Check out this screen shot. Let’s say your looking to get a free estimate to finish your basement. You search basement finishing company. Who would you click on?
I’ll bet your eyes were drawn to the two companies that have those 5 stars and a numerical rating. When you complete this search the screen is larger and the reviews are even more prominent.
Do your client or business a favor. Ask your customers to leave a Google review. It not only helps click through s, but it can also help your rankings.
More reviews, more clicks for people searching for your service. There are correct ways to ask, and it’s important to follow the Google review guidelines. If you aren’t familiar with those here is a link to the Google review guidelines.
Most businesses need a sales boost now and then, the challenge is making that happen quickly.
If you are waiting for Referrals to call you, well that happens when that happens.
So how can a business find sales fast using the Internet? You are going to need to advertise. It’s the only quick way to find new prospects online, which isn’t a terrible thing, as long as you have a well thought out plan, and campaign.
Let’s use the number one method in the world for online advertising, Google Ad Words program. That’s when you place an ad on the Google search results for the keywords that prospects use to find your business. You can place your ad on just the Google search and partners sites, or on Google and all the Ad Sense partners they have (you know, when you see an ad for a business on a site you are viewing, not a Search engine? Those ads are placed (in many cases) through the Google Ad Sense program.
Here is what a normal Google Ad Words ad looks like on a search result page for someone search for a Dentist in Denver.
Your ad is placed on the search result page according to three basic criteria. The amount you are willing to pay for someone to click on your ad compared to the other advertisers, the relevancy of the ad to the keyword search, and the relevancy of your ad to the page the search leads to on your site (called a landing page, this doesn’t need to be a home page).
Google is a very powerful lead generation source for many businesses.
So here are the steps to get started and have an ad showing in one day.
Develop your budget. For bigger ticket sales assume a 20% cost of sale based on your Gross Margin for the advertising if you have no other metric to use. So if you sell a $40,000 item, your gross is $6,000. You should assume you will pay $1200. for one sale. Yes, that may sound expensive, and its only a rule of thumb. You may do significantly better, or if you can lose money on advertising if you are not careful.
Develop a landing page where your prospects will “land” when they click on your ad. There is a ton of information online about how to build a great landing page. Sometimes you already have this page on your site and you won’t have to change a thing. Or you can start with a home page as you build a better landing page. In a great ad words program you might end up with 10 or more landing pages designed for specific type searches, but for right now, lets get this program running!
Build your Ad Words program. You can do this on your own using Ad Words Express, where Google does all the work for you, or build it yourself. Building it yourself, or using a company to do so is a better choice. You’ll have far better control and insight on how the program is performing. There are lots of little tactics you need to be aware of, but the big buckets are, Type of keyword match you use, the locations of where you want your ads run, the time of day and days you will be running your ads, daily budget, ad groups, campaigns, producing multiple ads for testing,and bid amounts you pay for each keyword. ( a good reason to use us to at least set up and monitor the program)
Have a plan on how you will respond to each inquire. They may contact you through your contact form, or call. Be prepared to answer the call, or call then as soon as possible from a contact form inquire. You may want to write a script for yourself or the person answering the calls with the qualifying questions you want to ask. Have a calendar ready to schedule an appointment.
Track all your results. With any advertising, you need to understand what is working, and what doesn’t. You need to plan to spend some money on the learning process as you understand what keywords pay off, and which ones are a money pit. Good idea to have Google analytics on your site. And make sure you monitor your Ad Words program daily for the first 30 days.
Okay, it may sound overwhelming, but many small businesses do this on there own. If you are in a hurry, or just feel more comfortable letting an experience company manage this for you, please call us for a free assessment of how this would work for your business.
The Small Business Purchasing Guide to Advertising
20 years and over 200 million dollars in sales generated for small and medium size businesses have taught us a few lessons about growing sales and how to advertise. As a business growth consulting company, it’s important we communicate the best practices for researching and buying advertising to our clients and any interested small businesses.
Did you know that experts suggest that 70% of advertising dollars are wasted! My experience seems to confirm this. Here are the key lessons and tips that should save you a ton of money, and bring you better prospects.
When deciding on where to advertise for new customers –
Three Good References
Do not advertise or utilize any source until you have spoken with and received three good references from current or recent advertisers with services similar to yours. If a company can not provide you with references (again from services or products like yours) DO NOT USE. Sounds so simple. Very few companies do it.
