When you look for a local small business like yours, what do you look for?
And, where do you look?
Lots of home service companies in the Hudson Valley say to trust them.
…do those businesses deserve our trust?
Before your business can stand out, you need a way to grab people’s attention.
Next, your marketing has to show the community you work hard to earn trust.
And, show potential customers that you obsess over their experience.
Does your service business show up in the google 3-pack?
You’re probably asking, what the heck is the Google 3-Pack?
This one’s simple, and you’re already familiar with it…
What you might not know is how important the Google 3-Pack is to your local marketing.
The Google 3-Pack refers to the top three business listings that show up in the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The businesses we see depend on what we search, and where we search from.
What does that mean?
For example, let’s say I search “plumbers near me” in Google. Google shows me 3 businesses in the 3-Pack that they think are most relevant to what I’m searching for. Here, the best three plumbers near my current location.
If you only do one thing as part of Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation, focus on Google.
You probably search for businesses online often yourself.
So, you know people usually hire a businesses that’s at the top of search results.
When’s the last time you took a look at how your Hudson Valley business is standing out in local search?
Think like your potential customers
Before you think about listing your local small business online you have to answer two questions.
Question #1: Who is your target customer?
You gotta know your target customer. That way, you know how to reach them.
You can still sell your product or service to anybody that wants it.
But, taking a more targeted approach to marketing helps your small business stand out.
Sometimes when I come up with new ideas, people say, “everyone’s not going to like that.”
You’re right. But, based on my research, our target customers will. And, it never hurts to try to test out new ideas. Some will work. Some won’t.
When you know more about a specific audience, you can deliver a marketing message they can relate to.
Think about some of your favorite customers. What are they like?
Question #2: How would you find you?
It’s not a trick question. Pretend you just moved to Westchester County, NY from outside of New York. Let’s pretend you need to hire a local business like yours.
What would you do? The phone book?
Phone books make great booster seats, are deadly against spiders, and if you have a really old one, you might even be able to sell it as a collectors item on Ebay.
But, chances are…there’s one thing you likely aren’t doing with it…
…searching for a local business.
…that leaves a question. If you’re not showing up in the 3-Pack, and, we know nobody’s using the phone book…what then?
Well…if you were in your customer’s shoes, where would you find you?
If you're like most people, you do one of two things.
Online marketing can seem overwhelming – but when you really break it down, it’s pretty basic.
So, if you don’t like what you see when you search your business online – or haven’t searched yet – it’s time to do something about it.
If you have the time, and want to learn yourself – follow our 9 Simple Steps to Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation.
Or, if you don’t have the time or just don’t want to learn, ask a marketing agency like ours for some help.
Our Learning Center isn’t about pushing you to hire us. It’s about improving the lives of small business owners.
For us, the important thing is that reliable local small business owners like you do something to help your businesses grow.
Because, nothing can ever change in your life without action. And, your neighbors deserve reliable local businesses to work with.
Get started: Your search habits
Even if you prefer to use a personal recommendation, most of us still search the business online. So, start there.
Think about what you do when you yourself are a customer.
Then, think about what your customers will see when they dig into your online reputation
Now run your search. Then, study the results.
Maybe you’re hungry. Let’s pretend you’re hungry for pizza.
Also, you just moved to town. So, you don’t know your favorite restaurants yet.
What’s your move? Here’s what I do.
Study the results.
After you run the search, spend some time on the page. What do you see?
Learn from what you are observing. Then, test what you learn on your Google My Business (GMB) Listing.
I happen to know all three of these pizzerias, and love each one of them. So, in this case, we already know you can’t go wrong.
But, if you didn’t already know the pizzerias were gems of Westchester County…
…how do you decide where you want to order?
Now you have a better understanding of how you think when searching for local businesses.
Next, let’s think like your customer…
…are you ready?
Don't feel foolish
If it’s the first time you’re doing this, some of you will feel a little foolish.
How do I know? Well, because we felt the exact same way.
Searching your own business and industry online seems obvious.
