Boost Your Business Profile By Starting A Blog

Boost your Business Profile by Starting a Blog

starting a blogIf getting in front of new customers is a priority for any business, getting in front of the biggest number of potential clients possible right now, for the least cost, is usually the main goal. For many small businesses with limited resources advertising is simply not an option. The best way to put yourself and your business in a place where a huge potential audience can find you is by putting yourself online.

One of the great advantages a blog gives you as a small business owner is that it stands as a reference to your skills and knowledge. By regularly blogging about information, tips and services you are telling the world that you know your subject matter and can add value to your existing products and services by providing your readers with an additional resource of information.

By regularly updating your blog you will raise your own profile as the more that brands and industry insiders see your work, the more they will start to see you as an expert in the field.  Once you are seen as someone who’s knowledgeable and willing to speak up or share information, you will find that more people in turn want to speak to you about what you do, ask your opinion on products or come to you for advice. All of these opportunities can then be turned into the start of a business winning conversation.

Blogs are also exactly the right kind of information that search engines like to see. The search engine spiders that crawl the internet looking for answers to millions of search queries love to see sites that are regularly updated. An updated site shows that you are active, and implies that the information is fresh and relevant.

Producing your own new content also gives you more content to share on social media sites such as Google plus, Facebook and Twitter. By posting your content out on multiple sites you are creating all important back links out from your site to the rest of the internet. The real value here is when other people also like your content and share it on their own social media profiles. Again, the search engines will see that your content has been shared multiple times and will deem your work to be even more relevant, bumping you up the search results.

For anyone who has never started a blog before it might seem daunting, and you might be tempted to just stick with social media rather than trying to build your own separate page. Social media definitely serves a purpose, but typically what you post there is only good for a moment and will get lost in amongst everyone else’s posts. If you have your own website you can keep all your posts together in one place and refer back to them again more easily. Also, if you are serious about wanting to raise your own profile then you need to have your own page to refer people back to. Remember you don’t own your social media pages and they could change their rules at a moments’ notice leaving your hard work and audience building efforts wasted. Having your own blog leaves you in control.

At Big Thinking Online we have been building up our own content for almost 4 years now. Every new blog increases the chances of our work being shared, and increases the chance of regular readers coming back to our site rather than looking for one of our competitors. It also means we’ve spent all that time creating a very natural organic back linking profile which is another positive in the eyes of the search engines. It shows to our clients that our business has a good knowledge base, that we have built up our own reputation and profile over a steady period and that we continue to work on our skills. Over the last few years we have had blogs featured on many other places, including Social Media Today and Business 2 Community, sometimes being shared thousands of times in a day. Whilst these posts may not all have caused the phone to ring off the hook they have definitely helped to increase our network of contacts, and it also means that if a client or prospect asks for further information on a subject then we can usually direct them to a post on that subject that they can read whenever they need to.

Have you started your own blog yet? If so what benefits have you found from keeping it going?

Command More Business By Encouraging Customer Reviews

Command More Business By Encouraging Customer Reviews

Command More Business By Encouraging Customer Reviews

customer reviewsSolicitors, Dentists and Accountants are losing pre qualified business each and every day before that potential client even sets foot in their place of business and without even speaking to a representative of the business. How? The decision is based solely on what other people say about your business, through customer reviews and word of mouth online.

Having a prominent position on Google is no longer enough to guarantee that people will see your business as the authority in your niche, the best person to satisfy, meet and surpass their needs. The client is educated and does their research by uncovering information from several sources before making a decision on your business. In doing so these consumer savvy clients pay more attention and give more credibility to what other people say about your business over and above what you do.

Enter the new world of word of mouth marketing!

When presented with too many choices, consumers look for ways to separate what you do and how you do it from your competitors. Often this comes down to social proof in terms of customer reviews and testimonials about your business.

Finding these customer reviews, for the most part, is not too difficult. There are hundreds if not thousands of business review sites and local directories all over the internet that contain information about your business and give patrons of your business the opportunity to share how good you and your services really are. The most important thing to remember is that once a review is posted online about your business it is there forever. Whether it is positive or negative.

It is estimated that one in four searches on the internet is a local search, a local search for example being “place name + service”. The results that appear predominately show local business directories and that is why it is important to make sure your listings are complete and you are aware of user generated content on them.

5 Local business directories that you should keep your eyes on.

1. Google Plus Local for Business

customer reviewsFormerly known as Google Places, Google Plus Local allows businesses to register themselves with Google, or claim a listing that Google has created on your behalf.  The listing is visible on Google Maps, as well as displaying in search results, with extended information and data available at a glance when a user searches for your business name and the service your business represents in your location.

Take the time to complete all relevant information about your business. The more Google knows about your business the better it can represent you in local search, maps or listings when people are searching for your services.

Put in place a campaign where you approach your clients to leave reviews on your Google Plus Profile about the services they have received. The more positive reviews you have, the more Google will begin to trust your business and this can directly affect how your business ranks in local search.

This may seem like hard work, but don’t just limit your review campaign to Google plus local, ask customers to also leave reviews on some of the following sites as Google Plus local also collates and displays reviews about your business on these sites too.

2. Yell.

15 years ago the yellow pages would have been the go to source for local business searches but with the advancement in technology and the rise of search engines the online yell directory is not as popular as it once was. On the flip side because of the brand name being so well known, Yell is still a good place to register your business. Yell give the option to have a free listing and also offer several enhanced features designed to elevate your business in the directory for a fee.

Depending on the demographics of your targeted clients, the Yellow pages and Yell could be a valuable asset in generating clients.

