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5 Social Media Optimization Strategies

The term ‘optimization’ might make you think of search engine optimization (SEO) and things like restrictive keyword requirements, rigidity, and a lack of creativity in your marketing.

However, when it comes to social media, optimization looks a little different. While the majority of businesses are on board with social media, many fail to make the necessary changes that could significantly boost their performance.

The good news: optimizing your social media presence does not mean you have to sacrifice your brand’s voice, message, and creativity.

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss 5 simple optimization strategies for brands big and small, and everyone in between.

What’s the point?

Social media optimization keeps businesses sharp and forces them to analyze, audit, and adjust regularly. Setting up an account is step one. Continuously adjusting and adapting that account to what’s working in the world of marketing is how you stay optimized.

Although many brands make it look easy, the highest performing accounts pay attention to the fine details of social media optimization. For example, content, visibility, engagement, and ROI all require equal attention and effort.

1. Profile Optimization

Before focusing on anything else, make sure your social media accounts align with your company’s brand, message, and goals. A general audit of all your social profiles with a focus on branding and marketing messaging will help you determine areas in need of improvement.

Details to consider:

  • Make sure branding and creative visuals are consistent with your business’s online presence; this includes things like logos, fonts, taglines, and hashtags.
  • Make sure to consistently use an appropriate link or call-to-action that sends visitors to the proper landing page.
  • Make sure your marketing message is consistent across platforms and matches your current promotions.

Social media can be seen as a gateway to your brand and what you have to offer. If this is someone’s first encounter with your business, consistency is key in keeping customers engaged and not confusing them.

2. Searchability Optimization

Optimizing your social profiles is great and all but won’t do you any good if nobody can find you. Social profiles are starting to pop up in Google searches, especially after recent updates to social platform search features. Brands need to pay attention to how they use keywords across their profiles and posts.

This doesn’t mean you have to keyword stuff your posts. It just means that regularly performing keyword research for brand-specific keywords and adding those keywords to your posts will work to improve visibility and keep your content relevant.

When it comes to social media, you get to be creative in how keywords are used. For example, relevant keywords can be used in the form of a #hashtag or even used in your social bios.

3. Use High-Quality, Creative Content

Whether you’re optimizing ad campaigns or basic posts, you want to be posting high-quality creative content.

Creative content, whether it’s images, videos, or copy, is the core of successful social media advertising. Think about all the ads you see on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more – which ones stop you when scrolling? Which ones do you click on?

Ads that are eye-catching, creative, and clearly have thought behind them, are the attention-grabbing ones. It’s these types of ads that you want to strive for when optimizing social media ads and content.

Creative content is unique, original, and different – it’s not doing the same thing over and over again.

4. Individual Post Optimization

Once you’ve established a big-picture content strategy, it’s time to hone in on individual posts. Each post can be optimized differently, depending on what your goal is with that post. For example, posts that are part of a marketing campaign will be more refined than a meme or simple morning greeting.

For those posts that require more attention, you’ll want to make sure things like captions, hashtags, keywords, and calls-to-action are appropriate and reflect your current promotions and initiatives. Finding that balance between personality and promotion isn’t always easy, but it’s critical in maintaining a distinct brand voice throughout your posts and campaigns.

Building and maintaining brand awareness across platforms is key when it comes to social media optimization and is something digital marketing experts are well-versed in. Working with someone who has experience in creating and optimizing content for social media can make the difference between you and your competitors.

5. Maximize Social Media Ad Campaign Budgets

There are many ways to budget social media ad campaigns, which is why it’s always a good idea to do your research and learn where your money is going. Even if you’re working with a digital marketing company that does the research for you, you should still know where your money is going.

When considering your social media ad campaign budget, remember the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to spend money. Especially if you work in a competitive industry. If you don’t put enough money into social media ads, don’t expect to get much out of them.
  • Be wise in how you spend. Don’t just put your money anywhere. When planning out your budget, make sure you know exactly where your money is going.
  • Target your audience. You don’t want to put time, money, and effort into getting an ad just right only to target the wrong audience. Having your audience dialed in is a great way to save on social media ad campaigns because you’ve narrowed in on a group of people who are most likely to convert.
  • Watch your analytics. This is a step you don’t want to miss, and it’s one that digital marketing experts won’t let you skip. You’ll want to let your ads run for awhile to see how they perform. Checking in often lets you see how your budget is being spent, how fast, and what results are coming from it.

Working with a digital marketing company like WebLocal means you’ll have a team of experts monitoring all of this for you while ensuring your money is spent wisely.

How should your business approach social media optimization?

It’s simple; think of the strategies above as steps and start with the first one. The more you do, the better – even if it’s only optimizing your profile bios to begin with. These strategies coupled with a resource like WebLocal is your best bet at getting the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

Whether you’re unsure how to get started with social media optimization or would simply like to learn more, you know what to do: contact us today.

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5 Reasons You Should Advertise on Facebook

If there is one thing we can all agree is dominating modern society, it’s social media. Whether you have Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you’re likely checking your feed several times a day. Guess what? So are your customers.

This doesn’t mean you should throw money at every social platform out there. You should however consider the one social network marketers can’t seem to ignore: Facebook.

Makes sense, right? With Facebook, you have the ability to target specific people with specific messages all while tracking every move a user makes – something you don’t get with other platforms.

Still not convinced you need to advertise on Facebook? Check out these 5 reasons why you should:

1. Your Customers Are On Facebook

This year, roughly 2.89 billion people have logged into Facebook making it the largest social network worldwide. In fact, Facebook was the first social platform to surpass one billion users back in 2012. To give you perspective, the amount of people on Facebook is double the population of China. Needless to say, your audience is on there. With the number of users and the 22 billion ad clicks per year, Facebook is providing small businesses with the largest advertising platform since search.