But, we’re super busy as small business owners.
Can you really blame us for not always thinking about the obvious things?
Don’t feel bad.
Every small business owner that makes the leap from novice, to marketing pro goes through the same thing.
Everyone’s journey to becoming a pro is different. For some, you’ll read this and realize you need a change. Then, you might start working on Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation yourself.
Kudos to you!
That’s why we are giving these guides away for free. That way, everyone can use them.
For others, you might need some help with your marketing. That’s okay too. It’s why we’re here. You can be a marketing pro, while having a marketing support team.
Being a pro means recognizing when you need help.
But, you have time still to decide what type of marketing pro you want to be.
So let’s try another exercise. This time, it’s all about you.
It’s time to think about how you search for a business like yours.
Search your own industry
Now, it’s time to see how you stand up to the local competition. What do you see now that you’re finally scoping things out.
Do you show up in Google’s top 3 business results (the Google 3-Pack)?
Do you show up on the Google search results (Google SERP)?
Choose your search phrase
Think about what you type in to Google search when you are looking for a business like your own.
Local search accounts for over 40% of traffic on Google. Searches for local businesses with the phrase “near me” have been surging in recent years.
Run your search again on Google. Then, study the results.
Are you happy with what you see?
How do things look? Maybe, like a lot of local businesses, you’re not happy at first.
For example, one of our recent full-service marketing clients is Mike Casolaro from MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc. They’re a local family owned roofing company.
Mike has been kind enough to let us share the story of his journey.
That way, we can all learn from each other. That’s what community is about.
When Mike did this exercise 3 months ago, he ran the search phrase, “roofer near me” and wasn’t happy.
His business didn’t show up in the top search results.
But, Michael studied the results.
And, with some help, began to see what it takes to capture these coveted top 3 spots.
Results before optimizing on Google My Business
Mike ran his own search and didn’t show up. But, he took it as a learning experience.
Together, we observed a few things. The other roofing companies showing up in the top three results had some things in common.
You can always beat out the competition – or find a way to work with them – if you’re willing to put in the work.
How do you measure up?
What search did you run for your own industry? Does your business stand out? Take some time to understand what you see.
Try a few different searches. If you have trouble thinking of ideas, scroll to the bottom of the first google search result. They give suggestions for you.
Now you see the power of listing your Hudson Valley, NY business on Google. Take some time to think about what you see.
Are you happy with how your business is showing up? The great thing about Google listings is that you always have time to start.
Google 3-Pack presents a unique opportunity
There’s no better place on the internet to list your local business than Google. The best part is it’s free!
Google local listings let you connect with Hudson Valley customers by offering up to the minute contact information, offers, news, promotions, photos, videos, messaging and more.
You can manage it yourself, or have a marketing agency do it for you.
Is there a current local leader in your industry?
What do the search results look like? Is there any business that stands out? If so, how good of a job are they doing?
If you didn’t notice a clear leader in your business category popping out on Google, then you’re lucky. You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to increase your revenues. If the path to the top is wide open, it’s that much easier to get there.
It’s kind-of-like driving home from work. If there’s lots of traffic, it takes longer. But, if the road is open, you get home faster.
As a small Hudson Valley business owner – the top of Google would make a lovely home for your small business.
You can always compete by starting to build a Google listing. The thing is, even the people that are doing a good job probably aren’t doing great.
So, no matter what, if you follow the right advice, you can take them.
However, whoever starts first has the advantage. So don’t put this off. I know you’ve probably heard this one before, but this stuff works. You just have to do it right.
We can prove it to you. And, you’ll have no risk while we’re proving it.
Your neighbors are looking for businesses like yours
Our research shows, people are looking for businesses like yours. We ran a survey of 70 local homeowners from the Hudson Valley, NY region. Here’s what we found.
People prefer to hire small local businesses
82% of people agree or strongly agree with the statement “I prefer to hire small local contractors instead of regional corporate contractors”
People have a hard time finding you
Only 26.82% of homeowners surveyed said they have an easy time finding reliable contractors in the Hudson Valley.
