Sealing the Deal

I’ve been very busy lately working to sign on new clients and keep growing my business. It’s never easy, but the effort must be made to keep progressing.

As good as I am at marketing, my sales skills could use some refinement. I tend to like letting my work speak for itself. I like to provide information and education to help my clients make decisions on how they want to proceed. Sometimes, however, it takes a more aggressive “closer” mentality to get a contract locked in.

This is something a lot of small businesses and contractors struggle with. You could have the best marketing plan in the world that attracts a lot of attention for your business or generates plenty of good leads. Then, it’s a matter of sealing the deal.

In addition to great marketing, you need a good sales presentation, quality products/services and follow-up system to really keep expanding your business the right way.

Sales

It’s nice to be able to get people in the door, but it’s no good if you can’t get them to buy anything. Some people are naturally great at sales, but not so good at marketing. Then, there are people like me who are better at marketing than sales. Ultimately, you need to have both areas covered to be truly successful. You need to attract them to your brand and your business offerings. Then you need them to actually purchase something, whether it’s a service contract or physical products.

Product and Services

Next, you need good products and/or customer service. Your marketing and sales efforts might get someone to buy something. Unfortunately, if what they buy is less than satisfactory, it will lead to failure in the long run. They might write negative reviews or never buy your products again. When it comes to customer service, you want to provide a quality experience that builds trust and positive feelings. This can lead to repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth that will go a long way in building your business.

Follow-Up System

Last but not least, you need a good follow-up system to stay in touch with current and past customers. The idea is to stay in front of them and continue a positive relationship. This way they don’t forget about your business. Most importantly, it can generate more repeat customers and more referral business. Never be afraid to ask for referrals. Most small businesses depend on repeat and referral customers. A good follow-up system and messaging will make a huge difference on this front.

This is a pretty simplified view of this concept, but the point is what starts with good marketing needs to continue with the sales, products, services and follow-up that you provide. When all these elements are working together, you can build a better small business and keep achieving growth year after year.

For help with your marketing and follow-up systems such as email campaigns, direct mail and social media strategies, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Attitude is Everything

I’ve talked some about my passion for golf on this blog, but I haven’t really talked about one of my other passions: disc golf. Though they share a name and some similar rules/terminology, these are actually two pretty different sports. They are equally fun and frustrating at the same time, though.

I’ve been playing regular golf my whole life. Disc golf is a more recent obsession I’ve taken up in the past few years. It’s more affordable to play, there’s a quicker learning curve and it provides a great form of exercise—not to mention the camaraderie of playing with friends and the relaxation of spending quality time outdoors. There is a huge disc golf culture that most people aren’t even aware of, which means there are a lot of competitive events.

Between weekly clubs at different local courses, monthly tournaments and bigger annual tournaments, you can probably play some competitive form of disc golf just about 365 days a year here in Southern California. This year, I have been playing in more big tournaments. I still participate in the lower “recreational” or “intermediate” amateur divisions, but it is good experience.

I used to get frustrated and angry when I didn’t play well, especially in competitive settings. This year, though, I’ve really been working on my attitude while out on the course. I have to remind myself I’m not playing for the world championship, and at its core, disc golf is meant to be a fun sport. I don’t need to take myself too seriously or beat myself up when I make mistakes.

As I’ve adopted a more positive attitude. A lot of this comes from playing in my local weekly league out here in Palm Desert. It’s a really fun group of people and everyone encourages one another to play well. I’ve been able to apply some of this positive energy when I play in bigger tournaments. Though I have yet to win anything significant, I see the progress happening as I finish higher and higher in each event.

Having the right attitude is part of disc golf, as it should be for any sport or activity you participate in. I’ve been working personally on having a better attitude with my business and that has enabled me to keep it growing throughout the year. I still have plenty of growth ahead of me, but it’s important to recognize progress and keep focusing on the positive.

I share my little disc golf story to hopefully encourage anyone reading this blog to stay positive. This is a mindset that will benefit you in life and in business. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get down, frustrated, panicked, etc. and be swallowed up by the negative energy. It also helps to surround yourself with positive people.

For help with your small business marketing and web content, let NextGear Marketing point you in a positive direction. Contact me today to learn more about my affordable writing/design services and custom blog plans.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of a Blog Campaign

This is something I get challenged with all the time as a professional blogger. Clients want to know that their blog is effective.

How to measure the effectiveness of a blog can be tricky. First, its impact—especially from an SEO perspective—is long-term. It will have a cumulative effect on the overall search engine optimization of your website and individual blog post views should increase over time, as well.

SEO Impact

The biggest appeal of having a weekly blog (or however often you post) is adding fresh, unique content to your site every single week. It keeps your website from becoming stagnant and it should help slowly but surely improve your Google rankings organically.