2. Facebook Ads Are Inexpensive

Facebook advertising costs can vary depending on your industry, target audience, ad placement, and more. With Facebook, it’s less about cost and more about ROI or how far your money will go. A recent Wordstream study found the average cost per click (CPC) for Facebook ads is $1.72 across all industries. Typically, you can expect your Facebook ads to cost anywhere between $0.50 and $2.00 per click; a fraction of what other online channels cost. Worth it? Absolutely.

3. Highly Specific Targeting

You can dig deep with Facebook’s targeting capabilities. From a person’s interests to their location, age, and gender, you have the capability to laser in on the exact person you want to target.

Targeting can include:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Personal Interests
  • Relationship Status
  • Education
  • Work
  • Behaviors

You can even create ads that target people who have visited your website. And if that isn’t enough, you can also utilize Lookalike Audiences. This is a great way to reach new people who are similar to audiences you have already targeted and would likely be interested in your business. Facebook has made it nearly impossible to not reach your target audience.

4. You Can Track Everything

From the number of people who viewed your ad to the people who saw it, clicked on it, and purchased your product, you can track everything. Other forms of advertising like TV or radio ads don’t offer the same tracking capabilities.

With Facebook, you have a range of analytics, including reach, number of clicks, cost per click, and cost per conversion. Just like with Facebook’s targeting, the tracking capabilities are endless and highly beneficial for small business owners.

5. Gain An Edge Over The Competition

You might be surprised at how many small business owners are new to the concept of advertising on Facebook; they still think it’s just a platform for sharing photos and life updates. These business owners are more likely to opt for traditional methods of advertising like radio, TV, or newspaper. While each form of advertising has its place, there’s no question that Facebook is the leader in social platform advertising.

The Takeaway

Small business owners who decide to advertise on Facebook will undoubtedly see a return on their investment and gain an advantage over their competition. As we said, you can target a highly specific message to a highly specific audience all while tracking each and every move.

It’s important to note that if you go at Facebook ads blindly, you could lose money. That’s why it’s best to talk with professional marketers who have experience with Facebook ads and will know the best approach for your business.

Have a question? We have an answer. Don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more. And as always, thanks for stopping by!

5 Tips for Successful Small Business Content Marketing

As a small business owner, content marketing is a strategy you may want to start considering to help grow your audience and increase brand awareness.

First of all, what is content marketing?

Content marketing refers to the creation and distribution of online marketing material with the goal of driving traffic to your website. This could be anything from blogs and videos to podcasts and social posts. Content marketing is considered a “pull” technique because the purpose is to attract new business by drawing customers to you. Whereas tactics like email campaigns and paid advertising are considered “push” strategies because you’re pushing your brand in front of your audience.

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss five tips every business owner should undertake to create a successful content marketing strategy.

Tip #1: Start Blogging

Not only is blogging a free way to market your business, it also makes you more approachable to your audience. A blog gives you a platform to connect with your audience through relatable content, while establishing yourself as an industry expert at the same time.

  • Marketers who blog can generate up to 67% more leads than marketers who don’t.
  • Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI.
  • Publishing 21-54 blog posts can increase traffic to your website by 30%.

Blogging is not only a great way to drive traffic to your website, it can also boost your SEO rankings, increase brand awareness, establish trust with your customers, and increase lead conversions. There’s no question that blogging is a highly effective content marketing tactic.

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For help getting started on your blog, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re here to give your brand a voice and establish your business as the go-to industry expert.

Tip #2: Focus Your Social Media Presence

Don’t just build your social media presence anywhere – look at where your audience is and build there. These days, simply existing on social media isn’t enough. You need to be actively engaging with your target audience on the social media platforms they use. There are several strategies you can use to determine where your target audience is most active, including:

  • Survey your customers.
  • Visit your competitors’ social profiles and see who they’re appealing to.
  • Use tools like Google Analytics to gauge consumer online behavior.

Find out where your target audience is most active on social media and start delivering content to them.

Tip #3: Mine Consumer Reviews & Testimonials

Did you know 97% of consumers read online reviews when searching for local services? For any small, local business owner, your reviews are driving your business. Make sure those reviews are working for you and not against you.

Bring positive reviews to life through social posts and testimonials on your website to help establish trust. Did you know it takes someone an average of seven reviews before trusting a local business? The more reviews and testimonials you share, the more likely you are to turn leads into customers.

You can tell your audience all day long why they should do business with you and still may not have them convinced. By sharing actual customer experiences, you stay out of the conversation – let your existing or past customers do the convincing for you.

Sharing customer feedback with your audience is essentially consumer-generated marketing that speaks for itself – it’s a great tactic!

Tip #4: Create Variety

A content marketing strategy doesn’t have to consist of one type of content. In fact, when it comes to content, variety will reach the most people. Look at your existing content and your competitors’ content and see what resonates with people. Once you determine what’s working, you can attempt to replicate that with future content.

This is where you can get creative and introduce variety. If you have a blog post that performed well, recreate that information as a video or infographic. Take whatever content that has worked and retell the same story in a new way.

When it comes to content creation, the options are limitless!

Tip #5: Establish a Content Calendar

While creating and delivering content to your audience is important, doing so in a cadenced fashion is what will get you results. Building monthly calendars that include blog posts, social posts, email newsletters, and any other content will keep you organized and get your audience comfortable with scheduled content.

This approach to content marketing will allow your customers to build continued trust and familiarity with your brand. After all, this is the primary goal with content marketing – reach your audience, build trust, and watch leads turn into customers.

