Building an Effective Referral System

You have a strong passion for your business. Now the question is how to market your business efficiently to ensure it will grow and thrive. With all of the different marketing strategies available, it may be hard to choose where to focus your valuable time. Did you know that 65 percent of business comes from referrals? And you are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

Building a strong referral base not only creates customer loyalty but will help increase your bottom line and company’s reputation.

Here are a few basic ways to create an effective referral system:

Great Customer Service

One of the most important things you can do is provide outstanding service to your current customers. Make sure you have a quality team in place to help make each customer experience valuable. Happy, satisfied customers can be a strong voice for your business. Always give referral cards to each of your customers to encourage recommendations.

Create and Identify

Who is your ideal referral? Do you have current companies you refer business to? What companies are related to your products or services?  Identify and map out a list of people and sources motivated to refer you quality leads. Utilize current clients and networking sources, giving them tools to refer easily. Team up and market with companies related to you and swap referrals. Find out what motivates your sources to refer you business. Keep it simple and listen to those who are referring to you. They may give you insight on other sources to target for additional business.

Educate and Provide Incentive

Taking the time to educate your referral sources can increase the quality of the referrals received. Share what an ideal referral looks like for your business. What incentive is in it for them? Walk them through how the referral process works for your company. The extra time spent will help set you apart from everyone else knocking down their doors for business.

Follow Up Strategy

Keeping your referral sources informed and providing consistent follow up communication is important. Sharing the status of a referral received and following up with a big thank you when a lead turns into a client, shows appreciation you have for them supporting your business. Taking good care of your referral sources can lead to longevity in your business success.

 

What other ways have you been successful in getting more referrals for your business? Are there any strategies you would recommend when building an effective referral system?

Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job

If you haven’t checked out John Jantsch’s article, “Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job” over on the Duct Tape Marketing blog, I suggest you click over there post haste …

8 tips to local SEO for small businesses

Thousands of consumers are using the internet around the clock daily to search for local products and services. Is it your goal to have your business listed at the top of the search results? How crucial is it that you can be found by your customers? How important is it that they click on your website? This makes it extremely important for small business owners to set up a smart local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.

“How do I strategize when it comes to local SEO,” you might ask. Below are 8 local SEO tips to help your business rank higher in local search results.

List Locally

Here is a simple step to get started: Make sure you create a local business listing for all three of the major popular search engines. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are highly recommended. A few others to consider are YP.com, Yelp, and foursquare. Also, list your business in as many free local directories as possible to create more local traffic. It is important that you fully complete each profile, staying consistent with your information in all of your local listings.

Blog Frequently

Setting up a blog on your webpage and posting on a regular basis will help increase your visibility. It will help engage those visiting your website and keep them coming back to read future posts. It is generally recommended that you shoot to post at least 400 words weekly or bi-weekly. At a minimum, this should be done monthly. Your blog content can help target local keywords and search options in relation to your business. This will help drive traffic to your website. Also, share your blog on your social media profiles to help expand exposure for your business.

Encourage Reviews

Positive, informative reviews online can help build trust and credibility for your business. Customers constantly look at reviews as a part of their purchasing decision making process. Offering your customers a list of review websites to share their feedback and thanking them for taking the time (this can be via incentives like discounts, hand-written thank you notes, etc.), will help build your reputation.  You may be surprised at how many customers are happy to help write a review. Create a page on your website displaying all of the review options or send out an email to your customers asking for their feedback.

Use Keywords

Targeting a local market can make Google local SEO go a long way, especially since high rankings in local search are much less competitive. The more local keywords you use the easier it will be to narrow down the options for the customer searching for your line of business. A good rule of thumb is to shoot to integrate a keyword once for every 50 words of web copy.

Connect Locally

Reach out to local organizations, forums, clubs, etc. online that relate to your business. The more people you have relationships with, the better chance you have at word spreading, sending people your direction. You can optimize those relationships online by soliciting guest blog posts from those local organizations, etc., or by blogging about them yourself.

Use Quality Photos and Videos

Customers respond well to quality visual content. Using several photos and video will draw people in, helping them to look at your website longer increasing your chance for a potential sale. Our recommendation is to use a picture of your actual building, both inside and out for your main photo (this way customers will recognize a brick and mortar business). You can also take pictures of your products and logo.

While the consensus about how this actually impacts SEO is unclear, it is commonly thought that video content has a big impact on your Google rankings. Additionally, photos and video create opportunities to insert tags and alt text which will contribute to you rankings.

Furthermore, about 80% of all mobile traffic is currently video (more about mobile below).

