June 2013 Archives

Building a strong offline and online presence in local markets is of key importance to every organization that sells products and/or services to a local audience.

For franchises, this is an ever-increasing challenge because as they grow, they expand into more and more local markets. It is a challenge that, if ignored, can lead to devastating results. On the flip side, when addressed properly, it can lead to industry widespread exposure...and that's a good thing.

One important aspect of that is securing a prime spot in the increasingly important map listing results that appear in response to keyword searches on Google.

When that all-powerful map appears, you need to be there.

While Google Local Pages are still active, Google is transitioning priority to Google+ pages, so it's imperative that franchises that need a local presence setup a Google+ page. Not just any page can be setup, however.

In order to appear in local map results, you must setup a Google+ page as a "Local Business" rather than choosing an alternative such as product/brand, company/institution, arts/entertainment/sports or other.

It's also crucial that you then go through the process and complete all the steps in order to take advantage of the power that Google+ offers:

  • -Specify correct physical location
  • -Choose the correct categories
  • -Add a description with keywords
  • -Adding a website link
  • -Add a logo and cover photo
  • -Post a welcoming message

And lastly...verify the page! Without verification the page will not appear in Google results...then the efforts are wasted.

It is important for franchises to determine who is responsible for the setup and maintenance of these pages. Many pages can be setup through a single Google account, which makes it easy for the corporate franchise team to maintain.

Given that in most industries audience engagement on Google+ is not as crucial as it is on other networks such as Facebook or Twitter, corporate management of the pages may be the most practical and make the most sense.

If it is decided that independent franchises will setup their own Google+ pages, then the corporate team should provide them with instructions about how to do so properly in order to maximize results.

Regardless of who sets it up, Google+ is an essential component of establishing a solid online presence for franchises in local markets.

    Mobile search has fast become consumers' preferred method when searching for local businesses.

    In fact, 50% of Google mobile searches are local. The data is clear--mobile search is surging as desktop search continues to decline.

    Having a mobile optimized website is now a must for local businesses that want to be found by the millions of local consumers who are routinely conducting mobile local searches from their smartphones and tablets. Mobile optimization--and the related building blocks of local SEO--is nearly as essential for a local business as having a business phone number.

    And yet, most small and medium-sized businesses, many of which are local businesses, are not well positioned to be found by mobile searchers. According to data from SMB DigitalScape, 94.5 percent of U.S. SMB websites are not mobile optimized.

    It's time for local businesses to get serious about mobile, or risk losing ground to mobile-ready competitors.

    1. Is Mobile Really So Important for My Local Business?

    Among the advantages of mobile search is that it's newer; therefore mobile search results are a lot less cluttered than desktop search results. This lack of competition in the results gives a local businesses even greater visibility in searches.

    If that doesn't offer sufficient motivation to start thinking seriously about mobile, there's a growing mountain of data to support the urgency to get mobile optimized...now.

    Consider that:

    • Mobile searchers convert faster, with 55% responding within one hour of a search. ***
    • Mobile optimized websites have 11.5 percent higher click-through rates. *
    • 25% of mobile users who search for a local business make an in-store purchase. **
    • 49% of mobile users who search for a local business location search for it on a map. **
    • One out of three smartphone users search specifically for contact information, such as phone numbers, maps and driving directions. ****

    2. I'm Mobile Optimized, But I'm Still Not Showing Up in Mobile Searches

    Optimizing a website for mobile devices is only one piece of a local business' mobile strategy. The smaller screen size means a business has to show up among the top listings for its particular product or service, otherwise the customer will never see the business' listing. Therefore, search engine optimization is a critical component for visibility in mobile searches.

    Local businesses must ensure they not only claim their online business listings, they must also make sure their basic business information - name, address, phone number - is accurate and consistent, everywhere it appears online.

    3. Where's My Google Map Pin?

    Local search is broken on most major directory apps. For example, when performing a local search on Google, your business may not show up - even if you are standing inside your business location.

    Once again, to show up on the Google map in a local search, you need to make sure your business listing is claimed, the data is accurate and the location pin is in the correct place.

    So, Just Do It

    Smartphones have clearly changed the way we perform everyday tasks.

    For local businesses, mobile is no longer something to push off until next year. If you want to remain competitive in your local marketplace, your business has to be visible to the growing number of mobile local consumers.