How to Get Started

When getting started on your content marketing strategy, make sure you’re working with a marketing team that understands your brand and goals.

  1. Fine-tune your buyer personas.
  2. Identify valuable content.
  3. Set goals.
  4. Determine distribution channels.
  5. Establish a schedule.

To get started on building your brand’s content marketing strategy, contact one of our local consultants today! We’ll answer your questions and work directly with you to fine-tune your target audience and business goals.

Thanks for stopping by!

2021 Mid-Year Online Marketing Trends

In today’s post, we’re taking a look at what’s trending in the world of online marketing. We’re well into 2021 now, and since we didn’t kick off the new year with trend predictions, we’re going to look at what’s trending mid-year.

Businesses around the world have endured a major hit in the past year and half. Consequently, people have changed the way they shop. Even with the recent shift back towards how things used to be, customers are effectively shopping online, and numerous organizations have gone online to reach their customers.

With a considerable increase in online shopping, competition between organizations is high. Businesses that lacked online marketing strategies before are rushing to catch up. In turn, digital marketers have been creative in finding the best ways to improve online exposure for clients – some strategies are new while others are tried and true.

Let’s dive in!

1.) In-Email Purchases

A newer digital marketing trend is in-email purchases. Email marketing isn’t new to the scene, but the ability to make a purchase without ever leaving your inbox is. Consumers will have the option to make a purchase right inside an emailed marketing campaign. Plus, campaigns are now offering more of an app-like experience with more interactivity like embedded video.

Some email marketing services offer their users access to more data which in turn will allow them to do highly sophisticated targeting. This data might include a person’s search history, most visited websites, most-used apps, and more. Businesses will be able to target a very specific audience with a very specific product.

In-email purchasing is a trend that is likely to stick around. After all, many organizations could benefit from this type of scalability.

2.) Repurposing Content Across Channels

Instead of coming up with new content, marketers are taking what has worked in the past and optimizing it for the present. Businesses that already have high-quality content should focus on making it more accessible across platforms, and more up to date.

Up to date, engaging content far outweighs old work that lacks keyword relevancy and features old links or data. Taking existing content and repurposing it for a new blog post, marketing campaign, or webinar is an efficient way to keep it relevant in search engines. Repurposing content doesn’t necessarily mean copy and paste, it means take the parts that worked and performed well and reuse them in a fresh way.

3.) Voice Search

It’s no surprise voice search made it on this list. Using voice search gives users an immediate answer without having to scroll through the various options that come up with a search. When typing a query, we tend to scroll through search results, but with voice, most of us go with the first thing that pops up.

With voice search growing even more popular, that top spot will be the most sought after. Showing up even in the top five will no longer be enough. Fine-tuning digital marketing strategies is essential in order to have a chance at that coveted spot.

4.) Chatbot Features

Did you know that more than half of buyers expect a response within 10 minutes to any marketing, sales, or customer service inquiry? It’s safe to say this isn’t humanly possible – this is where chatbots come in handy.

Chatbots enable companies to engage in conversations with their customers leading to better customer relationships and an increase in sales.

Bots offer the dedication of a 1:1 service experience while working with hundreds of customers. This is not something a single customer service representative or team could do. The ease and efficiency of bots leads to improved customer service and a better customer experience.

5.) Conversational Marketing

To piggyback off the last trend, conversational marketing is all about creating a dialogue with the customer. Brands are diving deeper and actually listening to their customers’ problems. Conversational marketing is highly effective with the use of chatbots as brands are able to resolve customer problems on an individual basis. As a result, customers feel heard which leads to an overall improved customer experience.

The idea of conversational marketing is that while the customer goes on this journey of trying to figure out what they want or need, the chatbot assistant will know when to turn the conversation in the direction of getting the customer to make a purchase.

The goal: convert leads via dialogue-driven strategies.

The Takeaway

We certainly didn’t cover every online marketing trend happening in 2021, but we covered some of the major ones. Many companies are slowly applying these changes to their existing marketing efforts. It won’t be long before many of these trends become the new standard.

We’re curious, which of these trends has piqued your curiosity?

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. We’re here to answer all of your digital marketing-related questions and guide you in the right direction!

Building a StoryBrand: Section 3

Here we are; the third and final installment of our mini blog series on the book Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. This section discusses how businesses can implement the SB7 framework and transform their company culture.

Let’s take a look at some key points made in these final chapters, and we’ll close out with a few helpful tips to grow your business!

Improve Your Website

Before diving into how the SB7 framework can be used to improve your website, it’s important to note that your brand story should be consistent across all marketing platforms; your website, e-mail campaigns, sales scripts, elevator pitch, and more.

“The more you execute, the more clearly you’ll communicate and the more your brand will stand out.” Page 145

When it comes to implementing your brand story, your website is a good place to start. A website may not be the only tool needed to motivate buyers, but it’s the one that does the “heavy lifting” as Miller puts it. Whether your customers hear about you through word of mouth or social media, they’ll most likely visit your website to learn more before doing business with you.

When potential customers visit your website, they’re looking for confirmation – they need to be convinced you have the solutions to their problems.

Here are five items your website should include:

  1. A Headline Offer. In other words, an “above the fold” offer. This is a clear statement featured in a spot that’s hard to miss. It stands out for a reason; it tells your customers exactly what you can do for them. This way, they immediately know whether or not you can help them.
  2. An Obvious Call to Action. Most people scan a website before they actually do any reading. Positioning your call to action buttons in obvious places ensures your viewers won’t miss them. Some of these spots include at the top of your website and in the middle of the home page.
  3. Images that Portray Success. You’ve heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” What do the images on your website say about your business? You want to feature images that depict happiness, success, and fulfillment. Images of smiling customers engaging your brand will communicate a sense of satisfaction and well-being. In addition to images of your business, products, and staff, be sure to add images that represent what your customers are looking for.
  4. A Brief Overview of Your Revenue Streams. As challenging as it might be, Miller advises businesses to “find an overall umbrella message that unifies your various streams.” Be direct in your message. Breaking down your divisions in a clear, defined way allows your customers to “choose their own adventure without getting lost.”
  5. Less is More. When it comes to your marketing copy, less is more. You want your content to be incisive and relevant to your customers.

