Category Archives: Local

You Can’t Judge a Buyer By His or Her Cover

Yesterday, I received this letter from Phil Eisaman, Digital Marketing Manager for the Great American Spice Company.  I could completely relate to his experience because I too sold cars for a brief summer right out of college. I asked Phil if I could share his story with you and he agreed.  Thanks for taking a moment to write it, Mr. Eisaman.  It’s no wonder American Spice continues to increase revenues year-over-year!  We can’t judge a buyer by his or her cover– all should be treated with respect. ~Jean

 

car-160343_1280

Hi,
I read your story about the leather jacket and loved it. The salesman was a good salesman because he had to be to survive. Treating everyone who walks in the store as a potential customer is huge. Having said that I have a story to share.

I was working at Fort Wayne Acura selling used cars back in 1997. Being new at it my boss always taught me to never make assumptions about customers– just treat them well. Using this method I quickly out paced all the other salesmen, selling more cars than some of the most seasoned salesmen.

One afternoon my boss gets a call from another lot manager saying there is a walker headed your way (a walker is someone that walks from dealership to dealership). This young man started at the auto mall and made his way all the way down to my lot. My coworkers said, “Go get him I am sure he is a big spender” with sarcasm in their tone.

I greeted the man on the lot with a smile and a handshake. He says “I have been to 10 lots and you are the first to talk to me.”

“How can I help you today, Tony?”

“I am looking for a car,” he said.

“Well how much are you looking to spend?”

“About  $2800.00,” he replied.

Pointing to an early 90’s beat up Grand Am I said, “That one may work.”

“I will take it,” he said as he handed me $3000.00 in cash. I went to my Manager and said,

“This guy out here wants to buy that Grand Am.”

My manager says, “Phil we can not get that financed. It is too old.” Handing him the cash his eyes lit up and he said, “Phil we have $100.00 into that car. You are making a fat commission!”

The next day at the sales meeting I received great praise from management as the others were scolded.  In car sales you are only paid commission and if you don’t sell anything you take a loan against your future commissions. I didn’t want to owe money for not selling. I made 3-5 thousand a month selling used cars because I treated everyone like a potential customer and treated them with respect. I only sold cars for a few months because it is still a shady business in my book.

And remember “With desperation comes innovation.”  -Phil Eisaman

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Filed under Audience, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Customer Profile, Local, Reputation Management, Sales, Time Management

Seven Ways to Improve Your Local Content

Local SEO is important for neighborhood businesses, but it’s increasingly competitive to score in the top three local results. Having better content than your competition remains key to gaining extra visits.  Keep in mind the following seven marketing strategies to improve your local content.

Get Detailed

What makes your service or product better?  Don’t skim the surface.  Provide depth, but don’t ramble.  You want to sound like the local expert by providing helpful resources to would-be customers.  If you are the local expert, get your fans and customers to talk about their experiences via Facebook, Twitter, and G+.

 Appeal to the Eyes

Take extra measures to include photos which look of professional quality on your webpage.  If this means hiring out the work, do it.  This small investment can bring in a great increase in revenue.  The same goes for web design. Your homepage should reflect the quality of your goods or services, all while being aesthetically pleasing.  Search engines are moving toward more visual searches, and you don’t want to be left behind because of a shoddy homepage. Plan out your keyword navigation and do include video.

Claim Your Company

Chances are there is already a location listing for your business.  You simply need to claim it and verify the information as correct.  You should do the same with your Google+ page.  Incorrect location information can mean a big hit to your business.city

Verify Yelp and City Search

Take the time to examine the correctness of the information on CitySearch and Yelp if they are applicable to your business.  The information included on these databases is sometimes incorrect or out-of-date.  Do not be overly concerned if you see some negative reviews as you do this.  If you know you are offering the finest quality goods and services, the positives will shine through in the form of favorable reviews.

