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In a recent episode of On Being, Harvard psychologist Dr. Mahzarin Banaji explains that the unconscious mind is probably nothing more than a preference for the familiar. Our eyes see something with a certain feature or pattern somewhere, and when we see it again, we like it because it is familiar.
Why am I bringing up psychology in a post about remarketing? Because Dr. Banaji’s description of the unconscious provides the scientific basis for why remarketing works.
Let’s back up a little bit. You may be reading this and wondering, “What is remarketing?”
I like to think of it as continuing the conversation with a potential customer. Another way of putting it is marketing to the same person multiple times.
You’ve experienced this yourself. Think of that time you were on Amazon searching for a widget, and then several days later ads for that widget popped up on your Facebook feed.
Or you were driving down the freeway and you see multiple billboards for the same restaurant chain.
Or you saw an ad online, drove past a sign spinner on a street corner, heard a sponsorship blurb on your favorite podcast, and received a coupon in the mail, all for the same product.
Yep, this multi-channel experience is also remarketing. Remarketing includes every form of communication that allows you to place your product in the mind of a consumer after their initial exposure to your brand.
You may be skeptical. I’ve had people respond to this concept with claims like, “I’m immune to marketing!” Or “The more I see an ad, the more annoyed I get!”
Sorry, the simple fact is, remarketing works. And the reason it works is because it appeals to the subconscious. Remember how we started this article? Our unconscious mind tells us to like things that are familiar. So even if our conscious mind is annoyed by repeated ads, our unconscious mind will over time associate the brand with a greater return on investment.
Given the choice between a generic or private label product, and a “name brand” product (characterized by a large marketing/remarketing budget) at the same price point, most people (60%) will purchase the name brand. And why is that? At least in part, our purchasing habits are formed by our unconscious minds’ preference for the comfort and security of the familiar.
Okay, so now that we’ve learned the science behind remarketing, what are some good strategies? Unless you work at one of the top US brands, there’s a good chance you don’t have national recognition. What this really means is that you should be using remarketing more than your competitors, since you can’t rely on name recognition alone.
Here are some simple ways you can use remarketing to grow your business and get an edge on the competition regardless of the size of your company.
Creating an email capture on your website is so simple that I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but I do. If you don’t have a means of collecting email addresses from interested consumers and pushing out ads, newsletters, and promotions, you are missing out on a scalable, cost effective means of remarketing. While one option is just to put a form on your site where people can subscribe, you’ll have a better response rate if you create a special offer, like a 20% off coupon.
Since I’ve already addressed how to create a digital marketing strategy in another post (just substitute “winery” for whatever business you run), I won’t go into the specifics of it here. Suffice it to say that you should see an increase in conversions once you start using email, and the more sophisticated your campaigns get, the more effective your remarketing will become.
I want to be careful here, because unwanted calls from telemarketers are the bane of modern existence. What I am not talking about are robocalls from purchased call lists. Instead I have in view carefully managed calls that offer a clear benefit to recipients.
Growing up, I took 4-H animals to the county fair every summer. During free time between caring for and showing my animals I would wander the vendor tents. You could always find branded company swag being given away, like balloons, magnets, and the ever-popular yardstick that my brother and I used as swords (until our parents found out and confiscated them). Looking back though, the most effective businesses were the ones that held drawings for free or discounted product. If you would write down your phone number on a piece of paper and stick it in a large jar set out for that purpose, you’d be entered to win something like $500 off of a new roof or a free double pane window (up to 48 inches wide).
These contests were not created out of the goodness of someone’s heart, and they weren’t just about increasing brand awareness either. The genius of a drawing like this is that the only people who would enter it are willingly confessing that they are interested in your product or service. Who takes the time to write down their phone number to win a discount on a new roof, if they aren’t in the market for a roof?
In this situation, remarketing with a phone call is likely to be not only received, but welcomed, and has a higher probability of leading to a conversion. The lesson here is to be strategic about not only capturing phone numbers, but also calling them.
