There are lots of ways to get more customers in your area, from online marketing to local networking, but happy customers are the best advertisement of all, providing the endorsements that will bring more customers through the door
Creating a successful local business starts with great customer service. Satisfied customers make the best advocates for your business and every happy customer can potentially bring in several new ones. However, bad news travels fast - especially in local neighbourhoods - and unhappy customers can quickly tell others not to use your business.
So, customer service is the foundation of any marketing strategy; but there are many ways to spread the word about your business and increase revenue. Here are five things that you can do right now to bring in more local customers.
1. Get found on Google
Google has 93% of the UK search engine market according to data from Statcounter. What's more, research by GoGlobe shows that 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information and 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps.
So, it's clear that getting found on Google is absolutely essential for any small business. Google My Business is a free local search tool that puts your business information on Search and Maps, so that customers can find you when they look for a business in their area.
You just have to register for a Google account and create a profile that will appear in listings. A good profile should:
An engaging profile will get more clicks; and the more people that click on your listing, the higher up the rankings it will go. It's also worth setting up Google Alerts so you get a notification when someone is talking about your business or giving you a review.
Of course there are other search engines and online directories, including Yelp, Free Index, Thomsonlocal.com and Yell.com. Signing up for these can bring in more business and could improve your Google ranking.
2. Optimise your website
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but you can be sure that anyone searching online will judge your business by your website. Red flags include a tired design, clunky navigation, hard-to-find contact details, out-of-date information, and broken links.
The best way to turn browsers into customers with your website is to provide:
Search engine optimization (SEO) also plays a key role in local customer acquisition - make sure your website is optimized for all the relevant words and phrases that potential customers might use to search for a business like yours. It is also imperative to make sure your website is mobile-friendly - at least half of your website visitors will be browsing on their smartphone or tablet.
3. Encourage customer reviews
Customer ratings and reviews are more important than ever - especially for local businesses. Reviews provide social proof that your business is to be trusted. If you provide a service, whether you run a café, work as a plumber or rent out rooms on AirBnB, your reviews could make or break your business. The same goes for any business selling products online, on eBay, Amazon or Etsy for instance. Checking reviews has become a standard part of the buying process for shoppers so you can't afford to neglect your online reputation.
Small business owners often worry about encouraging feedback in case they get bad reviews. The truth is that shoppers worry when they can't see many reviews for a business; they understand that there will always be the occasional gripe and they are not expecting perfection. In fact, studies have shown that the vast majority of people are happy to shop with a business as long as it gets a four-star rating.
You can provide reviews on your website using a tool such as FeeFo or TrustPilot. Customers will also leave reviews on all the platforms that you are signed up to; these include Google, marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay and sector-specific platforms such as Checkatrade and TripAdvisor. It's a good idea to respond to reviews, good or bad, thanking people for positive feedback and addressing any criticism in a positive manner.
4. Up your game on social media
Social media is a fantastic marketing tool for local businesses. Many people follow their favorite shops and restaurants as well as local groups and influencers on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Local customers will often use social media as a way to ask questions and keep in touch with businesses. So, it's vital to keep on top of all your social media activity, posting regularly and answering queries.
When it comes to building a local social media following it's all about engagement. Make sure your posts are interesting and helpful - social media is not the place for the hard sell. To reach customers in your area, always share your location and use location-based hashtags, such as #New York and #Yonkers. Show your support for local initiatives, post images of local landmarks and create videos of your business that highlight your local credentials.
One social media app that is ideal for local marketing is Next Door; it describes itself as "the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods and services." You can sign up to Next Door as a business which will allow you to create a profile, list your business and post ads. Next Door users often ask their neighbors for recommendations for local suppliers, and you can reply to these queries by offering your services. It's also worth encouraging your customers to post recommendations on Next Door - once three people have done this, your business will start to appear in searches.
5. Network with other businesses
Other businesses can be an important part of your local marketing strategy. Joining a small business organization such as Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) or a local chamber of commerce is a great way to meet other business owners and potential clients at local networking events.
