Many service-based businesses have been deemed essential and at this timeframe as I record this on April the 6th, 2020 you are still officially operating your business in some capacity.
The problem is people are in quarantine, they are scared and stressed. They aren’t going out unless for essential reasons and may not want you in their homes. Basically, unless you’re selling toilet paper or gardening supplies your calls are probably tapering off some.
Marketing in Down Times: Remember, You are a Risk Taker
The word on the street is the United States is about 6 to 8 weeks behind China in the spread of the virus. If this trend holds true, the United States could see a decrease in positive tests sometime around the month of May. So, we’re talking about potentially a devastating quarter this year in your business, a 3-month time frame.
Yes, I know very well it could be more.
However, let me say this, as a business owner and entrepreneur at its very essence you have taken on what many don’t. You have taken on great risk.
The proper definition of an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. As a risk taker you understand, occasionally things are going to happen that you didn’t plan for. There are going to be bumps in the road.
Surely you don’t expect to skip along every single day with not one challenge?
There will always be a recession, a virus, someone in your family, God-forbid, getting ill, and other financial setbacks of other sorts – there is always going to be some sort of obstacle. I know this is a time your business has slowed down and you’re concerned about that and also how long this is going to last. But here’s the thing, you need to understand that you have to keep pushing forward.
The reality is that you will need to be positioned well for a strong second-half of your year in order to make up for the revenue lost. You want to be able to recover as much missed revenue as possible.
If that is going to happen you need to have a very strong marketing strategy in place.
Marketing Strategy: An Opportunity to Build a Stronger Business
I encourage you to take this opportunity now, while you’re not so busy and give some real thought to the effort you have put into expanding your business, getting as many leads as possible and even making sure you’re maximizing opportunities you already have.
Very few businesses invest the amount they should in marketing and growth. Many businesses are leaving an extraordinary amount of revenue on the table merely because they are still doing business the same way they did 10 years ago.
Let’s be honest about this. In hard times, the weaker in the pack fall back behind, and they cannot survive so they die. That is true of businesses today.
Over the past few years we have been experiencing the “Retail Apocalypse” as they are calling it. In 2019 alone over 9,000 retail stores closed.
Restaurants are going out business left and right – by this was occurring way before the virus hit.
Let me share one fundamental truth with you that could prevent a lot of businesses from closing. (Not all of them let’s face it sometimes for certain businesses it’s just time for it to end.) But many businesses could have survived.
The fundamental truth is the world has changed.
The shift started after the last recession. The way we communicate and do business has completely changed – yet many business owners kept their behavior exactly the same. They ignored the shift. They did not adapt to the change.
The consumer today has more choices than ever. They have a handheld device that serves as a constant companion and they can use it to order anything they want from wherever they want.
Most business owners are conducting their business as if they are completely oblivious to this fact. Now, as a service-based business you have what is called high search equity. That means that a certain number of people each month search for your products and services online. How does your business fare in that search?
When your ideal customer client or patient goes to the internet and uses specific words or phrases pertaining to your business, is your business in the results Google returns to them?
If you don’t know – spend this time finding out. If you’re not where you need to be, spend this time putting a plan in place to make sure you do.
Marketing Strategy: Stay the Course
So, let’s say you are the business owner that has done their due-diligence and you are marketing your business online and have been successful.
It will be tempting to pull back in uncertain times and that is the very worst you could do to your business.
Again, we’re talking about an interruption not an explosion. When things are back to normal you don’t want to lose your positioning especially if you are ranking at the top of Internet searches.
Right now, the consumer is spending more time than ever online! Internet use is up 48%. People may not be ordering your services but they are doing research online for their home projects and other things and they will proceed with their plans once this is over.
I know we are living in troubling times. The virus, and how the global economy is responding to placing the human population in quarantine is something that will go down in the history books.
But as a business owner and a risk taker, there is one thing you still have control over, the ability to be resilient and make good decisions for the long-term goals of your business.
