Setting the Foundation for Marketing Success by Getting Back to the Basics

Marketing can be an overwhelming part of running a small business. Here are three basic tactics you can use for a simple, cost effective strategy.

 

Whether you are a business owner wading through the sea of marketing tools or the lone marketer in an organization trying to keep up, there are some tried and true basics to set the foundation for marketing success.  

“Success” isn't just defined by having the latest and shiniest tools at your disposal.  Many smaller companies don't have the budget and/or staff to support them. So, what can you do to stand out from the competition in a world where the mediums to market seem daunting?

Start with the following three basic tactics.

Back to basics tactic no. 1: Messaging. Craft a concise message that focuses on what sets you apart from the competition. What is the one thing that you do differently from your competitors?  Even if it seems small, it may just be the reason they buy from you.

Equally important is to make sure that the message is known and spoken across your organization. Reinforcement is what helps to build a brand so educate your entire organization on that differentiator and elevator pitch. Go holistically to the street with the same message.

Back to basics tactic no. 2: Customer Insights. Whether you have five customers or five thousand, you should be collecting data on how your customers view you. A simple email to your top customers asking why they buy from you all the way to a survey with both quantitative and qualitative questions will help inform your differentiator. Collecting data as you grow will help you to look at past trends and, in time, predict future ones.

Back to basics tactic no. 3: Networking. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face marketing. While social media, text, and email marketing certainly have an important role, there is still great value in one-on-one communication; especially for the sake of brand recognition and relationship building. Find conferences and events that your customers and ideal prospects will be attending. Send your entire team—not just those in sales—to network. 

A great example for networking in the technology space is Tech Pint. It’s a place for technology practitioners from many different industries to socialize and learn, typically over drinks. This is relationship building at its finest as it is peer-to-peer only. It removes the direct sales piece from the equation.

Another idea is to host an event for your customers and top prospects. Whether it’s a sporting event, happy hour, or lunch and learn, adding in a brief learning component can go a long way with creating customer loyalty and new at-bats. Also, it’s scalable based on budget.

To recap, set the foundation for marketing success by knowing who you are in the competitive landscape and what your customers want, and by making sure you stay in front of them. The tools are the means to simplify the tactical and cast a wider net. Without a solid foundation, the tools just become noise.

Nicole Ponstingle is the COO and a partner at Pandata LLC, a Cleveland-based data science consulting firm.

 

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  • Next up: Share Thoughts on Workforce Needs: Take In-Demand Jobs Survey

    Share Thoughts on Workforce Needs: Take In-Demand Jobs Survey

    A new survey tool launched by InnovateOhio and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation will help the State of Ohio direct its spending to train Ohioans for the workforce. Currently, the state’s In-Demand Jobs List—which will utilize survey data—directs the spending of 85% of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act training funds.

    Speaking about the newly launched survey, Lt. Governor Jon Husted stated, “We’ve heard the concerns of business leaders, we’ve built a system that fits their needs, and now we need their help by filling out the survey, so we can invest in developing people with the skills that are most in demand.”

    The survey tool was developed with businesses of all sizes in mind and is open to all registered Ohio businesses, giving both small and large companies the opportunity to have their voice heard. The tool offers a simple user experience and allows businesses to give input on the state’s current and future workforce needs.

    Interested in sharing your perspective in how Ohio prepares people for the workforce? The In-Demand Jobs survey is available now here. The State’s updated In-Demand Jobs List will be published at the end of 2019.

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  • Next up: Share Your Perspective about Ohio’s Economy

    Share Your Perspective about Ohio’s Economy

     

    The Ohio Chamber Research Foundation is conducting its latest quarterly economic survey of business leaders throughout the state, called the Prosperity Pulse. The Foundation is seeking input from Ohio’s business community, including leaders in Northeast Ohio. You can fill out the survey here.

    The mission of the Research Foundation is to provide non-partisan, educational resources on public policy issues that impact Ohio’s economy, job creation, and long-term competitiveness. The survey is part of the Foundation’s efforts to understand the current economic conditions and future expectations of businesses in Ohio.

