Bullseye! The Value of Target Marketing

There are two ways to approach marketing. There is the shotgun approach, where you try to get your message out to anyone you can. In other words, you are throwing a handful of darts at the board and hoping some of them hit. Then, there is the targeted approach, where you hone in on a specific audience and make more strategic efforts to connect with only the people you want to reach. Bullseye!

A Big Picture Perspective

To the untrained marketer, it may make sound like a good idea to use a shotgun approach because you want as many people to be exposed to your brand, products and services as possible. For some massive companies, it kind of makes sense. Take Coca-Cola for example. They spend millions (if not billions) of dollars every year in marketing and their brand messaging is just about anywhere you look. Why? Because people from just about every demographic like to drink Coke. And don’t forget they have a massive marketing budget that allows them to advertise everywhere.

Looking Closer

However, when you look closer, you can actually see that Coca-Cola uses a lot of targeted marketing. Different commercials might run on different channels or programs depending on the average viewer demographics. They are using social media to target specific groups of people effectively. Remember when they started putting names on bottles in recent years? That is a great gimmick that has worked with millennials, and even the names they put on the bottles and distribute to different parts of the country are carefully picked to attract certain segments of the population.

So, on the surface it may seem that Coca-Cola uses a shotgun approach, but it’s because they’ve adopted target audience marketing more and more over the years that has made them—and will continue to make them—the world’s leading soft drink brand.

What Are Your Marketing Goals?

As a small business, you do not have a marketing budget in the millions. Targeted marketing allows you to get more bang for your buck. You can identify your ideal target audience and use strategic marketing approaches to reach them specifically.

First, you must identify your ideal audience that is most likely to relate to your brand, buy your products or use your services. You may have more than one target audience, which is fine. Just know that you will be splitting your focus (and your budget) to reach multiple groups. The audience breakdown may be based solely on geography (your town/region) or by demographics (age, ethnicity, etc.).

Once you have your audience(s) identified, you need to develop your marketing materials (print, online, social media, blog, SEO tags, etc.) to speak to that audience’s fears, needs and desires. Then, you need to distribute in ways that will reach that audience more directly. Social media has really streamlined the idea of target marketing. Most platforms make it easy to create very targeted ads and promote posts toward a pre-defined demographic audience based on age, location, interests, consumer habits, careers and more. Use this technology to your advantage and focus your marketing spending to attract the people you want to attract.

Take Advantage of Targeted Marketing

When it comes to marketing, especially for small businesses, a shotgun approach is rarely a good plan. Take a more targeted approach and you will see the difference in response from consumers who are more interested in what you have to offer.

For more information about target marketing and how to develop more targeted web content, email and social media campaigns, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free consultation.

What You Need to Know About Online Reputation Management

“Online reputation management” is a popular buzz term you hear a lot today. It’s all about maintaining a good reputation online and through any social media channels where people are talking about your business, products or services. There are some things you can control, such as the messages that you put out as a company. There are other things where you don’t have much control, including what customers (or competitors posing as customers) say about you.

Control Your Messaging

Putting out positive content shouldn’t be that much of a challenge, other than devoting the necessary time and resources to stay active with your blog, website content, social media posts, email campaigns and responses to online reviews and comments. You can proactively put a lot of messages out there that grow your brand, engage customers and generate leads.

Really, one of the keys to online reputation management is making sure there is more good content out there about you than bad. When there is bad content, how you respond can make a huge difference. We’ll circle back to that strategy in just a bit.

Focus on the Positive

First and foremost is the good content. This is the stuff you are posting and writing about, which should generally promote a positive image for your business. It should be engaging, interesting, informative and sometimes fun. You want to find the right balance of quantity and frequency in your posts, and track what content gets the best response.

Managing Customer Reviews

Beyond the material that you are posting as a company, there is what consumers are saying about your business. The truth is that most people who take the time to write reviews or provide feedback will either be positive or negative. You don’t see that many middle-of-the-road reviews because those people don’t have a strong enough opinion to share. Otherwise, it’s human nature. Some people just like to look for things to complain about. The Internet and social media are great outlets for them to speak out with a certain level of anonymity.