Transform Your Company Culture

In addition to transforming customer engagement, the SB7 framework can transform employee engagement. Have you ever stopped to check if your employees are all on the same page? Do they know your mission?

Make sure your company’s mission is repeated to your employees regularly. From onboarding and training to career development, your employees must be reminded of the why behind your company.

Your team should be working toward a common goal. If they aren’t on the same page, your customers won’t be on the same page. After all, your customers communicate with your employees. When everyone is on the same page, company culture is improved. Clarify your brand message and make sure your employees understand it.

How the StoryBrand framework can be used to transform company culture (Page 168):

  • Create a BrandScript with your leadership team.
  • Audit the existing beliefs and ideas that drive employee behavior and employment.
  • Create an implementation plan.
  • Optimize internal communications to support the plan.
  • Establish a self-sustained team to strengthen the culture.

“When the story of the customer and the story of the company align with the story of the team, we get an alchemy that is not only profitable, it’s healing.” Page 170

Tips to Grow Your Business

Miller ends the book with five tips to grow your business. Rather than going too in-depth on each tip, we’re going to note the most critical points made in this section (Page 172):

  1. Create a “one-liner” or single statement you can use to grow your business. Memorize this statement and teach it to your staff. Feature it on your website, business cards, and e-mail signatures. Tell your customers how you can make their life better in this one statement – this alone can be enough to make your customers want to engage your brand.
  2. Create a “lead generator”. This can be a downloadable PDF, webinar, or e-course. Lead generators will show qualified buyers how you can solve their problems before fully engaging your brand. Most importantly, lead generators establish trust and position you as someone with authority.
  3. Collect e-mail addresses and create e-mail campaigns. This is a great way to increase brand awareness and boost customer engagement.
  4. Tell stories of transformation. Share with your audience how you’ve helped your customers transform. People are more likely to engage your brand seeing the positive experience customers have had with you.
  5. Find a way to generate referrals. Turning potential customers into actual customers is great, but the work doesn’t stop there. Invite happy customers to share their experience with others and send business your way.

This book forces its readers to think about their current marketing strategy in a whole new light. With that said, we’ll leave you with one final question: Do you like the story your brand tells? If not, now is the time to do something about it!

We hope you enjoyed this small three-part blog series. For more in-depth information and insight on content development and brand strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you for spending time with us today and stay tuned for future posts!

Building a StoryBrand: Section 2

We left off the last blog post with a small introduction to the StoryBrand framework. In today’s post, we’re diving into the foundation of Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand and what makes the SB7 framework so successful. This section is the meat and potatoes of the book, so you’re not going to want to skip this!

Let’s break it down.

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Topics of Discussion

  • Principle One: You’re not the hero, your customer is.
  • Principle Two: Companies sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.
  • Principle Three: Your customers aren’t looking for a hero; they’re looking for a guide.
  • Principle Four: Customers trust a guide with a plan.
  • Principle Five: Customers don’t take action unless they’re called to action – like a hero.
  • Principle Six: We’re all trying to avoid a tragic ending.
  • Principle Seven: Never assume your customers understand how your brand can change their lives; you have to tell them.

Principle One: You’re not the hero, your customer is.

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Every good story has a hero. Who is the hero in your brand’s story? Your company? If so, you could be turning away potential customers.

Most stories begin with a hero who wants something. Without knowing what the hero wants, the audience cares little about the hero’s fate. Screenwriters have to define the hero’s ambition quickly in order to keep the audience engaged. Similarly, brands have to define what their customers want to keep their audience engaged.

Ask yourself the following questions: First, can you define what your customers want? Second, do your customers know how you can help them? Defining the what and how for your customers makes it easy for them to determine whether or not you can help them.

“When you define something your customer wants, the customer is invited to alter their story in your direction. If they see your brand as a trustworthy and reliable guide, they will likely engage.” Page 47

A key point made in the book is to pare down what your customers want to a single focus. Even though you can help your customers in more ways than one, cluttering a story dilutes the hero’s desire. Focus on one major desire your customers have and weave that desire throughout your story. As you create campaigns for each division of your company, you can then identify other ways you can help your customers.

Customer desires might include anything from saving time or money to gaining status. Whatever it is for your customers, pin it down and build your story around it.

Remember, your customer is the hero. Define what your customers want, and lay the groundwork for how you’re going to help them achieve what they want. The third principle of the StoryBrand framework discusses the role your brand plays in your story.

Principle Two: Companies sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.

Being able to identify your customers’ problems deepens their interest in the story you’re telling. Think of the main problem you want to identify as the “hook” of your story. Without a hook, stories fall flat.

“The more we talk about the problems our customers experience, the more interest they will have in our brand.” Page 58

Continually talking about the problems your customers face doesn’t seem nice, but it’s what ultimately leads them to take action. Just like when a hero is repeatedly confronted with a problem that must be solved, they always end up doing something about it.

There are different problems we all face – external, internal, and even philosophical. It’s important to look at what initiates these problems in the first place. This chapter of the book mentions that “every good story needs a villain.” In order to get your customers’ ears to perk up, you should position your products and services as weapons that can be used to defeat the villain, which in turn helps solve their problems.