You’re already several steps ahead of many of your competitors don’t throw that away. It’s time to stay the course. Hold it together.
The bounce back is going to be huge when this is all over and you want to be on the front lines.
Hold it together. Stay the course.
Online Marketing Business Check-Up
Now is a good time to start considering how you’re going to finish strong in the last part of 2020. You’re going to have to make up for this quarter. And if your online marketing is weak or nonexistent – well there is low-hanging fruit. It’s time to start picking. There is going to be a huge bounce back for service-based businesses and you want to ensure you get your piece of that.
In the next few sections I will be going over several points of consideration. This is a great start to putting a strong marketing strategy in place.
Marketing Strategy: The Search
Go to Google and do an incognito search using phrases a searcher would if they were looking for your service online.
Here are some examples:
- Plumber Atlanta
- Hairdresser Detroit
- Handyman Near Me
- Dentist Mobile
- Window Installation Phoenix
Here are the questions:
- Are you on page 1? Yes or no?
- What position? There are 10 organic positions on the page.
- Is your business ranking in the Google My Business section?
- Do you have a Google ad that populates at the top of the search?
If your business is in this search on page 1 that is excellent but what is your position? There are 10 organic positions on each page.
If you’re in positions 4,5,6,7,8,9,10 you’re still ahead of most but you still have some work to do. Yes, you are ahead of many of your competitors but you need to understand where the most clicks occur.
The top 3 organic results is the best Internet real estate and where most clicks occur.
If you are lucky enough to be in those top 3 AWESOME. Your homework is to revisit your website and make sure your snippets for every single page of your website are written as good as possible so people click on your result! (If you have no idea what I just said its okay – google it you will find plenty of information.)
What if you’re not in the search at all?
Well now you know. It’s time to get busy. This is a huge order of business for you and now you have some time to consider it.
One of the most important things to consider if you want your business to gain traction and get more customers online you need to be in top search results and your website needs to be very mobile-friendly.
Marketing Strategy: PPC Advertising (Pay Per Click)
Now let’s talk about Google PPC or pay per click ads. Google PPC ads are an excellent vehicle for any service-based businesses and I will tell you from where I sit this platform accounts for the vast majority of my client’s leads.
Here are a few reasons why Google Ads are a great investment:
- They automatically put you at the top of the search for many of your top keywords even if your website is not ranking in that search.
- Google Adwords are flexible and measurable. You can see exactly what a keyword is costing you, how many clicks you have, and what a new customer is costing you.
- Control. You can control your advertising costs. You can always scale up or scale back when you need to.
- Beat your competition. When Google Adwords are done well you can get ahead of your competition by being at the top of searches they are not. In laymen terms you get the calls and they don’t – bottom line.
- Google Adwords are much cheaper than many advertising mediums. For every client I have I can tell you that Google PPC allows them to convert a lead to a customer at the lowest cost over anything else. For example, I have one client still using a direct mail avenue although he is phasing it out. Currently achieving a lead through this avenue is costing him $80 to $120 per lead. We can convert a lead to a customer using Google PPC for as low as $14. So you do the math!
Marketing Strategy: Google My Business
Now let’s talk about Google My Business.
This is a goldmine and let me give you a heads up right now, your competitor is clueless about how to harness the power of this FREE resource provided by Google. The reason why I know that is only 1 out of 10 businesses are using it thoroughly.
If you don’t know what this is, it’s the second piece of real estate on a Google search return. This is something the consumers really trust because they are able to go here and see actual reviews left by customers of your business and what type of ranking you have.
Only 3 spots automatically populate the search and then you have to click to see more.
Obviously, you want to be in the top 3 spots.
Now let’s talk about about what you need to do here:
- First and foremost, make sure it is filled out fully and correctly. Enter in a great business description using keywords that are essential to your GMB being triggered by the search. You will want to enter in detailed information regarding your products and services.
- Now Google continues to expand this tool but now you can do posts on it that are visible on your GMB to a searcher. You can add special offers like this example here. This example is from an actual client. This makes your listing more enticing to a potential customer.
