Tag: strategy

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12 Expert Strategies to Market Your Local Business


With the rise of e-commerce and the increased influence of global brands, many local businesses find it challenging to connect with customers even in their own backyard. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Data from Google shows that over 4 out of 5 consumers regularly search online for local services or products, while many customers are happy to pay higher prices to support small business. 

It may be tough to compete with international advertising campaigns, but there are still plenty of marketing strategies that organizations tend to overlook. ePromos reached out to expert marketers and small biz owners alike to get their thoughts and efficient tips that will help level the playing field when it comes to advertising a local business.

1. Yelp Marketing

Rodney YoLocal marketing is pretty much our entire marketing strategy since we cater only to Californians, so we heavily rely on ranking higher for local users. One strategy that has worked well for us is Yelp advertising. The key to succeeding on Yelp is having a complete profile, actively responding to reviews and doing your best to make sure customers are giving you five stars. Once you have that, you’ll start to rank higher organically, and you can pay for Yelp ads in your area. It’s hard to tell the difference between a Yelp ad and a listing which can work to your advantage.

Rodney Yo, Owner – Best Online Traffic School

2. Create a Solid Digital Foundation

Martin Watts

 

Whether you own a physical ‘brick and mortar’ store or are 100% online, there is no point spending precious marketing dollars driving potential customers to a website and digital presence that won’t convert them to a sale.

So, what makes a solid foundation for a local business? Here are my 5 steps.

1. A great website that loads quickly, has a valid SSL certificate and is optimized for mobile. Hire a professional or build your own via some of the major online website builders that take the hassle out of hosting for you.
2. Reviews, reviews and more reviews. To boost your business listing in local searches it’s about quantity. Encourage past and present clients to review your Google My Business listing.
3. A Facebook page that is set up as a ‘local business’. This allows people to tag your business page in the many local Facebook Groups when people are asking for recommendations on a daily basis.
4. Google Search Console & Analytics. Register your site on Google search console and link it up to Google Analytics so that you can fix errors and optimize your website content.

If you do these things, you’ll be setting yourself up for local marketing success and will be way ahead of your competition.

Martin Watts, CEO – 8Cats Automotive

3. Find Local Keywords for SEO

Although SEO is often seen by local business owners as difficult or a waste of time, I’ve found it to be a valuable source of leads (both international and local).

For local businesses, I recommend using a local keyword tool like KWFinder to help you choose keywords that your site can potentially rank for. Then, build a few quality links to your site by listing your business on local directories and guest blogging for local and/or relevant websites. In my industry, it didn’t take a ton of backlinks or content to start seeing results.

Chloe BrittainDon’t focus too much on search volume metrics when your website is still relatively new: You can generate a small but steady stream of leads early on in your campaign if you focus on quality over quantity and target a handful of low-competition keywords, even if the search volume is quite low (even 10 searches per month or less).

Chloe Brittain, Owner – Opal Transcription Services

4. Use Instagram’s Local Features

Use Instagram to do a location-based search on your business. So many brick-and-mortars have been surprised to know that customers – without any prodding from the business – are sharing updates and tagging their location in them. Spencer X SmithBy searching for those tagging your location and simply thanking them, you can show both your customers and potential customers that you’re listening and engaging. For those who respond positively, offer them something to come back so they have more to share on social media.

Spencer X Smith, Founder – AmpliPhi

 

5. Get Involved

Storytelling is more important than ever, as are visuals if you’re using platforms like Instagram. My area of expertise is branding and publicity for authors, professionals and small businesses. I advise clients to find a local nonprofit that’s aligned with their business objectives – or something they’re passionate about – and to get involved. Learning how to fundraise for a nonprofit, and working with others, is a great way to meet people and get exposure for your business. Taking photos or videos at nonprofit events where you’re a participant is free shareable social media content.

