the place should come up automatically. If you’re not, simply search for the business and tag the listing.

It’s that easy. Now, not only will your post show up on your own Facebook page, tying you to the noteworthy location, but the place/business’s page will get a notification that you checked in there and THEIR followers will see your post as well.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Instagram (Mobile Only):

If your company is doing Instagram (which I highly recommend, in this webinar), you can kill two Pidgey’s (or birds) with one stone.

After you selected your picture and typed your caption (using the appropriate Chem-Dry hash-tags), you can flip the Facebook switch (and Twitter if you like) for your own page and then use a locale that’s recommended under “Add Location”. When you do that, you’ve accomplished the Facebook Check-In AND the Instagram one.

Big Takeaway:

Social Media and location tagging is a great, easy way for you to connect your business to the community. It doesn’t take much. A few pictures/posts each month will go a LONG way.
  1. Check in at local places of interest.
  2. Find a way to tie your business to the place.
  3. Invite customers to check out the other business to see how you did. Their customers will see your activity as well.
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Free Ads When You Start PPC

Adobe Spark (8)

Yes, you read that correctly. No, this isn’t a sales pitch. At least, not really.

Google has started doing something that I think you PPC fence-sitters will be interested in.

The Details:

Okay, I’ve seen on numerous accounts that when you start using some Google services like Google My Business, Analytics, or AdWords, they have been offering an incentive of varying amounts (they’re probably doing their due diligence as marketers and trying different offers – just like you would). These offers range anywhere from $75 to $150 depending on how much you’re willing to spend with them.

One of my favorite offers I’ve seen is that you get a $150 AdWords credit when you spend $150, thus doubling the money you put down on it.

$150 AdWords Credit

(Don’t try to use the code in the image, it won’t work. It’s expired.)

At any rate, for any of you who may have been hesitant to try out AdWords because of the cost, here’s your chance.

“But What If I’m Already…?”

Some of you may be thinking, “But that’s not fair! I’ve already been using PPC for finding new customers!”

Well, to you, I would say “You already won.” That’s right. You’ve been enjoying the benefits of having more customers, who call more often, and spend more money (see what I did there?).

Others may be wondering how this works for vendors who handle PPC for Chem-Dry franchises. The answer is “it depends”. Vendors have varying relationships with Google, so some of them may already have an even sweeter deal worked out for you. So, the bottom line is, make a phone call to a vendor to see what they can offer. If you’d like some help figuring out who to talk to, schedule a coaching call with me below and I’d be happy to work with you.

Big Takeaway:

If you haven’t gotten on the PPC bandwagon yet, NOW IS THE TIME!
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What to Do When You’re Getting Out-Bid

auction (1)-3

Some of you might remember a little while back when I talked about PPC Done Right. In that series of articles, I talked about a little-known metric in PPC called “Impression Share”. It helps you keep a pulse on how well your campaigns are doing for your budget. But, as you know, sometimes a competitor comes along and starts spending inordinate amounts of money to try and drown you out.

Here’s how to know when it’s happened and some options of what you should do about it.

How You Know It’s Happened

If you’re paying attention to the performance of your campaigns (which, you should at least be getting a monthly report from your vendor), there are some key metrics you’ll keep an eye on like Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and conversions. But one of the best metrics to watch as a barometer for your campaigns is Impression Share.

impression-share-sunnyreports

Impression share is a measurement of how often your ad shows up compared to all the relevant searches when it could have shown up. For instance, let’s say that there are 10,000 monthly searches in a particular category for your area. If your ad(s) show up 6,500 times, you have a 65% impression share.

Now, remember that every time a search occurs, your ad will go into an auction that determines whether or not your ad will show based on how much you’re willing to pay, the content of your ad, the website you’re sending it to, etc., etc. There are tons of factors. The higher your impression share, the more often you are showing up and the more likely you are to get clicks and people to your website.

HOWEVER, what if you’ve been trolling along at around 85% impression share for a while (that’s a GREAT I.S. score), and you see it take a sudden nose dive? One of two things are likely to blame:

  1. That search all of a sudden became incredibly popular and you blew through your budget quickly for that day, thus missing opportunities to advertise later on.
  2. (The more likely option) A competitor came in and spend a boatload of money on advertising trying to drown you out.

What do you do then?

Focus In On Relevance

If an sudden surge in popularity is to blame, thank your lucky stars and simply increase your budget. It’s time to make hay while the sun shines!

Adobe Spark (7)

If you owe your sudden dip to a competitor, don’t panic! You have three options. You can:

  1. Increase your own budget to try and duke it out.
  2. Simply wait out the storm counting on their pace to be unsustainable.
  3. (The best option) Focus in on what is most relevant to your business.