 Pinpoint Your Location

One of the simplest practices to increase local content is to include your business address and phone number on each page of content on your webpage.  This ensures identification of your location regardless of the current page being viewed.  Your goal is to give contact information each precious moment someone is visiting your page.  If a potential customer has to take the time to search for this information, they will probably move on.

Team Up With Other Locals

Collaborate with like-minded local business owners with an agreement to recommend their business on your site in exchange for recognition on their site.  This sign of goodwill can provide a boost for each party, yielding positive return to your local culture.  All this is the recipe for a win-win situation.

Go Mobile

In a world of mobile devices, modern customers are on the move.  Reliance on mobile devices drives the market for a mobile presence.  Make your website mobile-responsive so customers can have a better browsing experience when viewing your website on smart phones or tablets.  Be sensitive to the appearance of your content pages on mobile devices.  Try to steer clear of using technology such as PDF or Flash, which are less usable on many popular mobile devices.

Finally, brush up on Google’s Pigeon update and then make necessary adjustments to your local profile.

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Filed under Algorithms, Local, Mobile, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Purchasing Furniture – Why Did She Buy From Your Store?

By My Web Writersphoto (1)

This typical female, Gen X, furniture customer Is ready to buy. Where will she make her purchase?

Today I’m pausing to journal about the major furniture purchases I recently made. I’m doing this for both of us. Though they’re in other industries, we’re always looking for ways to improve online marketing for our clients.

When I shop, I often revert to a personal pattern that pre-dates my use of the Internet.  Do you?  If not, you’re younger than thirty-five.  Though, I’ve changed through the years, I’m probably typical for a female, age 35 – 50.  Knowing that 65% of US shoppers will browse online and buy in stores over the holidays, how can we better serve this lucrative demographic?  What triggers dollars spent at your store?

Of course, I’m just one woman and each woman is an individual, but here’s a snapshot of how I arrived at furniture purchases from four different stores during the week prior to Thanksgiving 2013.

Top of the Furniture Sales Funnel

The buying process started a few weeks earlier.  A builder suggested that we look at Houz, a home ideas app, for backyard ideas.  The app offers ideas for all rooms of your home, too.  We never did build, but the trends I saw in the app stayed top-of-mind when it was time for furniture in the home we recently purchased.

I could have scoured Pinterest, too, but I didn’t.  I just didn’t have a lot of time to hunt and peck for pieces of online furniture and more ideas to confuse the choices.  Time is valuable and I tried not to waste it.

Middle of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Like many Americans, when it came time to shop for furniture, I drove to the nearest showrooms- Kittles, Ashley Furniture, Value City Furniture, Kittles Express, Office Max, Office Depot, and Houseworks.   Kinesthetic shoppers need to see, to feel, and to touch each piece to envision family and guests relaxing, conversing, working, and eating.

Would the quality be worth the price?  Would the exact colors match the floors, walls, countertops, and appliances?  What are today’s trends and which classics are still hip?  I didn’t shop online when I was absorbing information because I learned plenty in the stores.

In one store, a sales woman approached my husband and me and wouldn’t stop chattering. If we paused at a piece to discuss it, she’d wiggle into the middle of our conversations.  We’d politely stand there wondering when she would stop. After doing this for the third time, we quickly walked out because a hungry salesperson’s stalking, at this stage, wasted our time and was annoying.  We weren’t buying on that day.  We were just looking.

The office furniture seemed blah- mostly ugly, big ego desks or very cheap, modern designs with little space to spread or to store.  The sofas were perplexing.  Do we buy another puffy couch for the family room or a grandma-like sofa for the living room? Nothing appealed, at first.

Did we want to have a fun and casual red set or an espresso, leather upscale look? The new kitchen table needed to be round, but how big?  Should it match or contrast our floors? Should we go rustic or classic? Geez — so many choices.

Pages like the one below from Kittles did very little to help me to understand what I’d want in my living room, family room, kitchen, and office.