    Your perspective of our state economy is valuable—share it here. Results of the Second Quarter 2019 Prosperity Pulse survey will be published by the Research Foundation later this summer.


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  • Next up: Should You Grow Your Local Business Blog in 2020?

    Should You Grow Your Local Business Blog in 2020?

    For business owners who might have a few extra minutes on their hands these days, beefing up their blogs and boosting SEO might be a good use of time. Consider these seven steps for your blogging strategy.

     

    Marketers have heard for years that great content (like helpful, authoritative blogs) boosts search engine optimization (SEO). But, like many aspects of SEO, it hasn't been entirely clear how that works. Add to that Google's frequent algorithm updates (like the recent "Medic Update"), especially the ones that reconsider the way content on your site is assessed, and it's not surprising that the specific relationship between site content and search engine results remains a bit of an enigma for many marketers looking to grow their local business blog.

    How does great content boost SEO?

    Social Media Today provides a part of the answer, noting that the quantity, variety and quality of content on your website boosts both user experience and engagement, both positives for SEO.

    RELATED: Here are 5 reasons you should invest in SEO for your business.

    It's not that posting helpful, compelling content in itself boosts SEO. Rather, the relationship between content marketing and SEO is more indirect. For example:

    More content leads to more clicks: The more site visitors are clicking on links within your content, the higher your click-through rate (CTR), and that means stronger SEO.
    Increased content means more backlinks: Authoritative content tends to get linked to by other websites (whose managers want their visitors to benefit from it). Again, the more backlinks you have from trusted websites, the higher your rankings in Google and other search engines are likely to be.
    More content means more and better keyword insertion: More content means more text, and more text means more opportunities to organically incorporate the keywords central to your business blog SEO strategy.
    More content means improved user experience (UX): Content marketing (especially the existence of a stellar business blog) makes your entire site more useful for visitors. Links between various site pages and blogs, between one blog and another, and between blogs and more comprehensive topic treatments (through eBooks, white paper and case studies) make your site more informative and enhance site navigation, both positives for SEO.

    By the numbers: To blog or not to blog?

    Let's begin by stating the obvious: The goal of your website is to make money for your local business. Of course, achieving that goal means achieving many intermediate goals. Such goals include things like generating more quality leads, improving conversion rates and lifting search engine rankings. Attaining those goals is much easier if you have a great blog on your site.

    So, how specifically does blogging benefit a small, local business like yours? For an answer, consider these blogging metrics from HubSpot:

    Marketers who give high priority to blogging are, on average, 13 times more likely to have positive return on investment (ROI)
    Almost 45% of B2B marketers say blogs are their most important type of content
    More than 55% of all marketers say blogging is their number one inbound marketing strategy
    B2B marketers who regularly blog generate 67% more leads than those who don't
    Businesses that blog get, on average, almost 100% more links to their websites

    What’s the secret sauce?

    Those numbers, as impressive as they are, reflect average performance—in other words, some content marketers don't do nearly so well, and others do a lot better. So, what is it that makes a great business blog, the kind that helps your business achieve its principal marketing goals (including boosting profitability)?

    Every business is different, of course, with different customers, different long- and short-term goals and different marketing challenges. That said, most see optimal benefits from their blogging strategy when they take the following seven steps:

    Business blogging step 1: Identify your target audience. Business blogs "work" when they help consumers answer their most pressing questions and solve their most protracted problems. That means you need to understand who your prospective customers are (that understanding is grounded in accurate demographic and behavioral data) and what they need to create an effective blog. For example, a local plumbing company in a rural area knows that drought conditions will lead to questions about dry wells. Then, they blog about steps customers should take if they experience this problem.

    Business blogging step 2: Narrow your scope. The goal of a great blog is to generate repeat visits to your website.  Break up big consumer problems into a series of smaller ones for best results. For example, if you have an employment website, instead of a piece on "How to land your dream job," create a series of blogs on "How to create a resume that lands interviews" and "How to ace that coveted interview."

