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Reviews are Reviews are Reviews

I’ve had a lot of people ask me over the past few weeks what they can do with reviews or feedback they’ve received over the years that didn’t “qualify” as official Google or Facebook reviews.
They’re not useless. Here’s what you can do with them!

Quote Them!

If you’re like many business owners, you’ve gotten comments, thank-you cards, e-mails, and text messages in the past years that have told you how much they appreciated your service. And, while they don’t count as official reviews unless the customer logs into their account and leaves it on your Facebook or Google profile, you can still use them (with their permission, of course!). 
Say Mrs. Smith responded to a follow-up e-mail where you just checked in after the job to make sure that everything ran smoothly. If her response says something like:
“Joe did a fantastic job. I’ve never seen my carpets look this clean. I’m going to tell all my friends and neighbors about you guys!”
Do you think that’s worth sharing? Absolutely! Quickly reply back to her and ask if you quote her on your website or on Facebook using only her first name, last initial, and city. Chances are, she’ll be fine with it. Hey, she may be willing to even go there and write it herself!

Snap It!

There’s a fair chance you’re reading this on a device that can help you here – your smartphone. If you received some feedback from a customer – especially hand-written – you can take a quick snapshot of that feedback and share it on Facebook, Google, Instagram, anywhere! A hand-written note is SO much more credible to the viewer.
If you decide to post it to social media, quote the note in the caption for it in case the handwriting may be difficult to read. Once again, cite the person’s first name, last initial, and city.
Big Takeaway:
You work hard to make your customers happy, so you should absolutely use every bit they give you back to its fullest potential. If you can’t get an official online review, you can still use what they give you.
  1. Always invite customers to leave you reviews and feedback on Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
  2. Quote your satisfied customers on social media to add credibility to your work.
  3. Use visual media to enhance your results by sharing pictures of handwritten reviews and feedback.
To stay relevant in the online business world, you need reviews. You should do everything you can to get them – in whatever form they may take.
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Don’t Try So Hard (But Try a Little)!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a business coach, it’s that trying to get people to make changes is hard and that I usually try TOO hard. Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably treating your customers the same way.
Here’s what I mean.

They Have to WANT to Change

I can write e-mails, blogs, and make phone calls until the day I
die that plead with people to change the way they’re doing things and only influence so many changes.
BUT if I change my tactic to help them want to change first, then they come to me ready to act because they know how I can help them.
Your customers are the same way. Often, when we’re trying to get a customer to buy an additional service or product, we try too hard to get coerce them into buying when just the opposite is needed. We end up selling out of our own pocket just to get them to buy when we could more easily communicate the need for the service if we would just shut up and let them come to us. We plant the seed of desire and let them nurture it.

What I DON’T Mean:

I’m not saying that you should do nothing and wait for your customers to come to you.You have to be communicating regularly. But too often, we’re communicating the wrong things – en mass. This goes for both in-home sales and marketing.
Don’t talk or write about the “what” they should buy from you or how it works. They don’t care. They know you’re the expert. That’s why they called you in the first place. Who does your customer care about? Themselves. Their family. Their home. Tell them “why” it helps them.
For example:

Mailing Your Database

I talked last week about the importance of mailing your database. You’ve probably spent a considerable amount of money purchasing postcards and mailing them out. Have you thought about sending that postcard as an e-mail?
Your postcard should be short, simple, and to the point. It talks about why someone should call you. Do the same thing in an e-mail. In fact, have your printer save the postcard as a simple picture and just put it in your e-mail.
If all your e-mail had was a good, short subject line (I talk about how here and here) that tells them why they should open it. Something like “Cleaner Carpet for a Healthier Family” or “We’re the Pet Odor Elimination Experts”.
Then include your name, phone number, and the picture of the postcard in the body of the e-mail, that would be sufficient to get people to call you.
Seriously. Try it. Don’t stress out about writing a ton for an e-mail. Just send them the card. Keep it simple, silly!

Big Takeaway:

Improved sales drive high revenues. You won’t sell what your customers don’t value. You create value when you keep things simple and let them sell themselves.
  1. Talk about them and why the sale helps them.
  2. Respect their time. Remind them that you’re there to help, but don’t waste you communications.
  3. Try a simple e-postcard for your next mailing. You might be amazed at how well it works and how easy it was for you!
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Use Your Database!