Here’s what I mean by “focus”. If a competitor is impacting your impression share, that means they’re going after the same customer searches that you are. BUT, you have advantages that they don’t. For instance:

  • Your Name. While there may not be a TON of customers that will search for your business by name, your competitor is almost certainly going after them. But since Google gauges the relevance of your ad to the search, you have the upper hand. Your business is much more relevant to your name than your competitor’s is.
  • Your Brand. Like your name, a competitor is going to have a harder time showing up as well as you do for “branded” searches like “Chem-Dry”. If you have a ChemDry.com premium listing, consider sending some ads to your premium page to leverage its domain authority.
    • Example: For both your name and your brand, you may have your vendor shift focus away from bidding on generic search terms like “carpet cleaning” and increase your bids on “phrase match” and “exact match” keywords involving your name and brand.
  • Focus on Value. Chances are, your competitor is going to be very price-focused. You know that price-shoppers don’t become loyal customers. Google’s very good at determining when a customer is focused on price vs value, and you want the latter. Mention the advantages of using you over the other guy in your ads. Just like Apple, BMW, and Nike, people are willing to pay a bit more when they understand the advantages.
    • Example: I would advise against advertising prices in your ads. If you do, don’t low-ball the prices. Make sure they’re competitive, but try to show the value of your service.

In general, if PPC starts getting more expensive, don’t freak out! It happens from time to time. It may just be time for you to refocus and adjust.

Big Takeaway:

Competition will come and go. But your business will stand the test of time if you keep your head and take the correct actions. Keep your head and:

  1. Increase your budget if you’re able to compete with newcomers.
  2. Recognize that a small disruption is not the end of the world. You may be able to stick it out.
  3. Focus in on what you’re best at. Advertising to what is most relevant and your competitive advantages will get you more bang for your buck.
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Tweaking Your Facebook Page for Better Local Results

CD Corporate FB Page

Facebook is an awesome place to maintain a relationship with past customers and even connect with new ones. But a challenging thing about Facebook is making it more relevant to your local service area business. Let’s talk about a couple quick tweaks you can make to your business page to get better results on a local level.

Tweak #1: Your Preferred Audience

The first quick tweak I would have you make is this: get a list of the zip codes you cover (talk to your Franchise Administration Rep, or I can even help you get it). Use that list to refine your location and the audience you’re trying to cater to.

Facebook uses your location and preferred page audience settings to make recommendations to other potential customers (usually whose friends have liked your page). While it’s nice to get page likes and followers from outside your area, you can’t service them! It’s far better to focus in on customers you can work for.

I would recommend having your vendor go in and change the settings on your page’s “Preferred Page Audience” to emphasize the “local” nature of your business. Keep it fairly high-level by not narrowing down too much with age, gender, etc., but definitely tell Facebook where you’re most interested in being found.

You can find a step-by-step tutorial here.

Tweak #2: Location and Instagram

Instagram is a growing social media platform that’s actually owned by Facebook. In fact, it’s growing so much, that in some markets and demographics, it’s actually overtaking Facebook in growth!

If you don’t have a company Instagram account, you can create one with your Facebook account. You can even have a business account AND a personal account. The nice thing about Instagram is that if you post a picture or video there, you can have it automatically share over to your Facebook page.

BUT, that’s not even the best part! When you take pictures and tag the location where you took them, you add even more local value to your post. Are you cleaning for a local restaurant or sports team? Check in at that location with your post and get your post shared on that organization’s Facebook page too!

There are a few technical things you need to work out to do this, but that’s why I’ve created this tutorial for your or your vendor.

Big Takeaway:

Social Media can be a confusing marketing practice, but it doesn’t have to be if you use tools to pair up different systems. These are just a couple examples.

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Getting Ready for Google Home Service Ads

Once again, Google is changing the game. But this time, it definitely changes in our favor.

Google has recognized its relative “weakness” in helping independently owned and operated local service area businesses show up more prominently than the national behemoths. However, as always, we have to be willing to play their game – again.

What’s Happened?

google-home-services-ads-mobile-11-21-16

Google has announced that they are moving forward with testing in major cities with a new platform for service-based businesses called Google Home Service ads. They’re an extension of their ever-popular AdWords platform, but there are some extra criteria that have to be met in order to participate.

Since each of these ads will have “Google Guaranteed” on them (see the picture), you can bet that you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to earn the green badge.

Google hasn’t released all the details yet on how you’ll get the “green stamp of approval”. So what can you do to get in on the action here? Well, I’ll do my best to keep you posted as the criteria are released, but let’s start with one of the foundations you should already be working on – Reviews.

Getting Ready

Getting great reviews is not complicated. In fact, it’s easy and a GREAT way to influence your SEO.

But in this case, it seems to be one of the key drivers that will lead to your success in offer Google Home Services Ads.

The quantity and quality of your Google reviews will ultimately contribute the most weight to your listing.

Now, these ads will have a cost associated with them. Google doesn’t do just about anything for free (well, except these). BUT for relevant searches like “Chicago carpet cleaning”, you’ll show up at the very top of the page. Above other ads, map listings, and other websites. That’s POWERFUL.

I’m anticipating that they will run these home services ads much like their AdWords platform, which means the “bid” (amount you’re willing to pay) won’t be the key indicator they’re looking at. It’s going to come down to:

1) Who has the best and most reviews?

2) Who is going to be able to service the customer I give them the best or quickest?

Look at it as if Google is giving you a paid referral. The click on your ad is just a 2-5% cut that you send them as a “Thank-You”.

Big Takeaway:

Embrace the change coming your way and start preparing to get the exposure your business deserves.

  1. Be on the watch for updates as Google Home Services ads come to your area. Currently only serving large cities on the Pacific coast.
  2. Stay posted. I’ll share the qualification criteria as soon as it’s released.
  3. Get to work collecting reviews from customers that will boost your credibility on your future ads.