Fortunately, most reviewers lean toward the positive side. This means you want to encourage people to share their feedback on any platform they wish. Offer incentives (monthly drawings, discounts for future purchases, etc.). Get your fans and supporters working for you with authentic reviews, and they will help drown out the smaller percentage of negative comments. By the way, if you do this and the feedback is overwhelmingly negative, you need to rethink the way you treat your customers!

That said, you will encounter a negative review from time to time, whether it’s a customer with a legitimate gripe, it’s someone who may be exaggerating the situation or it’s a non-authentic reviewer (possibly a competitor) purposely trying to bring you down.

How you respond to these comments and reviews is crucial. Never get defensive or attack a negative reviewer, but do make sure and respond. Do it tactfully to show others that you are actively trying to resolve the issue. When done right, a negative review can be turned into a positive impression with a proper customer service response. If the reviewer in question is obviously fake, find a way to subtly call them out.

“We’re sorry to hear you had a negative experience. Unfortunately, we do not see your name in our customer database, so we want to make sure your concerns are resolved accordingly. What products/services did you come in for and when did you purchase?”

Odds are, a fake reviewer won’t respond to this and most savvy consumers will be able to recognize it’s a fraud. They’ll still value your resolution attempt, though, and that’s how you potentially turn a negative comment into a positive impression.

The Right Social Strategy

Online reputation management is an important strategy in today’s social marketplace. Be positive, be proactive and be responsive. These are the keys to success.

For more information about online reputation management or how to more effectively manage your blog and social media content, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Business Blogging Basics: Quality vs. Quantity

It’s a good debate in the blogging industry. Is it more important to have lots of content compared to something that is well-written?

The answer is actually quite simple: you need both quality and quantity in your blog content.


First, let’s consider the quantity. Usually, I like to stick around 300-600 words in the blog articles I write for my clients. You want to have a reasonable amount of length, which adds credibility and helps incorporate more ideas, information and insight. At the same time, you don’t want it to drone on for too long. If you have a topic that requires a lot of content, you may be better off breaking it up into multiple articles.


That brings me to my second point on quantity. And that is the frequency in which you post articles. Having blog articles posted on a regular basis will give you ample quantity over time and allow you to cover a wider variety of topics. Plus, the addition of new content on your site regularly (aka “Dynamic Web Content”) is also good for SEO. You’re better off posting 1-2 shorter articles every week than posting one long article every other week.

So, how often should you post? I usually recommend a blog article at least once a week or twice a week if you want to be really aggressive. Large corporations may opt to do three or more articles per week (perhaps even daily), but most small businesses don’t need to get that crazy.

However often you post, you want to have plenty of quantity on your blog.


Next, let’s consider the quality of the content. This is equally as important, especially as search engines and SEO algorithms get more and more sophisticated. Unique content is the first thing to note. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: copying and pasting content from other online sources is always a no-no!

Beyond that, your content needs to be well-written. Obviously, it needs to be grammatically correct. Proofread for typographical errors, avoid run-on sentences and make sure the content flows well.

SEO Strategy

Next, it needs to be written strategically for SEO appeal. Incorporate keywords and key phrases, and also craft compelling titles that incorporate your focus keywords. There is a skill to working in a lot of keywords without it sounding overly repetitive. A lot of SEO elements might be good for search engines, nobody will ever want to read an article that just awkwardly repeats a bunch of keywords.

Customer Engagement

With that in mind, it is important that you make your content engaging. It should capture the reader’s attention and keep them interested enough to read the entire article. The best SEO practices might draw a lot of readers, but the article itself must be appealing for them to have the consumer response you desire. You’ll definitely want to incorporate calls-to-action, as well.

In a nutshell, quantity, frequency and strategy all will impact the SEO. They will drive more traffic to your blog. Then, the quality of the content will be vital in customer conversion. So, yes. Quality and quantity are both equally important for your business blog.

For more information about blogging for your business, contact NextGear Marketing today for a no-obligation business blog consultation.

The Value of Authentic Online Reviews

At the end of every month, I produce Online Reputation Reports for each of my NextGear Marketing blog package clients. Basically, I scan all review sites and pull reviews and ratings from that month. I compile them all into one simple report.