When auditors assess the value of a business, they know that a company’s most valuable (and often most overlooked) asset is their customer database. These are people that (for the most part) have done business with you in the past and would be happy to do it again.
So why aren’t they hearing from you?

Digital or Analog – I Don’t Care

Yes, this is a digital marketing blog, but I’m going to make an exception here because I think it’s THAT important. Whether you choose to communicate with your past customers via e-mail or postcards, it matters very little to me. They key is that they need to hear from you. Often.
Whenever I hear a business owner say that they can’t remember the last time they’d communicated with their customer list, I die a little inside.
I mean, it costs 8 times more money to get a new customer than it does to do business with a past customer. Why, then, do we place so much emphasis on getting new buyers and dismiss our past as if we’re a “got your money and run” scheme? That’s not how you operate.
Think of it like this watch – the analog hands and the digital display are doing exactly the same thing – telling me what time it is. Just like this watch, you need to have a presence there – to remind your customer that it’s time to call you.

Still Writing Addresses?

One of the biggest reasons this may not be getting done is that you may not be working from a digitized customer list. That’s okay – for now.
HRI see’s enough value in getting this done that if you have wanted to get your customer list digitized so you can move to an electronic customer management system (like onTrack, Camelot, etc.), we’ll help you get it digitized – for free.
If you’re interested in doing that, contact me and we can work out some of the details.

Big Takeaway:

Your business has customers that are paid for and waiting to hear from you. Ask yourself why they haven’t heard from you and what you can do about it NOW.
  1. Review your list of past customers.
  2. Take a look at postcard and e-mail communication options available.
  3. Invest in print or digital advertising to the customers who love you most and watch your schedule fill up!
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SEO Supports PPC – Not The Other Way Around

It’s been a common idea and belief in the small business world that Pay-Per-Click website traffic boosts Search Engine Optimization and organic ranking. Most business owners have the plan of paying an SEO specialist to work on their website so that it eventually ranks highly enough so as to not need PPC.
I, however, believe that idea to be misguided. Here’s why.
***(Side note: I drew that picture. Feel free to mock my art skills.)***

PPC Traffic Doesn’t Always “Count”

When a website visitor gets there via paid advertisement, Google (obviously) knows it. Depending on the duration of their session (visit to the website), and how they interacted with your website, the traffic may not meet their “qualifications” for a visit. The biggest reason is that if PPC traffic counted as “true” website traffic, that would mean that you can buy website visitors.
While those criteria of what truly “counts” isn’t commonly known or talked about outside the fortressed walls of Google, you have to understand that Google’s biggest concern is how interesting or relevant the information on your website is to whatever your target is searching for.

How Does SEO Support PPC?

When you combine Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click efforts, it’s known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The primary goal of SEM is to give your business as many placements as possible on the first page of search results.
That means you show up in an ad, the map listing (3-pack/”snack pack”), AND the organic (unpaid) search results. Ideally, you’d have all three down pat and enjoy a high “impression share” (percentage of times you show up vs. the number of times you have the chance to show up).
Continual, regular updates to your website (SEO) help to make sure your website more attractive and relevant to searches on Google. The more optimized your website gets, the better prices and placement you’ll start receiving when advertising with AdWords.
Once your website start showing up well in the organic search results, however, that doesn’t mean you should give up advertising. On the contrary, your paid placement only increases the chances that the person who started the search will end up on your website.

NEVER Stop Doing PPC or SEO

Search Engine Marketing is a continual process. You should be doing both PPC and SEO so that you increase your chances of being found – especially when you have potential customers who are actively looking for someone of your expertise. It’s like submitting a bid for a commercial job in miniature. You pay for the chance to have your customer hire you.
The better your website performs, the cheaper you’ll be able to make your bid, or at least you’ll get a higher placement in comparison to a competitor placing the same bid.

Look At It This Way

Go back to when you were a little kid and think about the Merry Go Round on the playground. It was one of my favorite things. I have very dear memories of the playground down the street from my grandma’s house. When my cousins would all get together, the little kids would all pile on and the bigger kids would be the pushers. But there was a BIG difference between my wimpy cousin being a pusher and my older brother (who worked out). When he pushed, we got going so fast that we thought we’d go into orbit!
That’s how an optimized website can propel your PPC efforts. The better your site, the more Google is willing to promote you to potential customers, and the more often you’ll show up (think of revolutions on the merry go round). You’ll also have to pay less and less for your clicks (once it gets going, you don’t have to push as hard to keep it that way).