- Photos are so important. For my clients new photos are added each week because this really helps their listing to be more prevalent in the search than their competitors.
- You will want to visit your insights to see how many calls you are getting and also you can get great keyword ideas here that you can use in your Google Ads.
- Reviews: Now this is the fuel that runs this machine. You want to make sure you are getting great reviews and often. Encourage your customers to leave them for you by offering incentives or whatever you need to do. Let me tell you this will be an investment well spent. This is money IN THE BANK.
Now I want to give you 2 real examples of the opportunity this platform can create.
I have a handyman client in Atlanta Ga and by the way that niche is pretty competitive there as I am sure you probably can imagine. A few years ago when Google decided to only populate 3 results here my client was in position 7 at that time meaning they were no longer visible unless the searcher clicked to see more which they don’t do for the most part.
We decided to give a full-blown effort to not being IN that search but being at the top of it. It took us about 4 months to achieve this and we did it through mainly a hardcore focus on customer reviews.
As you can see from the graphic above we are at the top of this search and you can see how many reviews we have in comparison to our competitors. I want to tell you that this effort lead to my client having an additional $190K in sales that year. So, this is a serious tool and effort put into it WILL pay off.
Just something additional I want to add we can now use a technology called a CallRail to track activity on Google My Business, which I am sure many of you may be familiar with.
Let me explain how this works: We instantly procure a tracking phone number that forwards to your phone number. Your customers dial the new tracking number, the call is forwarded, and you answer your phone like you usually do. CallRail gathers statistics, and you can check them online in real-time.
I cannot tell you how exciting it was to be able to track the activity through this platform. Just to give you a recent example the client I am referring to last month which is typically a slow month for them received 192 calls through Google My Business. What we will do now is match those phone numbers to appointments made and we can then identify how much revenue is coming from this resource each month.
I can go on and on about this piece. Bottom line if you are not using it, you really need to.
Spend this time getting together a plan on how you can get more customer reviews and you will start to see this bring in new leads to your business.
Marketing Strategy: Your List
One of the most valuable assets you have in your business is your list. If you have a business model in which a customer, client or patient visits you more than once a year or you sell multiple services your list is a valuable lead resource.
Now just like Google My Business, this is a resource often undervalued and overlooked by most businesses which means lost revenue.
Your list is an opportunity to use a tool called email marketing which allows you to stay in front of existing customers, communicate to them any special offers you have and of course is a great tool for cross-selling.
Newsletters and email marketing is still powerful and profitable. It is not dead. Let me tell you from where I sit it is alive and well and the larger your list the better it works for you.
Not enough business owners use email marketing and the ones that do, are doing it wrong. They use it to do what I call “bootie-call marketing”. They are just using it to throw deals at the customers and see what noodles stick to the wall. It’s a shame.
Email marketing is a way to effectively communicate with the people on your list. Provide real information that educates them in some way whether they decide to use your services or not. This is how you achieve real customer loyalty.
Make your email marketing efforts about them instead of you, offering them REAL value.
Especially in times like now. It’s a great way to show real empathy to your customer base and stay connected by wishing them well and offering prayers for their wellness and families.
Another great way that we use a client’s list depending on its size and their business model of course is we have the ability to upload that list to Facebook and create a custom audience. We can create ads that are very specific to their customer list.
This leads me to my next section, let’s talk about Facebook.
Marketing Strategy: Facebook Advertising
Facebook’s traffic has increased by 50% since everyone is staying out at home. So, it’s now the time to have your ad there. As I mentioned before just because people aren’t calling you now it doesn’t mean they won’t after they have seen your ad a few times and we get back to life as normal.
Now Facebook ads are a whole different animal than doing things like Google Ads for example. Google Ads are there when someone is purposely looking for your business online whereas Facebook is a more passive approach.
They are online right now reading the latest news about the virus and here comes your ad in their feed.
