Claim Your Listings
There are 70+ directory sites and search engines that may have your business listing. Everybody has their favorite site when they look for a business. My Grandfather loved "Ask Jeeves" which became Ask.com. You can't control what site people use to look for a business, so you had better be everywhere.
While there are many paid options to submit your listings throughout the web and control their information, you can do this yourself manually. You'll need to "Google it" because the links will always change; however, you should focus on claiming your listings on Google, Yahoo, Bing, YP, and Yelp to get your major bases covered. Create your business listing if it isn't already there, and make sure to complete all the fields with as much rich detail as possible.
Verify Your Business
Verifying your business listing can be the part that requires the most effort. Sometimes the company will call you with a verification code on an automatic line, but other times you'll have to wait on a postcard to arrive in the mail. Google usually does this more than others. This is an efficient way for Google to verify that you are a real business with a verified mailing address. Google always wants to provide its audience with a great user experience- verifying listings before they are posted is a great way to ensure accuracy, eliminate duplicates, and confirm accurate listing information.
Details Improve Quality Scores
Ever wonder how listings are organized on a Search Results Page? It's based on relevance, popularity, click-through rates, bounce ratios and more. Every business has an Ad Ranking and Quality Score, determined by the site who is displaying your business as a search result.
If you are not filling in all the blanks with your listing, you are not giving sites like Google or YP any reason to showcase your business above competitors. Don't take shortcuts! Take the time to describe your services, list your awards, display your brands, and describe your history! Be sure to tell people where you are, since GPS is not a proven science still to this day.. Include the actual links to your Social Media.
Upload photos! People have to feel like they know you, if you expect to earn their trust. A blank listing is shady at best. Stand out by giving people more to read. Don't be like the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle! People need MORE!
QR Codes on Business Cards
QR Codes are a great addition to your business card, especially if you want to impress your customers. These days, most smartphones can scan a QR code using their default camera app. Generating a QR code is free and easy- (just Google it)- but here is one of the first sites that comes up: www.qr-code-generator.com
Be a Social Butterfly
You have to get in front of customers and develop the type of awareness you want by leveraging Social Media. Creating posts and coupons raises the likelihood of a click, call, and conversion. When you have a special limited time offer under your listing, you have given the searcher a reason to call you. Frequent and consistent engagement like this on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and others can help you stand out. Keep your audience engaged with updates and specials, events and offers! When people see you always posting something new, you are seen as the local expert in your field. Establish more trust and build a reputation by staying fresh, current, appealing, and consistent. Looking involved is far better than looking disengaged.
Google offers many free tools like their Analytics, which shows you in depth how many visitors your post had, and gives you smart data for future posts, ideas, and a pulse on what works best. This can be done for you, but this page is all about Free Tips!
Do it Yourself Videos
- Record clips 10-30 seconds long
- Record short audio clips of dialogue/voiceover
- Take several photos
- Add opening & ending slides with logo & contact info
- Add royalty-free background music
- Add transition effects between clips
- Add titles under people speaking
- Introduce, Present, Describe, Solve Problems
- Be heart-felt, and solve a need.
- Choose a free app (even just for your phone) to create
Anyone can easily create custom video for themselves if they have a smartphone. Sharing video content on Social Media has an average share rate of 1,200%, which is more than text posts and photos combined. It's a lot easier than you might think! Sites like https://www.bensound.com offer royalty-free music you can download and use in your videos. Free apps like iMovie for iPhone will let you edit and upload complete videos online. You just have to be creative- and you only really need 30 minutes.
Part of developing a strong Quality Score online has to do with Reviews your business has. 5-star reviews are great; however, negative reviews can impact the placement of your listing on Search Engines as well. That's why it is important to reply, as the business owner, if you have a negative review. A 1-star review that a business owner professionally replies to can be equal to a 5-star review to a consumer.
If you've ever shopped for anything online, you know that reviews are important. Monitoring your online presence is easier when you have claimed your listings, and opted-in for notifications when people comment about your business online.
Ask for Reviews
Asking for reviews is a critical step to getting them. Nothing builds a reputation faster than a business with lots of loyal fans. The best way to ask for a positive review is to (1) thank customers for their business, (2) ask them if they would refer you to others, and (3) give them simple directions to leave a review for you.
The easiest way to share a link to your Google Business Listing is to (1) search for yourself on Google Maps, (2) click the Share button, and (3) copy the Link to Share. Be sure to paste that link in Social Media posts, letters, or emails when asking someone to review your business.
Ask For Referrals
Asking for referrals is one of the strongest ways to increase your New Business sales. Cold-calling is becoming more outdated, with business owners being contacted NUMEROUS times daily with people trying to sell them products. You need that unique edge (a referrer) to establish a bit of trust up-front. When you call a business, and it was because you worked with "JOHN DOE", you've dropped a wall and gotten a foot in the door. Here's what I have found successful in asking for referrals the right way.
Test this strategy out the next time you are working with a client. You can use this strategy in many situations. If your pipeline is dry, try calling your favorite clients and let them know you're trying to grow and expand, and take them through a similar exercise. Ask you top clients out for lunch and go through this process. After selling a new client, have this conversation.
(1) Ask for affirmation: "Now that you've seen what I do with my clients, how do you feel about it?"
(2) Ask for confirmation: "Wouldn't it be helpful for other business owners like yourself to work with someone like me?"
(3) Ask for referrals: "I enjoy working with people like you. I'm picky with who I work for, so I like to ask every client to help me meet at least 5 other business owners. Can we take a second to brainstorm and come up with 5 people that would benefit from meeting with me?"
When you have a steady flow of new customers, it doesn't hurt as bad when you lose a few. Everyone needs new business, because even if you are doing a great job, things can still be out of your control. People move, die, or decide to try something new all the time!