Big Takeaway:

No matter where your business is located or how long you’ve been there, the ideal is for you to show up as often as possible when a potential customer is searching for you. SEO supports PPC efforts, which should never stop.
  1. Talk to your SEO & PPC vendors about how often you’re showing up in search.
  2. Never stop doing PPC advertising. It’s an opportunity to connect with potential customers.
  3. Never stop working on your website. Google is constantly changing its search algorithm. Your vendor should never stop working on your website.
Take a look at your SEO and PPC strategies to make sure they’re aligned. Your website should support your PPC efforts. Always remember that.
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Finding Free Clients on Facebook

 
The social media giant is really changing the way business owners connect with customers online. There are SO many options that include:
  • Paid ads
  • Retargeting
  • E-commerce
  • Reviews
  • Video showcases
  • Pictures

But what if you’re on a tight budget? Is there a way to drive sales for free? Luckily for you, there is.

Enter Community Pages & Sales Groups

A recent trend in Facebook has been the rise of community or location-based classifieds and buy/sell/trade groups. If you’re reasonably active on Facebook, you’re probably a member of one, or a quick search for “[your location] Classifieds” will bring one up.
Members of these groups will often post questions such as “I need a good mechanic. Who have you dealt with that’s been good?” People then start throwing in their personal recommendations.
Now, you won’t be able to join the group as your business – at least, not if you’ve set up your business profile correctly. But you CAN join as yourself and (somewhat shamelessly) plug your business.
These groups are absolutely free to join and are a great way to connect with potential clients.

How Can I Find Jobs?

A great thing about local sales & classifieds groups and an easy way to find potential jobs within them is to use the available “search” function within it.
All you need to do is type in the kind of service you offer in this search bar to see who’s looking for you. It doesn’t take too long, but you’ll want to do it on a regular basis if you want to really leverage it. Facebook moves fast.
Once you’ve found a recent post that offers an opportunity for you to plug your business, simply comment on the post with your recommendation and, possibly, your contact information. You don’t have to know the person to leave a comment.
One suggestion I might add is to utilize any alliances you may have with other business owners (commercial accounts) or service providers in your area. Make a mutual agreement to keep an eye out for such posts and recommend each other personally saying “I’ve used Paul’s Plumbing Professionals for years. He really knows his stuff and his prices are very fair.”

You Should Tag That

pricetag
One small idiosyncrasy with Facebook is that it’s helpful to make sure you “tag” your business in the comment you make. That way, whoever is looking at it can easily find your business on Facebook and call you right away.
When you tag a business page, Facebook may suggest the tag automatically when you start typing the name. If they don’t, you can try adding the “@” symbol before the page name. As long as you personally have “liked” the page, it should come up.

Big Takeaway:

Facebook is changing the way people do business online – literally. Social media is connecting people in ways faster and more visible than ever before. Your business can get a lot of attention online without paying a dime.
  1. Create a business Facebook page. If you don’t know how, Facebook will teach you here.
  2. Join a local community/area sales and classifieds page.
  3. Do a quick search for the services you’d like to do. Comment on the post recommending your business. Tag your Facebook page if you can.
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Are Yellow Pages Dead?

The other day, I was having a discussion with some business owners and I floated the question of how much they used to spend with the Yellow Pages. Monthly budgets ranged from $1,000 to nearly $20,000 depending on the size of their market.

Why were you willing to put that kind of money into the phone book 10 years ago? Because that’s where new customers found your phone number.
Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see a phone book sit on a home’s front porch for months – or at least until it gets dissolved by weather. It’s like they’re trying to cling to life, even though they become tattered, worn and virtually useless – like a zombie.

What Now?

Now, I’m not saying that the phone book is completely useless. Indeed, there are still markets where advertising in the yellow pages is still effective – but they’re getting very rare.
Just for fun, I put together a quick survey the other day and shared it to find out how people use the phone books. Fewer than 10% said they’ve used the phone book in the past 30 days. Just over half said it had been at least 2-5 years. So, are they dead? No, but they need to be monitored.
Think for a moment about how much you used to spend with phone books. If you’ve decreased that money now, what have you been doing with it? Did you invest it elsewhere? Has your business died off as a result so you no longer have it?
What can be done? Is there a solution? Yes, there is. But you’ve got to believe in it. Meaning, you have to be willing to pay for it like you paid for the phone book.