Kittles with no content

There is no category level content to entice or to educate.  With the exception of the main slide, the pictures don’t suggest use, features, or style. Kittles, if you’re reading this post, consider how strategic copy writing and editing can help both your conversion and SEO.  My own sales pitch aside (hey, I do understand the sales woman); there came a day when we could no longer function without furniture in our rooms.  It was time to buy.

Bottom of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Last Sunday, I decided the best place to find office furniture would probably be at an office supply store.  By then, I’d ruled out a modern, sleek look in the office. The sales person at Office Max offered the Black Friday price a week early and probably called me “Ma’am” fifty times.

Office Max pic

He put up with my indecisiveness over this desk verses that desk and he stopped talking after I cut him off on purchasing the extra protection plan.  The prices were exactly the same in the store as online.  This was a coordinated attack and I bought the furniture at the store with the same free delivery offered online.

Office Max product description

While the in-store experience offered set-up at a charge, notice that at the same purchase point online (the product page), the company’s set-up package is not suggested or offered.  If the customer has to hunt for it somewhere else on the website, forget it.  Adding drop down boxes for “I need set up” on each product page would immediately increase online revenues at Office Max.

The Final Hours of Purchasing Furniture

I spent nearly a day in Kittles yesterday trying to fine-tune what I wanted. Then, came the ping-pong price game.  Prices kept dropping, but we went back and forth so many times and it took so long, that by the afternoon, I left the store.

I opened my iPad and typed in searches for long-tailed keywords with model numbers to check pricing in other stores.  What was the price for a “Broyhill Travis sofa”?  Another business could have stolen my purchase in these moments when my sales person was going back to her manager for yet another price reduction request.

Broyhill Travis couch

After he said, “No, I can’t do it”, I would have bought online, especially if free shipping were offered. Instead, my search took me first to the Broyhill website.  Obviously, they didn’t want to get into the middle of price negotiations because they left out prices in their product descriptions.

Other stores did the same.  Instead of sharing prices, online store-after-store said, “request a quote”.  I didn’t have time to wait for a quote.

Request more info

With Thanksgiving in a few days, I wanted shopping done asap. Because I didn’t know if the purchase was sound, I dropped the sofa and chair from my list all together.

I took a trip back to Ashley Furniture and found a different sofa.  I popped into Value City Furniture and found a kitchen table and chairs that I liked better than the ones offered at Kittles and Ashley.  While there, the Value City online prices dropped, so a lower price was honored at the store.  Bed Bath and Beyond sold nifty bar stools for less and with free shipping. Then, I went back to Kittles and purchased the items I felt were fairly priced.  All of the stores said their prices were Black Friday prices and that if anything changed, they would honor the changes.  At a certain purchase point, most offered free shipping.

I’m waiting for the door bell to ring with my deliveries.  How fun!

What’s a key to increasing online conversions? Lower your online prices.  Develop better content (pictures, videos, and words) to display furniture in ways that highlight colors, finishes, and uses. Provide in-depth information.  Keep the various stages of the furniture sales funnel in mind and develop profiles of your buyers at each stage.

What have you noticed as important to increasing online sales, whether you’re in the furniture business or another industry?  How would the above process differ for a man or a younger or older person? How would the process differ for another woman in the same demographic? Take a moment to share!

~Jean


Other Posts:

Holiday Content Challenge- Let the Family Games Begin!

ZMOT- Where Consumers Are and Businesses Should Be

Adding Content to their Website Increased Our Client’s Keyword Reach

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases in E-commerce Content

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Filed under Apps & Tools, Business Strategy, Customer Profile, Holiday Blog, Local, Mobile, Personas, Product Descriptions

Content for Less- Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

By My Web Writers

Toys that Use Words

Fat Brain Toys doesn’t play around when it comes to website content.  Owner, Mark Carson, has always supported written content on the site’s category and product pages; but, Matt Hansen, Director of Marketing, says that it was only about three months ago that the educational toy retailer really started developing blog content.

