Get Smart With Reputation Management

When you’re looking to purchase a new product or service yourself, what is one of the first things you do? You research it. And what holds the most bearing in your decision?

Chances are, it’s the reviews left by other customers. Too many negative reviews, and you start looking for something better.

Online-Reputation-Management-MarketAs a culture, we value the opinions of others. In fact, 82% of consumers visit a review site when they intend to buy a product (Nielsen) and 90% of consumers say a positive review influences their purchase decision (Marketing Land).

Statistics

The statistics on the negative end are also intimidating (Moz):

  • Up to 22% of customers will do business elsewhere if they find one negative review article in a search engine
  • Increase those negative review results to three and you may lose up to 59% of potential customers
  • With four or more negative review results, up to 70% of consumers will purchase from someone else

All it takes is four customers unhappy with the product or service you provided and the motivation to plaster their grievance all over the internet, and your business can take a substantial hit.

That’s why reputation management is an essential part of any successful business — you have to stay ahead of it. It’s not just about responding to negative reviews to defend your company (in fact, that’s not a great idea, but that’s a blog post for another day). It’s just as important to be gleaning positive reviews — as many as possible — from your current, happy customers.

We have a proven method of helping you to manage your reputation online, including an automated text system to encourage reviews from your customers promptly and linking your account to all the social media platforms your business utilizes.

Request a free 30-minute marketing consultation with us to find out more about how our reputation management service can help you generate more positive reviews and, in turn, more customers.


Utilize the Slow Season

It’s no secret that May to September is the busiest time of year for hot tub dealers and pool builders. So, as your busy season comes to a close, you may be looking ahead to the next few months and wondering what to do with all this available time (other than taking a vacation to recover from the last few months).

Success Ideas Teamwork Plans Signpost Shows Business Plans And OrganizationYour slow season is a great time to focus on the behind the scenes aspects of your business. After all, there is always something to do and those busy months of installs and packed showrooms often mean you get behind on other things that need your attention.

Get Caught Up

Use this time to catch up on everything that falls through the cracks when you and your staff are on the clock all summer long. Consider adding the following tasks to your to-do list for the winter:

  • Update your client lists with new clients and updated previous client info
  • Take stock of your inventory and determine what you need to prepare for next year’s busy season
  • Reorganize (and deep clean) your showroom to give it a fresh look
  • Examine your service routes to make sure you’re using time and money wisely

Hit Up Trade Shows

Most of the trade shows for your industry are during the slower months for good reason. You should attend at least one. This will give you a great opportunity to meet with your vendors one-on-one (be sure to schedule those meet-ups in advance), take advantage of educational opportunities, and browse the trade show floor for new, top-notch products you can start offering to your own customers.

Beef-Up Your Marketing

The slow season is a great time to really examine your marketing efforts and work toward growing your business. Have you started an email marketing campaign to keep potential customers that visit your website engaged (don’t worry, we can help you!)? What about planning your content calendar for your blog and social media several months in advance (we can help there too!)?

Revisit your marketing budget and see how you can utilize it better.  Now is the time to plan these things so that they’re already in place during the busy season and you don’t have to think about it then.

While we highly recommend taking a vacation when things slow down, once you’ve hit that reset button, dive into all the behind-the-scenes aspects of your business to keep things running smoothly all year long.


Delegating for success

As a business owner, you’re a jack of all trades. And we’re sure there are days when you feel like a master of none.

After all, there’s an awful lot you have to do every day. From the moment the alarm goes off in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night, you’re running. Going. Doing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.delegate_authority_king_621555

You can ease your burden and focus on the things that truly need your attention by delegating supporting business tasks to trusted employees and skilled business partners. It’s just a matter of choosing the right staff or partner for the right job.

Wondering which tasks might be ripe for moving off your plate? Read on …

Book Keeping

Still keeping your own books? If you’re great at it, that’s fine. But if it’s burden – and if you aren’t particularly good at it – consider outsourcing. Just be sure to schedule regular check-ins so you know what’s going on.

IT Support

Computers. Ugh, right? Well, for most of us, anyway. If someone on your team is adept with updating and maintaining software, let them have this responsibility. Or, hire it out. These days, given internet security concerns and other issues, it’s vitally important to stay on top of this.

Customer Service

As the business owner there will be times when you need to step in. But there’s no reason you need to handle all customer concerns. Empower an employee who has good, natural “people skills” to take of the day-to-day stuff.