Enter Pay-Per-Click

I want to make this as clear as possible.
Pay-Per-Click is the new Yellow Pages. I want you to repeat that out loud right now.
Case in point – I have some owners tell me that people in their area are still using phone books exclusively. While that may be true in a very few cases, I’ll tell you this:
My nearly 91-year-old grandmother doesn’t use her phone book anymore. She uses her computer or smart phone to find phone numbers. And she lives in a VERY small town (less than 3,500 people).

What’s Your Point, Scott?

My point is, unless you’re turning jobs away every day or have a constantly full calendar, you should take a very serious look at doing PPC advertising.
It’s reliable. It’s useful. It’s proven. It’s where the world is going.
Not sure where to start? I’ve written before about How to Choose a Vendor to run a campaign for you. I’ve also recently written about finding a budget for PPC ads.

Big Takeaway:

If you’re not currently using PPC advertising, you’re missing out on HUGE business potential. Don’t let your business become a phone book zombie.
  1. Do a quick Google search for “carpet cleaning” in your area. If you see your competitors, but not you, you have a problem.
  2. Go to the Gateway to look at approved or recommended vendors and call one TODAY.
  3. Set aside a budget that you plan on spending for PPC ads. Consider it an investment in your business.
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How to Get Customers to Unsubscribe

More is MORE

You can’t talk to your customer too much. Just like your mother-in-law, you should be in almost constant contact with your customer. Flooding their inbox is a great way to do that.
  • E-mail them at least weekly, or daily if you can.
  • Write long, extensive text full of superfluous words – like “superfluous.”
  • Focus only on selling your products and services.
  • Formatting your e-mails is secondary to getting them out.
  • Relevance doesn’t matter.
  • Only put out e-mails that are good for everybody. The individual customer isn’t worth your effort.

Your Customers Only Care About YOUR Business

Your customer is just sitting around waiting for your e-mail to come in. If they see it first on their mobile device but can’t really read it there, they’ll absolutely go to their computer to read it instead. You can count on them waiting with baited breath.
Most e-mail subscribers also LOVE seeing the same offer over and over again. They’re thrilled by the fact that your business is so busy that you don’t have time to think of, let alone write, anything new to send them.
And when they receive a postcard AND an e-mail in the same week, they never want to see an exclusive electronic offer because they would never subscribe to the idea that they are more special or meaningful to you than every other Jane Doe. They’re just the same as their neighbor, so they should be treated the same way.

You Have WAY Less Time Than They Do

Today’s consumer has nothing but time. Don’t you dare think for a second that they’re anywhere near as busy as you are. When you’re preparing your e-mail messages to them, don’t even stop to consider how long it will take them to read it. They literally have nothing better going on in their lives.
They’re all just like The Doctor. They have a time machine in their backyard with nowhere they “have to be.” They can always stop everything and read whatever you grace them with that day.
Never put yourself in their shoes and ask, “Would I take the time to read this?” Your customers are nothing like you, so that’s just poppycock.

Are You Still Reading?

Hopefully, if you’re still reading this, you’ve realized by now that I’m being facetious. These are the cardinal sins of e-mail marketing. These are the biggest reasons people unsubscribe from one of your most valuable and lucrative methods of marketing to past customers – e-mail.
Yes, you should be e-mailing your customers and letting them hear from you. And you should do it regularly. But don’t e-mail for the sake of e-mailing.

Big Takeaway:

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re putting together e-mail campaigns. Here are the top 3 things you should do.
  1. Be Personal – Keep e-mails to customers focused on things that matter to them. Their family, their time, their health.
  2. Be Brief – If your e-mail can’t be read in full within 30 seconds, it’s probably too long. You only have their attention for a moment – make sure it’s worth their time.
  3. Be Respectful – You don’t like being bombarded with e-mails. Neither does your customer. Preserve your spot in their inbox by having meaningful interactions with your customers.
Whether you’re actively e-mailing your database or want to get started, assess what your goal is when writing e-mails.