“What is the chief source of conflict that your products and services defeat? Talk about this villain. The more you talk about the villain, the more people will want a tool to help them defeat the villain.” Page 60

The villain your customers face should be a root source, relatable, singular, and real. Miller stresses that you should never make something up to scare your customers. Be real. Be relatable.

As previously stated, you might be selling a solution to an external problem, but your customers are buying a solution to an internal problem. After all, external problems manifest internal problems, and that internal frustration is what motivates your customers to call you.

In order to satisfy your customers, offer them more that just products and services; offer them a solution to their problems. Remind them that their frustration will not go away without action. They must take action, like a hero, to achieve what they want.

Miller gives the following example on page 70:

            Edward Jones Financial Planning:

            Villain: Financial firms that don’t listen to their customers.

            External: I need investment help.

            Internal: I’m confused about how to do this (especially with all the tech-driven resources out             there).

            Philosophical: If I’m going to invest my money, I deserve an advisor who will thoughtfully             explain things in person.

Remember, your story is built around your customers; your brand is an instrument in helping your customers overcome not only external problems but internal problems as well.

Principle Three: Your customers aren’t looking for a hero; they’re looking for a guide.

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In every story with a hero, the hero has a guide. If a hero solves his own problem, the audience will lose interest. And a hero who can solve his own problem wouldn’t be in trouble in the first place.

The third principle in the StoryBrand framework is designed around making your customer the hero and your brand the guide. Miller notes that it’s tempting to position your own brand as the hero, especially since heroes are “strong and capable and the center of attention.” However, guides are the ones with the most authority; this is why heroes get connected with them in the first place.

In order for a brand to position themselves as the guide, they must communicate two things: empathy and authority.

“When we empathize with our customers’ dilemma, we create a bond of trust. People trust those who understand them, and they trust brands that understand them too.” Page 79

As the guide, you position yourself as the one with authority. Miller stresses the importance of not coming off as a know-it-all. Your customers don’t want to be preached at – they want guidance. Brands that “lord their expertise over the masses” tend to turn people away.

As customers view your marketing material, they just want to know that you have authority in your field and that you can help them.

Some items that add just the right amount of authority include:

  • Testimonials
  • Statistics
  • Awards
  • Logos

Show your customers the right amount of authority to build their confidence in you without turning them off, and you’ll quickly become the guide they’ve been looking for.

Principle Four: Customers trust a guide with a plan.

Even with marketing material that clearly expresses authority and empathizes with your customers, without a plan – you’ll lose. Having a plan creates clarity. An effective plan clarifies how people can do business with you, or at the very least, removes the sense of risk they might have about investing in your products or services.

Remember – if you confuse, you lose. Not having a plan is a surefire way to confuse your customers and ultimately lose them.

Clearly define the steps a customer needs to take to buy your products or services. Then, define what they can expect post-purchase. Make sure you’ve also established an agreement plan; a list of agreements that will alleviate any fears your customers might have. This way, your customers will sense that you’ve thought of everything, right down to their smallest concern. Forming this type of relationship with your customers helps to build and maintain trust.

Principle Five: Customers don’t take action unless they’re called to action – like a hero.

The power of the “buy now” button should not be underestimated. An obvious button, whether telling customers to buy, schedule, or call now, is an invitation to take a journey with you.

“The reality is when we try to sell passively, we communicate a lack of belief in our product.” Page 98

The StoryBrand framework recommends two types of calls to action: direct calls to action and transitional calls to action. A direct call to action will be your “buy now” or “schedule an appointment” requests. Transitional calls to action include anything you’re offering your customers for free. For example, inviting people to download a PDF or watch a webinar video are both types of transitional calls to action.

As a brand, it’s your responsibility to pursue your customers. You have to invite them to do business with you – you can’t sit back and expect them to pursue you.

Principle Six: We’re all trying to avoid a tragic ending.

When it comes to the concept of story, it’s important to recognize that a story without stakes usually isn’t interesting. You have to remind people why they need your help. What are the costs of not doing business with you?

There are several ways to feature the potential pitfalls of not working with you – blog subjects, bullet points on your website, email content, etc. The goal isn’t to scare your customers into doing business with you, but to create a sense of urgency when it comes to your products and services. Remember, we’re all trying to avoid a ‘tragic ending’ – be it losing money, time, making a mistake, you name it.

Miller features a list of questions that can help brands get an idea of what they’re helping their customers avoid (Page 113):

  • What negative consequences are you helping customers avoid?
  • Could customers lose money?
  • Are there health risks if they avoid your services?
  • What about opportunity costs?
  • Could they make or save more money with you than they can with a competitor?
  • Could their quality of life decline if they pass you by?
  • What’s the cost of not doing business with you?

Once you’ve defined the stakes, your customers will be that much more motivated to work with you.

Principle Seven: Never assume your customers understand how your brand can change their lives; you have to tell them.

“Successful brands, like successful leaders, make it clear what life will look like if somebody engages their products or services.” Page 118

Your customers won’t know where you’re taking them unless you tell them. And unfortunately, brands without a clearly defined vision are more likely to perish. Miller reminds his readers that stories aren’t supposed to be vague; they should be “about specific things happening to specific people.” People don’t find themselves in stories that lack direction and clarity.

The book features a great tool created by Ryan Deiss at DigitalMarketer. This tool is formatted like a grid in the book and asks brands to define what life looks like for customers before and after engaging their brand. The following questions are listed:

  • What do they have?
  • What are they feeling?
  • What’s an average day like?
  • What is their status?

Part of what makes the StoryBrand framework so successful is the emphasis on keeping things simple. Stick to basic answers – the moment you veer off course is the moment you confuse and lose. If you keep it simple, honest, and clear, your customers will believe in the story you’re telling and want to be a part of it. In section 3, we’re going to talk about how brands can implement the StoryBrand framework into their marketing material. Stay tuned!