Remarketing has become almost synonymous with SEO (search engine optimization) in some circles. That’s why I waited to introduce it until after we had already addressed email and phone, so that you would be open to these other methods before getting caught up in the details of SEO remarketing.
Since Google Adwords is both popular and easy to use, let’s use it as our example.
Google offers five basic ways to remarket:
-Remarketing lists for search ads
-Customer list remarketing
Both dynamic and standard remarketing on Adwords are summed up in this image:
The difference between Standard and Dynamic remarketing is that with dynamic, Adwords tracks which products or services people view on your website, and targets specific ads to them based on what they viewed. Using standard remarketing only, Adwords treats everyone on your site the same way, regardless of what they viewed or interacted with, simply pushing ads to them on the Google Display Network (these are the Google-powered ads you see on random websites when browsing the web).
Unlike Standard and Dynamic remarketing, which place ads on the Display Network, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) places your ads on Google searches. When a person visits your website, looks at a particular product, and then leaves to search for a similar product elsewhere, RLSA allows you to place specific ads on the Google search page pertaining to your product. Think of that time you were looking at a Yeti cooler on Amazon for an upcoming camping trip, decided to google reviews of other coolers, but kept seeing Yeti ads on the Google search page. That’s RSLA, and it is very effective, particularly if your pricing is competitive.
Video remarketing is fairly straightforward. As the name implies, it involves showing your ads to people who have viewed your videos on YouTube, not only on YouTube, but also across the Display Network.
Customer list remarketing builds on the email and phone numbers you captured using methods we talked about earlier in this article. To utilize customer list remarketing, you’ll create a list using the contact information you collected, and when those users are signed into Google, your ads will populate for them across the spectrum of Google’s network.
There’s a lot about remarketing that this article didn’t cover, but that’s okay. My goal is not to overwhelm you with information, but to provide you with a basic introduction that can help you start increasing conversions. If there’s one takeaway, it’s that remarketing works, and you should start using it right away.
This article first appeared on the SF Gate's Hearst Bay Blog.
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Note: This was first published in another form here.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, when a company is not getting the results they want from an advertising campaign, it is because they lack a clear strategy. This is true whether the ad campaign is digital, print, or both.
It’s helpful to think of an advertising strategy in terms of six stages: Nonexistent, Basic, Functional, Optimized, Integrated, and Strategic (credit goes to my friend Hazel Cobb for helping arrive at these terms). Think of these stages as general categories that overlap, rather than distinctly separated phases of business.
Stage 0: Nonexistent
Before entering the Basic stage your business exists, but a Google search would tell people little to nothing about it. Maybe you have a listing on Yelp, but it contains minimal information and no promotions. Depending on your business model, your company may be doing well enough in this stage, but if growth is your desired outcome, you should try to move out of this stage as quickly as possible.
Stage 1: Basic
Your business moves to the Basic stage when you create a website, start a Facebook page, begin handing out flyers, advertise in a print publication, join Instagram, or make a Twitter account. Preferably in that order. Your content should include things like:
You can also create advertisements and hand them out on sidewalks, particularly in areas frequented by your target clientele. Additionally, you can target your audience by placing ads in your local newspaper or industry magazines.
In the Basic stage, you are doing your best just to produce something that reaches someone. You recognize that your marketing and advertising isn’t what it could be, but you don’t have the bandwidth yet to make the necessary changes. To move to the next stage, you need to create the capacity and operations to maintain a regular cadence of content, with the goal of posting at least once daily on social media, and running print ad campaigns that make sense with your budget.
When you have a print piece ready, you can use the U.S. Postal Service to send it to every address within a precise zip code for under .20 cents a piece (plus postage).