Marketing

Unless you’re running a marketing business, it’s pretty safe to say marketing isn’t your core skill.

So why are you trying to market your business?

Turn to an experienced partner you can trust. The Get Smart Group offers professional marketing guidance, analysis and support. With our relationship-based marketing approach, we focus on creating quality marketing content and collateral to help you build long-term relationships with your customers.

Let us focus on your graphic design, social media, website, campaigns and more, so you can focus on the reason you started your business in the first place.

Ready? Contact us today.


Know your online customers: metrics

Remember when social media began? It was this fun thing, for connecting with friends – especially those you hadn’t seen in a long time – discovering new music, and sharing tidbits about your daily life. You know, like what you had for lunch.

metric3Today, it’s still all those things. But it’s also become an amazing way to promote your business. To do it right, though, takes a significant investment of your time, and, depending on the size and scope of your business, a financial investment as well.

So, if you’re going to put all that INTO social media – into being online at all, really – shouldn’t you know what your business is getting OUT of it?

Your Website

Think of your website like the home base of your business’ online presence. If a customer wants to know anything about you, from your phone number and hours to the products you carry, this is where they’ll expect to find the information. Your website should tell your customers anything they’ll want to know.

Behind the scenes, your website analytics will tell you a lot about your customers. You’ll want to look at how they’re coming to your site – are they typing in your web address or navigating to your site from another source? If you’re using web ads, are they delivering customers? When they come to your site, how long are they staying? What information are they looking at while they’re there? Analyzing these and other analytics can help you understand how your site is performing, and how to make it better.

Your Social Channels

Every week it seems like a new social channel is poised to take the world by storm. But Facebook remains the king of them all, and for most businesses it’s the best place to at least start their social efforts. Plus, attracting people to your page through paid promotions can be incredibly affordable.

Facebook offers robust analytics, so you can see how your page and individual posts are performing. Examine your analytics to see which types of posts are liked and shared more often by your audience, and try to tailor your future posts accordingly to increase your success.

For Facebook ads, keep an eye on CPC (cost per click) and Relevance Scores metrics. The first tells you how much, on average, it cost you when someone clicked on your paid post. The lower the cost, the more successful your post. The second ranks Facebook ads on a scale of 1-10. The higher the number, the more people enjoy your ad – which means Facebook’s algorithm will show it to more people, at a lower cost to you.  

So, yeah. It turns out being online in business is more complicated than sharing pictures of that amazing sandwich you had at lunch.

But you knew that.  

It also turns out there’s a partner just an email away who already lives and breathes this stuff, and is ready to help you craft an online plan, personalized for your business. We can’t wait to hear from you.


Market with Intention

Would you plan the details of a trip without first choosing your destination? Would you study flights, decide on a budget, choose activities, restaurants, and modes of travel while you’re there – without knowing where you were going?

Of course not!

In fact, it would be almost impossible to do so. Frustratingly so.

The same principles apply to your marketing efforts. Choosing your tactics – billboards, advertising, websites, direct mail, trade shows, Google ads – before you have a solid, intentional marketing strategy is much like trying to plan a trip before you have a destination in mind. You’ll be wasting your time and your money, not seeing the results you want. And that adds up to major frustration.

So, how do you get started?

Marketing Strategy Image2Begin by setting goals. Understand where your business is now, and decide where you want it to go. Write it down. Does it make sense? And perhaps most important of all – is it realistic?

Use your plan to focus on your customers. This way, you aren’t using unrelated tactics – an email here, an ad there – but a coordinated marketing plan to drive the message you want to the audience you want to see it. Picture targeted ads, coordinated with an email campaign that ties into direct mail and other efforts. That’s how you make marketing work for you.

Let your plan help you stay on track and keep you accountable. In today’s marketing world, there’s always something new you could be doing. When you’re acting intentionally, you can say no to things that will take you away from your strategy. You can also use your plan to make sure you’re making your goals. If you’re not, it may be time to reevaluate.

Wondering what’s next? We can help! At The Get Smart Group, we’re experts in helping businesses like yours craft creative, intentional marketing strategies and put them in action for amazing results. Contact us today!


Embrace Your Summer Bucket List

You need a vacation! You manage and delegate and manage some more. You fill in the gaps, work longer hours than anyone else, and desperately need uninterrupted time with your family. And if it weren’t for that darn digital marketing, you’d be on vacation by now.

Oh, wait, you have someone to take care of that for you! And when you have someone you can trust to do something so vital to the success of your business the right way, getting away with your family for a few days to reconnect seems entirely plausible!