Tina KoenigHere are a couple of examples: a moving company helped a local library foundation on the day of its signature event by moving hundreds of silent auction items and decorations to the event venue. Also, an author who wrote a memoir about growing up poor in Guyana organized an international mission trip to provide dental assistance to residents of the town where he grew up. He applied for grants to cover the cost of the trip and a local dental team donated their time and supplies.

Tina Koenig, Literary Consultant & Publicist – https://tinakoenig.com/

6. Invest in Your Reputation

When homeowners in your area are looking for a business nearby, they’re looking for signals that they can trust you. Testimonials from happy customers can go a long way in making people feel comfortable with your company. Online reviews mean a lot. Laura SimisLocal Services by Google (which are ads that now show above regular PPC listings for searches for local services) don’t link users to your website at all – they show your name, phone number, and your star rating on your Google Business page – so it’s important to make sure you’re passing the right message along to potential customers.

Laura Simis, Branding & Communications Manager – Coalmarch

 

7. Be Thorough with Google My Business

Local marketing is all about being found when a potential customer needs your product or services. To that end, it’s imperative that companies establish and verify their Google My Business listing. This listing is responsible for the business showing up on Google Maps as well as in the local pack of a Google search (the top three listings under the map at the top of the search results).

When filling out the information on GMB it’s important to be as thorough as possible. Companies need to make sure they select the right categories of business that are in. For instance, our company is in the in self-storage industry. Derek HinesSo, we choose not only “Self-Storage Facility”, but “Storage Facility”, “Moving Supply Store”, “Truck Rental Agency”, and “Packaging Supply Store.” We also put in a description of the business that is keyword optimized for the terms that people are searching for. Lastly, make sure that you verify the business with Google. When you request verification, Google will send the business a postcard with a code on it that must be entered on the GMB page. This signals to Google that the business is legitimate and operational.

Derek Hines, Internet Marketing Specialist – West Coast Self Storage

8. Join Local Organizations

Julia MonahanWhile a Google My Business listing is important, a new business really gets the most value in getting their name in front of the local audiences. Joining the local neighborhood organization will tap you into what the market is looking for and how you can get involved. Through the organization, you can run promotions, be part of their newsletter, get support hosting events, etc. This is really a win-win for everyone involved; more activity makes the community stronger and each activity gets your businesses name out there and raises awareness.

Julie Monahan, Director of Marketing – The Alternative Board

9. Explore Paid Advertising Options

The best way to market a local business is to do so online. With an estimated 46% of all searches having local intent, putting your business in front of users is essential to driving both traffic to your website and revenue for your business.

Audrey Strasenburgh

So how do you market a small business online? When asked this question, I always recommend paid advertising. Starting a paid advertising campaign can help give your website the added online visibility it needs if your organic search traffic is less than stellar. There are dozens of different paid advertising options you can choose from, including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and even ads on local online directory websites such as Yelp. Paid advertising is a great option because your ad is placed in a strategic location – often above your competitors – on the page. Even if you don’t get clicks, your brand name is front and center and visible to those conducting a local search online.

Audrey Strasenburgh, SEO Strategist – LogoMix

10. Use Word-of-Mouth

I always advise my clientele to market their services exactly the way their huge competitors don’t – locally. They have a knowledge of their geographic prospect marketplace that corporate marketers don’t, so use this vital knowledge to connect with people as if they were actual people – as if the business and the individual prospect could meet face to face one day – because they probably will. Stay in touch with their prospects and give your customers the first opportunity to access special sales, pricing and offers that other prospects won’t get.Steve James

Get your customers to speak to your specific market place as an evangelist for you; these word-of-mouth recommendations are always the gold at the end of the marketing rainbow that you need. You don’t know who they know, but these second-level contacts will like you because their friends do.

Steve James, Freelance Marketing Consultant – SmallBizBigBiz

 

11. Create Seasonal Stories 

One thing that excites local media is to receive fresh story ideas for seasonal topics like summer vacation, back-to-school, spring break, etc. If a small retailer offers a product or service with a connection to a seasonal topic, then a pitch to local news outlets could net a high-profile placement. For instance, in the run-up to peak summer travel season, a local spa or salon that offers skin products could pitch its sun protection and hydration products to educate consumers about the need to keep skin protected from damaging ultraviolet rays with the most appropriate level of SPF.