Another effective way to grow your local customer base is to build relationships with complementary firms so that they will refer you to their clients - and vice versa. It's all about getting word of mouth recommendations from a trusted supplier. For instance, real estate agents recommend mortgage brokers and solicitors; plumbers can pass on the details of other tradespeople; hairdressers could recommend a beauty salon. If you offer a service like carpet fitting, for example, it's well worth dropping off your business cards at all the local carpet shops in the area.
Source: Marketing Donut
Image Credit: Photo by Sam Lion
When you're starting a new business, it can be easy to get lost in the excitement. Instead of carefully planning next steps, you may end up taking shortcuts or rushing to advance, which can ultimately have a lasting negative impact.
It's important for new business owners to take things slowly and have a well-developed, organized plan for growth. But it can be difficult to know what mistakes you might make if you've never been an entrepreneur before.
To help you, 10 Young Entrepreneur Council members share some mistakes that may sabotage your future business success and explain why each action has such negative effects.
1. Giving Up Equity Too Early
One mistake that new entrepreneurs can make is giving up equity too early. Of course, this all depends on your goals and the type of business you have. But generally, avoid handing it over in lieu of money. Instead, develop a business plan, find another way to finance your business and be confident that you can make your new business a tremendous success. If you give up a portion of your business early, you’ll soon find yourself asking for more. You could be giving up 40% at the start, but then end up turning it into 60% or more. - Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck
2. Not Listening To Those Around You
Entrepreneurs are brilliant, creative, innovative individuals who also typically suffer from having a big ego. Thinking they can build and solve everything on their own without having to share the credit with someone else can make them miss out on the opportunity to learn from others—not only from their successes but also their failures. This can cost them time, money and a lot of effort in the long run. When you start a company, a great growth hack is to look for individuals whom you admire (business-wise) and learn as much as you can. This doesn't necessarily mean you will follow a specific road, but it will alert you about things you might not have visualized. - Adrian Romero, Cápita Works
3. Venturing Into Business Without Enough Capital
If you're looking to start a new business, it's important to ensure you have enough capital to sustain the business in the early days. This is true even if you have an excellent business idea. Many business startups fail due to inadequate capital as they’re not able to keep up with emerging expenses. Having sufficient capital in the early stages of your business not only gives you the freedom to implement useful business ideas, but it also equips you for the risks that might come along the way. - Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
4. Not Delegating Tasks To Team Members
It's often the first inclination of a new entrepreneur to fully control their business. Even when expanding the team, it can be difficult to delegate tasks and really trust others to do the right job. The key issue with this is that an entrepreneur who doesn't believe they can truly delegate and trust efficiently often hires people who won't be able to take over a role as well or ideally better than the entrepreneur. This mistake compounds with every hire, as the entrepreneur still has most functions consolidated within themselves, limiting the growth and ultimate potential of the business. In addition, the team is often the wrong team. The longer this continues, the more difficult it becomes to both see the problem and fix it. - Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
5. Isolating Yourself From Your Community
Many new entrepreneurs are so focused on growing their businesses that they end up isolating themselves. This is bad for a number of reasons—the biggest one being that having a community around you helps you grow. As you grow your company, make sure you also grow your community by connecting with other like-minded professionals. This creates opportunities for networking, learning new skills and possibly even nurturing new partnerships or business opportunities. Having a supportive community around you also helps in overcoming the initial hardships and frustrations of starting a new business. - Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas
6. Tackling Legal And Accounting Work Yourself
A huge mistake new entrepreneurs can make is trying to save money by doing legal and accounting work themselves. It's true that there are fantastic resources out there that can show you how to maintain your books of accounts, draft a contract and more. But you will miss out on savings or make tiny mistakes that cost you more to fix later. Always pay experts to handle your business's finances and legal matters. In that way, you'll save money in the long run and also comply with industry and legal requirements. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
7. Pricing Yourself Lower Than Your Actual Value
Beginner entrepreneurs who provide a service, or who build their business around providing a service, often make the mistake of undervaluing their work. This may be because they want to undercut competitors in the market, or it could have to do with a lack of confidence due to inexperience. These are both bad reasons to price yourself lower than your actual value; you're far better off matching others in your industry. Having thin margins at the very beginning of your business will make it much more difficult to build once you achieve success since many of your clients will likely balk at price increases if you build a reputation for providing cheap services. - Bryce Welker, Real Estate Schooler
