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3 Steps To Improve Your Local SEO

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicMore local businesses than ever before are starting to realize the importance of using search engine optimization to grow and expand. Many people, though, feel as though SEO is out of reach, being too expensive and complicated to pursue. The good news is that our location on the Central Coast is unique in a positive way, and ranking your local business on Google and the other search engines does not need to be difficult.

In a large metropolitan area, the competition for local search terms can get brutal. Because we live in a much smaller area, this problem is not as much of a concern for us. If anyone has hired a major SEO company to audit and enhance a website, then that person may likely be paying for services they don’t need. With some testing, we have found that most local businesses can rank by keeping a few simple tips in mind:

1. Claim & Optimize Your Google Business Page

When you search for a local business in Google, you will notice that the top listings are usually Google Business Pages, so one of the best things that you can do for your SEO effort is to claim and optimize your listing. You can do so by ensuring that the store hours, phone number and address are correct. In addition to verifying that the listing is accurate, you will also want to include the main keywords for which your customers are likely to search.

2. Enhance Visibility

Having your business mentioned as often as possible increases your visibility and improves your SEO rank. As with backlinks, Google will use the number of citations that you have to determine the relevance and credibility of your business. Searching for your business name will help you find your listings, and you can claim and optimize them to enhance your results.

3. Online Reputation

As far as business listings are concerned, Google looks at the number of reviews that you have when determining where to place your business on the search results page, so managing your reputation and making a commitment to customer satisfaction will work wonders for your business.

Final Thoughts

Rather than investing a lot of time and money, keeping an eye on your Google Business Page and other listings should be your main focus. Do your best to earn positive reviews from your customers, and you will enjoy more search engine traffic than you once thought possible.



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What's in Your Wallet?

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicImagine you get talking with someone. You find what they have to say is valuable for one reason or another. You need to be sure they have a way to get in touch with you and taking their business card (if they have one) shouldn’t be the only method you rely on.

You need to be able to reach into your wallet and pull out a business card. These should always be available and handy so that you can get them into the hands of those you interact with on a regular basis.

Business Cards Promote Professionalism

You want to look as professional as possible, and this means having business cards. They should be branded to look like everything else within your business, including your website, signage, and more.

As you interact with people, it’s vital to be able to hand out your card. This tells people who you are and how they can contact you. It makes it easier for people to know more about your business. It also shows that you are a legitimate business that should be taken seriously.

If you are a business, regardless of whether you are a start-up or have been in the industry for years, you should have cards. Simply writing your information down on a piece of paper does not suffice. People expect to give and receive business cards and when you don’t have them, it is a mark of professionalism.

To take it a step further, you should have them on you at all times. This could mean putting some in your wallet, some in a briefcase, and even back-ups in your car.

You Get Your Info into the Hands of People Who Matter

Think about all of the information that could be put onto a business card. You have the ability to share the name of your business, the website, phone number, and an email address for you, and all sorts of other details.

By being able to hand out a business card, it makes it easier for people to get in touch with you. You don’t want to get into a scenario where you meet someone who could become the perfect employee or the perfect business partner and you don’t have a card to give them.

Handing someone your business card instead of taking theirs and promising to get in touch with them also puts the “ball in their court.” It makes it easier for that person to follow up with you instead of the other way around. Especially when you get easily overwhelmed, it’s better to have your business cards and ask people to call you or send you an email.

Ultimately, you don’t want to get into an awkward situation where you introduce yourself as a business owner and then don’t have a business card to hand someone. You need to have professional cards and have enough of them so that you don’t run out when at any event.


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When is the Right Time to Delegate?

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicDelegations of the utmost importance. Business owners often hurt themselves by trying to do everything on their own. Delegating is something that should be done each and every day, and can be done by delegating to employees as well as to third parties.

There’s an Event Coming Up

When there is an event coming up, whether it’s a big sale, a trade show, or anything else, plan on delegating to other people. You can’t possibly prepare for everything while still making sure that your business is running flawlessly.

At some point, you need to step back and let the business run without your daily interaction. It might be difficult not to micromanage because this is your business and you know how best to run it, but it is a lesson that you need to teach yourself sooner rather than later.