It seems like many marketers attend webinars and read articles that explain the importance of content to conversions and search engine rankings, but then they return to work and leave out the paragraphs.  Why?

Content creation is expensive.

Blog Sales Powered by Writers

Hansen says that Fat Brain Toys “employs three in-house writers with a variety of skill levels, but listens to feedback from many internal and external stakeholders.”  You can sense the community when you visit the site.

Play is Fat Brain Toys’ blog.  Each week, the writers add videos, newsy snippets, and creative articles around a theme.  But, how does the company curate so much content without straining their budget?

play

In a green box at the top of the Play blog, writers click and find a call for

 “content from leaders in the toy industry, leaders in the world of raising children, and great thinkers who believe in pure play. Each piece of content will be shared with HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of visitors. As a contributor to PLAY, you’ll be given full contributor/byline credit with a short bio listing. We will also actively encourage link sharing. Fat Brain Toys will share a link to your site, and we hope you’ll share a link to your published PLAY content on your site as well.”

Who Would Write for Free?

The secret to securing inexpensive content is to embrace loyal fans and toy industry leaders, who want to build authorship profiles by using Play as their publisher.

The potential sales win-fall for Fat Brain Toys is notable. Many writers will write for article bylines just to increase exposure of their own personal brands, products, books, and speaking portfolios. Google authorship gives incentive for many writers to secure their personal brands this way. Between the free content and social sharing by writers, Play is revving up a sales engine.

This is the content creation model that many business leaders are thinking about and talking about at conferences and in meetings, but few are making it happen.  Fat Brain Toys is connecting and creating the model.

If You Can’t Buy It, Build It

Mark Carson also created the company’s unique review system.  He and his in-house team built an automated content contributor under each toy’s product description.

FBT Reviews

Consumers find content that details available options and hazards, linked articles from Play, related products and categories, accessory options, and other consumer reviews and rankings of age/gender usage. All of this data aggregates and moves the products up or down in the “new”, “shop by age”, or “shop by gender” sections of the site.

Google wants valuable content and this system offers it to parents.

Parents Help Parents with Special Perspectives

Carson also invented another consumer-generated content resource that is highly-valuable to the special needs and elderly populations.

Special needs

Parents, teachers, and caretakers explain how they use the toys with children and adults with special needs. There is a ranking system for the toy’s value index and the toy’s IQ that helps shoppers evaluate how their child or adult might use the toy.

Toy IQ

Again, the content offers value to shoppers and there’s a community of trust and interaction being built with the brand through the content interaction.

The Future of Content Creation

If you love or believe in a brand, chances are you won’t care about getting paid to promote it. You’ll contribute for intrinsic rewards like attention or the sense of helping others.

Fat Brain Toys knows that its core consumers are passionate about educating children and contributing to a better world through play and it has tapped into these passions.

Does this totally remove the need for in-house or freelance writers and editors? No.  Someone needs to curate and optimize the content.  The in-house team fills in where the consumer leaves off.

Your website still needs writers and editors who are masters of brand positioning, product knowledge, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, usage, and search engine optimization.  Fat Brain Toys hasn’t lost sight of that fact, but it does demonstrate how to involve your audience.

What would inspire your shoppers to interact more with your website’s content?

~Jean


Other Posts:

What is Google Authorship and What Do Writers Need to Know About it?

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases for E-commerce Content

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Filed under Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Editors, Favorite Websites, Local, Product Descriptions, Project Management, Queries & Articles, Reviews, Social Media, Time Management, Writing Careers

Generate Traffic with Killer Consumer Reviews

By My Web WritersLeaving a Review

From buying a car to picking a restaurant, reviews are a useful tool for helping us to make purchases both big and small. Web sites and entire social platforms have been created with the intent of providing valuable and useful reviews right at our fingertips. This also allows us the opportunity to voice our opinions and share our experiences with other potential customers. But the quality of this content relies heavily upon our own ability to write helpful reviews. Here are just a few of the most important concepts to keep in mind the next time you go to craft a glowing review or constructive comment.

