Online Marketing For Local Businesses

How to Generate More Leads at The Home and Garden Show

Collin County Home and Garden Show Allen TX

The 8th Annual Collin County Home and Garden Show is coming up in Allen, TX, in just a couple of days! I want to give business owners a few tips on how to generate online leads when you’re at the Home and Garden show in person. This show is a huge deal for local businesses, contractors, service industries, etc. But there’s a little tweak you can make when you’re at this show that can yield online referrals for your business as well. 

1. Bring your iPad:

If you don’t have an iPad, consider getting one. The key to having your iPad with you is to make sure you have cellular service for it. You don’t want to depend on public wifi—that can really slow you down at a busy show where everyone is trying to use it at once. So make sure your iPad can use cellular data. Why bring an iPad? Two reasons: 

    • If someone is really interested in your products or services, rather than having them fill out a form with pen and paper, you can take them directly to your contact form on your website and get their information submitted immediately. That way you get the email with all their information and you can follow up with them accordingly. Another benefit is that this bypasses any trouble you might have when people’s handwriting isn’t so great, and you can’t read their email address when you get back to the office. So by brining your iPad, you can have people put in their information directly on your contact page, and then boom! You have a lead right there. 
    • Another reason is that when you have your iPad there, you can make it very easy for someone to subscribe to your email list. MailChimp has an app that makes this easy and so does Constant Contact. You can be stockpiling subscribers all weekend long at the show! This is so much better than having a piece of paper and having people write their emails down on it because think about this: Who has to manually enter in all that data? Either you do, and if you’re the business owner, who has time for that? Or maybe you have an assistant or an employee do it, but they could be doing better things with that time. If you have an app set up so that people can put in their own email address and hit “subscribe,” then boom! The work is done, and all you have to do is follow up with them through email. 

2. Ask for likes and follows.

Ask people to like your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter or Instagram. But here’s the key—and you’ve heard me say this before. Give them the selfish reason why they should do it! Don’t just say “Like us on Facebook.” Say “Like us on Facebook because we’re always giving out tips and coupons!” Whatever is appropriate for your business to offer, give the end user a selfish reason for why they should follow you in the first place.

3. Have a contest or giveaway

In exchange for liking your Facebook page or signing up for your email list, have people sign up for a drawing for a prize. This is probably my least favorite way to get leads at a show, but I know it works so I’m putting it out there. The reason I don’t like this method as much is that you may not be getting people who are interested in your products or services, so much as winning your contest. You’re still capturing information, which is good. But you may be capturing the information of people who aren’t at all interested in your services. They just want the prize you’re giving away. This is why I prefer using the first tip above. If someone puts their information into your iPad, you know they’re a qualified lead who is interested in your products or services. But you never know! You still end up with the email addresses, and you may get a sale from someone down the road. 

If you’re reading this list and thinking that you don’t know how to set this up on your iPad to get subscribers, or you know that even if customers like your Facebook page it doesn’t matter much because you don’t have any content there—that’s where we can come in! We can help you with a full online marketing strategy to help you capture and follow up with people at the Home and Garden Show. Give me a call or an email and we can set up a time to chat! 

I wish all of your business owners success at the Home and Garden Show! I’m going to be out there too, taking videos and pictures of clients, to use in their online marketing! And if you know of a vendor who is going to be at the Home and Garden Show, please pass along this post to them so that they can get these tips and be ready to grab those online referrals! 

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5 Tips For Designing Truck Wraps and Vehicle Graphics

 Truck wraps mckinney tx

Tips For Designing Truck Wraps and Vehicle Graphics

Today I want to talk about vehicle wraps. And more specifically, truck wraps for home services like lawn care or plumbing, etc. If you’re reading this and you’re not one of those types of businesses, this information will still help you if you do decide to wrap your vehicle.

But first, a disclaimer: I am not an expert in vehicle wraps! So I’m giving you the perspective of a normal guy. I’m looking at wraps from the point of view of someone like me—does the marketing work on me, does it make me pick up the phone and call the company? If you are looking for an expert on vehicle wraps, a professional, I highly recommend Mike Napurano with NovoWorks. He is the king when it comes to wrap marketing! 

So here are some tips that I, an everyday guy, think are important for wrapping your vehicle to generate phone calls and leads:

1. Put your actual phone number on your vehicle:

Here’s what I mean: Back in the day, we used to have numbers like 555-555-LAWN. Now, very seldom do we have to actually dial a phone number anymore. I hate to say it, but we’ve become so lazy and so dependent on Siri and things like that, that actually having to decode the word LAWN on our phones will frustrate people enough that they won’t call you. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! So list out your number in numbers, instead of having your phone number spell a word. 