Summer-Bucket-List

Here are some things you can add to your summer to-do list because you no longer have to worry about managing your digital marketing:

  • Take the family to an amusement park like Six Flags to see who throws up first after all of the roller coasters.
  • Go camping for a weekend… so far out in the middle of nowhere that there is absolutely no cell phone service. Better yet, go in the middle of the work week just to see what that feels like.
  • Leave the kids with grandparents and spend a weekend with your significant other… being crazy together in Las Vegas. Remember, what happens in Vegas… has absolutely nothing to do with managing your digital marketing (other than Snapchatting all the fun you’re having)!
  • Just go on an actual vacation. As in, leave for at least a week with your family. Go to Disney or to the beach or wherever you’ve been wanting to take them for ages, but worrying about all the posting and email marketing has kept you from following through on.

The world is your oyster — or however the saying goes — now that you’ve released the big time-sucking task of digital marketing into our capable hands. No more managing multiple social media accounts. No more fielding website inquiries through the right marketing funnel one-by-one. No more stressing over the right words for your digital ad campaign or informative blogs. We’ve got this and you can rest easy because we’re the experts.

You have enough on your plate between running a business and having a home life too. Let’s tip the scales a bit to create a better balance by removing digital marketing from your to-do list and adding “time with family” in its place.


Give your customers a peek behind the curtain

Curiosity. Some say it’s what killed the cat.

But truthfully, it’s what leads to growth and discovery, to new adventures and inventions. Curiosity is what keeps the world turning ‘round – and your customers have it in abundance. Tapping into that natural human desire to know more, and channeling it into a desire to know more about YOUR business or product, is a tried and true marketing method.

Curtain GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

In fact, giving your customers a “peek behind the curtain” has been around so long, it’s known as the 100 Year Old Persuasion Strategy. Look it up sometime – it’s a pretty interesting story of how Schlitz Beer went from fifth in the market to first, by making the manufacturer’s process the center of its ad campaign.

Why was this so successful, and why can the same basic strategy be good for your business? It’s simple, really. It builds trust. Whether you’re proving to beer drinkers exactly why you can claim the brew they’re drinking is “pure” 100 years ago, or you’re showing your customers exactly how much care goes into preparing a delivery of your product today, it has the same result. Customers feel they’re seeing a previously hidden part of the process. And if that part – that secret, behind the scenes stuff – holds up to what you say and show every day? You’ve built trust.

And Trust = Sales.

So how do you do it? Start by telling stories – on your website, in your social channels, in your advertising. Think about the things your customers don’t typically get to see, and then think about how you can show them. What goes into producing your product? How much care do your employees put into packaging it? Take some photos, make a video, capture the action and share the tale.

Just remember, this is about your customers, not you. Keep the focus on them, develop a strategy and you’ll knock this one out of the park. And, most likely, save the cat, too.


Creativity is King – Make it Work for Your Business

Creative process

Your mom probably told you nothing worth having comes easy. She likely tossed that one at you when you were begging for a new, expensive bike or maybe a pricey shirt from the mall. Then she either told you “no,” or told you to earn the money and purchase it yourself. And you probably didn’t like that answer at all.

She was right, though. Nothing really does come easy – in life, or in business. You’ve got to earn it. But in business, there’s an added complication called competition. Not only do you have to earn what you need, you have to fight someone else for it. (In truth, most people don’t really like that, either.)

But wait. There’s a secret.

A little … something extra.

Something that can give you a little “leg up” on your business competition.

Creativity!

Yes, we’re serious. Here are three reasons why creativity is king, and how it can help you in your business:

  1. It teaches you to try new things. Being creative in your business is about experimenting and pushing your boundaries. Will all those new ideas yield immediate success? Probably not. But that’s OK. Some will, and the others – you’ll learn from those to find even more success in the future.
  2. It’s fun. Allowing yourself and your team time to feel relaxed and happy on the job leads to creative success and gets the ideas flowing. Teach yourself and your team that it’s OK to have some fun at work. Your business will reap the rewards.
  3. It gives you fresh insights. You can’t run a successful business without data. But sometimes, you need to step beyond it to really grasp what your customers want and need. How can you get closer to your customers to better understand them? Creatively solve this problem, and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

So how can you practically apply creativity in your business to stand out from your competition?