    Business blogging step 3: Do some sleuthing. Your blogs won't exist in a vacuum.  Odds are, whatever it is you're writing about, you're not the first. Before putting pen to paper, find out what's already out there on your topic and read it. To gain a competitive advantage, look for information gaps, things that others haven't blogged about, or instances where you can add authority to blogs that already exist. You should also look for any other weaknesses you find in other treatments. These can be everything from lack of depth to poor design to an absence of supporting data.

    Business blogging step no. 4: Create a killer headline. Internet searchers are impatient, so you need to grab their attention. The best way to do that is with a great headline, one that meets the "4 U's" test—it needs, in other words, to be useful, urgent, ultra-specific and unique. Remember: The goal of your headline is to generate interest. Look for a headline that dashes expectations and promises something consumers really want to know.

    Business blogging step no. 5: Do some research. Remember that Google rewards blogs that provide the most useful and authoritative information—and so will your readers.  You don't need to become an overnight expert on the topic you're addressing, but you do need to know what's already out there on the subject, incorporate the best of what you find and tie it all together in a way no one else has.  This will make your content both more compelling and more SEO-friendly.

    Business blogging step no. 6: Organize and format. The best blogs are the ones that are easiest to read.  In fact, the more technical your subject matter, the more important it is to make it easily readable.  Start by outlining your main points, add supporting content that measurably adds to what's in your headers, make sure to use effective transitions from one section to another, and leverage formatting best practices (think bullet points, frequent breaks, and effective subheaders) to optimize the user experience.

    RELATED: Read more by Nachum Langsner.

    Business blogging step no. 7: Measure your results. If you're not using a robust analytics tool (like Google Analytics), it's time to start.  This will help you find out which blogs are hitting the sweet spot, which needs some tweaking, and which are falling flat.  Measuring results will ensure continual improvement in the performance of your blog.

    Conclusion

    So, the numbers are in and the conclusion is inescapable. A great blog can take a small, local business like yours to the next level, increasing lead generation, site traffic, conversions, and sales. But doing it right can be a bit of a challenge, especially if this is your first go at it. 

    That's where we can help.

    We can provide one-on-one training on how to write and format SEO optimized blogs should you choose to write your own content. Alternatively, we provide expert blog writing services for those who want the benefits of high-quality content but don't have the time, or the capability of doing it on their own.

    To learn more about the ways our content creation, local SEO, site audit and repair, listings optimization, brand monitoring and review generation services can take your small business to the next level, contact our gurus today.

    Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.  

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  • Next up: Single-Page vs Multi-Page Websites in 2020

    Single-Page vs Multi-Page Websites in 2020

    Check out this guide to the advantages and disadvantages of single-page versus multi-page websites, and find out which one is best for your small business.

     

    It is no secret that you need a strong online presence in 2020 to help your brand succeed. The question is, what kind of website best suits your business's needs? Do you need to consider simple, single-page websites or more in-depth multi-page sites? This is your guide to the advantages and disadvantages of each option and how you know which one is right for you.

    What is a Single-Page Website?
    A single-page website is one that only contains one HTML page. It does not feature separate 'About' or 'Contact' pages, for example. However, this type of website design can still contain navigation links. When users click on different links, they do not take them to a different page but rather a different section of the same page. Since single-page sites tend to be in a scrolling format, they can be quite lengthy. The ability to automatically skip to certain sections of the site makes navigation much easier.

    What is a Multi-Page Website?
    A multi-page website contains multiple HTML pages. Each page has a unique URL and therefore can be linked to separately from blog posts or anywhere else, for that matter. These websites are typically run by large companies that sell many products and have a lot of content. They tend to have a broad audience base as well.

    What are the Advantages of Single-Page Websites?
    You may think more is always better when it comes to website design. However, this is not always true. There are times when a single-page website is advantageous.

    Single-page advantage no. 1: Intuitive experience
    Single-page websites offer a logical flow of progression throughout the page, with an easy-to-distinguish beginning, middle and end. This makes for an intuitive experience with users.

