Are You Responding to Customer Reviews?

Getting customer reviews online is an important part of today’s business culture. In a way, it is free advertising—even if you are paying extra for “premium” business accounts on sites like Yelp. People are voluntarily writing testimonials for your business. Unless you are doing something really wrong, most of these reviews will be positive. If they are routinely negative, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach to service.

Reviews Are Going to Be Written

In the social media marketplace, people are not shy about sharing their opinions on just about every subject under the sun. Millennials are now the most influential consumer group and the next generation is on their heels with an even more candid style of sharing everything about their lives on social media.

You should be pushing customers to write authentic reviews. Even if you don’t, plenty will still be posted and you have to pay attention to what’s being shared on social media and online review sites.

How to Respond

Next, you should get in the habit of writing personal responses to each review that is posted on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other relevant site for your business. I recently took over this task for one of my clients and it is a very powerful thing you can do.

Most reviews will be positive and you don’t need to write much. A simple “thank you” message is fine. Reiterate some of the positive comments they may have made about your staff, your product or your services. If there are any special messages that you can include such as a warranty or return policy, do so without pushing too hard. Keep it light, direct and friendly. Those reading these reviews will easily see that you are a business that cares about its customers.

What if the Review is Negative?

It’s almost unavoidable that you will eventually get a negative review. Unfortunately, these negative reviews are almost always longer and more detailed, which helps them get picked up by the algorithms on sites like Yelp that display the “most relevant” reviews on the main page rather than the most recent.

A negative review might even be a fake from a troll, spammer or petty competitor. Oftentimes, these reviews discredit themselves if you read them closely enough. Maybe there’s an inappropriate comment, a lot of grammar errors or it’s clear that their complaint really isn’t relevant to your business.

How you respond to these negative reviews can be tricky, but it is something you need to do. You have to be tactful. You have to defend yourself without being defensive. You have to be friendly even while calling them out on any inconsistencies in their story. You can read more about this approach in a previous article I wrote on this exact subject, but the biggest key is to maintain a friendly and helpful demeanor in your response. Just remember the response is not necessarily for that reviewer, who will not likely be a repeat customer. It is for anyone else reading that review. A thoughtful response to a negative review can actually work in your favor because it will show others that you care.

To learn more about online review response writing services from NextGear Marketing, contact us today.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Marketing Risks

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! Every time one of these dates rolls around, we all feel that little chill running down our spines thinking about Jason running wild at Camp Crystal Lake.

It’s okay to be afraid of machete-wielding maniacs, but when it comes to your marketing, fear should not be a deterrent. Now, of course you don’t want to go broke trying every marketing idea you can think of and hoping one sticks. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things and take a few marketing risks from time to time.

Perhaps it’s exploring targeted ads, boosted posts or sponsored posts on social media to try and increase website traffic or direct response activity. Maybe it’s time to rethink your website approach. Consider rewriting some of your core content to freshen things up or start up a business blog. Maybe you already have a blog but you play it pretty safe. Take a few chances, talk (carefully) about controversial topics relating to your industry and see what you can do to get more eyes on your articles while also sparking more online conversations.

Also, don’t give up right away if something doesn’t generate immediate results. Most marketing efforts take time to produce meaningful returns. Give it some time to marinate and make adjustments as needed to fine tune your approach with any given medium you are exploring.

There is always something new to try when it comes to marketing, so don’t be afraid to take a few risks from time to time. You just might discover a game changer.

For help with your marketing approach and a web content consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today!

Are You the Master of Your Marketing?

Last week, I was excited about Opening Day of Major League Baseball. This weekend is another one of my favorite sporting events of the year, The Masters. Whether you are a golf fan or not, this is a captivating tournament where the star of the event is usually the course itself.

Augusta National Golf Club is one of the most famous golf courses in the world, and for good reason. It is an exceptional design and it is simply gorgeous thanks to pristine conditioning, a beautiful natural setting and excellent landscaping.

Augusta National opened in 1933 and it has stood the test of time. However, it has also evolved with the times. The course has been lengthened to keep up with the modern game and technological advances in clubs and balls. It has been through some renovations and certain details have been tweaked over the years. New trees have grown and matured while some significant trees have been lost during storms. Though things have changed, the course’s spirit has always remained the same.

There is a marketing lesson to be learned here. Even the best golf course in the world has evolved over time. Even if you started your business with the best marketing plan ever, it will get outdated. Things change and new marketing opportunities sprout up regularly. With the evolution of technology, these evolutions will only continue to speed up.