Long Term Customers
Does the advertising you’re considering have long term customers who utilize it over and over? Companies don’t stop using good advertising methods. Ask them for the last year’s worth of their product (if a magazine, direct mail piece, or other print) and see what the turn over of advertisers is. If it’s a non print opportunity, ask for references that have used the method for at least a year.We research new advertising opportunities for clients every year. 90% get a thumbs-down just based on the above.
New Advertising Opportunities
DO NOT USE new advertising companies.They have no history and some of the largest money wasters are new companies with great stories. If it works they will be around when it’s proven and safe for you to spend money with them.
Don’t Get Sold!
The word sales means to persuade. Don’t let a good sales person make your decision. The sales person is there to provide information to you so you can persuade yourself. Think of sales reps as information givers, and you be the judge based on facts.
Only advertise with companies that attract your type customer. Coupons attract price buyers. If you’re not a price seller why would you waste your money advertising to the wrong type prospect?
Have a professional design your advertising if you’re not a marketing guru.A well thought out and designed advertising piece (Web Site, Social Media, Direct mail, Yellow Page, magazine, TV buy, Radio and other) will generate three or four times the response as the generic owner or non marketing pro produced advertising. For a few hundred dollars you will see a huge impact on the response. And it’s a one time investment.
Don’t have the company providing the advertising do the advertisement or your ad will look and sound just like all the others.
As an example, I see companies use Pay-per-Click advertising on the Internet attached to a cheap and poorly put together web site all the time. They’re getting 25% of the response my clients get for the same money because they only spent a few dollars on a web site. For an extra $1000, they could sell four times as much!
Don’t Advertise Until You’re Ready to Provide Great Service
I had a friend that spent a lot of money on hosting a live remote radio program at one of his restaurants. The turn out was excellent. So good in fact that people had to wait a long time and the staff was completely swamped. The service was poor, and they ran out of many items.All they accomplished was spending money and sending hundreds of potential customers away never to return.
Free Advertising and Marketing
Any advertising and marketing that works is in essence free. It’s throwing away money if it doesn’t. Do your homework.
The “It Takes Repetition for Advertising to Work” Line
Yes, you need to continually reach your target in new and different ways. No, sending the same direct mail piece and getting a bad response time after time does not qualify as a good plan. If it’s not working after the first one or two times -stop it, and figure out what’s wrong.
Change Your Message
Sending the same post card, letter, direct mail piece, or saying the same thing over and over in advertising is another waste. Plan on changing your offer, or message every chance you get.Learn from the big guys. McDonalds is always offering new incentives, or products. You know what? They do it not to sell you a new sandwich; they do it to keep you listening.
To Everything There is a Season – Time Your Advertising
Buyers purchase your service or product at predictable and logical times.For some companies this is a “season” A landscaper in Denver is going to sell 70% of their customers during four months of the year. Spending advertising dollars in December for a landscaper is wasted dollars. Know your customers buying cycle and advertise in these periods.
Did you know for instance that a direct mail piece or flier that arrives at a home on Monday will get two or more times the response than one delivered on Friday for a home improvement company? You may save .05 with a company that delivers whenever they want, but you’re losing response and a lot of dollars. Are you advertising to save money or sell more customers?
Referrals from happy customers are hands down, no question asked, flat out, absolutely, bar none, I am not joking – your best advertising. Yet, referrals are a lot like the old saying about weather. Every one knows about it but no one does any thing about it.Have a referral program in place for every customer. Make it the foundation of your advertising program. I have purchased several referral program guides and developed and implemented referral programs for many clients and every one of the companies that I was a partner or owner of. Nothing beats referrals. If you do nothing else, start a good referral program. Track it, promote it constantly, and focus on it.
The first sign for me of a company that needs our services is they have no defined referral program. Our company does 90% of our business through referrals.
Be a Sharp Shooter
Target and reach.It can save you a lot of money. If you don’t know who your ideal prospects are down to their shoe sizes, you’re spending way too much money reaching them.
In today’s database world, you might be surprised how targeted you can become with your advertising. Once you have your market truly identified, your cost to reach them will go way down and your response will go way up.
Spend Every Dollar You Have
If a specific advertising method is working, spend everything you can on it as long as you can support the new sales. Why companies have some methods that work, and then continue to use others that don’t will always amaze me. Spend your time and money on the stuff that works. Find more of it; spend more on it, until you maximize its return.
Margin and Volume – Define Where You Advertise
The margins you have in your service or product will define your method and budget for advertising.A large volume of potential customers brings down your cost of reach.
A large margin allows you to spend more to reach your target.
If you have a large volume of potential customers with a large margin of profit (or gross margin) – you can advertise a lot. If you have a small volume of potential customers (a service or product for a specific small category of customer) and a small margin – you’re going to be limited to the methods you employ.