Julia Angelen Joy, Account Director – Swyft

12. Local Advertising Affordably

Jeff MoriartyWe own a small brick and mortar jewelry store, as well as an online website. One area where we have excelled is through social media. We do Facebook and Instagram advertising for our local store and promote it through geotargeted ads. These ads normally have a special offer, along with pictures of our store and a button for directions. We only advertise 10 miles around our store, which helps with costs and it ensures us that we are going after the right potential customers. This has brought us in 100’s of more followers and dozens of new customers each month to our store. This is something we will continue to do, and we would recommend other small business owners to the same!

Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager – Moriarty’s Gem Art

We hope these 12 tips help offer guidance when promoting a local business. It’s important to take full advantage of modern digital marketing strategies, as well as not to forget to be active in the community where your business resides.

For organizations interested in using promotional products to grow their local brand, contact ePromos to speak to one of our brand professionals today.


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10 Winning Strategies for Promoting Your Grocery Store


Grocery stores are a staple in any town – a traditional operation that most folks rely on for food and household items, whether a quick midweek pick-up or mega haul for the whole family. But the times, they are a’changing.

Technology has wedged itself into nearly every corner of business, and grocery stores aren’t excluded. It is essential to have a strong marketing strategy in place to promote your store against mounting competition, both locally and online. There are big shifts happening in the market (hello, Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition).

Below, we discuss 10 winning strategies to market your grocery store. These ideas can be applied to any store, whether you are part of a large chain, an independent, local market or a niche, small grocer. As many groceries have seen firsthand, the market competition is stiff, and it’s easy to lose numbers – quickly.

Before Choosing a Promotional Strategy

When devising a marketing strategy for your store, it’s important to define your KPIs:

  • What’s your current baseline?
  • What kind of growth are you looking to get out of your strategy – i.e. how do you define success?
  • What are your goals centered around—revenue? Transactions? Foot traffic? Brand awareness?

Devise a strategy. Make a planLaying out these foundational pieces before launching new promotions will allow you to track growth and assess what’s working and what isn’t. Successful marketing strategies take time and money: two items no business wants to waste.

So you need a plan – where to begin? First, ask yourself what are the best marketing channels to reach your potential consumer? These questions will vary depending on your location, size, and target audience. For instance, a rural grocery store will likely choose a different path or tactics than an urban one. After all, both are likely aiming for the same goals!

Your plan should include long- and short-term strategies. For instance, you may quickly pull folks in with an amazing sale or deal on some popular products, but once the frenzy is over, will they stay?

Maybe, if you can also work in a longer-term plan, like creating a budding loyalty program that entices shoppers.

Marketing Strategies & Promotional Ideas for Grocery Stores

With all that in mind, we give you our 10 favorite ideas for marketing strategies and promotions, which can address a number of short and long-term goals:

Strategy #1: Social Media Outreach

Your customers are online a lot. Are you? If you are, what message are you sending your customers? AKA, are you… boring? Straightforward? Online but not engaged? Check out these major fast food brands, for instance, who are making a splash on social media. They’re witty, funny, engaging with customers, and staying relevant.

Social media posts might not seem like a big deal, but these small, daily reminders of in-store offerings are a great way to influence customers. As a grocery store, social media is a simple, cost-effective way to advertise what’s going on in your store – special deals, holiday hours, events – or even highlight staff to make customers feel like a part of your shop’s community.

Strategy #2: Get Local

Plastic straws are being banned around the U.S. Farmers markets are popping up in cities and small towns alike. This push towards sustainable, eco-friendly living is making its way into more and more households every day. As a grocery store, you can join the movement by offering local foods in stores, from fruits and veggies, to eggs, meats and cheeses –anything really that fits in your “local” parameter.

