Why You Should Be a Storyteller

Jim Smith ran an automotive repair shop called Big Jim’s Automotive. He had been in the business for 27 years. For the most part, he stuck with traditional marketing avenues. Billboards, ads in the local newspaper, and good old word of mouth. The business was doing fine. However, Jim knew he needed to accomplish more. He was ready to take the plunge into online marketing such as social media, SEO and blogging. That’s when he called NextGear Marketing and signed up for one of our web content packages.

Okay, so Jim isn’t real. We’re just trying to provide an example of how to tell a story in a blog post. Why? Most readers will be more drawn in by that approach rather than something straightforward or, even worse, “salesy.” If we just came out of the gate and said NextGear Marketing is a leading provider of marketing services and online content for automotive shop owners, blah, blah, blah, you would have stopped reading after a couple of sentences. The goal with the story is to catch your attention and build up to the sales message in a more engaging way.

There’s an old adage in advertising that you should always show and not just tell. People would rather see the product in action or feel how the service will impact their life in a positive way. If marketing is emotional, it will be more effective. Just telling facts, figures and selling points will only get you so far.

When it comes to blogging for small businesses, there is a tightrope you need to walk. You want to tell a story and engage the reader with compelling writing. However, you also need to incorporate strategic keywords and key phrases (in addition to back-end meta tags for SEO) throughout the story. You want to repeat certain things because those words and phrases are how searchers will come across your articles, yet you don’t want to overload the posts to a point where they are unreadable. Be strategic in your approach and engaging with your storytelling. If you can accomplish both, you will have a blog that will succeed.

Keywords, key phrases and meta tags will enable people to find your blog. Good writing will keep them coming back. This is what the NextGear Marketing approach to blogging is all about. To learn more, contact us today or follow our blog on Facebook.

 

What is Blogworthy?

In the news industry, there’s always a question of what is “newsworthy.” The answer may depend on the type of media outlet and the audience they are trying to reach. The same is true when it comes to your blog. So, how do you determine what is “blogworthy” for your business?

Blogs are powerful marketing tools, and there are a lot of different topics that you should consider blogworthy. In fact, there’s a lot more you could be writing about than you realize. Any news or information that relates to your company, your customers, your industry or your community should be considered for a blog post. In this article, we’ll share a few specific ideas that should help you get more active on your blog.

Here are some blogworthy topics to consider:

1. Products and Services

From time to time, you’ll want to feature stories about different services or products that you offer. Frame them as informational articles (consumer tips, how-to, product reviews, etc.) and then relate the article back to your business. If you offer a warranty or any special services, feature them in your blog.

2. Employee Profiles and New Hires

Employee profiles are great ways to show a bit of your company’s personality and give customers a sense of who they are dealing with. They also make your employees feel appreciated. Do feature articles about current employees and write introductory profiles any time you hire someone new.

3. News and Awards

If something interesting happens at your company, it could be worth blogging about. Certainly, any time you get a new certification or award, it should be featured in an article. If your business is celebrating its anniversary, you can write a story about it and include some history about the company.

4. New Equipment

Did you get a new piece of equipment that will help you improve your products or services? Write a blog about it and show how it will better your business.

5. Customer Testimonials

Turn positive customer reviews into full blog articles. At NextGear Marketing, we do testimonial-based blogs more often than any other topic because they work on so many levels.

6. Community Involvement

If you are involved in the community in any way (charitable organizations, special events, sports team sponsorships, etc.), be sure and feature it in a blog. Include information about the organization, why you got involved and how you are contributing.

7. Industry Training

If you ever attend any industry conventions or training seminars, write a review of the event and post it on your blog.

8. Employment Opportunities

Do you have a job opening? Post it on your blog and provide descriptive job details.

9. Vendor Features

If you have vendors that you work with regularly, do a feature article about them, show how your relationship has developed and discuss why this vendor is helpful to you and your customers.

10. Promotions

Are you offering any current sales or special promotions? That’s another great blog article right there!