    Single-page advantage no. 2: Great for mobile users
    The basis for navigating a single-page website is scrolling through the page instead of clicking links. This is appealing to mobile users who would rather scroll down a page with their thumb to get to the information they seek than to click on different links and wait for the pages to load.

    Single-page advantage no. 3: Simplicity
    There is something to be said for simplicity. Single-page sites must be disciplined and concise in order to get the point across to visitors. Users appreciate the simplicity and the ability to find everything they are looking for on one page. This is better than users getting lost in the depths of a website and failing to take the desired action on the website.

    Single-page advantage no. 4: Fewer distractions
    Single-page websites offer fewer distractions for users. Typically, there is only one action that can be taken and single page websites tend to convert visitors to consumers at a higher rate than multi-page sites.

    Single-page advantage no. 5: Great for responsive websites
    Designing a responsive site is crucial to making sure mobile users with all different size devices can easily view and navigate your website. Single-page websites are great responsive designs and easier to adapt to a range of mobile device sizes.

    Disadvantages of Single-Page Websites
    Single-page websites offer plenty of advantages, but as with everything, there are disadvantages to choosing this type of website design.

    Single-page disadvantage no. 1: More is not always better
    You must be aware of how much content you are placing on the site. You cannot cram endless amounts of content and still expect the site to be effective. In fact, stuffing too much information onto a single-page website will make for a confusing user experience and slow load times.

    Single-page disadvantage no. 2: Not as SEO friendly
    Single-page websites tend to not do as well as multi-page websites on search engines. The ability to optimize for search engine optimization (SEO) is limited since search engines love copious amounts of content. They do not have as many pages for search engines to crawl and recognize as relevant. This is not to say that you can't rank well for SEO, but it is much more of a challenge.

    You must remember; each page of a website can only be optimized for one keyword phrase or concept. Therefore, a single-page website severely limits your ability to rank beyond one keyword phrase or subject matter. 

    Single-page disadvantage no. 3: Limited ability to scale
    Single-page websites have a limited ability to grow and scale. If you cram too much onto a single website page, it not only confuses readers, but it also increases the time it takes to load the website which will deter visitors if the load time is too slow. Think long-term about where your business will be down the road to determine if your brand will outgrow a single-page website in the near future.

    Single-page disadvantage no. 4: Inability to share on social media
    Single-page websites do not give you the ability to share specific pieces of content. This can hurt your ability to reach your target audience. However, you can create the option for users to share the entire site.

    Advantages of a Multi-page Website
    Unlike single-page websites, multi-page websites offer a higher degree of complexity. There are distinct advantages to a multi-page website.

    Multi-page advantage no. 1: Unlimited growth and scalability
    The sky is the limit to how much your brand can grow and scale when utilizing a multi-page website. With an unlimited number of pages, sections, and links at your disposal to create, opportunities are unlimited.

    Multi-page advantage no. 2: Familiarity
    Multi-page websites have been around for quite some time. This means users are familiar with the concept. Visitors to your site intuitively understand navigation bars and how to successfully navigate through the different pages.

    Multi-page advantage no. 3: Powerful for SEO
    Multi-page websites are what search engines crave. SEO thrives on high-quality content and multi-page websites give brands the ability to create, publish, and promote the best content filled with money making keywords and useful links. SEO is what it takes to get your website high on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

    Multi-page advantage no. 4: The power of social media
    Social media platforms are powerful influencers, and the ability to promote your brand on social media is crucial to the growth of your business. Multi-page websites allow visitors to share specific pieces of content, promoting your brand and growing your audience.

    Disadvantages of Multi-page Websites
    Multi-page websites are incredibly powerful for large brands and even small businesses and brands who intend on growing and scaling in the future. However, there are certain drawbacks that you should be aware of.

    Multi-page disadvantage no. 1: Requires more time to maintain
    Multi-page websites are much larger than single-page websites and have many components. This means the time it takes to manage, update, and optimize each page will require significantly more time than a single-page design.

    Multi-page disadvantage no. 2: Beware of bounce rates
    Websites that have a great deal of content can be distracting and slow to load. Each of these may cause visitors to leave after visiting only one page, resulting in a high bounce rate. It is important to make sure your website has an intuitive architecture giving incentives for users to visit different pages of your website.