Stage 2: Functional
Once you can consistently meet the requirements of the Basic stage (regular digital postings and print campaigns), you have moved into the functional stage. But, don’t stop here, you are still in the early stages of a strategy that is truly effective. Now it is time to start digging into your data and asking questions like: What kind of engagement are we getting? Are we reaching the right people? Do we need to tweak what we are doing to reach our target audience? For digital, you can gather this information through Google Analytics and by analyzing the interactions on social media. For print, you can use unique offer codes and URLs to track effectiveness. Alternatively, if you use an agency for print campaigns, ask them to provide you with the data.
When creating a marketing campaign, start by determining your product/market fit. Are you selling top-shelf products fighting for share in the luxury goods market? Or, are we somewhere closer to the bottom, competing for space at Walmart and the .99 Cent Store? Your answer to these questions should inform where you place your advertising and how you set your parameters. For print, you can hit your demographic by targeting zip codes. A good direct mail company can help you hit homes in regions where average income matches your prices. For digital, the same principles apply. When purchasing ads on social media, set the parameters around the demographic your brand best suits.
Stage 3: Optimized
Now that your marketing strategy is functional and you have begun gathering data, it’s time to optimize. What kinds of trends do you notice? Can you predict whether a print or digital ad will be successful yet among your target audience?
Ideally, you are running simultaneous A/B campaigns testing offers, subject lines, and graphics. However, even if your business isn’t capable of working at this level of complexity, you can still keep track of the type of content that works—that brings in customers, gets likes, shares, and comments—and create more of it. By optimizing your content, your ad campaigns will consistently hit your metrics. I like this flowchart for its simplicity (although it doesn’t include print, you get the idea).
Stage 4: Integrated
Integration means coordinating your messages across all platforms so that your target audience is hit with consistent, repeated messaging. Whether your ideal customer is checking email, browsing social media, flipping through their mail, reading the newspaper, browsing through a magazine, or walking past a poster in a storefront, we want them to be hit with the same consistent messaging and branding about your business. The goal is to plant an implicit, strategic thought in their mind. For example, you may want to brand your business as “The best place for dinner with friends,” “The tech product with the best value,” or “Fun events for every holiday.”
The most successful brands are those that have chosen a message that differentiates them from competitors, so pay attention to what other businesses in your area are doing and set your business apart. Hopefully, integration is not an entirely new idea at this stage. Ideally, as you have moved through the previous stages, you have used consistent messaging in your print and digital campaigns even though that has not been our focus.
Stage 5: Strategic
In the Optimized stage you learned how to create successful one-off campaigns, and in the Integrated stage, you began integrating those campaigns horizontally across channels and platforms. The Strategic stage is where everything comes together across time. It involves mapping out a marketing strategy over the course of at least one calendar year and identifying the messaging and the treatment stream that will allow you to hit your revenue targets.
Instead of creating successful one-off campaigns, you are thinking big picture: how does seasonality affect sales? Can we plan a special promotion during a slow month to drive sales? What kind of treatment stream will turn first-time visitors into repeat customers? Are there products or events that you should promote around major holidays?
In some ways, implementing an annual strategy is easier than running multiple one-off ad campaigns. Once you have created the framework, it can be repeated year after year with tweaks and changes based on your post-campaign learnings.
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How Network Geofencing Can Help Wineries and Tasting Rooms Increase Foot Traffic (Repost from Hearst Bay Blog)
As the most substantial growth period in U.S. wine consumption draws to an end, California wineries are looking for ways to take mobile advertising to the next level. Only a few years ago, all you needed was a website to increase foot traffic to your tasting room. Today, even the smallest, most boutique wineries are using best practices like brand storytelling to optimize their websites, and offer rewards like free tastings to increase the number of customer interactions on sites like Yelp and Facebook. As a result, even wineries that have optimized their online presence are facing increased competition for coveted consumer attention.
Geofencing refers to the practice of setting up a virtual boundary around a business using GPS or RFID (radio frequency identification) that sends a text or notification to mobile devices that cross it.