Utilize social media to spotlight these local offerings. For instance, is it blueberry season and you’ve just brought out perfectly plump, juicy pints of ‘em? Let your customers know!

Laminated-grocery-toteStrategy #3: Branded, Reusable Shopping Bags

In line with the sustainable movement, offering branded, reusable shopping bags is a must. More folks are ditching paper and plastic bags in favor of these eco-friendly options. Not only does this help the environment, but it helps to get eyes on your business logo when shoppers use their tote in other places around town. Don’t forget – the more bags are used, the less money you spend on plastic or brown bags.

Keep your grocery bags at check-out lanes where customers can easily see and buy them. You may also consider adding an incentive for folks using them, like these stores are already doing.

Strategy #4: Offer Tastings

Are tastings samples? Essentially, yes. But we aren’t talking about the generic table set-up where a disinterested employee hawks cheese cubes between texting. Make these offerings feel more like an event. Create an attractive set-up. Make sure your employee is friendly, engaged, and put together (fresh uniform, no stains, ironed, etc.).

Host tastings them at the same times each week, or at the same time of the day, so that customers can plan their shopping trip around them. Have a fun theme and offer a greater variety of items than just one jar of salsa or type of cracker. Promote the events on your social media accounts to help get the word out, too. People love free stuff, even if it’s just a few bites of food – and will likely pick up the milk and cereal they just ran out of while they’re there to sample, too.

cooking demo with kidsStrategy #5: In-store Events

Tastings are a great way to introduce new products to customers, but how about revving up that spirit with an actual event? Maybe a cooking demo, “kiddie kitchen,” or a grouping of samples that coincide with an upcoming holiday or cultural event. Drawing folks into your store will mean you’ll not only improve foot traffic but capture unexpected/unintended sales from customers.

If you don’t have a lot of space in-store, try partnering with a local event space! You’ll get double the exposure in promotions and have the chance to align your business with another to help communicate your business’ vibe and values outside of the traditional storefront.

Strategy #6: Offer In-store Fruit and Beverages

Let’s face it, grocery shopping can feel like a chore. Don’t be offended – we’re all super busy these days!

Counter this by creating an atmosphere folks want to be in. Besides the obvious (clean, organized, with friendly and helpful employees), consider wowing your customers with a little treat. There’s already a bunch of stores doing the fruit thing, which, frankly, is pretty great for parents. And stores like Target and Whole Foods allow customers to buy their own meal or snack.

How about a small cup of tea or coffee for adults? The beverage will slow them down, allowing them more time to scan the aisles – which translates to buying more items.

Strategy #7: Offer Delivery

Sorry to bring this up again, but grocery shopping can be a nuisance many, especially in an age when people can buy groceries and everything else online. You and your staff must address the question: why not groceries? What will entice customers to continue to visit your store when they can find the same products on Amazon?

So many stores are already offering delivery as an option. Are you? If not, why? You can offer customers a great convenience – one they’ll gladly pay for, too. Whether you offer this service yourself or link up with a company like Instacart, your customers will appreciate having the option. Just make sure you promote it!

Strategy #8: Create a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to earn repeat customers who will remain loyal to your store despite surrounding competition. You can forge relationships with these folks by offering an undeniably great loyalty program.

What will yours offer? The basic perks include exclusive, coupons, and even swag like that branded reusable grocery bag we mentioned. Maybe they save 10% on every purchase, receive a free food item each month or receive some other perk for referrals.

Everyone must buy groceries. Adding little bonuses for those who regularly shop at your store is a great way to bring folks in and keep them there.

Strategy #9: Build an Email List

Getting the chance to speak and engage with your customers outside of the store is a huge company win. This can be accomplished with social media, as mentioned above, but also on a more intimate scale using an email list.

It’s a great way to share social media-esque items in longer form (but not too long). You can email out recipes, cooking tips, highlight popular vendors you sell (including local farms!), list your weekly specials, and of course, offer coupons.