Keep the details relevant

When relaying an experience you’ve had with a product or service, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. To you, giving a play-by-play of information may seem relevant, but to someone else reading the review, it just seems long-winded. Keep your review concise and to the point. People often skim the information or only read the first part, so be sure that the most important and relevant details can be found in the first couple of sentences.

Choose your words carefully

When you’re trying to describe an experience with words, much can be lost in translation. Remember that your definition of “good” can be vastly different from someone else’s. To write the most useful review, stay away from ambiguous words that could be misinterpreted. If you’re going to say a service was “good” be sure and further qualify this statement with a description as to what actually occurred. Why did you consider it a good experience – and not exceptional or mediocre, for example.

Keep things in perspective

The purpose of a review is to share your opinion, so it’s easy to get carried away with the thought that your opinion is the only one that matters. To write the most useful review, it’s important to keep things in perspective. If you had a terrible experience at a restaurant, at least consider the other side of the story. Ask yourself what factors led to such an experience. Was is due to one bad server, was it a problem with the management or was the food overpriced? Offering readers both sides of the story will help boost your credibility and the credibility of the review.

Find a balance of negative and positive

The most valuable reviews combine negative and positive aspects of the experience or product. Just as we mentioned telling both sides of the story, you also want to consider both pros and cons when writing your review. A glowing review has room for constructive criticism just as a terrible review should include at least one positive remark. If you can’t think of a single pro, consider offering a way in which the product of service could be improved. This balance boosts the credibility of the review and shows a sense of fairness.

The bottom line when creating a review is to put thought into what you’re writing and to always consider whether you would find this review helpful if you were reading it as a potential customer. Though this is an opportunity to voice your opinion, it is not necessarily a soap box for you to stand on. The most useful reviews communicate critical information with both balance and perspective.  ~Stephanie


Other Posts:
Niche Blogs With Quality Content

How Can I Better Manage My Company’s Social Media Accounts?

Improve Customer Service & Reduce Complaints with Content

Video Basics: Hosting, Sharing, and Content

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Filed under Local, Reputation Management, Reviews

Internal Linking in Content: Dos and Don’ts

By My Web WritersContent Linking

Now more than ever, links are everywhere! Anything that’s dynamic, from web sites and social media to e-newsletters and PDFs, often contain live links. This is how we reference information and more importantly, how we drive traffic from one place to the next. Internal linking is an especially powerful tool because it keeps visitors browsing a web site longer and helps to strategically direct them to other content. This following guide of Dos and Don’ts will help to highlight the most effective ways to use internal linking in content.

DO use specific anchor text

The anchor text is what is highlighted with the link and made clickable. Most commonly this text tends to be a phrase such as “click here” or “read more here,” but this is considered to be non-specific. When search engines index your web site, they count the anchor text as a keyword. Instead, you should use a specific and strategic word or phrase as your linking anchor to further increase the search engine optimization of your web pages.

DO link to each page at least once

Every page within your web site should have at least one link that directs viewers to it from another page. It’s easy to remember to link to some of your biggest and most popular pages over and over, such as your homepage, about page or contact page. But don’t forget that you created each page on your web site for a reason and so they should be able to flow easily from one other. Additionally, you need to link all of your pages for best SEO results.

DON’T overwhelm your content with links

In an effort to link internally to each page at least once, you may begin to overwhelm your content with too many links. Choose the content carefully and strategically. Make sure it makes sense to visitors as to why you’re directing them to another page within your site. Linking should feel natural and helpful, not misplaced or forced.

DON’T forget to check and double your links

You’ve put the effort into carefully picking out the content and placement for your links; now don’t waste this on directing visitors to a dead or incorrect URL. Check and double check every one of your links to be sure they point in the direction in which they were designed. Capturing a visitor’s interest enough to get them to click on a link is a very valuable thing. If this takes them to an error page, you will likely lose their interest and possibly their business.

