Monthly Archives: April 2018

(Highly) Effective Ways to Drive Local Leads to your Sales Team

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salesperson conferring with clients using online marketingNothing in the business world exists in a vacuum. Every service, every department, every piece of a company is connected. Marketing is connected to customer service. Customer service is connected to daily operations. Marketing is connected to sales.

Or is it?

Is your marketing integrated into your company sales strategy? Are you investing in marketing that your sales team can use? Are you putting valuable marketing tools in your sales team’s hands?

If not, reconsider. Even the most awesome salesman or woman appreciates solid marketing that they can use to boost sales and improve the bottom line.

Invest in a good website

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is junk in the business world. The truth is that customers judge a company by first impressions—both in-person, printed, and online—every day. Online, this is especially true for company websites, where a slow-loading or low-quality website leads to high bounce rates. Put simply, if your website is subpar (in design or functionality) or doesn’t load quickly, potential clients and customers leave and move on to other companies with functional websites and sales teams they can contact.

To generate leads for your sales team, build a functional, well-designed website with clear call-to-actions and easy contact forms. Designate a staff member responsible for passing the potential e-mails generated from the website to a member of the sales team, and follow-up to ensure that all contacts are responded to promptly.

Get your website at the top of local search results

Warning: it’s time for another saying that is completely not true in marketing. “If you build it, they will come.” A website is not going to attract visitors on its own (or leads to the sales team); behind every successful online business presence is a well-executed website promotion plan and strategy.

One of the most effective ways to promote a website—and to attract leads for the sales team—is local website optimization. This technology optimizes a company’s website for local keyword searches (in this case, local to business location) on major search engines, such as Google and Bing. There are a lot of marketing agencies that offer the service; select an agency that can show examples of past successes and can provide regular reports of data that indicate ongoing local website optimization success. Local optimization gets local visitors researching relevant services and products to the business website; a well-designed website gets messages that the sales team can follow up on.

Produce content the sales team can use

Another effective way to attract local leads is with visual and well-written content. Content regularly added to a website earns a business extra credit with search engines (who value websites that add fresh high-quality content)—and can serve as the ideal way to build trust with prospective clients.

To achieve the latter, set up a plan of strategic content promotion by every member of the sales team. Train the sales team to use the content in emails (individual or mass communications) or on social media to build trust with prospects.

Make sure the communication goes both ways; ask members of the sales team to not only use the content, but to reciprocate with information that produces relevant content for future communications. Because of their regular contact with prospective clients, salespersons can provide frequently asked questions that can be used to provide quality content (either by company marketing or by a marketing agency) they want to use.

Manage online brand management tools

Prospective clients are researching services and products, and the companies that provide and produce them, with an (alarming) regularity. This trend is only alarming if the company brand is the subject of numerous negative reviews—negative reviews that can play a significant role in the amount of (or lack of) prospects contacting the sales team.

To keep the phone ringing off the hook, take ownership of online reviews. Set up a system for requesting and monitoring online reviews or contact a company with automated brand management software. Respond to all negative and positive reviews; use these tips to respond to negative reviews in a positive manner. View a negative review as an opportunity to showcase stellar customer service. Thank positive reviewers for their input and notify the sales team of all positive reviews so they can use them in their future communications with prospective clients.

Local Businesses: 20 Marketing Ideas that Connect with Customers

local customer with smart phoneAs local business owners, another sale may be the ultimate goal, but a connection with a customer is what gets those sales in the door. With in-person and digital options available, local business owners and managers need to select the right (and most efficient) marketing ideas that form those invaluable connections with local customers.

What is the goal of a customer connection?

A connection with a local customer is more than just a means to another sale—and it’s different for a local business versus a huge national corporation. A local business owner should choose tactics that inspire actions from a customer, such as (but not limited to) a referral, brand awareness, positive reviews, or in-person contact. The desired action should play a key factor in deciding on the type of tactic selected to reach business goals. A marketing professional can also offer advice on the specific tactics right for a local business.

It’s also important to realize that many marketing tactics are more than just a part of a plan; they are an integral part of operations that should be implemented via customer service employees who are the face of the business. This means that local business owners and managers should develop standard operating procedures that are a daily part of business and a standard part of employee trainings.

When its time to outsource local marketing efforts, take that team approach a step further. A marketing firm is an extension of your business’ efforts; contact them regularly with updates and information that can be used for a cohesive execution of all local marketing tactics.

How can I get more connections with my customers?