The reason I do this is because I want my clients to know everything that is being said about them online. Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, it is important to stay in touch with your online reputation. Another goal is to encourage my clients to further encourage their customers to write more reviews.

Rarely will you find indifferent 3-star reviews online. Most people who want to speak out will only want to say positive things. Then, there is the other side of the spectrum—complainers who only want to write reviews when they have bad comments to make. Every once in awhile, you have to worry about “fake” reviews posted from competitors trying to bring you down. The negative reviews and ratings can’t be ignored, but they can be addressed.

Any time you have a negative review, use it as an opportunity to reach out to that person. Respond publicly if possible on the review platform, so others can see that you are proactively making an effort to rectify the situation. If a public response isn’t possible, at least reach out to them privately. If it is clearly a fake review, use a public response to call their comments into question. You have to do it tactfully, though. Still come from a position of rectification, but still let it be known that you don’t have their name in your client records. This is a subtle, yet effective way to show other users that this may not be a legitimate review.

Unfortunately, certain review sites that shall remain nameless (rhymes with “Help”) favor paying clients and filter out a lot of reviews/rating. As an avid golfer, there’s another similar site that comes to mind (rhymes with “schmolfadvisor”). You can always sort the list to show the most recent reviews first rather than their questionable “most relevant” reviews filter. Personally, I take all online reviews with a certain grain of salt, but more so on some sites than others.

The best way to combat negative reviews is with more positive reviews. The more you encourage customers to write online reviews, the more those negative comments and ratings get drowned out. Don’t resort to writing your own fake reviews. Authenticity is important and most savvy users can tell the difference between what is false and what is genuine. Just do everything you can to spark more reviews from all your happy customers/clients, and you will see your online reputation improve. This is what online reputation management is all about.

Odds are, most people willing to write reviews will have something positive to say. Even if 10% of reviews about your company are negative (which is a really high percentage), that means people are still seeing nine positive comments to every one negative comment. Those are good odds. By the way, if you are getting 10% or more in negative reviews, it’s time to rethink your customer service approach!

Encourage more reviews from your customers and ask them to be authentic. Have monthly drawings or offer future discounts to everyone who writes a review. This will spark more activity. More and more consumers are trusting online reviews before making their buying decisions, so use them to your advantage. Turn really good and detailed reviews into case studies and customer testimonial articles for your blog.

For more information about online reputation management or blogging with NextGear Marketing, contact us today.

Why Have an FAQ Page?

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is a popular tool among web developers. It serves multiple purposes, and if done right, can be a very effective web content strategy.

Now, some FAQ pages are fancier than others. That may depend on your hosting/development company and how interactive they can make the page. Still, even the most basic FAQ page has value.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

First, you have the SEO impact. An FAQ will provide a lot of targeted content on various subjects relating to your business. This is great for overall SEO appeal. Also, the frequently asked questions you identify and post on your website can boost your chances of generating organic search visits. In other words, if someone asks the question in a search that you post and answer, there’s a good chance your page comes up near the top of the search list.

Customer Conversion

So, someone found your FAQ page through a search? Fantastic. Now, it’s about conversion. Ideally, your FAQ answers should satisfy their initial inquiry and keep them engaged as they check out other questions and answers on the page. This builds your credibility as an expert in your field. It also makes the potential customer feel good about your business because you are providing helpful information.

When people have questions relating to your business, you want to have the answers. Most consumers these days are going to look for information online long before they ever pick up the phone or walk into your store/office. FAQs are a great way to first catch their attention and then build up your value in their minds.

Short-Form vs. Long-Form

Depending on the business and the amount of FAQs you want to have on your site, you may consider short-form answers or long-form answers. Usually, the more succinct the answer is, the better. Some issues are more complicated and naturally require a longer response. One great strategy is to write detailed blog articles on each subject being addressed on an FAQ page. Then, you can provide a short-form answer on the FAQ page along with an internal link to the longer blog post, where the reader can get more in-depth information.

However you build your FAQ page, consider the value of having it on your site in terms of SEO and customer engagement. Then, put a lot of thought into it. Make notes of common questions you get from people inquiring about your business, products or services. In other words, figure out what the actual frequently asked questions are by your target audience—not just what you think they might want to know.