Building a StoryBrand: Section 1

Today’s blog post is a little different. Instead of covering the latest marketing trends, we’re going to talk about a bookcalled Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. This book focuses on one facet of marketing in particular: content. The whole purpose of the book is to help business owners clarify their message so that they’re seen, heard, and understood.

This book is broken up into three sections – the first of which we’ll be talking about today.

Let’s dive in!

The Key to Being Heard

Donald kicks off the first chapter with an important message: pretty websites don’t sell things – words do. The problem is, customers won’t listen to an unclear message.

But clarifying a message isn’t always easy. For some, it’s like trying to read the label from inside the bottle. The main focus of these first chapters is to bring an awareness to business owners about their brand. You’re forced to hold up a mirror to your brand’s message. Is it clear? Are you actually being heard?

The concept of story is introduced in the first few chapters. Initially, when we think of stories, we think of fictional books and our favorite rom-coms. But when it comes to your business and your brand, there is a story to tell. And just like any good story, there are key features to focus on – everything else gets cut. We’ll get into these key features later on.

Unfortunately, customers don’t actually care about your story, unless it speaks to them. They’re more focused on their own story. So, instead of filling your website with a bunch of technical content, using jargon that only an expert in your field would understand, find a way to tell your customers how your product or service fits into their life and their story. Your customers want to find themselves in your content – alter your story to speak to them and throw out anything else.

“The human brain, no matter what region of the world it comes from, is drawn toward clarity and away from confusion.” Page 5

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These first chapters really force you to think about your current approach to content marketing. Donald points out that we’re not only in a race to get our products or services to market, but we’re also in a race to communicate to our customers why they need our products. You may have the best product on the market, but you’ll lose to an inferior product if your competitor is able to communicate their offer more clearly.

In the quote above, it states that humans are drawn toward clarity; simple, predictable communication is easier for the brain to digest. This is where the ‘story’ concept comes into play. In Donald’s words, “story helps because it is a sense-making mechanism…it puts everything in order so the brain doesn’t have to work to understand what’s going on.” In section 2 of the book, Donald breaks down his process of building a StoryBrand, which we’ll cover in the next blog post.

Content Mistakes

As human beings, we have problems. That’s usually what leads us to needing products and services in the first place. A big mistake businesses make when creating content is not addressing these problems.

“The first mistake brands make is they fail to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help people survive and thrive.” Page 7

Good stories are about survival – whether that be physical, emotional, or even spiritual. A story with any other premise won’t work to captivate an audience. This is why we should position our products and services as an aid in helping people not only survive but thrive as well.

So, what are people looking for? Two things: brands that help them survive and thrive, and simple communication.

These two things are why the StoryBrand framework has proven to be so successful. Make your company’s message about how you help your customers survive and do so in such a way that is simple and to the point, without all the extra fluff.

As previously stated, story is a sense-making device. It requires a necessary ambition, challenges getting in the way of achieving that ambition, and a plan to overcome those challenges. So, when assessing your company’s message, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do my customers want?
  • What problem are we helping them solve?
  • What will life look like after they engage our products and services?

If you can identify what your customers want, what’s in their way, and how you can help them get what they want – you’re golden.

Finally, The StoryBrand Framework

The SB7 framework is laid out exactly how you’d expect a book or movie to be – it encompasses everything needed for a good story.

  1. A Character
  2. Has a Problem
  3. And Meets a Guide
  4. Who Gives Them a Plan
  5. And Calls Them to Action
  6. That Ends in a Success
  7. That Helps Them Avoid Failure

The SB7 approach has helped countless businesses establish their brand and stick to it. In the next blog post, we’re going to break down each step and discuss how you can apply your business to the framework.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for Building a StoryBrand: Section 2!

A Guide to Google’s Local Service Ads

Did you know roughly 93% of consumers search for local business on the internet? With 34% searching daily. Google’s reach may extend globally, but the majority of us are just trying to find something local. This means you have a real opportunity to grow your small business if you find a quick and reliable way to connect with the best leads.

How can this be achieved?

By creating a Google Local Services Ad. These ads can be an indispensable tool in helping you build your brand and connect with local customers.

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What are Google Local Service Ads?

Google Local Services is a pay-per-lead advertising platform designed for local service companies like plumbers and electricians. Local Service ads get priority placement on page one of search results – so when local customers search for a business like yours, you’ll be placed right at the top.

Keywords relevant to Local Service ad categories trigger these ads to appear above traditional paid search ads. The main ad format allows businesses to feature their company name, city, phone number, hours, ratings, and reviews.

Businesses that benefit the most from this ad format are able to maintain strong brand awareness and a high review rating in their local markets. There are set policies that businesses must meet in order to qualify for Google Local Services – some include:

  • Local Laws & Regulations: Your business must comply with all relevant laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which you provide services. This includes licensing, insurance, privacy, and other regulatory requirements.
  • Customer Service: In order to stay in good standing with Google, it’s important that you practice exceptional customer service. This primarily means being responsive – every phone call, message, and booked service must be responded to in a timely manner. Good customer communication will help you gain high ratings and reviews.

Another key component to customer service is pricing – the pricing information you provide customers must be accurate and not misleading. Google doesn’t allow low estimates to be given to trick customers into booking services. Be honest and fair, always.

  • Authenticity: You should provide an accurate representation of your business on Google. Avoid putting out any misleading information related to your business’s qualifications, licenses, service areas, prices, etc.

You can check out the rest of Google’s Local Services policies here. In order to qualify for this ad format, businesses must be prescreened and insured. This way, Google can guarantee the authenticity of your business.