In-person

  1. Ask customers during customer interactions to follow business on social media
  2. Provide a card or flyer during customer interactions with social media options
  3. Ask customers during customer interactions to sign up for email list
  4. Provide a card with deals and contact information to be included in local community event goodie bags
  5. Ask satisfied customers for online reviews
  6. Give customers a mobile device for payment and for leaving an online review (when service is completed)

Website

  1. Optimize your website so you appear in search engine rankings
  2. Include clear call-to-actions (graphic & text) that ask for social media follows and email list sign-ups
  3. Post content with local news, tips, and information helpful for customers

Social Media

  1. Post pictures of employees doing work or on special occasions (with their approval)
  2. Drive traffic to a specific website page from social media
  3. Share website content relevant to customers’ lives
  4. Respond promptly to messages from customers with helpful advice
  5. Share posts from other local businesses and events
  6. Social media advertisements that target local users

E-mails

  1. Send out personalized e-mails with relevant information
  2. Showcase community involvement and local news pertinent to the community and business

Print

  1. Send out flyers or printed materials to local prospects
  2. Ask other local business owners to carry printed materials

Online Review Sites

  1. Take ownership of business profiles on review sites
  2. Contact a company with brand reputation software that manages positive and negative reviews from all online review sites
  3. Respond to all online reviews (negative and positive)
  4. Provide excellent customer service to customers who leave negative reviews (i.e. assist with resolving issue, offer to help)

Local Marketing Ideas that Put Your Business on the Map

customer paying for product at local businessLocal sales are what every local business owner strives for, but are not always attainable until they hit on the right combination of marketing tactics. To muddy the decision-making process even further, the perfect marketing combination is different for every local business.

Though testing is part of the process, a good marketing strategy minimizes the amount of guesswork. The right strategy can position a brand in front of the right people at the right time. Identifying the “right people” is one of the first steps; a target audience is the key to selecting the right marketing tactics and schedule that increase the bottom line.

Website

Today’s websites are more than online brochures; they are a means to an end, with the end being an online sale or contact. To that end, a website should be created with the ends in mind. The website should be easy to navigate for online users, with content produced for the target audience and easy-to-access contact information and calls to action. A mobile-friendly website used to be a luxury; today, mobile-friendly is a must for any business website. Walk (or run) away from any website design company that suggests otherwise.

Local Optimization

Without promotion, a website is just another page on the internet. Significant effort and planning should be put into website promotion; one of those methods can be done during website creation and continually after it goes live. Optimization is the process of creating content for search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing; if done correctly, an optimized website is listed on the first page of search engine results pages for phrases relevant to the business.

For local businesses, there is an added factor: locality. Local optimization services not only get a business at the top of online users’ search results; they get the website ranked at the top of local search results within a radius around the business. Not all optimization services are created equal; contact a local search optimization firm that can show results and data from other clients—and continually produce the data that proves it works.

Content

Optimized web content is only a part of attracting the attention of search engines and users. Regular, high-quality content added to a website continually earns their attention AND can be used in other promotional tools. Regular blog posts, graphics, and video relevant to the target audience (note-they are the key to successful marketing AGAIN). This content can also be used on social media, snail mailings, and in these other business promotion tactics.

Social Media

A connection with customers that walk in the door is vital to sales; an online connection keeps them walking in and gets them to the door. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the link. As with every marketing tactic, positioning the business in front of the target audience is the key to success. Before any business blindly dives on social media, some thought should be given to choosing the social media site with the majority of users in the target audience (use this data on social media demographics). No matter what social media site chosen, regular posts get results. Choosing the right social media or sites, and devoting regular efforts to posting, is the formula for a regular connection with customers.

To connect with local customers, post regular content that shows the business is part of the community and takes an interest in local activities. Share news of local events the business is involved in, and pictures of the people in it. With their permission, post photos and videos of employees and customers that are vital to keeping a local business going.

(Snail) Mailings

Mailings to customers and potential customers may not play as vital of a role in modern marketing as in the past, but they are still a solid way (especially when integrated into a marketing campaign) to retain and attract local customers. Always include alternate ways to contact on the mailer, such as a website link and social media address, so customers can communicate on their own schedule and via their preferred means.

E-mail

E-mail is a digital marketing tactic that has one of the highest returns on investment IF sent to e-mail users that want to receive e-mails. Build a strong e-mail list by making in-person and online asks (i.e. via website, social media, etc.). Send relevant e-mails to that list with content valuable to them (not just discounts and offers) on a regular basis. A solid e-mail is relevant, valuable, and creative enough to get users’ attention AND clear call-to-actions that customers can easily use.

Reviews

An online review is more than just a record of a customers’ experience; it’s a marketing tactic that can be utilized to attract customers. Statistics prove that reviews are a valuable marketing tactic. Creating online profiles and ‘owning’ those reviews are an essential part of marketing a local business. Ask for local reviews (use these ideas to get positive reviews) and incorporate them into daily operations. Integrate reviews into your marketing strategy or lean on local marketing pros that have put other businesses on the map.