Q&A Post by Andrew Graf
There is a recurring theme in most of my conversations with local business owners, everyone has questions about how to be effectively seen online. People want to know how to have their business noticed and at the same time- trusted. They want to know how online exposure can help them grow. Simply, they’re trying to figure out how to get more clients without changing their business too much or find the right agency that won’t underdeliver.
You probably have these same types of questions. You’ve probably spent time on blogs, forums, and around the web, trying to get answers.
Problem is, you keep getting conflicting answers, right?
For example, pop onto any digital marketing forum and ask this question:
How can I attract local patients or clients online?
I guarantee that you’ll get conflicting advice. Some people will tell you to create more content. Another group will advocate that you split test FB ads, and to make it extra time-consuming, you’ll be told to record videos or podcasts daily.
There you are, left to sort through the wheat and the chaff by doubling your workload, posting content daily.
If you’re new to that particular community, it’s even harder because you don’t know who to trust. Unfortunately, the truth is, there are plenty of digital marketers who want you to think they know what they’re talking about – but they’re just as clueless as everyone else. In some cases, these types of people are offering downright dangerous advice that can negatively affect your operation, because they change their strategy daily.
Some of these same digital teams do this because they outsource their work and are constantly trading their tactics for new ones forcing you to do the same.
I decided to compile this list of recently asked questions to help those beginning their search for online visibility.
I wanted to make sure you get the right advice from someone who’s navigated the world of internet marketing and is helping business owners make the right decisions for their business.
Q. What’s the fastest way to find more local clients or patients consistently online?
A. Last I heard, 80% of google searches for local services end with a purchase within 48 hours. So, if your business or content is listed on google you can expect results quickly. But, as mentioned before there are many ways to do this and even more ways that people actually search for these services..
We all have similarities yet widely different interpretations, decisions and experiences. Which means there is an unbelievable amount of opportunity for local businesses to increase their exposure online.
Think about how accessible Google is. It is still the main traffic source on the internet and simply anyone with a computer or phone is using it. There’s no way we are all typing in the same searches which is why going for the “best” rankings is just going to take too long and usually wastes money.
The fastest way to find a consistent source of local clients online would be distributing content that ranked on google for the neighborhoods, towns, and districts surrounding your business. You are going to need excellent content that solves specific problems for specific people. Think “dog friendly emergency [service] in [district/neighborhood] – Repaired in less than 24 hours by experienced professionals”.
This could potentially rank for many more queries in one go: Let’s make you a plumber for the example.
“ 24 hour emergency plumbers in [district/neighborhood]”
“Dog friendly plumbing professionals in [district/neighborhood]”
“Friendly plumbing professionals in [district/neighborhood]”
“Emergency professional plumbing in [district/neighborhood]”
“Emergency plumbing professionals in [district/neighborhood]”
“Experienced plumbing professionals in [district/neighborhood]”
“24 hour plumbing repairs by experienced professionals in [district/neighborhood]”
There are still many more queries in this headline alone. You just have to make the kind of content that actually solves the problem or question someone searching these terms are looking to find. I hope this gives you the creative freedom to simply just help people. Google will reward you for solving their problems.
If you don’t have the time, and want to scale your business without getting your hands dirty… You need to hire a team that can distribute high quality content to the specific areas surrounding your business. It would be a huge plus if they could guarantee media coverage as well to boost your rankings and exposure locally online. (Yes, these teams exist.)
Q. I don’t have the budget to hire an agency, how do I get more clients online?
A. Usually, when I’m told this it’s followed by
“I just spent $X,000 on radio, billboards” and other untraceable ad sources.
I always dig a little deeper, because with the internet available you have the ability to KNOW what you’re paying for. The billboards are a nice touch, but the cost of a billboard simply doesn’t give the same return. With the internet you can reach real people, with real intent to buy and you can even track these interactions for specific details.
But, if they are truly on a budget I advise them to start small. I’ll even give them advice about how to create a mini system that is repeatable and can easily be taught to an employee or virtual assistant. Most business owners don’t have the time to scale their content, so you want to make sure it’s something you can eventually designate the details to someone else and grow.
Whether it’s posting daily on social media, recording a video once a week describing your service, or live sessions held weekly to answer questions online. There are many ways to get started on your own without hiring a team to do it all. I’ll post some useful resources in some future posts, so just give me a follow on LinkedIn to see them.
Q. I don’t have a whole lot of time to search for the right agency to partner with, because I have work, family and social responsibilities. I know content marketing is useful, but how do I make the right decision when hiring?
A. Usually, at this point of the call or email I don’t have the answers for a lot of people. The truth is anyone telling you their strategy will work for you without first getting to know your business may just be flat out wrong.
Every business is different and depending on your business and budget it’s impossible to give a one size fits all answer here.
The main things to consider would be, the quantity and quality of content you’re getting for the dollar. Next, take notice of what you say during the sales process and see if they have a specific solution that mentions results you can understand in a time-frame you are comfortable with.
Ask them about a time where their services haven’t worked out for a client. You’ll get to see how they overcome challenges, as this field of work is definitely a battlefield of competitors and ever changing tacticians.
If they are offering FB or Adwords ads, ask them to see a recent example of their work. Make sure you are going to be represented in a way that aligns with your actual business. Have the uneasy conversation to understand what you are getting involved in… before you make the purchase.
To take it even further, I recommend you check out Questions you should ask a marketing agency over at Market Muse.
Hey, I know a lot of you want to grow your business without taking on too much risk, and the obsessive marketing and sales pitches make it difficult to decide, but there are a LOT of talented teams and people that can help you.
At last, I hope you know a little more about finding patients or clients online for your local business. You can now get started today or take action to confidently grow online, because you’re armed with the knowledge you need for to take the next step!
If you made it down here, let me know which answer was the most useful to you or share a way you have found success marketing your local business online.