 DO make your URLs into links

This may seem like an obvious “Do,” however, this error can still be found on many web sites big and small. Rather than turning anchor text into a live link, web sites will mistakenly list the URL of another page. By doing this, you miss out on the opportunity to index additional keywords, hurting your SEO. Also, this hurts the professionalism of your web site. Listing a “raw” URL makes the content look sloppy and unfinished. Instead, choose strategic anchor text and link this directly to where you wish visitors to go next.

This list of Dos and Don’ts has hopefully helped to provide you with a better understanding of the industry’s best practice of internal linking in content. Whether this is for your business web site or your personal blog, you can better harness the power of internal linking by recalling the information of this quick guide. ~Stephanie


Other Posts:
Seven Local Angles to Address in Your Content

How Can I Better Manage My Company’s Social Media Accounts?

What Would History Say About Google Authorship Profiles?

Writer Tips for Google’s Penguin

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Content, E-Tail Category Content, Local, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

Seven Local Angles to Address in Your Content

My Web Writerslocal angle

As a local business or blogger, location alone is not enough to help maximize your reach to your target audience. It’s equally important to highlight local angles in your online content as well. In doing so, you create a niche market and improve search engine optimization (SEO) for those who may be searching by specific location. This is a powerful tool that can be easily incorporated into any type of content, no matter the size or industry. Take a look at these seven ideas for addressing local angles in your content:

1. Highlight other well-known businesses

As a local business you should be in touch and in tune with the fellow businesses that surround you. If you have a synergistic relationship with them, it’s easy to incorporate their services or skills into your own content by including their name and location. In doing so, you harness a portion of their SEO power for yourself. Link back to their web site and refer to them by their full business name. For content ideas, you can write about how your services complement each other and create an even greater benefit for customers who patronize you both.

2. Include landmark photos and tag appropriately

Another way to highlight your immediate surroundings is to include a mention of local landmarks, well-known businesses or tourist destinations in your content. All of these are heavily searched terms online. By including these same terms in your content as well as photos that are tagged with relevant keywords, you will improve your SEO for local searches. Try taking your own photos and writing about the personal meaning they have to you or your business. Maybe they’re something you see every day or something that inspires you.

3. Feature a local blogger

A quick search should provide you with many options for local bloggers in your area. They can cover an array of topics including opinion, sports, community events or night life. Reach out to one that is relevant to your content and ask if they would be willing to contribute a guest post for you to use. Even more simply, ask for permission to re-blog an article that relates to your business. Be sure to link back to the blogger and include their name and bio in your own content to maximize the impact.

4. Write a review

If you’ still stumped with how to include a local angle in your online content, try writing a review for a business or event that you know well. People are often searching for reviews online and by offering relevant and valuable content you will draw in more viewers to your own web site.

5. Make a resource guide

This is similar to writing a review, but instead you create an entire guide of multiple businesses or events in which you can offer some expertise. Give tips and advice that people can use to get the best experience and utilize links and keywords to your resources as much as appropriate.

6. Cover a community event

Businesses and night life are hot topics for local content, but so are community events. People are often looking for things to do or more information on a festival or community gathering they heard about. To incorporate an event into your content, try writing a “what to expect” feature where readers can learn what all is going on and when. Again, this creates valuable content which drives more readers and increases SEO.

7. Link to other local sites as often as possible

For all of the local angle ideas mentioned, it is critical that you include links to external sites for the different businesses, events and resources you reference. Linking to a web site that has strong SEO will help improve yours as well and will rank you higher in searches for the keywords you both share.

By adding a local angle to your content on a regular basis, you will improve your reach toward your target audience. For local businesses and bloggers this is a critical tool for maximizing your online potential and the impact of your content marketing! ~ Stephanie

Other MWW Articles:

Twenty-five Effective Call to Action Phrases

Local Ideas for National Brands

National Brands Without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank

 

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Local, Mobile, Product Descriptions, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media