How It Works
There are two basic types of geofencing: App-based and network-based. App-based geofencing, as the name implies, requires building an app, and linking your geofence to the app. Because it tends to be more expensive for businesses (you have to create an app) and requires users to have the app installed and running to receive push notifications, we don't recommend app-based geofencing, and the remainder of this article will focus on network geofencing.
To receive calls and text messages, your mobile device is continuously communicating with nearby cell towers that accurately triangulate your position. If your device encounters a Wi-Fi signal or SSID, it captures that data and updates your location with even more precision. These services are known as “region monitoring” and are the reason your phone knows where you are at any given time.
Network-based geofencing utilizes these Wi-Fi and cell tower communications to track when a mobile device enters your pre-defined target area and trigger a response, usually a push notification. Because this type of geofencing doesn’t require consumers to download an app, visit a website, or match with a search algorithm, it is compatible with 92% of U.S. smartphones. As a result, Salesforce reports that 53% of consumers visited a specific retailer after receiving a geofencing alert, with 50% admitting that their visit was unplanned. Perhaps most importantly, Salesforce reports that 80% of consumers who use location-based services indicate that they want push notifications from businesses—meaning that your ad is not viewed as intrusive spam or junk mail, and many companies report a 90-97% read rate.
Let’s take a look at a hypothetical case study to see how this might work:
Vintage Vines Case Study
Vintage Vines is a small, family-owned winery that just opened a tasting room in Sonoma, CA. Because of budget limitations and real estate availability, this tasting room is located just off of the main drag, a short block and a half away from the town center where the most popular tasting rooms are nestled around the open and inviting Sonoma Plaza. Although Vintage Vines has already earned high reviews on Yelp and has a best practices traditional marketing strategy that includes actively engaging their social media followers and leveraging their wine club, the owners believe they are only getting 60% of the foot traffic that similar tasting rooms nearer the plaza receive.
After experimenting with online ads and free wine tasting offers on Yelp with only limited success, they hear about geomarketing from a customer and decide to try it. After reaching out to a few different agencies, they settle on one that helps them create a geofence that includes the central walking zones of downtown Sonoma, as well as two streets that are popular because of the free parking they offer. Based on prior research with their customers, they decide that the geofence will trigger a push notification offering a complimentary glass of wine with any tasting purchase. The ad will read “You are near our 2nd Ave locally owned tasting room. Come in today and receive a free glass of wine with any $10 tasting.”
Choosing a Saturday in June for the first test of their new geofence marketing system, the owners of Vintage Vines experienced both trepidation and excitement as they waited for the final tally of customers at closing time. As they wave goodbye to the last smiling tourist of the night, their sommelier hands them a piece of paper with the day’s tally on it. They had served almost three times the usual number of customers! Their experiment with geofencing was a success, and they looked forward to increased foot traffic throughout the rest of the season.
Why Geofencing Works
Geofencing works because it targets people who are already in the vicinity of your business. In places like Sonoma, Napa, and Paso Robles, where wine tasting is the main draw for tourists, a high percentage of the people passing through a geofence boundary will already have a strong inclination towards doing a wine tasting. A push notification from your business may be the only thing needed to direct them towards your particular winery or tasting room rather than a competitor’s. Even if you are operating your tasting room in an area that is outside of traditional tourism zones, demand is high enough among Californians in the Bay Area that geofencing can increase sales almost anywhere.
Consumers in 2018 are savvy, and anything that looks like an ad goes straight into the recycling bin in most households and workplaces. The same is true of digital advertisements that make it through the spam filters in most email inboxes. However, even though geofencing has been around for a few years, the novelty has not worn off, and conversion rates remain high, while costs are up to 57 times lower than other forms of digital advertising. Additionally, there are signs that it is not the novelty that makes geofencing useful, but rather the focused targeting that the technology allows. Wineries and tasting rooms that use geofencing and push notifications to offer discounts can elicit excitement and even gratitude among consumers seeking enjoyable experiences and affordable luxuries. After all, who wouldn’t be happy to discover a free or discounted wine tasting when walking through town on vacation?
