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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!

The Website Design Process

When it comes time to design a new website, you may feel excited or even a little anxious. A new website allows you to update everything from your content and images to your entire marketing strategy – all of which can open the door to new prospects and leads.

With constant changes in web design strategies and trends, it can be hard to know where to start or who to trust. We’re going to break down our design process for you so you understand what all is involved and why.

Writing codes and typing data code technology, Programmer cooperating working on web site project in a software developing on desktop computer at company.

1.) The Discovery Phase: Share, Share, Share

The initial stage of our web design process is the discovery phase. This is the stage where we get as much information as possible from the client. We want you to share everything you can about your business.

To help make sure we’re getting enough information from clients, we schedule phone call interviews. These short interviews include a series of questions pertaining to your business. We try to cover everything from when your business was established to what sets you apart from your competitors. During this interview, and all other communication, we encourage clients to share, share, share. Give us the whole gamut. The more information you provide, the easier it will be to create a website that reflects your voice, vision, and passion.

We also ask clients for their design preferences during this initial stage. We promise you, anything you share with our design team will be of great value. Your website not only needs to be engaging and functional, it needs to convey information using your brand’s voice. This will turn visitors into leads and help your business grow exponentially.

2.) Share All Images and Logo Files

A key factor to the design process is getting the proper files and information to the design team. This information includes documents, images, and other useful resources. Your current marketing materials can prove to be extremely helpful for the designers, so be sure to share any brochures, photos, logos, or flyers you may have. These materials give our design team a more in depth look into your company – helping us understand your brand and what sets you apart from the competition.

When it comes to sharing assets, particularly logos, it’s best to share anything and everything that may be useful. Logo files are a valuable asset for any business. Your logo is your face to the world, and our web designers want to put that best face forward online. In order to do this, you must provide high-quality, high-resolution logo files. This helps ensure a smooth web design process. Without these high-resolution files, all customers will see is a pixelated version of your logo or products, which may make your business appear sloppy.

To avoid this, we recommend using a .jpg, (or .jpg2000), .png, or .tif file format with a minimum size of 1200 dpi (dots per inch) x 900 dpi. The larger the dpi, the better. Designers are able to create various options from a larger file compared to a smaller one. A popular image size used is 2480 x 1152. You may be wondering, “Isn’t the logo from my Facebook page sufficient?” Unfortunately, smaller images such as thumbnails won’t provide a quality image as it is too small for designers to use. If a designer used a thumbnail photo for the main image on your website, it would appear very distorted.

Not only is quality important, but quantity is as well. Send along as many pictures of your products, building (inside and out), and employees as possible. The more you give our designers to work with, the better the end result!

If you’re unable to locate any of these assets, or currently do not have a logo, we can discuss other options. We may be able to create a web-ready version of your logo or can recommend something else.

3.) Hand Over the Reins

An important component of making the design process successful is to hand over control to the designer. Website designers have the expertise and time that you or your employees may not have.  Plus, when you hire a professional, your website will be modern as well as functional. If you’re nervous about relinquishing control, know the final say lands with you. Good designers will welcome any feedback after the initial draft has been viewed.

Once the above documents and images are obtained, our web designers are able to begin the creating process. Copywriters are able to produce the content (or wording) for your website, informing your audience of the unique products and services you offer. The content they create also utilizes keywords that are strategically placed throughout the website’s wording.

Keywords are specific words that act as the key to a cipher or code. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.” As a business owner, you want the keywords on your page to be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a better chance of finding your content among the results.

Our web designers and graphic designers then add this content to the website. Your images are also placed into the design, along with making visual modifications such as colors and fonts to match your logo. Once our creative team has a working rough draft of the website in place, you will be able to review it. The process from creation to completion varies but can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on your company’s needs.

4.) Provide Feedback and Finalize

Last but not least, we encourage clients to provide us with feedback. Remember, this website is a reflection of your business. Our creative team always does their best to bring a client’s vision to life. However, minimal feedback may result in a website that doesn’t truly reflect your business the way you’d like it to. When it comes to the web development process, we’re your partner. We want to work with you to create a website you’re truly proud of. So again, provide feedback! At this point in the web development process, final touches and last minute changes are relatively easy to make. Once you like what you see, it’s time to finalize everything and get your new website live!

If you’re interested in learning more, we recommend scheduling a no-cost, no-obligation analysis meeting with one of our consultants. During this meeting, you’ll learn how your current website is performing and what areas need to be improved. This information is free to you, so why not take advantage of it?

We look forward to connecting with you soon!

No-Cost, No-Obligation Digital Marketing Analysis – What’s the Catch?

We understand that when you hear the words ‘no-cost’ or ‘no-obligation’ you may think ‘what’s the catch?’. In our case, the catch is that there really is no catch. We know that’s hard to believe. So, why do we offer this analysis meeting with no strings attached?