As a marketer, you need to be adaptable. You need to change with the times and take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. At the same time, you don’t want to lose your spirit. This is your brand message and it should remain consistent no matter what media you are using to market your business.

To be successful, you have to evolve without compromising your integrity. Never lose sight of what makes your business successful in the first place, but always be looking for new ways to improve, adjust and add to your marketing campaign. Set aside time throughout the year to take stock of all your marketing efforts. Keep what is working. Remove or adjust what is not working and don’t be afraid to try some new things to see if they will work. Continue making adjustments and never rest on your laurels. Marketing is something you can never truly “Master” because it’s continually evolving, but if you put in the effort you can effectively evolve with it.

For help with your small business marketing and content, contact NextGear Marketing today.


It’s Time to Play Ball!

Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball! It is one of my favorite days of the year, and it’s pretty much a national holiday in my eyes. Spring training is complete, the rosters are set and the teams are ready to take the field (weather permitting in some parts of the country).

April is Already Here!

From a business perspective, the start of the baseball season is a stark reminder that we’re already a quarter of the way through 2018. Three months have passed! It’s a good time to think about all your New Year’s Resolutions and your business plan. How well are you doing on those goals? Where is there room for improvement? What do you need to do to make the next three quarters as successful as possible?

Swing Hard

When it comes to your marketing plan, now is the time to make sure you get off the fence and onto the playing field. Perhaps that means being more active on social media. It may mean starting a business blog—or at least ramping up your efforts on the blog you started at the beginning of the year yet has already fallen by the wayside. It could be time to revisit your website content and assess how everything have performed so far in 2018.

The point is it’s time for you to play ball and position your business for success in April and beyond. Don’t let another year slip by without positive steps forward. Take a hard look at what you’ve done so far this year, re-assess your goals and take action to achieve them.

Your Marketing Coach

If you want professional help with your business blog, web content or marketing strategy, we’re here to help. Contact NextGear Marketing today for a no-obligation consultation and marketing review.

Finding the Right Mix for Your Social Media Marketing

This subject may be a bit controversial and, truth be told, there is some gray area when it comes to social media marketing. I talked a couple weeks ago about the benefits of outsourcing website and blog content. However, social media is a different beast. Some things may be best outsourced while others should be kept in-house for the best results.

Hiring an Outside Provider

Many small businesses choose to hire an outside social media provider, which is fine and recommended. They keep posts frequent, organized and on time. It’s important to have regular, consistent activity on all your social media accounts. Outside social media providers will be especially good about providing general content, running contests, doing promotional posts and marketing your products and services. Their experience in target marketing and budgeting will also be vital if you are running any sort of online ad campaign or boosted posts on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Those are all very good reasons why you might want to hire an outside social media specialist to run the marketing side of your social media campaign. An expert will generate more exposure for your business and create more click-through opportunities with eye-catching posts.

Keeping Some Things In-House

On the other hand, however, there are advantages to keeping certain social media activities in-house. Beyond just exposure, social media should be about engagement. You want to start conversations while also getting shares and likes. You want to show what your company is all about. The marketing side of social media can convey a strong brand message, but the social side of social media needs to display your company’s personality.

This can be difficult for an outside provider to truly achieve because they are not at your place of business day in and day out. They aren’t directly interacting with customers and employees the way that someone who works in-house will. There is a lot to be said about these kinds of firsthand experiences.

Daily Activity

Perhaps the best example of this when it comes to social media is Instagram. Obviously, engaging photography is the key to success on this platform. Interesting photos posted every day will generate likes and spark comments that can lead to full-blown conversations. Someone working at the business every day will be much more in tune with daily activities that can inspire good Instagram photos. An outside provider posting stock photos or old photos you provided just won’t be able to accomplish the same kind of engagement.

Perhaps you are having a birthday celebration for an employee or you encounter a really cool success story with a customer. Perhaps you get in new products that you want to feature or maybe there is something interesting happening on a particular day (unusual weather, funny situations, holiday sales, etc.). Having someone there interacting daily and posting on social media can really show your company’s personality and that will help create stronger engagements on social media.

The Right Social Media Mix

As social media becomes more advanced and diverse, so too does the need for social media marketing. If you have the means to hire a full-time social media expert to work in-house, that is the ideal solution. Unfortunately, this is not in the budget for most small businesses. In these situations, the best approach is often a blend of outside expertise and in-house activity. This will give you the right combination of marketing exposure and social engagement.

To learn more about social media marketing and content management, contact NextGear Marketing today.