Your customers are willing to pay more for reliability
Over 80% of people surveyed are willing to pay a little bit more if it looks like the contractor they hire is trustworthy.
This is the start of a broader research project to help understand the challenges communities face when working with businesses like yours.
As a data scientist, I’ll tell you that this sample size is small. That means, we didn’t speak with a lot of people. So we can’t rely too heavily on these answers yet. But it’s a good starting point.
The answers still tell us a few things. We definitely need to do more digging. And, learn much, much more. But that’s the thing. You always have to start somewhere. And, we’re tired of watching amazing, quality, local small businesses get put out by larger corporations that just don’t get us.
So we’re on a mission to connect businesses like yours – that do great work – with the local customers that value quality work and great community.
We are seeing beginning trends in the surveys that show an opportunity is ahead.
It’s up to you to seize it. Here’s what we can begin to see from our survey.
So, if you want to take advantage now – you should get to work right away. All of the results tell us something already.
A lot of your competitors – aren’t doing a good job standing out online either.
It’s up to you to turn that into the opportunity of a lifetime.
You can learn yourself, have a trusted employee help you, or give a local marketing agency a call.
When can i expect results?
There’s never a guarantee of how well you’ll rank on Google My Business. Or, how long it will take to become the local leader. But, you will absolutely get results if you follow the strategy we lay out in the Ultimate Guide to Google My Business.
It’s about providing consistent, quality work and getting your message out there.
But, if you give it at least 3 months your efforts will pay off. And, as long as your work backs up your marketing, it will help you grow. That’s a promise.
Think about the potential opportunity for you?
How much revenue do your services generate on average per customer?
Now, think about what just one more job a month would mean to you. Or, two, three, four…how much is that worth to your business? And doing this doesn’t cost anything. If, you follow our instructions and take the time.
This is where knowing your numbers come in to play.
Then, you know how valuable the right marketing strategy is. And, whether your marketing agency is making you money. Or, costing you money.
MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc. - 1 month later
Every week after MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc. hired us for our GMB services, they ran that same search again.
After just five weeks, they started showing up as a top three “roofer near me” in and around their city, Croton-on-Hudson, NY. But, everyone won’t have these exact results (no fine print here, we tell it how it is).
And, there’s plenty of cities where MCAS Roofing doesn’t yet come up in the Google 3-Pack with this search.
Building a long-term marketing plan that doesn’t rely solely on paid ads, takes time. But, for most, it’s worth it. Your results will continue to improve.
But, only if you keep testing, learning and adapting.
We’ll tell you more about our strategy later. If, you want.
But, it really comes down to showing that you are a reliable, honest business.
And, um, well…
…actually being a reliable, honest business.
Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is that when a customer comes to you to solve a problem, and, you make it worse, you own it.
Even if it’s a small problem, every customer has a problem. And, they’re coming to you to solve it. Even if a customer complaint or inconvenience isn’t entirely your fault, it is your fault.
Do everything you can to make it better.
To offer the best customer experience, you need to have some simple strategies that alert you of all potential problems your customers are having while working with your business.
Don’t ever get defensive.
Instead, get serious, and creative. You’ll be surprised at how many loyal customers you get when you solve their issues the right way.
It helps you stand out. It’s about taking ownership of the problem. Not, placing blame.
Find ways to stand out
What sets your home business apart from others in Westchester? For MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc., it’s the quality of the work they do. And, the old school principles of honesty and integrity. As a Certified Fraud Examiner, I’m impressed.
During Mike’s online inspection, we helped MCAS Roofing to find a way to showcase their skills.
Photos and videos are absolutely, the most important part of marketing for most service businesses like yours. You have to show your potential customers you can handle jobs like theirs.
Proven results that jumpstart sales
After optimizing your Google My Business profile, you will immediately begin to set yourself apart from the competition.
One great way to showcase the skills of your business and what makes you special is by posting photos to Google My Business. MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc. immediately began taking advantage of photos.
