Do these 3 steps to find out why you aren’t getting more customers

  1. Go to your favorite search engine: Google, Bing, or Yahoo
  2. Type in the service or product your business offers and the city you live in: painting gainesville, fl
  3. look for your business on the first page of the results.  Are you there?

Most people searching the web won’t go past the first page of results. Do you? Which search result do you usually click on? 40% people click on the first entry and never go past that. If your customers can’t find you online, to them, your business doesn’t exist.

Read some of my Case studies on how I’ve helped other companies and call me today so I can help you too.

Do these 4 things to help your customers find you online

For the new years resolution, I recommend getting your business found by all the online directories. You probably already have your own website (you do have your business website,online directories right?) and now you need to make sure that when everyone is searching the local directories online that your business comes up to compete with the others.

So what are these online directories?

I covered how to get your business in an online directory before.  Think I find it highly important?  Have you followed the advice yet? Most small businesses don’t think they have time to do this, and if you don’t you can hire someone to take care of these submissions for you.  I handle a few a month for the small businesses, but for the DIY’ers out there, this is a critical step in getting your business seen online so you can drive traffic to your physical location.

Some of the big hitters are Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare, and Bing.

Ever search on google for something and get a map with bubbled letters? That’s Google Places working for you. Another great one is Yelp, which is a great review site that a lot of people use to check reviews before they go to a restaurant or hire a professional service. Foursquare is a good directory that allows users with smart phones to check in and let everyone know that they are at your establishment. It even offers Mayorship to frequent check-ins to the same place. The goal for your business is to offer deals for people who check-in to your place, and offer special deals to your Mayor- likely they are your biggest fan. Foursquare also allows them to add tips to your place online. These are likely little tidbits of information that will help the next person. Like if you have fabulous key lime pie, the tip might be”gotta try the key lime pie, best in the state”. Be careful though, if your place has a weakness, the tip could backfire as they might tell people to stay away from something as well. Bing is another search engine that shows people your business on a map when they search for services in your area so it is worth it for you to go through the process of getting seen on their site as well.

These are just the top few for right now. As the year progresses you will likely have others that you need to stay on top of. As always, I will post about the others as they become more popular. You will also need to keep checking on these sites to track the traffic and make sure that the info is up to date and to respond to any reviews good or bad. Many do it yourselfers out there can just set up a schedule to keep up to date with this stuff. Of course for others that don’t have time, we offer package deals that get you set up and monthly maintenance programs that keep your directories fresh-usually cheaper than one advertisement.

How to make sure you are listed in the top local directories.

Everyone has heard of Google and Yahoo and when you are looking for a local business, yougoogle places usually use either of these or a few others to find what you are looking for.  At the time of this writing, over 84% of people used a search engine or directory to do research before buying.   So as a business owner, you need to make sure your business shows up when people search for your product or service in your area.  To get your business on these sites, just follow these steps.  Start to finish with all the directories, this exercise can take up to 4 hours.  Once you have the description and services that you offer for one directory, you can copy and paste the information for the other directories to cut down on the time.

  1. The first thing you can do is see where you show up first.  Go to www.getlisted.org , enter your business name and zip code and see how you stack up.
  2. Use get listed results to go one by one down the line to enter all your business information and to claim your business.
  3. Many of the directories will either need to call to verify you are the rightful business owner or they will mail you a postcard with instructions on how to validate so you need to setup a follow up date to these sites to enter the data.
  4. Many of the directories, once you enter all the information to claim your business, will allow you to see results of searches in your area and see how your business is doing.
  5. Once you have claimed your business for some of the search engines and directories like Google Places, you can also add offers. These offers are  like special coupons or offers for people who see your business listing.  The offers typically have an automatic 30 day expiration date which is great because you don’t have to remember to remove the offer once it expires, keeping your content looking fresh.

In the next article, we will talk about using Google Webmaster tools to see what keywords your site is being shown for on Google.

Why I won’t use Groupon for small businesses in Gainesville, FL

Groupon sounds like the greatest idea since the invention of coupons themselves, and for consumers, it is.  But Groupon has actually bankrupted some small businesses in the United States that have promoted with Groupon while other businesses have endured months of trying to recuperate from the deal.  Why?  Because Groupon is a company that the small business contracts with for the daily deal and Groupon receives half the deal proceeds.  The small business typically agrees to give the product or service for half off normal price.  Groupon promotes the deal with an initial buy in quantity and time frame of 24 hours.  At the end of the deal, Groupon splits the money and sends it to the small business and the business now has an influx of customers for a 75% discount.
So if a massage therapist agreed to a one hour massage that is normally $50 for $25 and she said that ten have to sign up for the deal to be valid, she would have to give 10 massages for $25 each, but she would only receive $12.50/massage because Groupon gets their share for promoting it. That’s 10 hours of massages for $125.  But, typically if a Groupon deal is made, there are far more than the initial 10 who would sign up that the massage therapist could be stuck doing a whole year’s worth of massages for just $12.50.  That could potentially put her out of business.
In fact, here is an article for a marketing result with a helicopter school where the groupon deal didn’t go so well for them.
At this writing, the inaugural Gainesville Groupon deal is going on with Blue Highway.  So far, they have sold over 270 deals of $20 worth of pizza for $10 and Blue Highway will only see $5.  Now I love Blue Highway’s pizza and I love their new location in Town of Tioga and as much as I love a good deal, I won’t be participating in this because I want to support them in ways that won’t hurt their business.  Restaurants might do better with this kind of deal, because patrons will likely spend more than $20 on their pizza bill, but for the small service oriented businesses out there, I can’t see it doing well for them.
Other people will likely want to say that this could just be the cost for acquiring a new customer, but typically there are two types of customers with the Groupon deal.  The first type is the customer that already patrons the business and would probably go back for a more modest discount.  The second type of customer that the small businesses think they are getting are the ones that are going solely for the Groupon deals and won’t likely become a loyal customer to anyone except the deals themselves.
Now that doesn’t mean that I’m not a fan of saving money but in a time when small businesses are being seen as the backbone of the US economy getting back on track, here are better ways to make the consumer happy, and still helps the local businesses:
Email List: Many small businesses send out email lists of daily or weekly specials.  I currently receive emails of specials from local businesses like Northwest Seafood, Bush Gator Transmission and  Auto Repair, and Gentle Waters Healing Center just to name a few and I see some pretty good deals that the owners give out with them.
Facebook: A lot of local businesses are getting their names out there and offering deals up just for their Facebook fans.  Find a business you frequent and become a fan of theirs to see what kind of deals they offer or suggest it for them.
Support Local Charities: We have some wonderful charities in Gainesville and great charity events where many local companies donate a product or service where the proceeds go to the charity.  You can get good deals and help out wonderful non profit organizations at the same time.  Check out the local Home: Living in the Heart of Florida Magazine for their charity of the month and any upcoming events to support a charity.
Ask for a deal: Most of the time, just asking for a discount with get you one with the business.  You can even use your group buying power the old fashioned way.  Last summer, five of us who wanted a bike went to Mr. Goodbike and negotiated a discount on the bikes because we purchased them all on the same day.  We got great bikes from a great local shop and they had a pretty good sales day.
What other ways can you think of getting a good deal without hurting your favorite local business?