When you have an event coming up, you can delegate some of the tasks to your employees. Let them count the inventory and determine what else needs to be obtained for the event. If you want, use software that sends out checklists to your employees. This way, you can identify tasks for your different employees and then oversee the lists rather than the tasks themselves.

End of the Month is Here

The end of the month is likely a stressful time for you. It doesn’t have to be. You simply have to identify everything that you are doing and then delegate. If you don’t have a large staff of employees, it doesn’t mean that you have to take on the grunt of everything.

Your most common end-of-month tasks might be:

• Inventory
• Accounts payable
• Payroll
• Accounting reports

You could teach an employee how to do inventory. It might be extra time-consuming this month, but each following month ensures that you are the one responsible for doing it. Accounts payable and accounting reports can be done by an accounting firm – and there are plenty of small firms that will provide you with the accounting services you need and even come to you.

You should also explore various software programs that can simplify tasks, including payroll. Rather than having to tally up all of the time cards on your own, it could be significantly automated. This would allow you to press a button and run payroll numbers.

Every Day

Every day, there is the opportunity to delegate something. As the business owner, you don’t want to tie yourself down to the day-to-day operations. You want someone else answering the phones, reading of customers, and sending out products. Whatever it is that you are doing, you are likely doing the tasks that employees should do.

If you can suddenly free yourself of these basic tasks, you can start focusing on new ways to expand your business. For example, rather than conducting inventory late at night, you can go to a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Rather than sitting in your office answering phones, you could be having lunch with suppliers or new potential clients that could double your monthly income.



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Stop Selling: Educate, Inform and Entertain

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicThe world of advertising is very different than it used to be. People no longer want to hear “call now” after being told all that a business does.

If you’re actively trying to SELL your product, you’re not going to sell.

Wait, what? Yes. The reality is that it’s better to educate, inform or entertain your audience. If you can accomplish this, then you gain followers. Followers are interested in what you have to say because they’re getting information or a few laughs.

When your followers suddenly find themselves in need of a product or service, they remember you because of the education, information or entertainment they got from you. You will earn their business this way. Additionally, you will earn their loyalty – and that is priceless.

Why Not Sell?

People are turned off from “in your face” sales. They don’t want to be told what they should buy. Many
calls to action are telling people what they should do. Think about it. “Call now.” “Click here.” “Download
this.” They’re all a bunch of commands.

Why would anyone do business with a company that’s going to tell them what to do? You’re going to
make more friends with honey. Sweeten the pot a bit and tell people what they want to hear. Give them
reasons why they should do business with you without being obvious that you are selling something.
If you give someone a good piece of information, they’re going to be impressed. With this impression,
they’re going to look at the name of the company who gave it to them. They might decide to sign up for
your newsletter, follow you on Facebook or simply remember your name.

How Do You Hook Your Target Demographic?

Rand Fishkin once said: "Best way to sell something: don't sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and
trust of those who might buy."

You don’t have to have the most exciting business in your community. Simply build awareness and be
respectful at all times. Create marketing campaigns that are engaging. Find a way to poke fun at your
business or educate your target demographic on a topic that they might not know anything about.

Pushy sales messages generally lead to pushy sales people. If you ask anyone if they want to do business
with a company that has pushy people, they will tell you no. They won’t be recommending the company
to their friends, either.

Hook your target demographic by educating, informing or entertaining. It’s the ticket to building your
business, growing loyalty and increasing your sales for the foreseeable future.


5 Steps to Marketing Success

5-steps-to-marketing-successWe hear talk about marketing all over the Internet, but deciphering what it actually means is often difficult. What do terms like SEO, SMM, and lead creation even mean? Most small business owners are not marketing experts, and that's totally OK. Small business owners have enough on their proverbial plates during a day's work anyways. Besides, marketing and being a successful, hard-working, risk-taking entrepreneur are two entirely different things.

Following are easy-to-follow, helpful tips in reaping marketing success for your small business using Facebook and other free or low-cost, easily-understood options.

1. Define Your Audience

Every small business offers varying products and services: no two businesses are the same. Furthermore, small businesses often cater to specialized, niche needs.