    Multi-page disadvantage no. 3: More difficult to adapt to mobile devices
    Using a mobile-first approach when designing websites is important. This means your website will adapt to mobile devices first and desktop devices second. It is much more complicated to adapt a multi-page website to mobile devices than it is a single-page website because of the number of components involved.

    Snapshot: Single-Page Websites Versus Multi-Page Websites
    Single-page websites are great for smaller businesses and brands that are focused on a single product or service. They offer:
    Easy adaptability for mobile devices;
    Easy-to-navigate content; and
    Fewer distractions, which leads to higher conversion rates.

    Multi-page websites are ideal for businesses and brands that offer multiple products and services, are looking to grow and scale, and have a diverse audience. They offer:
    Familiarity to users;
    Ability to grow and scale;
    Ability to optimize for SEO; and
    Unlimited amounts of content.

    Which One is Right for You?
    There is not a right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether you should go with a single-page website layout or a multi-page. The decision is dependent on your business's needs and future goals. 

    Whether you choose a simple, single-page design for your website or a multi-page layout, LocalBizGuru is here to help you make sure you have a stunning, professional, and optimized website to take your business to the next level. Contact us today for more information and to schedule your free initial consultation.


    Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.  

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  • Next up: Six Tips to Dealing with COVID Stress

    Six Tips to Dealing with COVID Stress

    As a small business owner, it probably feels a little overwhelming dealing with the stress coming at you as a result of the pandemic. Here are six tips you can follow to take care of yourself and stay healthy during these uncertain times.

     

    The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for small business owners, both in their professional and personal lives. It has affected mental health, emotional health, physical health and more. Starting and/or running a business is stressful during the best of times, so a global pandemic which has possibly shut down your business for weeks or months, and is forcing you to make major changes to the way you operate, brings with it a whole new level of stress. As a small business owner, you worry about your ability to stay in business, as well as your responsibilities to your employees and customers. These are just a few examples of the new normal you are currently dealing with.

    In order for you to handle the stress and be in a good, healthy position to help everyone else, you first must take care of yourself. Here are six tips that I use to help stay healthy and safe during this pandemic:

    Stress-less Tip No. 1: Eat Healthy and Take Care of You
    Eating right is important to help you feel energetic, productive and positive. Get some exercise. Avoid sugar, fast food and junk food as much as possible. This will help you to stay focused, help you to deal with stress, help you to sleep better and help you to make better business decisions.

    Stress-less Tip No. 2: Eliminate Alcohol
    Avoiding alcohol has been proven to help eliminate and manage stress. You will feel better and perform better.

    Stress-less Tip No. 3: Have a Support System
    Small business owners need to have a strong support system outside of work. While you may not be able to connect with others in person, use video chats, Zoom type meetings, calls and other methods of communication to stay in touch. Develop a sounding board or network of other professionals. 

    Stress-less Tip No. 4: Carve Out Time for Yourself
    As a small business owner, you need “me” time. Find something you like to do that can help you unwind. Play a socially distancing sport, take a walk or jog, watch a movie, cook, garden, read a book. It doesn’t matter what you do, just find something outside of the work environment that you enjoy. This should not be viewed as a luxury, but as an essential part of keeping you healthy and productive.

    Stress-less Tip No. 5: Learn to Prioritize
    Setting goals and prioritizing them is important. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish and then review it with a critical eye. Take any deadlines into account and develop a plan based on priority needs. If you have large projects, try to break them down into more manageable tasks. 

    Stress-less Tip No. 6: Get Professional Help if You Need it
    If you are struggling or having serious issues, consider seeking help from a licensed medical professional. You need to confide in someone. Seeing a therapist can make a huge difference in your ability to handle the stress and navigate thru this pandemic. While it may be a little more difficult with social distancing, it is not impossible and can be very helpful. 
    While not every one of these strategies will be helpful for everyone, doing any of these things—even for a relatively short period of time—is better than doing nothing at all. 

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security ExpertTimothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

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