This is just a short list of ideas to consider when thinking about blog topics. Really, there is no end to what you can write about as long as you make the story relevant to your company and your customers. If you do that, you’ll be amazed at how powerful your blog will be.

For more information about blogging for your small business, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free consultation.

 

Blog Feed Services: Good or Bad?

It’s a question we get asked all the time at NextGear Marketing. What makes our blogging services different than some of the other available to the automotive repair industry?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a blog feed service and a custom blog service such as NextGear. “Feed” is the operative word with the first option. Blog feeds are typically subscription-based services where general information articles are pre-written and then distributed/posted on the blog pages of all subscribers. They may talk about car care tips or describe different car parts and how they work. The information is general and the exact same articles are sent to every user.

The one positive aspect of blog feed services is the quantity of content. Sure, it can be good for your website to have a lot of industry-specific content that’s added frequently. The quality of the content is much more subjective. The articles are usually professionally written, so we’re not questioning the quality of the writing. The issue is with the information being generic. If you can find the exact same article (word for word) on hundreds of other auto shop sites, it won’t help your SEO as much as you think. Search engines like Google are very sophisticated and can detect even the slightest duplicate (or plagiarized) copy. If your site is not the original source of that text, you’re not benefitting that much from it.

So, what is a custom blog service as provided by NextGear Marketing? “Custom” is obviously the key word this time. Each article we write is unique and contributes what we call dynamic content to your site. You get the same benefits of having fresh, industry-specific content added to your site on a regular basis (depending on the blog package). However, you also gain more SEO appeal because that content is unique to your site. We do not copy and paste around here!

NextGear Marketing isn’t representing hundreds or thousands of clients. We keep our business small to provide a more personal approach. This enables us to write each blog post we do with a fresh perspective.

Now, do we write some general information articles? Yes, having car care tips and information about automotive parts, services, etc. is good for searchable key words and phrases. That said, even if we write about the same topic for multiple clients, each article is written differently. Different wording is used and the structures are unique, so you don’t get knocked by the search engines for plagiarized or duplicate content.

These general information articles are only a portion of what we do at NextGear Marketing for our blogging clients. The majority of our posts are related directly to your business. The more we can get to know your shop and the people in it, the better. Employee profiles, customer testimonial stories, shop news and information, training events, shop awards and recognition—these are just some of the articles we write. Our approach combines SEO appeal (key words and tags, dynamic content, frequency of posts) with a customer-friendly style of writing. We want people to be able to find your shop through search engines and other sources such as social media. And then when they read the stories, they build a stronger connection with your shop because it is more personal.

To learn more about NextGear Marketing and our custom blog packages, contact us today and discover the difference for yourself!

How to Market Your Automotive Shop, Part 1

Let’s face it. Some automotive shop owners are more aggressive (and progressive) than others when it comes to marketing. The smaller the business, usually the less marketing is done. And that’s one of the reasons it stays a “small” business without much growth. This is true in almost any industry.

When it comes to marketing your shop, spending more money doesn’t always equate to more business. It is a factor, and the old adage of “you have to spend money to make money” is certainly true. However, it’s more about spending wisely on effective marketing rather than just throwing your money out there without a solid plan.

We can’t give away all the trade secrets here because we want automotive shops to turn to NextGear Marketing for help with marketing materials and strategies. Still, we’ll provide some basic concepts that you can consider when deciding to ramp up your marketing efforts in order to grow your shop’s business. In Part 1 of this article, we’ll focus on new school strategies for digital marketing. In Part 2 next week, we’ll talk about the more old school approaches that can still be very effective—print advertising, direct mail, outdoor, radio and television.

Online Presence

It’s hard for any business to grow (yet alone survive) these days without some sort of marketing presence on the Internet. If your shop doesn’t have a website, that needs to be your first step. Template design sites are okay to get started, as long as they are mobile-friendly.