    Move local SEO and mobile website optimization to the top of your to do list. And just do it.

    * Google-Nielsen Study

    ** Startapp

    *** Google Smartphone Study

    **** Mobile Path to Purchase Study by Telmetrics and xAd

    I recently talked with a restaurant owner at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago last month. He shared his story of his frustration with Yelp, stating that he wasn't quite sure how to overcome negative posts. I asked him more about the story to get a better understanding of what was happening, and in it was a good lesson and example of how to make the most out of online reviews.

    He said that he started seeing negative reviews come up on some of his locations; some of them were true issues that he was able to resolve, and some were less pertinent complaints, with some comments seemingly from people who are generally unhappy and tend to complain about everything.

    Concerned that negative reviews would overshadow positive ones, he started a campaign in his restaurants to encourage people to leave positive reviews on Yelp after their dining experience. He received a good response in general, though when he reviewed his Yelp pages, he noticed that the reviews were skewed as far as which were being posted. After some digging, he found that all of the reviews written were published; however, some (notably many of the positive ones) were more or less buried.

    Frustrated, he contacted Yelp for assistance, and learned that he could get help with this, for a price. As budget constraints didn't allow for this, he took matters into his own hands. He was sure to continue to encourage customers to leave positive reviews when they were pleased with their experience, but he also made a personal connection with those that left negative reviews.

    In addition to publicly addressing concerns and making them right, whether that be to offer a discount on a future visit, apologize in a sincere manner, or whatever would make the situation better, he and his managers were notified whenever a customer redeemed these "negative situation coupons."

    By taking this extra step and making the personal connection, he reported that many customers not only gave the restaurant a second chance, but they became regular customers, who, interestingly enough, started leaving positive reviews on Yelp and other similar sites.

    Negative reviews can be daunting and worrisome, especially to smaller to mid-size companies, but, as you can see, handled the right way, these reviews can really turn things around and save dissatisfied customers.

    I enjoyed hearing this story and seeing how his efforts really paid off. What has worked for you?

    If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

    Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

    If you ever trained a puppy, you learned how to negotiate. "SIT!" "Good boy." "Here's a treat." That's negotiation.

    We negotiate with our KIDS every day. "If /when you finish your veggies, you can have the ice cream." That's negotiation.

    And what about our spouses? "Honey, if I go out to the paint store and pick up the paint, will you paint the kitchen?" That's negotiation.

    Point being while negotiation is thought of as a SALES SKILL, it really is an everyday life skill we use a lot more than we realize.

    There are some areas that are non-negotiable. For example, try getting a discount at a department store. Unless it's on sale, the price is the price. In some industries, negotiation is the norm - real estate for example.

    What about a car? It's a known fact there's a window sticker price and the price that you pay; a negotiated price.

    That's an 'up front' negotiation. It's expected. And sometimes it doesn't go well. One side won't budge or won't negotiate to your satisfaction, so someone loses. Usually both parties.

    For negotiation to be successful, both parties need to feel good at the conclusion. But if you're in sales, price cutting is normally a daily negotiation.

    Tips to make you better at negotiating:

    1. Never, ever discount the price right off the bat. Often a price cut will get the salesperson more excited than the prospect. You may think going in with a lower price will make the prospect grateful and give you an easy 'go' right away. It usually won't. If they take your offer of the lower price, that indicates they might have taken it at the rate card price which is where you SHOULD be quoting from to start with.

    2. When you talk price be strong and confident. A weak or hesitant delivery makes the salesperson sound soft. Then the price sounds soft and thereby invites a lower offer.

    3. Delay giving concessions until the end of the conversation. A concession given too early is just a 'giveaway.' Save it for closing the sale by saying, "That's an interesting idea. Let's come back to that a bit later."

    4. When there is a request for a price concession, have a nice way to reject it. Just because they have dealt with other weak salespeople doesn't mean you need to be that way. We can use a very effective, "I wish we could; however, that's not an option we have" technique. Or you can say, "Since you only have $4,000 and the project is $5,500, we can work to remove a few parts of the package.