A business broker knows that they may only see 10 or 20 good new prospects a year, which is a tiny market, but their margins are good. In this case they will have dollars to advertise wisely. McDonalds has a huge volume and an average margin. They can advertise a lot as the cost of “reach” is very small.
My One Call, LLC 2015
Those are the top tips. If you utilize them consistently, I am confident that you will save money (which goes right into your profit) and produce more revenue for the dollars you spend, which produces more profit!
Feel free to pass this on to any other business owners or managers that you think would find it of value.
No Time to Blog? We have the solution! And it’s pretty cool.
Number one complaint/issue I hear from business owners and managers is they want to write blogs and add content to their site, but just can’t find the time, or don’t feel they have the creative resources.
I get that. It’s hard. Many a time I have seen a business owner spend half a day on a blog, and then post it, hoping for amazing results. Or, I have seen them write one or two and then stop.
Blogging is about consistently adding quality information to your site, and giving your visitors what they came for. It’s not about search engine rankings, and it won’t be anything but a waste of time if you don’t focus on those two elements, quality and consistency.
So here is a pretty cool solution for you. Instead of spending all that time on writing, just list the top three or four questions you get about your business, and answer them by using a Live Google Hangout video which will be recorded and hosted on YouTube free. Now send the URL to a transcription service, who will charge you $1 a minute to send you a transcription of your video. And …. there you have the blog. You may need to spend 20 minutes cleaning up the transcript making it more readable. Once you get the hang of this, you can do one when ever you get the itch, and have a good question to answer
I’ll add the pro’s and con’s to this blog a little later in the week. And I’ll also give more detail on how to set these up, or make a much bigger production using this as the foundation of your web visibility programs by adding professional production, a professional host of the show, A YouTube channel, P.R..a and SEO all to the system.
For years there has been an ongoing discussion about the effect of having duplicate content on your web site. The more extreme view has been it was a clear ranking killer, and that you would be “penalized” by the search engines if it was found on your site.
Yesterday The SEM Post cited Gary Illyes , a Google employee, as saying at a major conference that he stressed that duplicate content is not a penalty and that it is just a myth – it is actually a filter. Read the article here http://www.thesempost.com/duplicate-content-penalty/
Bottom line is you can use duplicate content where it makes sense without being concerned that it will hurt your rankings. You should also be aware it won’t help your rankings either.
I see a pretty big surge in posting good content from other sources coming up. Many businesses are always striving to add content, but don’t have the time or resources.
I see nothing wrong with the practice as long as the original author and site gets the credit, and it has real value to your visitors, who may not have been exposed to it in the past.
So how can you use this to add content? Well, many business have old blogs on other sites, or testimonials on other sites. You can copy and “re-purpose” those old blogs that you posted on e zines or a bunch of other sites we all may have used in the past. You should update them of course to reflect what every changes have happened in the world.
You can also post a recent blog or article that caught your eye, that your audience may not have seen, adding your own take, and comments as well.
There seems to be a general consensus that a business must use search engine optimization to sell online or generate inbound leads and new revenue from the Internet. Some suggest that a business must be very active on Social Media as well.
Much of this discussion is based on the buzz and constant promotion you find online from those companies that sell SEO or Social Media services.
The truth is, a business may be better served using an old fashion approach to generating leads and new customers online: Advertising.
Prior to the Internet a business would have three primary ways to generate new customers.
Word of Mouth
So you would list your business in the major Yellow Pages, and directories for a price established by the size of ad and placement, and you might pay for advertising on T.V, Radio or Print. In any case, you paid for the exposure. Honestly, it was a far simpler way than it is today.
You can still use the same system, and skip all the complexities and expense of using SEO or spending hours a day on Social Media.
Almost every major portal online has an advertising program. You can buy advertising on:
Almost any search engine
Online yellow pages
Content distribution companies
And then there are probably just as many opportunities to advertise online in your market niche or geographic area. For the construction Industry and residential contractors, sites like:
Dave Logan (Denver area)
If you are selling to home builders Hanley Wood offers many great advertising opportunities.
The list for every business type to advertise on is extensive. So , you can see how you can in fact reach your target markets without being ranked on the first page of Google.
Think about it…. for every business that has a top 3 spot on the search engine results there are thousands that don’t, yet still can generate new business online.
One of the big advantages to utilizing advertising online is this simple fact. If and when Google changes the algorithm you won’t lose all of your traffic. Something that can happen when you rely primarily on search rankings for traffic.