You can look at the analytics for the site as a whole once the blog has been running for awhile, and you can also review the individual page analytics for each blog post. Unless you strike gold with the most interesting and engaging viral post ever, don’t expect huge numbers for each post’s views.

Viewership Ebbs and Flows

If you share links to each blog post on your social media pages and send out in client emails/newsletters, you can expect a brief spike in views once the post goes up and your followers click through to read the full article. Then, it will likely lull for awhile. A good article will continue to get regular views. Studying the analytics is a good way to know which types of articles get the best response.

Other things you can look at is contact click-throughs and link click-throughs from each individual blog page. Secondary to the overall SEO appeal of blogging, you want to see some engagement. If people are opting in, contacting you, clicking through to other pages on your website or actually buying your products/services directly from a blog page, then you know you have exceptional content.

Think Long-Term

Like any long-term marketing campaign, it’s important not to panic or overthink during the early stages of a blog campaign. You should really run it for at least six months before even looking too hard at the numbers. Even then, you have to remember it’s going to have a more cumulative effect on the SEO for your website, in general. Some posts may not get as many views as others, and that’s okay. If your site is getting ranked higher and/or getting more visitors over time, then the blog is doing its job whether you realize it or not.

It’s the same with other general marketing campaigns like a direct mail campaign, outdoor advertising or print advertising. Unless it’s specifically a direct response campaign, it can be hard to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign—at least in terms of hard numbers. Usually, you just know that business is doing better and people know your brand name. Again, it’s a cumulative impact that takes time to really make a difference in your market.

Business Blogging with NextGear Marketing

To learn more about blogging for your business and how to get the most out of your blog campaign, contact NextGear Marketing today. Blogging for small businesses is what we do, so let us show you how to do it right!

What is Your Business About?

Pretty much every website will have some kind of “About Us” page. Whatever you prefer to title it, this page is more important than you realize. Unfortunately, a lot of site developers kind of slap the content for this page together because it’s less SEO-oriented in nature (compared to the service and product pages, blog posts, etc. that make up the bulk of the site).

The importance of this kind of page is found in the engagement qualities. It gives a potential customer a chance to learn more about who you are and what you do. If the content on this page is not presented in an engaging way, then you are missing an opportunity. That’s why I have put together this list of helpful tips to make your “About Us” page as effective as possible.

1. Don’t Go Overboard with SEO

It’s true that the “About Us” page is less about SEO and more about engagement. You can inject searchable keywords and you will want to optimize the page for search engines, but it’s rare for a web search to lead to this kind of page. Someone is more likely to click on it once they are already on your site. Therefore, you don’t want to go overboard with the SEO stuff. The content should be written well and it should connect with the readers. It should not feel like it was written by a bot trying to cram in one SEO keyword after another.

2. Tell Your Story

The way I like to approach the “About Us” page is to tell the story of the business. What is the history of the company? Who are the main people behind it? What is your service philosophy? When you can tell a good story, the content will be more engaging and readers will feel like they know what you are all about. That’s a good thing when it comes to building customer interest and loyalty.

3. Introduce Key People

As hinted at in tip #2, you will want to introduce key people involved in the company. This may be the founder(s) or owner(s) of the business. It might be key leaders such as managers and executives. The objective is to show a face behind the vision of the company. This makes it much more relatable than just spewing facts and figures.

4. Avoid Dependence on Bullet Points

One of the worst things you can do on an “About Us” page is to format the whole page with bullet points. It’s okay to have bullet points at the end of the page as a summary or include one section with a few short bullets to help break up long sections of copy. Otherwise, bullet points are much less personal than narrative text, especially when you are aiming to tell a story and engage a reader.

5. Mission Statements Are Overrated

I personally feel that mission statements are way overrated and really make no connection with a potential customer. So many businesses invest a lot of time to come up with the “perfect” mission statement and they all just sound the same. The language is always stilted and sounds like corporate speak. If your mission statement is brief and not so impersonal, then maybe you can work it into the page. Otherwise, it really isn’t going to add much to your site if you ask me.

6. Show Don’t Tell

One of the best pieces of marketing advice I ever got was that good copy should show, not tell. The goal here is to show what your business is all about with engaging content, stories and insightful information that’s written in an interesting way. If you just tell people the facts and figures in a straightforward way, there won’t be a strong connection. Again this goes back to more narrative writing compared to just bullet points.

These are just a few tips that will help you craft a stronger “About Us” page on your website. Whether it’s a multi-billion dollar corporation or a one-person operation, there is a real art to showing potential customers what you and your company are all about.

For help with all your custom web content needs, NextGear Marketing is here to help. Contact us today for more information.

I’m Living Proof Why You Should Outsource Your Blogging

I’m pretty transparent about the fact that I’m not as active on the NextGear Marketing Blog as I’d like to be. My first priority every week is making sure all of my clients’ needs are taken care of. In addition, I am always working to find new business. Then, if I have time I will put together a blog article like I’m doing right now.