A Creative Solution for Price Sensitive Connoisseurs
Silicon Valley Bank has identified a growing “frugal-hedonist” consumer category that is far more price sensitive than traditional age-segmented cohorts. The growth of this category is reflected in the decreasing number of visits to pricey wine regions like Napa and Sonoma, where the standard tasting fee is $38 and $21 respectively, and the influx of visits to wine regions like Oregon and Washington, where standard fees are $13 and $9, making wine tasting more of an affordable luxury.
Because geofences can be set up anywhere and anytime, creative marketing solutions for wineries seeking increased sales might include setting up geofences around strategically targeted grocery and liquor stores with push notifications linking to coupons for bottle purchases. Alternatively, you might even consider setting up a geofence around indirect competitors like restaurants, breweries, and taprooms to entice visitors who are looking for a casual and relaxed evening drinking with friends.
When creating a push notification for customers, ensure that you stand out from the crowd by creating advertisements that have an emotional connection with customers. Wineries can appeal to shared values by using terms like “sustainable,” “organic,” “family-owned,” and “female-owned” (of course, these should already be part of your brand story). Moreover, you can tie promotions to holidays or special events, like the Women’s March, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Red Nose Day.
In addition to using geofencing to push advertising to nearby consumers, you can also use the same technology to keep track of foot traffic at your competitors’ locations. This technique can help you track the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. For example, if you are having a slow day, but your competitor sees the usual amount of traffic, you should try a different push notification. However, if you are both seeing reduced traffic, there may be seasonal or regional reasons why customers are not visiting that day.
Increasing Direct Sales
Industry experts have been clear about changing consumer preferences in the wine industry. As millennials grow into the largest segment of the market (forecasted to occur in 2026), wineries that depend on the tasting room experience as the primary path to direct sales would do well to take note. Millennials are more price sensitive than other cohorts, and seek both a luxury adult beverage experience and “a good deal.” Wineries interested in increasing direct sales should experiment with using geofences to offer promotional coupons for bottle and bulk discounts.
In the crowded market of Northern California, where wineries and tasting rooms draw 23.6 million people each year, geofencing offers a way for wineries and tasting rooms to customize their marketing strategies to target consumers at key locations with custom advertisements. Such efforts are almost guaranteed to net a positive return on investment. Entering this location-based advertising space now, while the technology is still relatively young, also gives wineries and tasting rooms an opportunity to gain market advantage and be ahead of the curve.
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The Main Differences Between Facebook and Instagram That You Need to Know (Repost from Hearst Bay Blog)
This article first appeared here.
The Main Differences Between Facebook and Instagram You Need to Know
Instagram is the new Facebook for the up-and-coming generation of consumers, but if you are a traditional business owner, there is a good chance that you are not taking advantage of either social media platform like you should.
Before we offer some tips on how you can better promote your business on Facebook and Instagram, let’s back up a step and look at why you should use social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing is Effective
Conversion rates for social media ads can be eight times more effective than other online advertising. One of the main reasons for this is that social media platforms present relevant ads customized by user-curated preferences. How does that work? Every time a Facebook or Instagram user “likes” an image, joins a group, or comments on a page, that information gets put into an algorithm. When you create an ad campaign on Facebook, you can choose to target users based on that data. For example, if you are trying to sell custom leather motorcycle jackets, you might target people who have liked Harley Davidson, Motorcycles, Honda Shadow, Road Warriors, or a host of other related topics. The more specific you can be about your target customer’s interests, the higher your conversion rate is likely to be, resulting in a greater ROI.
Pro tip: Sneak a peek at the likes and interests of your top customers on Facebook and Instagram, and then target those topics in your ad campaign.