Google Local Service Industries

Google supports Local Service Ads for a wide range of service industries, including:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC
  • Auto Service Technician
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • Event Planner
  • Handyman
  • Home Improvement
  • House Cleaner
  • Junk Removal Provider
  • Lawn Care Provider
  • Moving Company
  • Painter
  • Pest Control Technician
  • Pet Groomer
  • Photographer
  • Roadside Assistance Service
  • Roofing Company
  • Tree Service Provider
  • Water Damage Service Provider
  • Window Service Provider

A Great Supplement to Your Existing SEO Strategy

Local Service ads can be a highly advantageous tool in your SEO toolbox – especially if you’re looking for a fast-track to positive leads.

Check out these stats:

  • 4 in 5 people want to see local ads when searching for products or services online. (NeilPatel)
  • 76% of local searches results in a phone call. (Go-Globe)
  • 91% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. (BrightLocal)

Local ads help you find leads who are ready to become paying customers. They’re cost-effective and efficient, and most importantly, all the focus is on local exposure. Take advantage of Google’s Local Service ads and capitalize on being a leader within your industry.

Interested in learning more? As always, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll connect you with one of our local consultants who would be happy to answer your questions. And if you like what you read, be sure to share this blog post with your friends and colleagues!

5 Online Marketing Tips For Growing Your Small Business in 2021

Starting a business is no easy feat – especially when facing an over-saturated market. A rigorous, well-thought-out marketing plan will help your business establish a unique position in the market, leading to growth and success.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a thorough road map outlining your overall marketing strategies and highlighting the steps that will be taken to achieve marketing objectives.

No matter how good your product or service is, without a solid marketing plan, people may never know your business exists. In this post, we’re going to discuss 5 online marketing tips that will not only help your business grow in size but in reputation as well.

Let’s dive in!

1. Define Your Growth Goals

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Many business owners want their business to grow but don’t know what that growth looks like. This lack of direction makes it difficult to focus marketing efforts appropriately. Defining your growth goals before you get to work on marketing allows you to be more intentional with your marketing plan.

A marketing plan filled with focused strategies will help you achieve your growth goals.

Whether you’re looking to open a new location, expand into a new product line, or gain followers – once you give your goal a name, you can determine how and when you’d like to achieve it. Simply put, when you know the why, you can find the best how.

Remember, you don’t have to set your goals in stone – be open to the idea of changing them along the way. As long as your goals inspire and direct your marketing strategies, you’ll see your efforts pay off.

Define your goals. Target your audience. Develop a plan. Watch your business grow.

2. Target Your Audience

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Once you have an idea of what you want, you’ll be able to target the right people much easier. For example, if you’re expanding into a new product line, you need to figure out who is buying that product. Here are some questions to ask yourself when figuring out your target audience:

  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they work?
  • How much do they earn?
  • How do they get their information?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • How old are they?
  • How do they think?
  • Who currently has them as customers?

Once you’ve identified who you’re marketing to, you can fine-tune your strategies in order to reach your audience.

3. Revamp Your Website

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Your website is often the first impression potential customers get of your small business. Even with a brick and mortar location and a huge sign out front – people will still gravitate towards the internet. They want to see what you’re all about by visiting your website before stopping in. Needless to say, your website has to look good, represent you well, and work well too.

There are many things that make for a good website, but some of the key features to a website that works well include:

  • Make it SEO friendly.
  • Make it mobile friendly.
  • Make it user friendly.
  • Highlight your contact information.
  • Clearly display your products and services.

If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to marketing, your website is a good place to start. A modern, SEO friendly website is a surefire tool to help your business grow.

Another great way to enhance your website is making it more interactive. For example, blogs are an excellent way to create a sense of informality with your brand, product or service. Use an easy-to-read format, responsive design, and interesting content to gain attraction. Who doesn’t love free information or free entertainment? That’s what most people are looking for on the internet, why not give it to them?

4. Leverage Social Media

If you’re looking for a lot of bang for your buck, social media marketing is a no brainer. It’s an effective tool that you can invest time and effort into with little expenditure. Here are some tips to help you get started with social media marketing:

  • Select the right platforms.
  • Look to where your target customers are most active.
  • Find your brand story and stick to it.
  • Be consistent.
  • Use high-quality visuals to attract your audience.
  • Use tactics that drive traffic to your website.
  • Use relevant hashtags to reach more people.
  • Start campaigns.
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What works for another small company may not work for you – you have to find the right strategy for your business. Once you’ve mastered the tools that work in your favor, you’ll have a winning social media marketing strategy in no time.

5. Be Open to Change

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Separating yourself from your competitors is an endless endeavor, and in order to maintain success, your marketing plan should always be a step ahead. As we stated before, your goals and marketing plan don’t have to be set in stone – things change all the time. Embrace it. As soon as your team gets a little too comfortable and isn’t challenged anymore, it’s time for a change – that’s when growth happens.

Be sure to revisit your marketing plan often to ensure it reflects what you’re actively trying to achieve.

Well, that’s it for today’s tips. Remember, when it comes to marketing, you get out what you put in. Targeted online marketing efforts will work to grow your small business – especially with a reliable marketing team working behind the scenes. If you’re just getting started on your marketing plan, keep these tips in mind and don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.

In-House vs. Agency Marketing: Which is Right For You?

Whether you’re an e-commerce retailer, restaurant owner, manufacturer, or contractor, you need marketing. It’s a surefire way to get your name out there and generate leads – helping your business to grow.

You know marketing is inevitable; the question is, how are you going to implement it? Are you going to do it yourself, hire someone, or work with an agency?

What’s The Difference?