To learn more about building a FAQ page on your website or for other custom web content ideas and solutions, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free consultation.

How to Utilize Keywords in Your Blog Posts

Keywords and key phrases are trickier than you think. There really is an art to working them into blog articles. And remember, it’s not just the wording in the article that will make an impact. You also have the back-end SEO tags that can do a lot for you.

Let’s take a look at some strategies to follow in order to better utilize keywords and key phrases in your business blog posts.

1. Readability Comes First

Let’s face it. Some company’s blog articles are unreadable. They cram in so many key words and awkwardly repeated or rearranged phrases. All those keywords may help with SEO, which may get readers to find and click on the articles. However, readers will be quickly turned off. Just because you have a shiny lure, it doesn’t mean the fish will bite. SEO is only half the battle, so make sure your articles have a good flow and will keep the readers engaged, while at the same time subtly working in those keywords and key phrases.

2. Stay on Target

Sure, you have a lot to say and you have a lot of keywords you want to implement into every single article. Again, don’t overdo it. There may be a handful of “general” keywords that you either work into every article or include as tags. That’s fine. Otherwise, use your blogs to incorporate more targeted keywords and phrases relating to the article at hand. Remember your blog has a cumulative effect on your overall SEO, so the more blogs you write the more keyword ground you’ll cover. At the same time, keeping each article targeted on specific messages will boost organic search results (if someone is searching for that particular subject) and the targeted articles will boost credibility.

3. Use Tags, Titles and Meta Descriptions to Your Advantage

Beyond just the article itself, all blog writing programs allow you to customize the titles, keyword tags, meta descriptions, URLs, article categories, etc. Most of this is back-end stuff the site visitor will never see, so it gives you a lot of opportunity to maximize each article’s SEO appeal. Still, try to stay on target while incorporating a handful of general keywords that you use in every article (company name, geographic references, primary service/products, etc.).

When it comes to writing your business blogs and incorporating keywords and key phrases, remember these strategies. Find the right balance between the front-end elements (titles and article text) and back-end elements (keyword tags, etc.), and you will have a more successful blog. Ultimately, the goal is to first attract more readers (SEO) and then convert the readers with compelling articles.

To learn more about blogging for your business, contact NextGear Marketing today. Let us show you how to get more out of your business blog.

5 Simple Tips for Writing a Good “Tips” Article

So, you have a business blog or you are looking to start one? It’s important to continually be brainstorming topics and have article ideas that you can go to regularly. One of the most popular blog topic approaches is the “tips” article. In it, you share consumer tips on how to do something related to your business.

We deal with a lot of automotive repair shops at NextGear Marketing, so let’s use that service industry as an example. You could write many different articles featuring car care tips. Let’s say you write one about tire care. You would talk about checking treads, performing regular tire rotations, and so on. Seems pretty simple, right?

In actuality, tips articles are pretty easy to write as long as you know your subject and/or have access to good source information. So, let’s take a look at some useful tips for writing a good “tips” article:

1. Pick Your Topic

Forget that you might be an expert in your particular field. You need to think like an average person who might have questions about a particular topic. Think about questions you get asked regularly and that should generate some good topics you can use for a tips article.

2. Keep it Simple

Don’t pick a topic that is too complex and don’t get too crazy with your tips and explanations. If need be, breakdown a larger, more complicated topic into several tips articles.

3. Watch Your Language

We don’t mean avoid curse words (that should go without saying). We mean be careful with using technical language (unless you are a B2B company writing to industry insiders). You’ll want to incorporate some technical terms and keywords, which are good for building credibility and enhancing SEO. Otherwise, make sure you are speaking to your audience. If it’s an article written to the average consumer, write the tips in a way they can understand.

4. Use Verbs in Your Tip Titles

Remember, you are sharing tips. The subheads and titles of each tips need to be centered around verbs. “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” You get the idea.

5. Leave Them Wanting More

A tips article should include enough information and helpful tips to satisfy the reader. At the same time, you want to keep it simple and vague enough that they are left wanting more. This increases your chances of getting them to take action. Case in point:

We hope you find this article helpful. Follow these simple tips and you will be able to write a better tips article for your business blog. For more information about business blogging and blog topic ideas, contact NextGear Marketing today!