3. Yelp!

customer reviewsWith over 30 million reviews and 78 million unique monthly visitors Yelp is a big player in the local search arena. Couple that with the recent purchase of Qype, which in itself boasted more than 2 million local business reviews and 15 million unique monthly visitors, you can see not only that a lot of people are using the local directories but they are stopping to leave reviews.

Yelp is a full-fledged social community, complete with the ability to add friends, earn community reputations, a robust commenting system, and picture profiles. Because of its marked popularity and the fact that it has been courting users and reviews since 2004, Yelp! reviews rank well with search engines. In addition the reviews are generally seen as reputable and trustworthy and Yelp! continues to weed out fake reviews from their system. Find out what others are saying about your business and claim your Yelp listing!

4. Yahoo! Local Listings

customer reviewsYahoo! Local Listings are similar in format to Google. Complete with a map and full landing page, Yahoo! Local listings rank above organic search results, below the top three pay-per-click listings but crucially above the fold.

Although Yahoo does not get the same amount of traffic as Google there is no reason to ignore what could be a very lucrative local lead generation strategy for your business. The simple fact that Yahoo is not as popular as Google means that quite often businesses overlook Yahoo to concentrate on Google which gives you a greater opportunity to rank for your location and service with less competition.

Promote your Yahoo! Local Listing as you would any of your other business assets. It is free to create and is only limited by the effort and content you include to make your business stand out from the rest. Get your Yahoo! Map Listing started.

5. FreeIndex

customer reviewsFreeIndex is another site that is increasingly growing in popularity and has the benefit of reviews being aggregated into your Google plus local page

As with the other directories it is customisable to represent your business and your clients can leave their testimonials to share how great your business services are. The listing is free and is another great way to promote your business locally online.

As a business owner it is crucial to get your name and your brand in front of as many interested people as possible. What better way than getting it in front of people who are actively searching for your business in your local area.

Business directory listings allow you to position yourself in front of your audience and also to showcase the great work that you are providing your clients as well as a platform to shout about the excellent experience they have received at your hands through glowing customer reviews.

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

With the ever increasing amount of messages that each individual customer is exposed to, buyers’ expectations are rising and it is becoming harder to earn audience trust. Without trust there is little chance of building long term profitable business relationships. That is why being customer focused should not only be at the heart of your marketing but also at the basis of everything that you do.

This next sentence may shock people; in fact it might even offend some business owners!

Nobody cares what you think about your product, your service or your business because to all intents and purposes that is a canned and measured response.

What people want to know about your company is the stories people tell about it!

The sooner you accept that what other people say is far more important to the success of your business than what you have to say, the better for your business and the easier it will be on your finances.

If the word surrounding your business is positive, then great! Capitalise on that buzz and attract as many targeted people as you can to witness that buzz for themselves so they too can become interested in what you do, how you do it, how they can become a part of it and share it with those that they know.

On the other hand if the general consensus is that your business is poor and does not deliver on what it says it does then STOP!

stop sign

Take a step back, listen to what people are saying, assess where the problem is and put things right. Then ask people again to judge you on how you are doing?  When the feedback comes back positive then you can look at growing once again.

People need to see for their own eyes what others are saying about your business before making a commitment to become a business partner. To help people make up their mind you should think about the following steps that can improve the return on your marketing investment:

Know your customer – The more you know about your customer, the easier it will become to provide that personalised message. If you have an image of what your customer looks like, what books they read, what makes them happy, where they live, or what industry they work in, then attracting that prospect to become a lead or a customer will be far easier and over time will cost less as conversions will be higher.

Consistency – When a prospect is considering joining your business there is no doubt that your sales and support staff will be there to allow that person to feel a part of how your business runs. If this changes, i.e. the point of contact is no longer available, support staff are currently always engaged or not available at all, then your client is soon going to be disgruntled.

Be consistent with your offering to the client and manage expectations from the outset as to what the client can and should expect from your business and stick to it.

Communicate – Don’t just talk to the customer, make the relationship a two way street. Many people don’t like the idea of giving power to the customer. The truth of the matter is that the internet has given the power to the customer anyway, so deal with it by giving them great things to say about you, and often.

Businesses are now more transparent than ever, honesty and openness is expected so embrace it and allow your business to thrive on it.

Always be listening – Review sites have given the consumer many more options to get their opinions heard. It is no longer in the power of the business to send out a periodic questionnaire as a customer can now go on Yelp, Google+, Qype, Touch Local, Twitter or Facebook and express an opinion. This can happen 24/7/365 and the results mean that  anyone searching for information about your business will see consumer generated content, comments, opinions and real life experiences of working with you and your business.

listening

Have a system in place where you can constantly monitor what is being said about your business and your online reputation, and be prepared to deal with negative criticism when they arrive.

You cannot please everybody, but how you resolve the situation with those that are unhappy when the eyes and ears of the world are on you can impact how prospective clients view your business both in a positive and negative light.

Act Decisively – In the past if you had a problem with a product or service you would go to the customer service desk, ask for the manager or perhaps fill out a customer complaint form to get an apology and a promise from the manager that the issue would be investigated and resolved. What would happen after that is anybody’s guess!

Now it is a completely different kettle of fish. The public nature of the social web means that when somebody has something negative to say about your company you need to act decisively as in the digital world things can quickly escalate.

By embracing the voice of your customers in the digital world your business will be available and responsive to your ideal client’s needs which are essential to building great customer relationships.

If you don’t treat your customers with the trust, respect and care they deserve and bought into when signing up with your business, there is a string of eager and dedicated competitors that will be more than happy to take those clients from you.