We know online marketing is fickle, and not everyone understands what it truly takes to successfully grow your business online. You may think your website is on page one of search results or that your information is consistent across every platform. But what if your efforts aren’t paying off like you think they are? The internet changes quickly; have you changed with it?

A pressured sale is always resisted – which is why we never take this approach during an analysis meeting. Instead, we aim to have an informative, pleasant, and transparent conversation with you and provide you with information that nobody else will.

You may be wondering, what exactly does this analysis meeting consist of?

It’s pretty simple, actually. Here’s what we do:

  • Discuss your current online marketing strategies.
  • Go over three separate reports that were prepared prior to your appointment.
  • Answer your questions and provide you with feedback.

If you wish, you can keep a copy of these reports. This information is yours to keep. Our only hope is that you’ll take action if action is needed, whether you work with us or not.

What does each report consist of?

Each report is designed to analyze specific information – your website, SEO, current online exposure, etc. Here’s a breakdown of each report:

  • Analysis Report: Overview of keyword searches pertaining to your business and how often you show up with each search in your local area.
  • Listings Scan: Outlines how accurate your business information is listed across 100+ directories.
  • Website Audit: Summary of your website’s current SEO factors, how these factors perform, and how well you rank on search engines.

We can say with total confidence that people are searching online for what you have to offer. Wouldn’t you want to know if your business is showing up? Don’t you want to see how you stack up against your competitors? That’s what we’ll show you. With no strings attached. Just honest-to-goodness factual information for you to do with whatever you’d like.

Should you decide you’d like to learn more and continue the conversation, we’ll be there. We’re in this business to help people – to show business owners they have someone they can trust. And in the dynamic world of digital marketing, finding someone you can trust is invaluable. There’s nothing like watching a business soar – and we have the tools and resources to get you there.

So, why do we offer this digital marketing analysis with no strings attached?

Because we’re on your side. We want you to be successful and we want you to feel confident. This analysis meeting will either reassure you that you’re doing everything right or open your eyes to what more can be done. As a company built on transparency and honesty, we couldn’t imagine starting our relationship with you any other way.

Set your fears aside. Take a chance.

If you’re interested in learning more or would like to set up a digital marketing analysis, you can start the process here. All we need from you is your business name, address, and contact information.

If you’re not quite ready to meet with a marketing consultant but find your curiosity is getting the best of you, click here. You can run your very own listings scan – just like the one we’d prepare for you. This way, you can get a glimpse of the type of information we would discuss.

This report will outline how your business information is listed across 100+ directories. It’ll look at everything from your address and phone number, right down to how your business name is listed. For example, if you have Co. at the end of your name, but it’s spelled out as Company on some directories, Google will recognize this as an inconsistency. It’s the little things like this that work against you, and you may not even realize it. And if you find that you’re having a hard time making sense of this report, no worries! That’s what we’re here for – to bring clarity and hope to local business owners just like you.

We’re ready when you are. Contact us today.

Shutdown Recovery: Moving Forward With These 5 Online Marketing Strategies

When Covid-19 struck, no industry was left unscathed. Yet, any crisis can be a golden opportunity for innovation, if responded to with reflection, planning, and initiative.

Small business owners may feel like they don’t have the answers. We understand. Working with such a diverse client base has allowed us to see what is and isn’t working when it comes to business recovery. With our no-cost, no-obligation analysis, we’re able to not only analyze your current state online, but also how you stack up against your competitors. We offer a variety of strategies to emulate what’s working within your industry. WebLocal is here to help you navigate these trying times.

A majority of companies are turning to digital marketing. According to Forbes magazine, it could even be the deciding factor in whether or not a business survives, and for industries that aren’t digital-native, that challenge is even greater. Professional guidance and implementation of online marketing strategies will give you the best chance at getting the ROI you’ll need.

Let’s take a look at 5 online marketing strategies that will help businesses combat the shutdown.

1. Improving Your Online Presence

Improving your online presence has been our driving message from the beginning. This isn’t exactly a new idea – what’s new is the position many businesses are now in. Businesses that can successfully adapt and improve their online presence at a time like this will be steps ahead of their competitors.

The world is experiencing a new way of conducting business. With increasing barriers to in-person interaction, people are turning to the internet more than ever. Communicating through your website, social media, and other online tools is critical during this time.

Change is difficult for everyone, however, adapting really isn’t an option right now – it’s a necessity. Here are some questions you may want to consider:

  • Is our website up to date?
  • Is it user-friendly?
  • Is it secure?
  • Have we been active on social media?
  • Have we updated our hours on our website, Google Business listing, or other directories?

Look across all online platforms and ask yourself, “is this the best, most accurate representation of my business?” If the answer is no, it’s time to re-evaluate and make some adjustments.