When you choose in-house marketing, you either hire a new employee, give the responsibility to someone who already works for you, or do it yourself. Ideally, this individual’s sole responsibility will be marketing your company.

When you hire a marketing agency, you work with a team of marketing experts – this team will develop and implement marketing strategies to help you reach your company’s goals.

In-House Marketing

In-house marketing is best for anyone who wants immediate contact with their marketing support or wants to have their eyes on every project. This is achievable, whether you hire a new employee or opt for handling your company’s marketing all on your own.

It’s important to note that immediate communication doesn’t necessarily translate to fast turnaround, especially if there’s only one or two people handling the workload.

Digital Marketing Agency

For the company that wants a comprehensive marketing strategy, a digital marketing agency is the better option. Agencies have a team of specialists who handle everything from SEO and ad campaigns to social media and content development. If you’re looking for expert advice in all areas of marketing – working with an agency is an excellent way to get access to that kind of expertise.

And with the added capacity of a digital marketing agency, you’ll be able to implement a wider range of marketing strategies faster than a single or two-person in-house team could. If agility is essential to you, hiring an agency is the way to go.

Decisions, Decisions

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When it comes to deciding who’s going to handle your company’s marketing, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are several factors to consider to determine which option is right for you:

  • Onboarding Time
  • Expertise
  • Keeping Up With The Latest
  • Communication
  • ROI

Onboarding Time

When deciding between in-house marketing and hiring an agency, you’ll want to consider how long it’ll take to onboard and see results. The process of hiring a single employee or an agency takes time, but once that process is complete, a marketing team will be able to get to work much faster than a single marketer would. This is especially true if your single marketer is someone with little experience.

In-House Marketing Onboarding

If your plan is to hire someone new, you’ll need to advertise the position, schedule interviews, and eventually hire someone. That individual will need time to get up to speed on everything and begin implementing marketing strategies.

Usually, an in-house marketing team starts with one person – whether you’re hiring someone new or taking it on yourself. You may get the benefit of having immediate interaction with your personal marketer, but remember, one person can only do so much so fast. It takes time to implement marketing tactics and strategize each new campaign.

Marketing Agency Onboarding

The process of hiring a marketing agency takes time just like hiring an in-house marketer. However, once the initial hiring process is complete, your marketing team can get to work right away. You’ll have more manpower behind your company’s marketing efforts too, so the set up time for each new campaign is much less – which ultimately leads to quicker returns for you.

Expertise

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It’s no surprise that we’re going to tell you that when it comes to investing in marketing, you want someone who knows what they’re doing. In-house and agency marketing offer different types of expertise.

In-House: One Specialist

When you hire someone as your in-house marketer, they should be totally invested in your company and your brand. This individual will have to apply their knowledge across a wide range of marketing strategies, and their expertise will only stretch so far before running into something they aren’t familiar with.

Marketing Agency: A Team of Specialists

When you hire a marketing agency, you’ll gain instant access to a team of marketing professionals with different specialties. From SEO and ad campaigns to content and social media specialists, there’s no shortage of expertise when working with a marketing team. The only thing your marketing team will have to learn is your brand, just like an in-house marketer would have to do.

And if you’re attempting to do marketing all on your own, keep in mind that you’re entering an arena filled with professionals who’ve been doing this for years. Marketing trends are always changing – real professionals will understand these trends and know how to keep up. Ask yourself if you really have the time to learn and understand the ever-changing world of digital marketing.

Speaking of trends…

Keeping Up With The Latest

When it comes to marketing, as soon as you have a strategy in place, a newer, better strategy is being used. You’ll want to make sure that whoever you hire can keep up with the latest. That way, you can ensure that your marketing support is following the industry’s best practices, keeping you ahead of the competition.

Your in-house marketing team likely consists of one, maybe two people. With such a small team handling your marketing efforts, they may not have enough time to learn the newest industry trends. Another drawback to being their only client is that, over time, creativity may begin to stall.

Your marketing team is filled with individuals who all specialize in different facets of marketing. One of those specialties is keeping up with the latest marketing trends. So you can take comfort in knowing you have a team of forward-thinking professionals behind your marketing efforts. When it comes to creativity, a marketing agency works with a broad range of clients, forcing them to break new creative ground all the time.

Communication

Communication with your marketing support plays a major role in the success of your marketing efforts. Whether in-house or agency, your marketing team needs to understand your business, your brand, your audience, and last but not least, your goals. A clear path of communication with your marketing support will ensure the right strategies are being implemented.

Communication With Your In-House Team

When you have in-house marketing support, you have direct access to your team. You may be able to get a message to your marketer quickly, but that doesn’t automatically translate to quick turnover – especially if you have a one man team.

Communication With An Agency

When working with a marketing agency, you’ll communicate with your account manager – this individual will be your main point of contact. Whenever you have a question, concern, or request, your account manager will relay this information to the team. You may have to go through another person to get to your marketing team, but once that information makes it to them, they can get to work immediately.

Return On Investment

With in-house marketing, you’ll only return what your in-house team is able to put in. If you have a one man team, it’ll take time to set up your website and ad campaigns, develop content, and keep up with SEO. So your ROI really depends on the rate and quality of their output.

With a marketing agency, the greater the capacity, the greater the results. An agency will deliver results much faster than an in-house team because they have more manpower and are more specialized. And the greater the ROI, the quicker you’ll be able to grow.

The Takeaway

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of in-house vs agency marketing. Although in-house marketing has its benefits, agency marketing checks more boxes in terms of what will get you results. One of the major benefits of working with a marketing agency is that we scale our services to best serve your business needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about working with an agency, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to answer your questions and offer you guidance.

Thanks for stopping by and happy new year!