Advertising has to be well thought out of course. And it does help having someone who knows the “landscape” managing the program, so it can be tracked and analyzed to maximize the investment. But even the smallest of businesses can advertise on Facebook for $50 a month, or use co-op lead generation sites like Thumbtack to buy new leads.
With all that said, a great SEO and Social Media program can bring in a better return on investment over time, but you don’t have to wait, you can start advertising as soon as you like, while the other programs build.
Most of our long term clients, even after the search engine optimization has been successful, will continue to advertise to “fill in the gaps”. The advertising budget certainly is much smaller, but still serves a purpose.
If we can help you with your Web Visibilty please call us at 720-254-1234 for a free 30 minute (ish) discussion.
Looking at how our contractor clients found new leads in 2014 and early 2015 can help you understand how to generate more sales in the next year.
We work on marketing plans that include primarily long term lead generation programs, because they by their nature generate a better return on your investment. We also understand that if you don’t have a good size customer base who is referring new business to you, you need to have short term lead generation programs in place. These will have a lower return on investment, and need to be closely analyzed before you spend any money. It’s just as easy to lose money on a poorly executed short term lead generation program as it is to make money.
Types of Short Term Lead Generation Programs Ranked by success.
Google pay per click advertising.: It’s risky if you aren’t experienced in producing Pay Per CLick programs. You will need a good landing page, a decent offer on that page, and understand how to set up the ad words program using the right type of keywords , lot’s of “ad groups”, the right Geo-Targeting, the right bidding strategy and time of day targeting.
Door Fliers: For certain industries these can be produce leads. Time of year, service offering, demographics targeted demographics will all be important to the success of a program. Volume is very important as well. Think 10,000 doors not 500 when budgeting.
Print Advertising. Careful here.
T.V. and Radio. Don’t do it unless you sell a high margin, high volume product (windows) and only do it at the right time of year
Co-op Marketing. Think Home Advisor, or Team Dave Logan. Once again, you need to be very careful in how you approach these type advertising opportunities. Easy to loser money if you are not prepared to go “all In” on your full sales cycle. You’ll also have to have different expectations on closing percentage. This is about the lowest form of lead.
Long term Lead Generation Programs:
oddly enough, last years top source has moved to second. That may be based on new demand in the residential construction area.
Number One Lead Source:
Search Engine optimization, local SEO and web visibility programs. Organic and other internet listings out performed referrals by a pretty good revenue margin last year. Web visibility also includes many other aspects of Internet marketing, including video, YouTube, Social Networks and more.
Referrals from former customers
Referrals from professional’s and networks
Charity and community involvement. As in most things in business, relationships matter. Although you may not see a large amount of new revenue, it will help your branding, and you are doing the right thing.
More to follow on the long term programs that we see as the most successful, and truly generate 80% of the revenue for the companies we work with long term. Stay tuned…
In the continuing series of how to sell Business and SEO services, and based on our premise that relationships are what really sell, I wanted to give you a great tool and process to sell more services.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest business social network. Chances are the vast majority of your clients have a LinkedIn profile. On that profile is a list of their connections. Doesn’t it make sense to take a look at all of your clients connections, making a note of the industry and position each connected person is in, and then ask your client for an introduction?
The first step is to request to be added to each of your clients LinkedIn account. All you need to do is search LinkedIn for their names, and then request they add you as a connection.
We encourage our sales coaching clients and any businesses that sell B2B, to actively, and prolifically ask for referrals from clients. The big challenge most of your clients/customers will have giving you a referral (and I find this true time after time) is trying to figure out who to refer you to. The process of knowing who their connections are on LinkedIn, and asking directly for a referral to that very person, will increase your referrals a ton.
Give it a few weeks if needed
You may need to give it a few weeks before many of your clients respond to your request to be connected, as they may not check their account all that often. For those you don’t hear back from, send them an email and ask that they add you to their LinkedIn connections.
Search their connections
Now that you are connected… go search those clients’ connections! Make a note of the people you think will benefit from your service, and then… write a template email that you can give to your client that recommends a business speak to you about your service.
Send a request for an introduction
Send your client a request for a referral to the identified prospect, and add the email template to the bottom of your email. End your email with something like….
Mike, I wanted to make this as easy as possible for you so I have included a brief introduction of my company for
_____________ (Name of prospect) below. Please feel free to just copy and paste it into an email to _______.
You have now eliminated almost all the reasons you don’t get referrals from Clients. You have identified the person(s) they can refer, you have written the copy they need to send. You will be surprised how many of your clients will happily refer you to non competing businesses.