Social Media Marketing is Expansive
Facebook currently boasts nearly 2 billion monthly users, while Instagram has 700 million monthly users and is on trend to add another 100 million every six months. That’s almost one-third of the earth’s population, and the number of users is increasing daily. In other words, unless your target customer is a Luddite (in which case you can stop reading) or lives in China, North Korea, or Iran (where Facebook and Instagram are banned), he or she is either on these platforms or will be soon. But don’t let the massive, global scale of social media scare you off. You can narrow the scope of your ad campaigns by gender, keywords, interests, and region. So even if you are a local company that does business within a specific zip code, social media ads can help you find new paying customers.
Pro tip: Don’t market to everyone—set the correct age, gender, and geography demographics of your target customers before you start your ad campaign.
Social Media Marketing is Easy to Use
Anyone can create a marketing campaign on Facebook or Instagram in just minutes. Not convinced? Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, and ad campaigns for both platforms can be set up here on the Ads Manager page. Give it a try right now. There is even a “Quick Creation” button if the standard setup process feels like too much work. And don’t worry if you have a limited budget. Often you can run a successful ad campaign for mere pennies per click (although in more competitive markets, you should expect to spend more), and both platforms allow you to set a cap on the amount spent per day, so you can control the pace at which your money gets spent.
Still, if your budget allows for it, you may benefit from hiring an agency to run your ad campaigns for you. A good agency will be able to increase your ROI, as they have the expertise to ensure that your ads are visually appealing and your target demographic will view those ads.
Pro tip: Facebook offers free ad credit for first-time users. Use the principles in this article, and experiment with your first ad campaign for free!
Facebook vs. Instagram: What’s the Difference?
Now let’s look at the fundamental differences between Facebook and Instagram. As already mentioned, ad campaigns for both platforms can get created in the same place; however, that does not mean your company should be advertising on both platforms. Several factors should be considered when deciding where to spend your budget.
Age may be the most important demographic distinguishing between Facebook and Instagram. As the following graphs reveal, Facebook skews significantly older than Instagram. Although the majority of Millennials uses both platforms, Instagram's user base decreases drastically after the 18-29-year-old age group, while Facebook maintains a significant user base even among the 65+ age group. Under 18, Instagram is the clear winner. Primary research reveals that despite more than 80% of all high school students in the U.S. having Facebook accounts, most prefer Instagram for daily use.
Facebook Users by Age
Instagram Users by Age
Pro tip: Are your customers over 50? Advertise on Facebook, not Instagram.
Facebook users are spread almost equally across household incomes, so businesses can be confident their target customers have a presence on the platform. Instagram users cluster slightly higher on the scale, with the highest percentage of adapters (60%) being in the $100k+ household income segment.
Facebook Users by HHI
Instagram Users by HHI
Savvy business do not just pursue households with the largest income, however. Target your product or service at the specific segment you wish to reach. High end, niche brands should target households at the top of the income scale, while budget brands should focus on the bottom of the scale. Some firms, like Proctor & Gamble, have mastered a high/low approach, in which they sell to both ends of the market with different products. Be clear about who you want to target, and direct your marketing campaigns towards them.
Pro tip: Lifestyle brands should focus on Instagram.
The countries with the greatest number of Facebook users are India and the United States, with Brazil and Indonesia next in line. This reflects population size, as well as economic well-being and Internet freedom (Facebook and Instagram are blocked in China, but China's most popular social media platform, WeChat, has nearly one billion users).
Facebook Usage by Country
Instagram Usage by Country
Pro tip: Use both Facebook and Instagram to penetrate international markets with ease and within budget.
Engagement: Facebook's Scope vs. Instagram's Volume
Facebook's larger audience means that ad campaigns have the potential to reach a larger audience. Plus, Facebook also offers several methods of interaction, including feed ads, right-hand-side ads, business pages, groups, and a chat function. This makes Facebook better at distributing information, as lengthy text can be displayed, articles and web pages can be linked to directly, and businesses and consumers can hold real-time conversations.