2. Make sure you have your company logo on your truck:

If you don’t have a logo, get one made. You need this for brand recognition. You want people to see your logo and think, “Oh, yeah, I know those guys!” When I go to the gym I always wear my Market With Mario t-shirt, and I always have people ask me about it. I met a realtor the other day and she said, “Oh yeah! I’ve seen your ads online! I recognize that logo!” People will remember your brand and your logo, and when they see you on Facebook or your website, they’ll be familiar with your logo and will remember you. 

3. Don’t forget your website URL:

A great place for this is on the tailgate or on the back. This way when you’re at a stoplight, people won’t necessarily call you right then but they may want to check out your website or jot it down to visit later. Sometimes people will use that moment to take a picture of your website URL. And let’s face it—when we are at a stoplight, we are on our phones. No one sits there at a stoplight and listens to the radio anymore! People check their phones every chance they get and hopefully, they’re putting it away before we start to drive again. 

4. Don’t forget your social media icons, either:

Whatever you’re active on, Facebook, Twitter, etc., put those icons on your truck. But! Only put them on there if you are actually active on those platforms. If I’m behind you at a stoplight and I see the Facebook icon, I might think, “Cool, I’m going to check them out on Facebook.” But if I do that and you haven’t posted since 2012, there’s no reason for me to follow you. So if you’re going to announce your presence on these social media platforms by putting their icons on your truck, make sure you are active on them consistently, so people have an actual reason to start following your company!

5. Make sure your wrap is done professionally:

This is important. Invest some money to get your wrap done right. I don’t want you to skimp money on this. I’m not talking about the company that can’t yet afford to do a wrap or the one where you just have a magnet on your truck instead of a full wrap (if you go with a magnet, please make sure it’s at least straight). If you’re not ready for a wrap yet, that’s okay. But if you’re going to do one, spend the money to do it right.

You don’t want a wrap that’s done lazily, so that it’s falling off, or it’s crooked, because if you’re coming into my home to do some kind of contract work and you’re not willing to pay attention to those types of details, what other corners are you going to cut when you’re in my home? That’s what people will think. So I’m not saying that you have to go out and get a Range Rover or a Hummer and get it totally wrapped, spending thousands of dollars. (And that might send the opposite signal—that your services may be too expensive!) But hiring a company like NovoWorks to do a professional wrap job just says that your company is willing to put dollars into presenting a professional image. That makes me feel that they’re a company that is going to be reputable. Again, it’s all about what people think of your brand before they even pick up the phone.

Again, you don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money, and you don’t have to do it if you’re not able to or don’t want to. But if you’re going to get a wrap, get it done right! Think about the image you’re projecting!

I hope these tips help! And if you’re thinking that you really want to step up your game and get some wraps on your trucks and get some more recognition, it really does help! And in most industries, all it takes is one phone call to pay for a professionally-done wrap.

If you’ve had success with other branding initiatives on your truck wraps, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

If you do have social media icons on your truck, but need help posting consistently, we can help!

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Social Media Marketing Tips For Seasonal Businesses

marketing a seasonal business

Social media is a great tool for small businesses to get local exposure. But what if you own a seasonal business? What if it’s winter and your business is mainly active in the summer? What if it’s summer and you own a wintertime business? Do you just stop posting during those months that your business isn’t really active?

No! Always remember, “out of sight is out of mind.” Building up your social media community is building a relationship. It takes time and consistency. If you disappear for three months in the winter, people are not going to remember to call you in the summer.

And think about this: if you want to get in shape for the summer, you’re not going to start your workout routine on May 31st and expect results, right? There’s no real fast-track get-in-shape plan, and there’s no fast track for building a solid social media strategy that will be there when you need it, and when your customers need it.

So here are a few tips on how a seasonal business (CPAs, landscapers, Christmas light installers, etc.) can stay in front of their audiences during the slow seasons.

1. Out-of-season tips

What does a Christmas light installation company have to say in the summertime? Here’s where you have to get creative with your tips and brainstorm a little. For example, I bet that most people who hire someone to install Christmas lights live in a house. During the months that no one is looking for Christmas lights, you can still offer tips about general home care. Those are helpful year-round and will keep your name in front of your clients. The same is true for a lawn care company. Tips like watering your foundation, or how to care for your pipes or prep your yard for spring would be valuable info for a lawn care company to share with homeowners during the winter months.