Small businesses oftentimes cast broad nets in attempts to capture customers. Appealing to narrower markets generally reaps more rewards than casting broad, unspecified nets. First, make note of the age, sex, and interests of your customers. If you do not directly deal with customers, include surveys with your products for customers to fill out. Most customers don't mind filling out short surveys, as they help small business owners be more successful.

Another aspect of defining your small business' audience is finding out what drives customers; what they stand for and what causes they support. Appealing to customers' emotional interests often brings better results than not utilizing emotional appeals. On Facebook, people pick and choose who they are friends with or what they follow. This ability allows Facebook-ers to limit what political views, emotional appeals, and interests they receive information from.

Facebook allows you to project ideas, messages, and relevant news about your small business to particular audiences. Don't miss out on your target audience by neglecting this detail.

2. Create Your Content

Now you know who is interested in your small business. Here comes the hard part: what content will you provide your Facebook friends and followers?

People browse and connect with others on Facebook for three primary reasons: to educate, inform, and entertain. They never, ever, ever visit Facebook to purchase products and services. Creating content not related to directly selling products is crucial to succeeding in Facebook marketing for your small business. You must create content that is educational, informative, or entertaining -- or all three!

When creating pictures, sharing stories, or making posts about your small business, aim for these types of content:


Educate: Content that teaches us things

Face it -- nobody knows everything; the more you learn, the more you realize that you don't know everything. Share stories or post original content of your own -- be careful not to plagiarize from outside sources -- that teach consumers things related to or about your business. Teach others how they can better start small businesses. Educate them on your business' practices and how products are produced. It's easy to figure out ways to educate your customers after putting in a little thought.

Inform: Content that fills consumers in on details or unheard-of topics

Facebook users often love to read about things they don't already know about. Inform your Facebook friends and followers of how your business got started. Tell them about your life story and how you came to operate your small business. Informing people about new topics or details they might not know is far easier than educating or entertaining. However, remember to include a mix of all three elements: educating, informing, and entertaining.

Entertain: Content that urges us to laugh or be happy

Causing Facebook followers to laugh creates and emotional bond between potential or established customers and your small business. This type of content is meant to entertain your followers on Facebook.

3. Drive Awareness

Without making potential customers aware of your content, they are far less likely to stumble across your Facebook page and posts. Driving awareness is key to engaging customers on Facebook.

Use Facebook advertising to your advantage. Advertising on the blue-and-white social media platform is often cheaper and more effective than other forms of advertising. Facebook offers several forms of advertising, including photo, video, and slideshow ads. But how do you figure out which advertising works best?

Facebook offers interactions statistics related to your business so you can learn which advertising medium is most valuable. Such statistics are showcased in easy-to-understand charts and graphs.

You can also drive awareness by sharing posts and engaging with Facebook users. Replying to posts or commenting in reply to interested customers causes them to know you, the small business owner, actually cares about his customers.

4. Create Lead Magnet

Offering free information, offers, or other promotions for Facebook followers' name and email address is essential to furthering sales efforts. Without knowing how to contact potential customers, how will you push promotional content directly related to sales out to them? Remember, business-related Facebook pages should never ask customers to buy things, as people visit Facebook to be -- do you remember? -- educated, informed, and entertained.

Provide customers free products, extra add-ons, or other items of value in exchange for name and email address. Without offering something of value for potential customers' private, personal email address and full name, they are significantly less likely to provide you with contact information.

5. Close the Deal

Here lies the most rewarding phase of the marketing process. However, closing deals is the most sensitive to losing the interest of potential customers.

Send out regular emails to newfound contacts and offer steps to solving problems related to your business, provide them with logical information, or create urgency. You can use a mixture of all three, but be sure to always create urgency.

By creating urgency, you urge your audience to go out and buy your products or services or contact your business about its offerings. Remember to ABC -- always be closing -- the audience. By constantly trying to directly make sales during this stage, your business is sure to succeed.

Need help with marketing your business on Facebook? We have a team of pros that can help. Think of us as an extension of your business, without the payroll, workmans comp, additional taxes, attitude, etc. 🙂 Visit our Facebook advertising page for more information.