Content is King

However your site is designed, put extra focus on the content to make it your own and incorporate key words to enhance SEO. Specifically mention all the cities you serve, each automotive repair service you provide and your shop’s contact information. Work in key words and phrases that customers might search for if looking for a shop like yours in the area.

Social Media

Establish pages for your shop and get involved on as many social media platforms as you can. Post regularly, share links and information, and do whatever you can to engage with your followers. Don’t be salesy, though. Be informative and/or conversational in tone. The more active you are on social media with engaging posts, the more positive word of mouth you will generate.

Blogging

Obviously, we’re big on blogging at NextGear Marketing. It is our most popular service. More and more automotive shop owners are realizing it is the best way to generate fresh content on their websites and help increase organic site traffic. If you have a regular blog with interesting content (informative articles, customer testimonials, employee profiles and other shop news), you will see a difference as your site rises up the search engine rankings.

Email Marketing

We’re not talking about “spam” sales emails to random lists. We’re talking about targeted emails to past customers and those who have signed up on your email list through your website. Send regular emails and aim for one specific action/result with each. Perhaps reach out to everyone and ask them to like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter. Send an email asking for any referrals they might have (offer incentives if it helps). Ask them to rate your service or write a review on your site or Yelp!

Advertising and Integration Packages

This is where online marketing can get expensive, so don’t just go into it without more research. If done right and strategically, you can get a great result. Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Yelp! Business Integration Packages—these are some of the most popular ways to advertise online. Just be careful and set a firm budget before throwing a lot of money into any of these services. It can add up quickly and you have to make sure the returns are worth the investments.

Hopefully you find this information helpful. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this article. If you have any questions about online/social media marketing, blogging or email strategies, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free, no-obligation marketing consultation.

 

How to Write a Good Employee Profile Blog

Most business owners think their blog needs to just be informational in order to sell their specific services or promote how well they treat their customers. Indeed, those types of articles should make up the majority of your blog posts (just remember to personalize them as much as you can and include customer testimonials). However, you will also want to periodically include blogs about life around your company.

What we want to focus on here is how to present a good employee profile. These blog posts can generally come in two forms. First, is a new hire. Second, is an existing employee that is integral to your business’s success.

For a new hire blog post, it’s pretty simple. You’ll want to present it as an announcement. “Mechanic Joe Smith Joins the Team at Ferguson Automotive.” Talk about how excited you are for this new person to join your company and what their role will be.

An existing employee profile may be even more straightforward. “Ferguson Automotive Employee Profile: Mike Jones, Head Diagnostician.” (Blog Secret: always try and get your business’s name in the headline.) Again, talk about this person’s role within the company and how long they have worked there.

With either type of employee profile, there are certain key points that you will want to include:

  1. Title and Job Description – Telling readers what this employee does and providing details of key duties can be a subtle way of including keywords into your article.
  2. Photo – Provide a nice headshot or a picture of them “in action” at their work station.
  3. Experience – Talk about the employee’s educational background (industry training, college, special designations, etc.) and previous work experience. This is not a resume, though, so keep the tone light and sometimes a little vague.
  4. Personal Background – Share how long they’ve lived in your area, where they grew up, etc.
  5. Personal Interests – Talk about their life outside of work. Do they have a spouse? Kids? Grandkids? What are their personal interests and hobbies?

When it comes to an employee profile, make sure your employee is okay with sharing all this personal information online. You may even want to get an agreement in writing and assure them that you’ll remove the blog post if they ever leave the company. When it comes to things like family information, you don’t necessarily need to mention names of spouses and children. Make general references to family members. In other words, you don’t need to go TOO PERSONAL. Keep the information simple and friendly in tone and you’ll have a good employee profile blog.

We hope you find this information helpful. For more information about blogging for your business, contact NextGear Marketing today for a no-obligation marketing consultation. You can also follow us on Facebook to receive notifications every time a new blog post goes up.