During the Covid-19 shutdown, you want people to know how you’re conducting business as well as your long-term plan.

We don’t know how long the affects of this shutdown will last. People want to know if you’re open, or if you’re offering delivery or curbside pick-up. Your website might be the first place they check. A secure, up-to-date website can make the difference right now. It’ll show your customers how much you care by making sure their questions are answered.

2. Increasing Your Online Exposure

You might be happy with your online presence – your website is up-to-date and user-friendly, you’re active on your Facebook page, etc. Unfortunately, the time and money you’ve invested in creating that image is wasted if you’re not getting seen.

If you’ve been updating your website in regard to Covid-19 but it’s not on page one of search results, your message may not be getting seen like you think it is. Now, more than ever, you need people to find you. This might be the only way an existing or potential customer finds out you’re still open for business.

How confident are you in the following?

  • Is your business showing up in front of potential customers?
  • Do you know how your potential customers are seeking out your products or services?
  • Where are your potential customers going to find what they need?
  • Do you know what your competitors are doing online?
  • What is the current demand for your products or services?

If you’re not completely confident or satisfied with the answers above – we can provide clarity. Our no-cost analysis is designed to provide businesses with this information. We can tell you exactly what people are searching for and where you’re showing up. We can also tell you how your competitors are performing. Understanding what other businesses are doing will give you an edge on your competition. Take advantage of all the available real estate online and increase your online exposure.

3. Remote Communication – Rethinking Communication Channels With Customers

Remote communication has been around for awhile – some businesses use it, some don’t. However, right now, it may be crucial.

This style of communication comes in several forms:

  • Email
  • Website chat functions
  • Video conferencing
  • Social media

If you’ve already been using one of these methods, it’s time to step it up a notch or two!

For most of us, in-person business has been practically eliminated. Remote communication is becoming the primary form of communication for businesses and their customers.

We’ve implemented website chat functions and email notifications for our clients before, but not everyone found it necessary. Now, it’s essential. It’s a way of streamlining communication with your customers. As soon as someone emails you or starts a chat through your website, you’ll be notified instantly. We thought people were inpatient before – it’s a whole different ball game now. That’s why it’s important to provide quick and easy communication options for your customers.

If you were to miss a phone call from a customer, you wouldn’t wait a few days to respond. The same applies to remote communication. If they reach out and don’t get a response, don’t expect them to still be there days later. Your online etiquette should be synonymous with your phone etiquette.

Tips to remember for remote communication:

  • If you aren’t doing it, start now!
  • Do it more.
  • Respond quickly, like immediately.
  • Utilize different platforms.

Rethinking communication channels with customers is just another way of adapting during a time like this. It may seem intimidating, but that’s what we’re here for!

4. Selling Online

Covid-19 has forced many businesses into online sales one way or another. Maybe you’re trying to figure out what you should do – is it time to start selling online where you didn’t before? Would it be easier to process transactions online for your product or service? After all, both of these things don’t require face-to-face interaction. And without the option of selling online, you may not be able to sell at all.

Some businesses have rapidly adjusted to making online sales where others are still trying to figure it out. Those who’ve successfully integrated online sales into their new way of conducting business are making sales. Whereas those who have not are losing business.

There are different ways of catering to consumer demands during the Covid-19 shutdown.

  • Implementing an online store on your website where orders, payments, and delivery can be processed.
  • Processing orders online for items only available for curbside pick-up.
  • Implementing payment processing on your website and nothing more.
  • Facebook marketplace – with targeted ads, you can get your products in front of a large audience this way.

Additionally, if you currently have a POS system that isn’t fully integrated with your website, now is the time to make that change. That way, you can keep everything streamlined so you don’t skip a beat.

All the different ways of selling online can be easily implemented. And when you hire a professional to do this for you, security and functionality aren’t concerns.

You don’t have to figure it out alone – we’re here to help. A no-cost analysis can tell us what businesses in your own industry are doing and what is and isn’t working. This puts you in a powerful position to make decisions that’ll set you apart from the rest.

5. Boosting Your Online Advertising Budget

We’ve come full circle. The first strategies we discussed, improving your online presence and exposure, are hard to do without boosting your online advertising budget.

With a sudden halt to in-person business and a lack of commuting, now isn’t exactly the time to invest in offline marketing, like a billboard or newspaper ad.

It’s time to put that billboard online.

Covid-19 has changed our lifestyles. More and more people are finding themselves with extra time on their hands. With this extra time, people are flocking to the internet. Whether they’re looking for updates from local businesses, online shopping, or perusing social media, they’re spending more time online. And it makes sense to advertise where the people are.

Why is now the time to boost your online advertising budget?