My own situation is comparable to that of many small business owners. You have a lot of things to worry about and blogging often becomes an afterthought. Having someone in-house to manage the blog is nice if it’s a clear part of their job description. However, they may not have the proper writing skills or SEO knowledge that a professional blogger can provide.

In most cases, business blogs are started with the best intentions and then things fizzle out. It becomes less of a priority as you stay busy with other important business activities. That’s why it makes sense to outsource your blog content management to someone who knows what they are doing and can keep your posts consistent. Believe me, if I had the resources to have someone else manage my blog, I would. Until then, my clients always come first and this blog is a secondary priority.

If you have the means (and I should mention a weekly custom blog package from NextGear Marketing is incredibly affordable), then outsourcing your blog management makes perfect sense. You can have an expert doing the research and writing the articles for you. The articles will be optimized for SEO and ready to share on social media for additional engagement. All the heavy lifting is done for you and it won’t cost you much. It really is a win-win situation.

To learn more about professional blogging packages from NextGear Marketing and for examples of the weekly blogs I manage for all my happy clients, contact me today.

5 Tips for Recycling Old Blog Content

Inevitably, there comes a time in your business blog when it feels like you’ve run out of topic ideas. You’ve covered all the key things that relate to your business and that your customers might be interested in, and you don’t really have any new things to write about.

That’s okay. It happens to every blogger.

There is a real art to recycling old blog content and effectively repurposing it into new blog content. Here are some tips you can use:

1. It’s Okay to Recycle

You may do a new blog every week over the course of years. You are going to have to revisit certain topics, especially those that are highly searchable and of interest to your potential customers. It’s perfectly fine to write multiple articles about similar topics as time goes on. In fact, it’s recommended.

2. Understand How it Really Works

No one who visits your blog will sit there and read every single article. They might read the one they came for, and if you are lucky, they might click through a few more or come back later. Even your avid followers don’t have a long memory. So if you write a new article about a topic that you already wrote about six months ago, nobody will notice and nobody will care. They will just be interested in that new article.

3. Put a Fresh Spin On It

Another trick to recycling article topics is to put a different spin on the topic. Turn an informational article into a “tips” article. Inject a different opinion or point of view. Look for ways to approach the new article from a different angle than previous iterations.

4. Use Different Verbiage

This is especially important. Don’t just copy and paste content from the old article and consider it new. That doesn’t do you any good. Take the time to write it fresh and use different verbiage. This will help it count as new and unique content from an SEO standpoint.

5. Space the Articles Out

Last but not least, don’t do a bunch of similar articles back-to-back-to-back (unless it is an actual themed article series). If you are recycling topics, spread out the articles as much as you can so it doesn’t feel like you are writing the same thing over and over again.

These are just a few tips for how you can effectively recycle and reuse old blog article topics and repurpose them into new blog articles. It will be very helpful the longer you run your business blog.

For more tips and information about business blogging and web content strategies, be sure and follow the NextGear Marketing Blog and contact us today with any questions or requests you have.

How Long Should a Blog Article Be?

This is a question I get from a lot of new clients when they sign on with one of NextGear Marketing’s custom blog packages. People are curious what the ideal length for a typical blog article should be.

The simple answer I would say is usually somewhere in the 300-600 word range is where I like to be. However, it’s not always that black and white. It often depends on the complexity of the topic you are writing about and the amount of source material you have to pull from.

Minimum Word Count Target

I usually aim to get at least 300 words out of the blog articles I write for my clients. Sometimes, it’s not so easy to get to that length, but it’s a good minimum to aim for. Other times, I am fully invested in a topic and before long I am looking at over 1,000 words in the word count!

If an article does get too long, I like to go back and trim it down the best I can. I have no qualms about posting an article that’s up to 700-800 words long if all the information in there is vital.

Split it Up if Necessary

If it does get longer than that, then I may suggest splitting the article over two parts. Multi-part articles or a connected series of themed posts over time are never bad ideas. They give you a great opportunity to link back and forth between the posts, which ideally keeps the reader engaged on your site for a longer period of time. One of my newest clients has done several monthly “themes” with the individual topics centered around bigger, broader concepts. Coming up with new themes every month has proven to be a challenge, but I do think the articles have benefitted in terms of continuity, SEO, internal links and reader engagement.

Depending on your products, services and brand messages, you may have less copy and more images/videos in your blog posts. That is fine. I would still recommend targeting at least a minimum word count of 200-300 words from a basic SEO standpoint.

Professional Blog Services

So, how long should the average blog article be? 300-600 words is a good range to aim for, but find your comfort zone and do what you can keep up with. If you can’t keep up with the blog, then hire someone like NextGear Marketing to do it for you.

To learn more about our blogging and other custom web content services, contact NextGear Marketing today.