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Capturing The Millennial Dollar: Make Your Business Millennial-Friendly

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicI know there are plenty of stereotypes about millennials. They're supposed to be lazy, selfish, entitled - you know the drill. In reality, though, millennials represent a fantastic generation, one that works hard, plays hard, and takes life incredibly seriously. Given that a huge percentage of this generation is also well into adulthood, they're also a generation that can't be ignored by businesses. Below are four steps towards getting millennials through your doors.

Be Authentic

Millennials are great at sniffing out insincere businesses. I don't know if it's because they've spent a lifetime being exposed to the 24-hour news cycle or because they've had the fortune of coming to age in an era where you can find out anything with a quick Google search, but this generation is good at figuring out who is telling the truth and who is putting on a front. If you want millennial customers to take you seriously, you've got to be honest with them. Do what you do and do it well - that's the first step towards getting them through the front door.

Engage Them on Mobile...

I've had a smartphone for years. Honestly, everyone's had a smartphone for years. The difference when it comes to millennials, though, is that they've always had smartphones. They look at their phones as a primary way to engage with commerce and they'll ignore any business that won't take that path. Mobile phones are already the primary method of browsing the internet and a fantastic amount of online commerce takes place on mobile devices. If you want millennial business, you've got to make sure that your website has a great mobile version - and you might even want to invest in an app.

...and Social Platforms

I know that I use social media platforms on a daily basis, and I'm still not as connected as your average millennial. Social platforms are just an outgrowth of the same services we've used for years, but they've been perfected for the smartphone generation. Millennials like to be engaged with the brands they prefer and they like to have access to the businesses they frequent. If you want to capture their business, you need to go ahead and make a social media profile. Like most things millennials love, these platforms are low cost with high rewards - you don't have an excuse to ignore them.

Don't Be Evil

If you remember back to when Google first started, their prime operating principle was 'don't be evil'. It's a simple phrase, but it's something that matters a lot to millennials. This is a generation that actually cares about how your business is run and how you treat your employees, so try to be one of the good guys whenever you can. This generation gives you a great opportunity to stick to your principles and be rewarded - something that's not always common in the business world.

Millennials care about every dollar they spend, so make sure you keep that in mind. Make it easier for them to shop with you, but also make it easier for them to care about your business. If you can capture this generation's hearts, you can capture their spending power.

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Passion Is Contagious

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicAnyone who doesn't believe that running a business is hard has never run a business. Between the uncertainty of customer demand, the challenges of local competition, the burden of paperwork, the difficulties of managing employees and the never-ending cries of your bottom line, there's no end to the obstacles that crop up on a daily basis. If you find yourself struggling to devote yourself to your business, it's important to rediscover the passion that led you to create your business in the first place.

When you love and care about something, it shows through your actions and your attitudes. Passion attracts people in a way that nothing else can. It bleeds through in the small touches that show your customers that you care, such as a well-kept shop or a personalized note at the end of each invoice. When your customers can tell that you're passionate about your business, they'll respond through visiting more frequently and using your services more often. Sharing your passion with your customers invites them to become a part of the story of your business; in the age of social media, bringing your customers into your own story gives them a reason to do business with you rather than with a faceless online entity. Your customers are people, and one hundred times out of a hundred, they would prefer to be doing business with someone who cares about their business and treats them as an individual rather than a transaction. They're more likely to feel respected and valued when you put obvious care and energy into your business. For example, if you own a tropical fish shop, customers will be more likely to visit you if they can see evidence of your passion in the form of a well-organized shop, tanks that are clean, and fish that are healthy and attractive.

Don't Do It For the Money

It's obviously important to bring in enough money to pay your bills, but there are easier ways to bring in money than running a business. If money is your only goal, you won't have the drive necessary to outlast the bumps that inevitably accompany business. Passion provides that extra push to get over the walls that sometimes seem insurmountable. If you realize that you don't have the passion to get through tough times, you'll be better off finding a way to get out of your business.

Rediscovering the passion behind your business will pay dividends to both your bottom line and your personal satisfaction. If you're struggling with giving your business the devotion it deserves, going back to your roots can help you kick-start your motivation.