Mobile and Tablet Friendly

Sixty-three  percent of mobile phone owners use their phones to access the Internet, and 46 percent of shoppers report using their phone to research local products and services. With so many searches taking place on mobile devices, it is extremely important to offer a user friendly experience. If potential customers have a difficult time navigating your site, they will leave and look for another site set up for their device.

Let’s hope they don’t find your competition.

Constantly Test & Optimize

Finally, to stay in front of your local market you need to always be in search of ways to be ahead of the competition. Products and services are ever-changing, so take the time to test and make changes. You may be surprised at how the smallest adjustment can often result in the biggest return for your business.

Are there any other ideas you think would be important to share about setting up strong local SEO?

You’ve Redesigned Your Website, Now Let’s Get to Marketing!

It takes so much work to finally get a website completed that many small business owners are left saying to themselves “Now what?” after the process is over.  Are you someone who spends most of your time trying to keep the day to day operations running for your small business? With all that is required of most small business owners, it’s easy to let marketing fall through the cracks, especially after you’ve spent so much time dealing with a web designer (even when working with the best, it can be an incredibly time-consuming process). With a few more steps, you can start making your website earn its keep.

“But where do I even get started?” you might ask. Below are a few simple ideas.

Get Social Media Involved

Take a look around and you’ll notice almost everyone you know has a cell phone, computer or some device to search and access the web. Did you know that 46% of shoppers reported they exclusively use their mobile device to conduct pre-purchase research for local products and services? Putting your business on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can give you more exposure to potential customers. Make sure if you utilize any of these social media resources that they link or direct to your website. This gives you an opportunity to connect to build relationships, trust and loyalty with your customers.

Register for Business Listings

Register your business locally and on the web. Here are a few great places to start: Google My BusinessBing Places, and Yahoo Local Listings. Registering with these sites will definitely help your SEO.  You can increase your market by registering on local directories like Yellow Pages and Yelp. We recommend registering with as many as possible. You can find a list of the major ones here  and even more at Moz Local. You never know where your next customer could be searching for a product or service you offer. The web has so many avenues for free, inexpensive marketing. Take the time to utilize these resources.

Get to Writing

One of the most important and often overlooked steps to gaining organic SEO is blogging. It’s difficult to find the time to bust out a 400 word post on a regular basis, but when done regularly and with some effort, it will pay huge dividends in terms of SEO as well as brand credibility. Furthermore, the original content will work double duty as you’ll be able to use it for social media posts.

Ideally, most should shoot for a new blog post every week. But a post every other week is acceptable and once a month is better than none at all.

Use Google keywords planner to come up with the key search terms people are using to ultimately find your business or businesses like yours. Then, as a good rule of thumb, try to incorporate a keyword for every 50 words in your post.

If you can honestly not find the time to write compelling blog content (or if your time is better spent elsewhere), consider outsourcing the task to a credible content marketer or writer who is willing to provide you with quality content with as much or as little direction as you’d like to provide.

Do you have any other helpful tips on how to market and leverage your business website you would like to share?

Do I Really Need A CRM System?

Customer Relationship ManagementSome of my clients are very small “trades folks”, the guy or gal in a truck, with their tools and their craft.  They may have a team of up to 20 but for the most part they are a one-person show.

They will tell me I want a better website, facebook page, twitter account or some other new fancy social media tool.  It is exhausting! When I say where do you keep all your contacts?  I get a few different answers:

1)   I keep them in a notebook in my truck…gasp!

2)   They are in my billing system…that’s a little better

3)   I have them in my email…really?

4)   I have them written on sticky notes on my desk…uuuuuuugh!

You need a CRM Software (Customer Relationship Management). Satisfied customers and the growth of your business go hand in hand. To help your business grow it is high time you put in customer relationship management (CRM) software and browser based applications system to handle the management of your customer relationship in an organized manner.

Increasingly marketing and sales campaigns are online and run through social Media platforms like Facebook, Google+, Twitter to name a few. You have to network with possible leads within your industry to improve your business.

Data will be collected from all over and from all your employees who network with your customers across all possible channels. It has to be accessible to your marketing and sales teams even if you outsource this function to someone like me www.trudelmarketing.com. Unless the data is organized and made available in a systematic manner, you cannot properly utilize it.

Lists of your customers have to be structurally maintained along with a marketing plan to communicate. Very useful for determining whether the launch of new product will be received favorably. A small survey now and then will help you assess the level of customer satisfaction and to take remedial action if necessary.

In a small business CRM helps in many ways.