Email is a great way to replace the traditional weekly newspaper inserts, which most don’t receive anymore.

Strategy #10: Digitize Coupons

People still love deals, even if they’re no longer scouring newspaper inserts to clip coupons. Instead, digitize your coupons so they can be found and retrieved with a simple finger swipe on a smartphone. Having a few coupons to use just may make the difference between whether they pick up their groceries at your store or the one across town.

From joining healthy movements, like farm fresh food and reusable bags, to marrying your brick and mortar with technology via social media and email, the field is ripe for innovative strategies to promote your grocery store. We hope these marketing tips have got your wheels turning – and soon enough, customers flowing in the door!


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15 Worth-It Tips For Planning Your Next Sales Event


By Kim Laffer-Nick

Sales summits, sales conventions, innovation conferences – whatever the title, whichever the year, the goal is typically the same: motivate, inspire and train a sales force to be the best they can be for themselves and for their companies.

I recently had the opportunity to attend our company’s Sales Summit held at Madden’s Resort in Minnesota. It was my first event of this kind, and I was blown away by the sharing of ideas, camaraderie of the group, desire to learn, and the logistics of how the entire event came together.

The extraordinary planning and organization of the event (before, during and after) begs to be shared. Straight from our successful meeting, here is our checklist of tips to help create your company’s best next Sales Summit!

Before the Event:

1. Set Goals

ePromos’ goal was to leave the frontline of our company feeling inspired, confident, valued, and more ready than ever to engage with leads and close sales. We wanted to connect with each attendee personally to bring out his or her strengths and then to recognize those opportunities. When planning your event, think about what that means to you and your organization. What is the culture at your company? How will attendees respond to different approaches? Decide on a clear purpose.

2. Create a Theme

Think about the best way to engage your audience throughout the packed-tight schedule by choosing a theme and a tone that will resonate with them. At ePromos, the theme for this year’s event was baseball – taking your sales game to the next level and playing to WIN. The four disciplines incorporated into this theme were:

  • Out Think: Develop Your Grand Slam Strategy
  • Out Play: Commit to Your Plan
  • Out Hustle: Perform Like a MVP
  • Out Last: Take Your Game to a New Level
3. Set the Agenda & Share it Beforehand

Once a theme is set, tie each breakout session, presentation and training to that theme down to the littlest detail. For ePromos, that meant four breakout sessions – each led by a member of the management team – to talk through how to “Out Think,” “Out Play,” “Out Hustle,” and “Out Last.” Agendas were shared so attendees knew what to expect for the upcoming week and how to prepare. Leaders, don’t forget to  prepare ahead of time, and think about ways to motivate the team with your presentation. These six great tips for inspiring and influencing staff can help with that.

4. Assign Homework

Think about what you’ve set your goal to be and how you can get attendees into that mindset beforehand. Nick Kiefer, our VP of Sales, is a huge proponent of the book, The Accidental Salesperson by Chris Lytle because it talks about how to take control of your individual sales career and earn the respect and income you deserve, which was the perfect tie-in to our goal for the summit. A copy of the book was sent to each sales employee a month ahead of the conference. Attendees were expected to read the book in its entirety prior to their arrival and be able to speak to how the book personally connected to them.

5. Order Giveaways

Our marketing team did a great job working with our partners to promote the summit.

All attendees received gifts of branded goodies to enjoy during and after the event. For us, the swag bags included:

Sales Summit Swag Bag

Outdoor Signage for the sales summit

 

6. Create Outdoor and Indoor Signage & Displays

It’s always helpful (especially at a big event and/or in a large facility) to have signage to welcome attendees, direct them to different areas, and (of course) re-enforce the theme of the event. At the ePromos Sales Summit, there were four outdoor flags (one to tie in each discipline) and many indoor displays that were placed outside conference rooms or breakout sessions.