Because people are looking for certainty in an uncertain time. They want to know which businesses are open and how they’re handling this situation. They want to feel confident that when they need your product or service, you’ll still be able to provide it to them.

You may be wondering why you should hire experts to help with your online advertising. Well, because right now, you want to get the most you possibly can out of your advertising efforts. We understand you may feel like it’s going to cost you a lot to hire professionals, but it’ll cost you more if something goes amiss in your own efforts.

Some advantages of boosting your online advertising budget:

  • Get in front of more potential customers.
  • Create awareness.
  • Create new buzz.
  • Educate customers.
  • GENERATE MORE SALES!

You want to make sure you’re getting in front of the right people and you’re getting your message across. We can make that happen. If you’re not sure that boosting your online advertising right now is right for you, we invite you to contact us to learn more.

We understand how challenging this time is, and we’re here to provide you with the answers you’re looking for. You can trust that we have your best interest at heart. After all, our success depends on your success.

Click here to request a no-cost, no-obligation online analysis and consultation of your business!

SEO 2020

It’s 2020, and time to take a fresh look at SEO. While most tried-and-true strategies continue to be effective, search engines are always evolving, and keeping up on the trends will keep you up on the competition!

What to Expect in 2020

1.) Google Emphasis on E-A-T

Google has evaluated sites based on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) for a long time. In fact, a whitepaper published in February of 2019 confirmed that E-A-T plays a very important role when it comes to ranking. Google wants credible pages to show up on search results. So, what makes a website credible?

According to SEOProfiler, Google defines a credible website as one that has:

  • Quality website content with reliable sources of information.
  • No technical errors, broken links, or spelling mistakes.
  • Trustworthy website links.
  • Transparency; showing you can be trusted.

2.) Visual Search on the Rise

People are starting to conduct visual searches more and more. According to Backlinko’s statistics on visual search:

  • Google Lens has reached 1 billion users.
  • Pinterest gets nearly 600 million visual searches per month.
  • 36% of Amercians have already used visual search.

Visual search is not yet seen as an SEO game changer, but is expected to take off in 2020. We look forward to seeing what’s to come in the visual search world!

3.) Video Marketing

Video marketing is certainly seen as a tried-and-true marketing strategy. Cisco predicts that by 2021, 82% of all online traffic will be video. We won’t be surprised if that number continues to climb.

If you haven’t read our latest blog which is entirely about video marketing, here’s the list of benefits we mentioned:

  1. Video marketing is like an investment. Incorporating video on landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.
  2. Video makes a great addition to email marketing campaigns. Mentioning the word “video” in an email subject line can increase open rates by 19%. Videos can influence buying behavior and turn visitors into leads and leads into customers.
  3. Video marketing encourages social shares. In fact, 92% of mobile video consumers share videos.

Check out our Video Marketing blog to learn more!

4.) Voice Search Optimization

Voice search is continuing to trend in the digital marketing world. Every day, 41% of adults are talking to their phones. People love how easy it is. Knowing this means it’s smart to continue optimizing content for voice search.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between searching for something by typing it in and asking Google a question out loud. These two demands for information require different answers that lead to the same result. Implementing SEO strategies that consider all the ways a query could be stated using voice search is key.

5.) Keyword Intent

Google is getting better at giving people the exact search results they’re looking for. Understanding the intent behind visitors’ searches can help to identify which keywords should be used. Leveraging keyword intent can drive website traffic and sales, as well as generate new leads.

High intent keyword examples:

  •  Buy
  •  Visit
  •  Purchase
  •  Deal
  •  Discount
  •  Coupon
  •  Free Shipping
  •  Affordable
  •  Best
  •  New
  •  Brand names

Keyword use depends on the nature of a business, but these are great examples of words we’ve all likely typed in a handful of times ourselves!

6.) Keeping Up with SEO Best Practices

SEO best practices are changing all the time hence the trends we see come and go. Search engines have to be wary because as soon as a new practice is put in place, someone has figured a way around it. That’s why these things are always changing. Make sure you’re working with a company that understands SEO best practices and keeps up with every change.

7.) Diversify

Most marketing companies look at SEO from a website standpoint. And while website SEO is important, it’s not the only strategy to look at. There are several SEO strategies that work in conjunction with one another. When you do a Google search, we like to call this an ‘everything search’. Not only do websites appear, but so do videos, social media accounts, pictures, blogs, directories and more. If all these different tools appear with a Google search, why not optimize them? This way, your business is likely to appear on several search results. Just like most marketing companies, we offer website SEO, but unlike other companies, we offer a full range of SEO services that improve your online exposure in a measurable way.

Some of these strategies have been popular for years, while others are new to the game. If you’re new to digital marketing and SEO, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you find. No need to worry; that’s what we’re here for! WebLocal can answer all your questions and get you set up with a marketing and SEO plan perfectly tailored to you.