  • You know that relaxed, creative environment you fostered? Use it to generate amazing customer service. Remember, happy employees = happy customers.
  • Develop something new. A new product or product package. A new service. Something that no one else offers. Get close to your customers and find out what they need – then fill that need in a unique new way.
  • If you don’t already, blog. First of all, it’s a great creative outlet. But it’s also a wonderful way to float your new ideas and share them with the world.

The ideas are never ending, really. The only limit is, well, your creativity. ;)


Educate Your Customers to Make the Sale

GSG Customer Ed

A door-to-door salesman stopped by the other day, selling educational books. You can’t purchase them online or even from a store, only through the salesman on your porch. He was nice and the books were impressive, but a decision had to be made right then and there. Our “no” came down to the fact that we just didn’t have enough information.

In a google-search driven world, a simple sales pitch will no longer suffice for closing the deal. Customers don’t want you to convince them that what you have to offer is the best, they want to learn for themselves. They want statistics and substantiated information that show them why your product or service is necessary for their lives, and why yours is the best.

Show Them Why They Need It

Educating your customer begins with showing them why they need the product or service you offer in the first place. They’re not going to just take your word for it. If Sally wants beautiful flowers in her landscaping, she can probably justify going to a big box store to buy them and doing it herself.

You have to educate her on why a landscaper is necessary. Show her how many DIY landscapers end up replacing plants in the first year because they have the wrong hardiness or don’t care for them correctly. Don’t just show her pictures of your own completed landscapes, but show her those same landscapes two, three, five years after completion. Substantiate your purpose.

Distinguish Yourself From Others

So you’ve made a believer out of her and she sees the appeal of a landscaper. But you don’t necessarily have the sale yet. Educate her on why your landscaping business is better than all of the others in your area. Have you received formal training or certifications? Do you have proper business documentation from municipalities and insurance? Do you have clients she can actually call to get feedback on your work (rather than reading reviews on your website that could be doctored for all she knows).

Make this information readily available to potential customers, whether on your website (such as your certification and business filings) or by noting that it’s available upon request. When your potential customer has the information available but has to make a slight effort to get it, that first shows their interest and also gives them the satisfaction of deciding for themselves, rather than being vulnerable to a sales pitch.

Yes, in the end, you’re still marketing and selling something, but when you give your potential customers the opportunity to feel like they’re educating themselves, they’re more confident in their decision to hire or buy from you.


You Have a Lead – Now What?

GSG new customerLeads: we work so hard to get them. The bread and butter of any business is generating more leads and transitioning them to paying customers. But, once you have the lead in the palm of your sweaty hand, how do you get the sale? How do you nurture him/her into someone that believes in what you’re selling enough to actually buy?

Build Trust

We actually can’t emphasize this enough: you’re never going to monetize a lead if he never trusts you or your business. So, where does that trust come from if you don’t have a working relationship yet? It comes from an authentic desire to share value with leads. Give them tidbits — things to chew on that show them you’re an expert at what you do and can educate them well.

For example, if you’re in the swimming pool business, create an active presence online sharing bits of information about caring for a swimming pool. Through blog posts and email campaigns, give your leads just enough information to make them feel like you’ve shared something important with them (such as basic maintenance tips). Make yourself available for questions, even if they already have a pool through someone else.

When you show that you genuinely care more about the person than you do the sale, then you’ll eventually get the sale too (they might start coming to you for chemicals for their pool, and a couple years later, they ask you to do their pool remodel). Remember though, you have to actually, genuinely care about the person more. If you don’t, they’ll see right through you.

Be Consistent

If you’re going to do an email campaign, then actually do an email campaign. Whether you hire us to help you with it or do it on your own, set up a system that will generate emails regularly and consistently so that the lead can count on it.

The same goes for social media or your website’s blog. If you’re going to do it, do it right; otherwise, don’t bother. If you’re only posting once a week on social media and your small number of followers have no idea when that will happen, then you won’t gain more followers and the few leads you did have will lose interest. If your blog is only updated every few weeks, you’ll see the same negative result. As with anything you want to be successful at, consistency is paramount.

Toss in a Call to Action

Every once in awhile, you need to call your leads to action. Remind them in your blog posts that whatever you’re teaching, you can also do for them so it’s one thing less they have to worry about. When they call for help with their green swimming pool, give them tips, but also offer to come clean it up for them. Share information that will help them, but also offer to make it easier by enlisting your service or your product.

Trust, consistency and action: you can do it! Of course, if you want some help nurturing those leads, we are here for you.