Now if you have what I call a shiny-babble business meaning you sell something like shoes, clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, spa services or even things like Botox etc., you’re foolish if you are not using FB ads. And when I say using FB ads, I mean a solid strategy – no bootie call marketing.
All you need is a special offer and you are golden. I don’t care if I am looking at my friend’s wedding photos if you have a cute pair of shoes and you show up in my feed, guess what? You have my attention. Retail people should be on this like flies right now.
But you are saying, but Tammy that is stupid my store is closed.
So? You are temporarily closed, so what. Be using this opportunity to offer great deals like x amount of merchandise etc. and use lead ads which will help you to grow your list. You grow your list and you grow your business it’s like money in the bank. So even if you ran a consistent ad campaign investing as little as $5 a day you could grow your list and awareness about your store or business. Then when this is all back to normal you have a new list of people to market to.
My clients are service-based for the most part so they aren’t exactly a shiny-babble so it’s a little harder but I will tell you this, we have had to make some updates to some client’s ads due to new occurrence of more traffic and more click throughs. We have to make sure that we seize this opportunity to reach new potential customers even if we won’t do business with them until in the future.
For example, I had one client that had a lead ad campaign set up and they were getting 1-2 leads a day with those leads costing us around $7 to $9 each. We don’t mind paying that because their average customer spends $300 or more.
Over the past 3 weeks we are getting 5 to 8 leads a day and they are costing us $2 to $3 a lead. So, guess what? We upped our spend. That is right.
The area we target for this client is very specific and we have found a way to reach even more of our customers for a cheaper rate and get them to join our list. I don’t care if they don’t buy from me today or next year. There is tremendous value in extending my reach, getting to my ideal customer and getting them to join my list. That means I can market to them as much as I want.
I want to lay out how I personally use Facebook ads for clients. Now let me say most of my clients are in fact service-based so for the most part they don’t have “universal” seducing offers that get quick responses.
So, because of that we primarily market to “warm traffic” meaning the people we are reaching on Facebook are already familiar with their business.
Facebook ads to warm traffic are much cheaper, they encompass a broader and longer-term marketing strategy and they keep our clients in front of their target market.
Now one way we do this is we retarget all website and landing page traffic using Facebook ads. So, a customer goes and visits our website and the next time they are on Facebook we are in their feed.
This IS good especially if you are a business that has a higher priced product with a longer selling cycle. You are able to stay in front of this potential customer reminding them of your offers. I strongly believe this strategy can shorten a sales cycle.
The second way we use Facebook ads to upload our client’s customer list and run ads specific to this audience which could be upselling, cross-selling or just simply staying in front of them until they need our services again.
The 3rd and final way of course is creating cold traffic which is costlier but it’s part of the cycle. We use it to drive traffic to specific pages on their website. All of this traffic by the way is retargeted with ads that are made up of lead generated ads or something of that nature it just depends on the business model.
Prepare for the Bounce Back – It IS Coming
This is a temporary setback and when the virus thing lifts people are going to be outside in droves! They are going to be going shopping, out to restaurants and ready to get back to their old habits. They are going to have home repairs that need to be made – and all sorts of other needs that have been neglected over this time frame.
Your phone IS going to start ringing once again and for a timeframe stronger than before. But I want to ask you, don’t forget this. Don’t forget this experience. Learn from it and prepare better.
When you get back to being really busy don’t get complacent. Grow your business more purposefully. Create a great marketing strategy that is based on long-term goals.
Use all the tools you have available to your business. If you expand your profit margins when things are good you will have more resources to sustain your business when challenges arise.
The business environment we are in does not accommodate old habits or complacency. Today’s business environment requires a business owner that not only understands but embraces change. If you have questions, I’m always happy to help, you can email me and I will give you the best advice I possibly can.
Also go to that saying if you’re interested in working with someone like me, I’d love to talk to you about that, of course it depends on your business model and that sort of thing so we may or may not be a fit but if you’d like to talk about it, I certainly would. You can click here to send me an email.