8. Lacking A Solid Content Marketing Strategy
New business owners often don't fully understand the value of a robust content marketing strategy. If you want people to visit your website and buy something, you have to show them more than a sales page. If you're getting ready to launch your first business, make sure you have a blog in place with a few pillar posts. The key is to add value to your visitors' lives. If you offer helpful advice or provide in-depth analysis on a hot topic, you can bet that some of your readers will come back to read future content and potentially become customers. - John Turner, SeedProd LLC
9. Failing To Build An Audience First
New entrepreneurs often jump the gun and go from zero to 100 in no time flat. They seldom take the time to nurture their audience, believing that if they make a great product, the world will come to their door seeking it. You need to have an audience before launching your products. Use different ways to do this. For example, create and share an e-book for free and ask readers to join a group to discuss it. Participate in forums and help your audience solve their problems easily. Build groups on social media. Create helpful blog posts regularly. When you build your community in this way, they'll show up when you need them. They'll also help you spread the word about your new business too. - Blair Williams, MemberPress
10. Not Conducting Market Research
One mistake many new entrepreneurs make that hinders their short-term and long-term success is not conducting the right market research to ensure that a market exists for their offerings. Many times, new entrepreneurs will launch a product or service before they research target audiences and ensure consistent demand, leading to launch failure. - Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Are you looking for a data-driven way to connect with your target audience and secure more sales? If you answered yes, a compelling case study could be just the thing you need.
Case studies are essentially detailed content that demonstrates how your product or service can help potential customers. What makes them different from other marketing strategies is you’ll need at least one real-life example to model your report.
Many business leaders reach out to customers who have found success with their product or service and ask if they can use them as the foundation for their study. This means that you likely have a list of people you can contact when you want to create one of these valuable marketing tools for your company blog.
Today, my goal is to show you several actions you can take to create a powerful, highly engaging case study for your small business.
Let’s get started!
Frame the story for your target audience.
If you want to build an effective case study, you need to think about the story you want to tell readers. In other words, how are you going to use your report to convince users that your product or service is worth their time? The key to accomplishing this task is understanding your customers’ needs and pain points.
For example, the team at an email marketing SaaS knows that their audience wants to grow their email list and improve their sales. Because the leaders at the company have a grasp on what their customers expect, they know what to look for when seeking out clients for their case study.
When writing your case study, I suggest going over the details as if you were telling a story. You can get plenty of important information by interviewing customers you want to use in your report. Ask them about their goals, thought processes, roadblocks and, of course, the outcome.
Use what you learn to weave a relatable and interesting story for your readers. It doesn’t matter how much work you put into creating a study for your website; if the story and theme don’t resonate with your customers, you’ll likely struggle to see noticeable results.
Use tangible numbers to back up claims.
One mistake I see many business owners and marketers make is that they don’t use tangible numbers to back up their claims. What I mean by this is instead of saying, “(Company) doubled their traffic with our tool,” you should say, “(Company) went from 1000 email leads to 2000 in two months!”
Using terms like “doubled” without adding additional context takes away from your message. Many readers will wonder if the increase was substantial, like from 1000 to 2000, or something more trivial, like 10 leads to 20. Technically, the second example did double their subscribers, but it’s not as impressive as it seems when you look at the data.
As a general rule of thumb, you should include as much context as you can to the numbers and actions of the companies featured in your case studies. You always want to provide your audience with valuable, factual information if you want to earn and keep their trust.
Turn your case study into an interactive learning experience.
Now that you understand the importance of telling a compelling story and using real data in your case study, let’s talk about how you can add even more value to your report. Ideally, you want everyone who reads one of your reports to walk away with new knowledge about your product and the industry as a whole.
I recommend mixing in lessons you’ve learned, industry tips and other additional information with your story to create an engaging learning experience for your readers. You’ll want to focus on problems you know your customers face and how they can start solving them with your product or service.