Despite Facebook’s broader scope, Instagram is better at high volume engagement. A survey of random companies reveals that company and brand likes may be drastically different across Facebook and Instagram.
Brand Average Likes Per Post on Instagram and Facebook
Instagram users not only seem to be more generous with their likes, but they also spend significantly more time on company pages once they navigate there. Traffic from Facebook averages 105.55 seconds per site visit, while traffic from Instagram averages 192.04 seconds per visit. Although historically it has been more difficult to attract traffic from Instagram than from Facebook, Instagram now allows users to pay to boost posts, which includes adding a direct link to a post, rather than relying on the notorious “link in bio” tag we all know so well.
Content: Humor on Facebook, Positive Surprises on Instagram
When designing ads, keep in mind the type of engagement users prefer on each platform. Instagram tends to favor positive and surprising content, while Facebook lends itself to entertaining content that can easily be shared and discussed. Do not limit your campaign to images—videos on both Facebook and Instagram result in 62% higher engagement than photos alone. Regardless of whether you are creating a video or an image, be sure to include visual signals about brand identity, including color scheme and logos. Users should be able to identify your content the instant they come across it, even if scrolling on a mobile device. For videos, this means creating content that is designed to be viewed with the sound off, and that intrigues viewers within the first two seconds, leading them to click the ad for the full viewing experience.
Pro tip: Are you marketing fashion or beauty products? Instagram is the platform for you. Are you marketing services? Facebook is likely to return better results.
In Conclusion: Two Overlapping Social Media Platforms with Key Differences
Hopefully, it’s clear now why you should be using Facebook and Instagram to market your company (it’s effective, expansive, and easy to use). But you should also have a better sense of how to create quality content, and how to decide between advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or both.
This article first appeared on the Hearst Bay Area blog.
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Whether your business is selling a product or a service, an online presence is vital if you want to maximize your growth. Putting your business on Yelp is a quick, easy way to get online, reach more customers, and if you have a company website, boost your SEO.
More than 142 million users use Yelp every month to find crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses. That’s 43% of the United States. The majority of users (66%) are college educated, 44% have an income level over $100K, and age is fairly evenly distributed across the spectrum.
According to a BCG study of 4,300 small businesses, the average Yelp listing results in an additional $8,000 in annual revenue. And a Harvard Business Review study on restaurants showed that each star increase can result in a 5-9% increase in annual revenue. Taking into account that setting up your profile takes less than 5 minutes, it is definitely worth the effort.
It Doesn’t Matter How Great Your Product Is If People Can’t Find You
If you show up in a Yelp search result, someone in your area wants to buy what you are selling. That means you are missing out on potential customers if you aren’t listed. Particularly if there are few competitors in your area.
This is a screen shot of the results when I search for “beef jerky” near my home. You wouldn’t know it, but there’s a boutique beef jerky store with a fantastic product right in the center of the shaded area. Since it doesn’t have a Yelp listing, interested consumers who searched for the product this company sells, in the area the store is located will spend their money somewhere else. It doesn’t matter how great your product is if people can’t find you.
List Your Company, Even If You Don’t Have a Storefront
It’s worth listing your company even if you do most of your business online and don’t have an actual storefront. Adding your business to Yelp not only increases visibility to Yelpers, it also boosts your listing on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Plus, if you are willing to let people drop by your location or make deliveries, you increase the odds of local sales and save on shipping costs.
How To List Your Company On Yelp
As I mentioned, it takes less than 5 minutes to set up a Yelp profile, and it’s totally free. Simply go here and click the “Claim my business button,” then fill out your name, address, business category, and website. Yelp will verify within 1-2 business days.
If you decide to invest a little more time on Yelp, you can also respond to customers, offer paid promotions (which I usually don’t recommend), and take advantage of free analytics.