  1. It helps you develop and measure marketing strategy with clear goals and objectives.
  2. CRM tracks good customers and targets them for your marketing.
  3. It generates sales leads who are genuinely interested in your business and turn them to prospective customers.
  4. CRM provides your employees with all the information required about your customers’ requirements. Obviously this leads to good relationship with customers.
  5. It helps you develop more personal customer relationship with your best customers providing them better service and cementing good customer relationship. By concentrating on the best customers you save on time, efforts and money with positive results in your profits.

Selecting the Right CRM

Now that you know CRM is a sound business investment before selecting and installing a CRM, do the following to ensure you are opting for the right system.

  1. The CRM system should be simple, easy to use and should integrate with your other systems.
  2. Opt for smaller and less sophisticated user friendly programs. Consult with a trusted advisor or colleague that has been using a system they like.  I have recommended a few but my main choice is a CRM called Hatchbuck.  You can visit them at www.hatchbuck.com
  3. An important factor is that data should be fed into the system by everyone. A system is only as good as the data it contains.
  4. Reports should be real time.
  5. Check whether your goals are being met.

Studies indicate a 29% increase in sales for organizations that have fully utilized CRM systems…So what are you waiting for?

Noreen Trudel named Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant

WOBURN and IPSWICH, MA, ISSUED March 4, 2013…Noreen (Mitrano) Trudel, founder and President of Trudel Marketing Group (www.trudelmarketing.com),a strategic marketing consulting and coaching firm located in Ipswich, MA, has qualified to be a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant.

The certification follows a rigorous training program from Duct Tape Marketing, a unique turnkey small business marketing system created by award-winning small business marketing expert and author, John Jantsch. Trudel joined the network as an authorized consultant in 2013. The Certified level of achievement places her among the top-performing consultants in the network of Duct Tape Marketing Consultants worldwide.

Trudel’s company partners with Duct Tape Marketing to deliver proven small business marketing systems, designed to provide a simple, affordable and effective framework upon which to create marketing strategies, plans and tactics.

Prior to launching Trudel Marketing Group, Trudel spent 25 years in the technology and document  management business. She is the former President and CEO of the Woburn-based Laserstar, a company she founded in her parents’ garage in 1988 and grew to a multi-million dollar venture which she sold in 2006. During her tenure at Laserstar, her company was twice named to the Boston Business Journal’s  Book of Lists in the category “Largest Recycling Businesses.” Following the sale of her business to a larger regional provider, she served as a Document Solutions Manager for Flo-Tech from 2006 to 2011, and then as an Account Executive for Corporate Technologies in Burlington, until she launched her marketing business.

Trudel says that her focus is helping small businesses create marketing strategies. “Having owned several businesses and having worked in several others, I learned a great deal about marketing. What I have found is that people are too often consumed with the day-to-day operations of a business and have no clear strategy on differentiators, how to go to market, how to find most effective and profitable ways to market and how to test.” She continued, “This can sometimes lead to what we call ‘the marketing tactic of the week.’ That may be a direct mail piece, an advertisement or some other outreach. And if it doesn’t work, the business owner feels he/she has spent a lot of money without a tangible result. We use specific methodology to take the client through the process of finding and creating a marketing strategy and executing on it.”

Many of the Trudel Marketing Group’s clients come from the services and trades industry, but she said that virtually every business can be helped with a clear marketing strategy.

She recalled, “Following the sale of my business, many other small business owners started asking me to help them with their marketing and sales.  I found that I really enjoyed it and my clients were telling me that they appreciated the practical “been there and done that” no nonsense approach to the marketing “tactics” that I shared. The Duct Tape Marketing program is a great one.” She continued, “What I love about this system is that we start by working on strategy first, so you don’t waste another penny on tactics that don’t bring you a return on your investment. And the great thing is, clients learn the 7 steps they’ll use over and over again in their business; because it’s important to remember that marketing never stops and this program will continue to help them for years to come.”

About Duct Tape Marketing

Duct Tape Marketing is a unique turnkey small business marketing system created by award-winning small business marketing expert and author, John Jantsch. Visit the Duct Tape Marketing Blog, a Forbes favorite for small business, at http://www.ducttapemarketing.com.

About Trudel Marketing Group

Trudel Marketing Group is a strategic marketing consulting and coaching firm located in Ipswich,

MA, which partners with Duct Tape Marketing to deliver proven small business marketing systems. The company recognizes that many small and medium sized businesses need professional marketing support but may not need or be able to afford the full-time services of an in-house marketing team.

Trudel Marketing Group is not a marketing agency, graphic design firm or web design firm but instead works with the business owner as a coach/consultant. To learn more about Trudel Marketing Group and the Duct Tape Marketing program, or to request a complimentary marketing audit, contact Noreen Trudel at 617-794-9205617-794-9205, or visit www.trudelmarketing.com.