You can make your report even more educational and interactive by encouraging readers to submit feedback forms about industry issues they’re facing. Your support team can use this information to reach out to prospects and help them find the product that fits their needs.
When you turn your case study into a learning experience, you give people a reason to return to your blog or social media channel. They can see that you’re knowledgeable and invested in the industry, which means they will likely turn to you in the future when they need help.
Experiment with different types of content.
The last tip I want to discuss today is how and why you should experiment with different types of content when creating case studies for your business. The more varied content you use to get your message across, the better chance you have at turning casual visitors into subscribers and, eventually, happy customers.
You could, for instance, create a text-based case study on your company blog. This is an excellent strategy for people who prefer reading. But it doesn’t have to end there. You can substantially increase your engagement by hosting a video interview with the subject of the case study and uploading it to YouTube.
You can also experiment with podcasts, infographics and even case studies as lead magnets. There are plenty of possibilities to choose from, regardless of your industry. I like to experiment with new formats and gauge user feedback and behavior to determine which strategies lead to more clicks, sign-ups, and sales.
Back to you.
Case studies can help you grow your email list, build trust with new visitors, secure sales and so much more. If you’re thinking about adding this strategy to your business, start reaching out to customers and high-profile clients who have left reviews or shared feedback on social media. Before long, you’ll have all of the information you need to create a compelling case study for your business.
Image Credit: khamkhor from Pixabay
Are you working on branding your business? If yes, what aspects are you working on?
For many marketers and business owners, branding still means having a cool name, slogan and logo for the business. Although that was the case a decade ago, the concept of branding has evolved a lot over time.
Today it's no longer about focusing only on the aesthetic component of your company. Rather, it's about creating familiarity with, fondness for and trust in your business in the minds of your audience.
Your logo, slogan and business name are just a part of your branding process. That's why misunderstanding the concept and reducing it only to the aesthetical factors can be the major mistake, to begin with.
So what exactly are the other factors to consider when branding a business? Let's look at some of them.
1. Brand Positioning
Before starting a business, always remember that there are several other businesses that are offering the same products or services as you are. So what makes your business special for your users to consider your products or services over the others?
Brand positioning is the answer to this question. By working on it, you can give your users a solid reason to buy from you over your competitors. But how do you do that?
The simplest answer is to let your users know about your strength. Instead of talking about your features, focus on highlighting the benefits of using your products. Tell your audience what makes you unique and sets you apart from your competitors.
Another amazing way of positioning your brand in a positive light is to use customer testimonials. It helps you show what your existing customers like about your business. Testimonials work as social proof and help users make decisions and take action on your site.
2. Brand Personality
Another very important factor to consider when branding your business is your brand personality. You can communicate your brand personality through tone of voice, the way you respond to emails, the way you interact with your audience or anything that helps you personify your brand. The tone you choose depends on how you want your audience to visualize your brand. You can choose to be quirky, serious, edgy.
Whatever tone it may be, it's best if you can give it a human touch rather than making it appear all robotic. Let your audience know that behind the brand name and logo there are humans who are working hard to make their customers' lives easier.
But that's not the only way to add personality to your brand. It's also important to consider how you align your brand visuals with your brand personality. If your brand voice is a casual one, you have to choose the right color, font and imagery to reflect that.
3. Brand Promise
Delivering your promise is what helps you connect your brand strategy with your marketing message. The claims you make through your marketing message are what your audience expects to have when they work with you.
Not being able to deliver your promise can not only disappoint them but can also create a negative image for your brand. So it's important for you to keep your promises. Mention what your customers can expect from you in your statement of purpose, value propositions and benefit statements.
What's important here is for your claims to be credible, truthful and relevant. You can't just promise top-notch customer support and not deliver it when your customers ask for it. Remember, your success depends on how happy your customers are. So do your best to boost customer satisfaction by aligning their experience with your promises.
Branding your business right is extremely important for your long-term success. As a small business, it's your branding that helps you build the right audience and break through the noise to win the hearts of your users. This is essential to achieve your overall goals. So make sure to invest your time, effort, patience and everything else it takes to brand your business the right way.
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.