We also optimized MCAS Roofing’s website. By growing their Google My Business listing, their traffic also grew.
As you can see from the chart above, from the time they optimized their GMB profile earlier this year, MCAS Roofing’s traffic to their website is better quality traffic. People are staying on the page longer (average session duration). Plus, the bounce rate (rate at which people leave without visiting a second page) is dropping. Both good things. That means, people are engaging with, or reading, what’s on his website.
Bottom line. People are becoming more interested in what he has to say. Google sees that (yes the robot can “see”), and it exponentially helps you improve.
Google is about returning businesses that are experts in the industry. The Google machine is far from perfect. And, it has a long way to go to fulfilling the mission. But, it keeps improving.
The companies that position themselves now in local markets as experts will see it pay off even more in the future.
For now, MCAS Roofing’s traffic is surging and they’re driving tons of new leads.
What impacts my GMB results?
How Google prioritizes businesses is kept internal to Google.
It’s the secret sauce. But, unlike another secret sauce we know, it’s actually a secret.
Well, at least the specifics are.
Google doesn’t tell us exactly how, but they do give best practices to get you on page one.
Use as many of the features of GMB that you can. Google seems to reward you when you use their small business tools the right way. Crazy, heh?
Also, you have to post accurate and timely updates about your business.
There are lots of factors that impact those results.
The best advice is to follow best practices, and build your profile over time. First, claim and completely fill in your profile.
Take advantage of all the features Google has to offer.
Then, steadily get new reviews, post new photos, and use the posting feature to keep your community up to date on the latest news, events, promotions and offers from your business.
Most of all, communicate your story. And, what makes your small business special.
But, have the focus of the story be the customer, not you.
Sorry to tell you, your customers don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about how you can help them.
Don't be scared. Get motivated.
If you’re scared…sorry about that.
But, this exercise wasn’t meant to scare you.
The point is to get you thinking like your customers. Or, your potential customer.
Running a small business is hard. Especially during times like these.
If you’re still in business, or thinking about starting one, we know you’re tough.
It takes long hours, dedication and a lot of risk. But, there is a blueprint that works. You just have to be disciplined enough to follow it. And, smart enough to change it when you need to.
You don’t have to do it all on your own.
A digital marketing plan evolves over time. Even daily, as your business grows.
But the first few steps are often the easiest and will deliver amazing results.
They can also be the most overwhelming. If, you don’t know exactly what to do.
Think about a house coming together
It has to be built right to last. You can touch it up over time. When parts become outdated, you can replace them. Maybe you even put on some additions.
But, if the foundation isn’t strong, and the structure isn’t built right, you won’t really have to worry about any of those things. You’re house won’t last long – or do it’s job.
You probably have to knock it all down, and start all over.
Why would you waste your time when it’s so much smarter to build the foundation right the first time?
Marketing online is easier with a plan
Marketing is cheaper than building a house. So, why not make a plan? Best of all, listing on Google and Facebook is free, and that’s where most small businesses should start.
It’s a huge opportunity in any case.
But if you didn’t notice competitors crushing digital marketing when you ran your search, then you have the opportunity of a lifetime. You have the chance to make your business the leader in your neighborhood.
So, what do you say.
Would you be willing to consider learning just a little bit more?
We want to take you through the basic steps to building your marketing foundation. Then, you can think about where your business is at – and how much help you need – if any.
First, we’ll go over the 9 most important steps in building your marketing foundation. This gives you a high level overview of what a strong marketing foundation should include.
Plus, we give you a few bonus tips and insights to get started.
Then, you can decide if your marketing seems to be working.
If you think your marketing needs improvement, you have a few options.
You can follow the guides in our Learning Center on your own.
After you read the overview of the 9 Steps to Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation, follow the link at the bottom to move on to the first comprehensive guide.
You can also have a current employee help you.
Or, hire a marketing agency for some help. No matter what you do, or who you hire, we want to see you grow.
We believe in building small local businesses that are good for company, customers and community. Let us know if you need any help doing the same.