“Copy and Paste” – The Two Worst Words in Content

When it comes to your web content, the term “copy and paste” should be one that never crosses your mind. This is true whether you are talking about static site page content or dynamic content such as your business blog.

What Do We Mean By “Unique?”

We’ve talked plenty on this blog about the importance of having unique content whenever possible. However, let’s delve a little deeper into the meaning of “unique” in this context. It doesn’t mean that every solitary idea, topic or piece of information you share has to be 100% original. Odds are, any topic you are writing about will have already been written about somewhere else online (multiple times).

The trick is to make it your own. Put your own spin on it. Add personal insight. Make the messaging relevant to your specific brand identity.

Above all else, never simply copy content from another online source and paste it on your website or blog. You can write about the exact same topic, but take the time to rewrite it and make the language unique to your site. Ultimately, the article may say the same basic things, but as long as they say it differently it will be well worth the effort.

Why Be Unique?

The algorithms used by Google and other search engines are extremely sophisticated. They can detect copied content (and even heavily plagiarized wording) from miles away and it can work against you. The more unique (yet still relevant) your content is to your site, the better your organic SEO appeal will be on search engines like Google.

The only time it is acceptable to copy and paste is when you are quoting another source, such as a customer review. Let’s say one of your customers writes a glowing review on Yelp. Feel free to share that on your website and attribute it to the source. Maybe even break up the quote and write a testimonial-based blog post. Even though the content may not be completely unique, the value of a strong (and genuine) customer review is worth its weight in gold.

Otherwise, avoid copying and pasting, as well as blog feed services that give you the exact same content as hundreds of other clients. Customize your content as much as you can and you will see the difference.

Content Services from NextGear Marketing

If you are interested in custom blog content for your small business, contact NextGear Marketing today. We’ll help you stand out with unique and engaging content that will boost your organic SEO and convert more customers.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Content

If you look on LinkedIn and various job posting sites, you will see plenty of listings for Content Marketing Manager positions. That’s because there is a growing need for this specialized service. Most large corporations and big companies will have an in-house content marketing manager, or sometimes a whole team dedicated to overseeing the online content creation and distribution. Smaller businesses have to decide if they need a full-time content marketing manager or if they should hire an outside provider.

The Role of a Content Marketing Manager

First, what does a content marketing manager do? Depending on the company, content oversight roles will include managing a blog, writing and editing all website content, and preparing white papers and informational pieces. Good content fuels social media and powers SEO. If your company does webinars or YouTube videos, a content manager should help with the scripts and information to be covered. A good content manager will also oversee brand messaging to make sure all the content produced is reflective of the company’s desired public image.

The larger the company, the more content is usually needed. Hence the requirement for in-house staff dedicated to content management. However, most small businesses will prefer to seek out the help of an outside content marketing provider because they simply do not have as much content they need to produce or manage.

What Content Do You Need?

When it comes to having a blog for your small business, I recommend once a week as a good frequency to start with. You may consider bumping it up to twice a week over time if you really want to be aggressive. Your website content should be reviewed and updated every six months, partly to keep the information up-to-date and partly to help with SEO.

Other content needs such as press releases, white papers or video/webinar scripts are at your discretion. Depending on your company and your products/services, you may want to be more active with these types of contents than other businesses.

Outsourcing Saves You Money

So, why does it make sense to outsource content marketing management as a small business? The most obvious answer is money. Hiring a full-time (or even part-time) staff member won’t be cheap and you’ll want to find someone with specialized experience in content management. We’re talking about a salary, benefits, office space, computer equipment and other expenses associated with in-house personnel.

An outside content marketing management provider like NextGear Marketing is set up to produce and manage content specifically for small business owners. And, it will cost you much less than hiring someone in-house. For example, you can have a weekly blog written by us for $349 a month.* We’re talking about custom-written, relevant articles that are 300-600 words in length and optimized for SEO. These posts can be shared on your social media pages to spark conversations and the depth of new weekly content on your site will be incredible for organic SEO appeal.

If you need white papers, press releases, info sheets, video scripts, print material content, copy editing or website review/revisions, NextGear Marketing can help with all your content marketing needs.

To learn more about our content services and custom blog packages, contact NextGear Marketing today.

*Listed price is for four blog articles a month and is valid for 2018. If you are reading this article in the future, please contact for current pricing and packages. Blog packages are contingent on your website having blog capabilities that NextGear Marketing can have access to on an admin level. If you need help building a new business website with blog capabilities, we can help with that, too.