How to Get Positive Reviews
Yelp prohibits trading discounts or services in exchange for positive reviews, so how can you ensure that your company maintains a positive rating? The same way you ensure that you stay in business in the first place—by keeping your customers happy. In my experience, when you exceed expectations, customers will be happy to leave a positive Yelp review if you ask them to.
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I’m convinced that everyone has a really great idea for a product or service that would make life just a little better. It wouldn’t even surprise me if you had two or three ideas right now that would somehow ease frustration, solve a problem, or streamline a complicated process. I’m also convinced that most people have an inner voice that whispers fear and doubt and keeps them from acting on their ideas. Today I want to highlight someone who ignored the voice of negativity and took action, becoming incredibly successful along the way.
When Sara Blakely first got the idea for seamless panties, she wasn’t the billionaire fashion guru that she is today. She was a door-to-door salesman selling fax machines, and she was irritated by the way her panties showed through her business suits. So what did she do? It wasn't complicated. She snipped the legs off some pantyhose and created a working prototype. When her prototype worked and she realized there was nothing like it on the market, she bought a “how-to” book at Barns & Noble and wrote her own patent application.
From there, it took persistence, hard work, and more than a little luck to build Spanx into a billion dollar company. But in my experience, most people never get to the critical first step of building a prototype.
So what would it take to create a prototype of one of your ideas? It might be as easy as cutting the legs off of a pair of pantyhose. But if you need more help, here are some practical takeaways from the Sara Blakely/Spanx story to give you guidance:
1) Pay attention to your "felt needs." If you experience frustration, chances are others do too, so find a solution that works and try to sell it. This is the core of entrepreneurship. Sara's problem? Visible panty lines. Her solution? Using thinner material.
2) Always be ready with an elevator pitch. When you have an idea or product, you need to develop a 60 second pitch clearly explaining the problem, the solution, and why your product is different than anything else on the market. You never know when you'll have a chance to pitch to potential backers.
3) If you get permission to give a pitch in person, do whatever it takes to make it happen. When Sara was finally given the chance to pitch to Neiman Marcus, she knew she wouldn’t get a second chance so she dropped everything, got on a plane and flew to Dallas
4) If you have a good pitch, but people aren't receiving it, figure out why. In Sara's case, it was a gender barrier. Men just don't have experience wearing panties, so when she pitched to men, they couldn't see the problem. When she finally pitched to a female buyer at Neiman Marcus, she had to take her into the women's restroom and show her how the product actually works to convince her to place the products.
5) Don't give up. Others may not give you the time of day, but if you know that your product is valuable and that there is demand for it, persevere. We all love overnight success stories, but most of the time what looks like a catapult to fortune and fame from the outside took years of hard work behind the scenes.
6) Just because you got your product into a store, doesn't mean you can relax. There's a lot of legwork necessary to make sure it sells and stays in the store. Sara got Spanx into department stores pretty fast, but they weren't selling because their placement was not intuitive for her customer base. She made it her full time job to stand in the department store telling people about her product, and even went so far as to move the display to a more prominent location without asking management's permission.
Do you have an entrepreneurial success story, or a question about how you can get started on your own path to success? Leave a comment, or click the contact button and get in touch. And be sure to share on Facebook and twitter!
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There's a fast, easy, and (almost) free way to improve customer service, job satisfaction, and efficiency/accuracy of your employees.
Ready for it?
Simply share pictures and stories of your customers, clients, and staff. Studies show that radiologists (who usually see only x-rays, not patients) spent more time on and gave more accurate diagnoses when a patient's photo was attached to x-rays. Similarly, Ritz-Carlton asks employees to spend a few minutes each day sharing how they went the extra mile for customers, with the result that customer service improved. And speaking from my own experience working at a media agency, when I received an email from a listener or viewer of a product I was working on, my next set of scripts was always a little more creative.
It doesn't take much to put a human face or story to the work your people do. And it is worth the effort. If you need help brainstorming an effective way to do this at your company, I have some creative problem solving techniques that can help.