2. Be Social

When you can’t think of any tips to post, get social! Post about events going on in the community or share content that your audience can relate to. There are always community events you can pass along. Talk about the weather, or the current holiday, or what’s going on in the area. Everyone knows that tax season is between January and April 15th, which means CPAs can really win with social media by letting their personality shine starting on April 16th. When a tax preparer can stay relevant on social media all year long, then come January 1 business will fall into his lap.

3. Be consistent

Don’t stop posting! As I said above, “out of sight is out of mind.” Even if you’re not sure what to post or if it feels strange to be posting in the off-season, if you continue to post consistently business will come your way. You may think that a lawn care company should shut their social media down during the winter, but this is actually a great opportunity to build their community by following other local businesses and accounts. Also, they could post about sales and specials due to the items being out of season, and be the only game in town.

People with great summer bodies did not get that way by cramming crazy workout sessions in at the end of spring. Being “in shape” on social media takes giving value consistently and then people will already have a relationship with you by the time your business season is in full swing! Are there any other tips that you would give for a seasonal small business? If so, please share in the comments! Thanks!

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Marketing Tips For Home Service Businesses

home service businesses

Today I want to share some tips to help the home service business attract and gain more loyal local customers through online marketing. If you have a garage door repair company, a window treatment company, pest control company—if you’re in the home and you’re helping out the homeowner with a service, these tips are for you. (And if not, please share this blog post with people who do own service businesses!)

1. Gain trust:

You have to be able to gain the trust of the customer. It used to be that people would just get a phone number and call a company. But now they’re doing research first. They want to know, “Who will be coming into my home? Who will be there when I’m away and my wife is at home?” (Or vice-versa.) People want to know who is going to be coming in the door.

This is why it’s good to list your credentials on your website, whether you’re part of the Good Contractors List, or Better Business Bureau or whatever certifies your business. But also, a good way to gain trust is to share your knowledge with people. That lets people know that they have an expert coming into their home, and not just some random person they found online. Be sure your online presence really matches what you do in real life, and that will help you gain the trust of your customers.

2. Show off your team:

This also has to do with gaining trust. Get the people on your team on camera, and put their pictures on Facebook or on your website, especially on your “About Us” page. This page is where you want to post the story of your owners and your employees, to let your customers really know who they will be dealing with. I’ve said this for years—people do not want to do business with a brand or a truck or a logo; people want to do business with people

So on your web page and in your social media, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries! Make a short video or a post celebrating that person on Facebook! Get your team in the forefront because if people love your team, they’ll keep using you and they’ll refer to you. 

3. Build good reviews:

You must start obtaining reviews—Google + reviews, Facebook reviews, Yelp! reviews, etc. I’ve said this before too, but it’s still true: People don’t care about what you say you’re going to do. People care about what you’ve actually done. Show yourself off by putting together a resume of past customers who especially loved your service.

This may go against some of the mythology out there, but I would much rather you have 10 five-star stories from customers who are over the moon about your services than 100 three- or four-star reviews with no story. Whenever you’re done with a job and the customer pulls you aside and says, “Wow, this was way better than I thought!” Or, “This was way cheaper than I thought!” Or, “You don’t understand what this means to me and my family! You just fixed my A/C unit—I’m having family in town and you just saved the day!” Those kinds of stories will resonate with people far more than just a thing where someone clicked three stars and didn’t leave a comment about the job.

You don’t need to necessarily ask your whole client base for referrals, but definitely ask the ones who you know you went above and beyond for! 

4. Be responsive and transparent:

In today’s marketplace, not having an online marketing strategy, or not having any kind of online presence, poses question marks for potential customers. They wonder, why don’t they have a Facebook page? Why don’t they have a website? What are they trying to hide? Just by having these pieces in place lets people know that you’re transparent and  accessible. Also, if they see that you reply back to comments, if they see your little badge on Facebook that lets people know you reply back to messages quickly, they know that you’re going to be responsive to them. No one wants to do business with a company that doesn’t get back to them or takes a long time to do so. This also goes into the trust equity bank, if you will. When you’re transparent and responsive, people will trust your business.

5. Be seasonal with your tips:

If it’s wintertime and you are a plumber, you want to give tips on how to protect your pipes indoors and out. If you’re a lawn care company and we’re in the dog days of summer, you can give tips on things people can do to protect their foundation and their yard. If you own a garage door company and it’s cold, you may be able to offer some tips on how to handle doors sticking or freezing. (I say that because it’s happened to me before, and I know the perils of a frozen garage door!) Think about what role your business plays in whatever season we’re in, and what kinds of tips you can give to the homeowner for whatever issues or problems crop up in that season. 