It’s Time to Get Personal

We see it all the time. One big mistake many business bloggers make is being too general with their posts. Sure, you want to provide accurate and useful information. And, you definitely want the copy to include important key words and phrases to help with SEO. However, the more you can relate the article to your business, the better.

Let’s say you are writing what we would consider an “informational” blog article. You’re in the automotive repair industry and you put up a post about radiators. You include maintenance tips, problems to look out for and a layman’s explanation of how the key parts of radiators work.

It seems like pretty straightforward stuff about car parts. However, you can find similar articles all over the Internet. How can you make yours stand out? That’s where personalization can make a huge difference.

Frame the article from your shop’s/mechanic’s perspective. Talk about common problems that you see and why you want to share this information with consumers. Give real-life examples of customers who came in with a radiator problem. Tell them how you diagnosed the issues and how you made repairs or replaced parts to fix their radiator. Maybe even include a testimonial quote from that customer if they provided on at the end of the job.

You can also frame the article from the perspective of the average customer. Try to relate to their way of thinking. They are out on the road. The engine starts to overheat. Tap into that feeling of someone who realizes they may have a problem with their radiator. Show them common problems they can look for (low fluid, leaks, fan malfunctions). Then, talk about how they should take it to an expert for a proper diagnosis. Odds are, if you tell this story right, your shop will be the expert they turn to.

In other words, don’t just spout off information like you’re writing an encyclopedia. Tell stories, tap into the mindset of the average consumer who doesn’t understand that much about cars, and show how your shop deals with whatever specific service issues you are writing about. If you can do this, your blog posts will be that much more effective.

No matter how personal, we at NextGear Marketing recommend these “informational” style blog posts about every third or fourth article. The rest should be even more personal for your shop. Customer stories and testimonials, shop news, employee profiles, workshops/conferences attended, etc.—these are the best ways to connect with potential new customers while also enhancing your own brand message. Informational articles are great for SEO and should definitely be peppered in. It’s all about finding the right mix.

Regardless of what you are writing about, personalize it however you can.

For more information about blogging and what types of articles you can write to promote your business, contact NextGear Marketing today.

The Importance of Unique Web Content

We’ve talked a lot about “dynamic” web content in terms of having fresh content posted regularly on your site. Indeed, content is king when you want to enhance SEO and increase organic site traffic. The more content, the better. However, you also need to be focused on what type of content you are adding. The writing needs to be strong and the content needs to be UNIQUE.

We can’t stress the importance of unique content enough. So many shop owners will start a blog with the best intentions. They may write a custom article every now and again, but then they start to get lazy and commit one of the worst web sins: copying and pasting text from other sources.

We can understand the thinking. If there’s already a good article online about something pertaining to your business, then why reinvent the wheel? Why take the time to write something fresh when someone else already did the work for you? Unfortunately, Internet plagiarism is rampant and it can actually be bad for your SEO if you simply copy and paste information from other sites.

Why? Because search engines such as Google are very, very sophisticated. Their systems can easily recognize duplicate content and it can actually work against you. If you are simply pulling your information word for word from other online sources, you will not see any positive returns. This is true beyond just your blog. Any page on your site should ideally have content that’s unique to you. If you have a template site, do what you can to customize the content as much as possible.

Something else we often see is blogging services that simply frame other stories on your site. Perhaps they are custom-written articles that are disbursed to all their users or they are just pulling stories from online news feeds. The new content consistently being added to your blog page is good, but it really won’t help that much since it’s the exact same content that can be found on many other sites.

That said, you can use the information found online as reference and inspiration as you write your own stories. Frame the story differently. Use different wording and phrasing. Make it your own by relating it as much as possible to your business, your geographic reach or your target customers.

The point is if you are going to add content your site, don’t just copy and paste it from other sources. Nobody wins in this situation and it can actually do more damage than good for your own site’s SEO. Make the commitment to customize your content or have custom content written by a professional. It’s worth it in the end.

For more information about blogging and custom web content packages from NextGear Marketing, contact us today.