    5. Never underestimate your strength in a negotiating situation. Some prospects assume a salesperson is in the position of weakness. If you fall for that, that will weaken your resolve and soften your backbone. Understand this: If the prospect is bargaining with you or even discussing the proposal with you, that's an indicator of interest; a buying sign. Their actions are telling you without saying it outright you have something they need or want.

    6. When do negotiations begin? When you say hello. Negotiations, in general, are ongoing all day long at work and at home. And it's often a subtle thing. Recognizing you're constantly involved in negotiation gives you an advantage. Be aware that life itself is a series of negotiating situations. You often are negotiating without realizing it.

    7. Avoid goodwill conceding. (Thank you Gavin Kennedy - Everything is Negotiable for this concept.) The principle of "goodwill conceding" is this: The salesperson thinks that if they are nice and give a price concession to the other side, the other side will reciprocate with a concession back to you. In other words, they'll buy.

    Nice idea. Only it backfires with a professional buyer. What they do is take what you offer and try to get more. (After all you're giving things away.)

    8. When you give - GET. When you do give a price concession, use the 'if/then' technique so that you get something in return. "Mr. Jones, if I can get you the widgets at that price, are you able to give me the go-ahead today (or can we do business today)?" or "Mr. Jones, if I can give you that price, can I get a referral from you?"

    There are dozens of other "gets" when you give. Salespeople don't mind giving when they are getting something in return. But perhaps the most important reason to take something back when you give a concession is this: It puts a 'price' on your concession. No longer are concession requests free. By asking for something in return, it keeps you from getting additional requests for concessions.

    9. Why is it important to be a good negotiator? Because a bad negotiator leaks dollars and reduces the all important profit to the company. Profit is what's needed to run a company. No profit, no company.

    Now, one closing suggestion: Whenever you can, substitute the word 'investment' for the word price. In most cases, the prospect is making an investment, and a good one at that.

    Nancy Friedman is available to speak at your next meeting. Call & talk with her at 314.291.1012 or email [email protected]

    Local Market Launch today introduced a local visibility audit tool that enables national brands and multi-location businesses to gauge the local online presence (across search, local directories, and social media) of all their locations--whether they have two, hundreds or even thousands of locations.

    Until now, managing the local online presence of multiple locations has been a resource-intensive undertaking for national and regional brands, often yielding mediocre results.

    Our new tool allows brands to efficiently identify locations with underperforming aspects of online presence, such as inconsistent or incomplete business listing information in online directories, a factor that can diminish a location's findability in online and mobile searches.

    Manual approaches to managing the ever-increasing number of digital channels that publish local business information are simply ineffective.

    Our new local visibility audit tool enables multi-location businesses to get a handle on local online presence, control brand assets across their organization, and ultimately help increase traffic to their local operations. We look forward to introducing our new tool to attendees of next week's Street Fight Summit West.

    Distinguishing features of the tool include:

    • Ability to input a business location phone number and view associated directory listings in real time
    • Widgetized for easy sharing of the same functionality with another website
    • Ability for multiple businesses with the same name (e.g., Rusty's), or for businesses that can't be found with their phone number (e.g., new           businesses) to be found
    • Currently actively scans the top 25-plus directory websites, with additional directory sites continuing to be integrated into the tool
    • "A select group of agency partners have been using the tool in beta release with their national brand clients to review their local online visibility across search, local directories, and social media," said Jeff Hoyer, VP of sales, Local Market Launch. "Feedback indicates it is a compelling pre-sales tool that agencies and resellers can use to effectively demonstrate the overall value of our business listings and reputation management solutions."

    Local Market Launch will showcase the new tool and the company's full range of local online presence solutions for SMBs, franchisees and multi-location businesses, as a sponsor of next week's Street Fight Summit West, which takes place June 4, at the Bentley Reserve, in Downtown San Francisco.

    Local Market Launch's Coryat will take to the conference stage to introduce a panel discussion titled, "How Mobile Analytics and Mapping are Transforming Local," featuring Street Fight columnist Matt Sokoloff.

    On the eve of the conference, Monday, June 3, Local Market Launch will host an invitation-only wine tasting event offering conference attendees "A Taste of Santa Barbara" and the opportunity to jumpstart the networking with their peers in the hyperlocal industry. To request an invitation to the event, contact Angela Tan at angela(at)localmarketlaunch(dot)com.

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    This page is an archive of entries from June 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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