Remember, the more you help people, the more they trust you! We admire teachers and coaches because they’re great at educating and helping people. So be a teacher, gain the trust, show off your team, build those reviews, and watch your home service business grow!

If you know a home service business owner who would benefit from these tips, please share this with them!

Here’s how we’re helping local businesses win:

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How Online Marketing is Similar To Football

football and marketing

I was watching football this past weekend, and I got to thinking, “Wow, football is a lot like marketing!”

Let me explain what I mean. But before I go any further—Go Cowboys! Super Bowl Bound! Just kidding. But maybe! We can hope!

1. Not every play can be a touchdown:

When you’re a kid and playing touch or tackle football in the yard, there’s one route everyone runs. The quarterback gets the ball and everyone goes deep, because everyone wants to score a touchdown on every single play! But in college or professional football you do not just run out of every huddle aiming for a touchdown. That’s not the way it works. There’s a process! You run the ball for a couple of yards, throwing the ball a few yards, getting a first down, stacking up the first downs, so that you can get down the field to score a touchdown. 

If it were just that easy to get in the huddle and say, “Okay guys, we’re calling a touchdown play!” Every team would do it, every time. Instead, you have to take small steps to achieve the larger goal.

It’s the same thing in marketing. Often when people think about marketing they think, “Let’s make this go viral!” Or they just want to put a piece of content up and watch the leads come in off of that one ad. But it doesn’t work that way. You don’t go out and score a touchdown on one particular post or ad! It’s a process of smaller steps that take you to that touchdown post that generates lots of leads. 

Don’t go for the touchdown on every post. Be okay with the three-yard gain, because it will move you further to your goal.

2. Don’t show up on game day without a plan:

When you see a great performance by your favorite NFL team on Saturday, you never really get to see the incredible amount of planning and strategy and meetings that went on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and all through the week leading up to that game. They watch film, they discuss strategy, and they plan out the game. 

It’s the same with marketing. You don’t want to go out there and just post willy-nilly. You need a strategy! If you’re a business owner you want to be meeting regularly with whoever is doing your marketing to put together a strategy for what your posts are going to be about and what you want to achieve with them. You don’t want to show up on game day without a plan! And often, online marketing for small businesses fails because there is no plan. I really enjoy doing planning and strategy sessions with our clients, so if you have someone that you trust to do your marketing, make sure you’re meeting with them to plan strategy and you don’t show up on game day without a plan!

3. It takes more than the quarterback:

Let’s call online marketing the quarterback for a moment. Other forms of marketing have their place, but online marketing is where it’s at. Everyone has a smartphone, everyone has a tablet, so online marketing is leading the charge. However, the quarterback is not going to be successful without the offensive line, without the defense, the running back, receivers, etc. So yes, online marketing is a huge part of your overall marketing strategy, but don’t rule out the roles the rest of your marketing pieces play in your overall strategy. You still need to send mailers, emails, and going to chamber and networking meetings, etc. 

When everything is working together and your branding is consistent, all of these pieces work together as a team to get you to your goal. 

The quarterback gets paid the most because he touches the ball the most. It’s the same with online marketing. It’s more important nowadays to be investing in online marketing because it touches more people. Online marketing puts more eyes on your business.

So don’t stop with your other forms of marketing. Let them complement your online marketing. Online marketing should never replace the rest of your marketing team.

4. Consistency gets you to the playoffs:

This is the most important thing. You have to be consistent. Look at the New England Patriots. And I apologize in advance to any Patriots fans out there—I can’t stand the Patriots! But they’re so good that I have a high level of respect for them. Every single year you know a couple of things are going to happen: Tom Brady is going to have an outstanding season, it won’t matter who the players are and it won’t matter who they’re playing—they’re going to get into the playoffs. Now, whether or not they get to the Super Bowl and win the whole thing is another story. But you know for a fact that they’re going to the playoffs and they’re going to be good, because they have a consistent process and game plan year in and year out.

It’s painful for me to say that, because I am not a Patriots fan! But just looking at them without emotion, you can’t help but have respect for their consistency. 

The same thing goes for your online marketing. You can’t just do it once. You can’t have it work one month, get good traction, get some leads, and then stop the process. You have to continue the process so that each and every month you get lead flow. Just like the Patriots, who are right in the thick of things every season because they are so consistent! (It drives me crazy! But hey, the Cowboys have something good going on with their process this year!)

I hope this was a fun blog for you to see the similarities between online marketing and football! Who’s your favorite NFL team?