At the Event

7. Open with a Keynote Speaker

When planning a sales conference, opening the event with a credible speaker sets the tone for the week and gets attendees inspired to learn. Karim Ellis, a dynamic motivational speaker for 10 years, has spent time with companies such as Honda and General Electric. He focused his presentation on seven unique principles that allow high-performance players to put goals, dreams, hopes and agendas in checkmate during game time (again, tying into the theme of the event was key here). The presentation was a hit; Karim’s high energy filled the room with excited, eager-to-learn attendees.

8. Break the Ice

Allow everyone to get to know each other by playing games. Play Pictionary®, host karaoke or create Olympic teams for an epic scavenger hunt around the property. Give attendees the opportunity to let loose and have fun.

9. Focus on the Goals

Throughout each day and night as well as before and after each breakout session, recap key learnings and illustrate how they align with your company goals.  For ePromos, this meant encouraging attendees to engage in sessions by choosing Top MVPs at the end. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone! It meant tying in with the book, The Accidental Salesperson on how to take “your game” to a new level. Remember, a sales kickoff meeting success relies solely on the energy it exudes and the content it covers.

Joey, one of our partners from BIC® engages the group by playing games where attendees could win prizes.

10. Invite Your Partners

If attendees can learn from suppliers, dedicate time to bringing them in for some one-on-one conversations. Consider an afternoon of “speed dating” when groups can go from partner to partner. Inform the partners ahead of time of the theme of the event and encourage them to connect their participation to the theme as much as they can. At ePromos, the Sales Summit logo was sent to our partners, and many of them used it to showcase new and exciting products our team can offer to our clients in different and interesting ways.

11. Have Fun

Encouraging the group to get to know each other in a relaxed and agenda-free atmosphere (especially at night) should always be a priority at this type of event. Consider choosing a venue that offers everything on-campus or near the event so the group has a place to go and mingle that is hassle-free to get there. Madden’s was a great summer choice for ePromos because it was on a lake (which makes for outdoor barbecues, beautiful sunsets, and bonfires), had a bar on the property (which was used for karaoke the first night and frequented by many after hours), and had large dining halls and event spaces in close proximity to one another. Work hard by day; play hard by night!

ePromos team enjoying the sunset at Maddens Resort after a team-building scavenger hunt around the property.

ePromos team enjoying the sunset at Maddens Resort after a team-building scavenger hunt around the property.

 

12. Reward Top Influencers

Every event has those few special people who shine. Whether it’s because they participate in the most activities or lead the group to engage in interesting conversations, they help to create a positive learning environment for the duration of the week. Consider recognizing these stars and thanking them for their efforts by giving them a gift.

Nomi, ePromos Account Executive for 15 Years, Nick, ePromos VP of Sales

(L-R) Nomi, ePromos Account Executive for 15 Years, Nick, ePromos VP of Sales

After the Event

13. Recap the Event & Reinforce Concepts

Following up after the event is just as important as planning the event itself. Encourage the leader of the summit to send out a recap of key learnings shortly after the event has ended. Unfortunately, research has shown that more than 80% of the information reps take in during a sales meeting will be forgotten within weeks, if not days. Set up touch-base meetings with attendees individually to see how they are trending against their goals and using their new skills to do so.

14. Garner Feedback

When you put in a lot of time, effort and resources into creating an inspiring event, it is important to see how it was received. Take the time to create a survey to find out. Google Forms makes it really easy to set up survey questions and organize the answers. Use this feedback to help shape your event for next year!

15. Measure Results

Take the time to analyze the lift in sales that comes from attendees following the months post-event. Don’t forget to include the camaraderie built during this time. Being able to offer events like this plays a big part in company culture and the way your brand may be perceived. Capitalize on that by promoting your event on social media, and remind employees (or attendees of the event) what a success it was as well as to continue the spirit of learning and sharing throughout the year.

Now that you’ve read our checklist, do you need specific ideas on how to make your next event a hit using promotional items? Call us, the Promo Know-How people, and we’ll work together to make your next Sales Summit a great success!