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Above and Beyond - The Ultimate Customer Experience

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicHow your business presents itself online — to both current and potential customers — can mean everything. It’s the difference between a click back to the search results and a click further into your website to learn more about a product or service.

At Coastline Marketing, a big part of our focus is helping local businesses deliver a better customer experience. It’s right up there with providing our clients with an in-depth and accessible education on all things digital marketing. We help businesses with every aspect of the customer experience, from a customer’s very first click onto their website, all the way through what to do after the transaction.

The customer experience doesn’t end once an order is placed, a product is shipped, or a service is rendered. The customer experience is ongoing, and it plays a huge role in a business’s reputation. It often means a business must go above and beyond with their customers to earn a positive reputation — online and offline.

We expect to be taken care of and to know we can trust a business. Many people rely on reviews, ratings, and testimonials before they make an initial purchase (or even a second or third purchase). These factors influence which product they buy, which service they use, and which business they feel deserves their money.

Because of our expectations of customer service, and the assumption that the experience will be “okay,” we don’t always think to leave a review or talk about the experience with family, friends, or colleagues. It’s typically only when a business goes above and beyond that customers talk about the experience or post about it on social media or review websites.

When your customers share an experience on social media or on a review website because you went above and beyond, this improves your online reputation. This can do two big things for your business. Not only does boosting your online reputation improve your overall bottom line, it can boost your rankings in search engine results. It can do wonders for your SEO.

I always tell people to think of those little five stars as sales people. You see these stars all over the web — on e-commerce websites, restaurant review sites, and more. When someone searches for a product or service you provide, and they see those five little stars next to a business, that has incredible power.

In that moment, the person will make the decision to do business with that “five star” company. If the choice is between you and your competitor — and there is a star difference between the two choices — the business with the higher rating will likely gain the new customer.

This is why investing the time and effort to go above and beyond is worth it. Building a solid online reputation can lead to more people visiting your website and buying from you. It all comes back to delivering a truly epic customer experience and giving your customers something to talk about.

If you have questions about your own online reputation or if you’re curious about how you can go above and beyond, don’t hesitate to ask! We’re here to help you get those answers and discover new ways for your business to deliver the ultimate customer experience.


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Social Media & Your Business

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicSocial media has completely changed the world of marketing, yet many businesses are still hesitant to jump online and start interacting with their target audience. For some, this is simply due to the false belief that they don’t have time to keep up with communicating online. Others may not even know where to begin with choosing a platform and get overwhelmed by the wealth of social media platforms that are available today. Whatever your reason for avoiding social media may be, you need to think seriously about the opportunities that you are missing for connecting with current and potential customers that will drive the growth of your business.

Find Your Target Audience

As a business owner, you know that every effective marketing strategy begins with careful planning, and you should treat your social media campaign the same way. Begin by researching where your customers hang out online. You can do this by zeroing in on platforms that pertain to certain interests. For example, Pinterest tends to draw in adults who are into sharing DIY tips and projects while customers who like to review businesses that they visit use Yelp. Once you find out where your target audience is spending their time, focus your energy on just building your reputation the one or two platforms that seem most effective.

Stay True to Your Brand

Connecting with your customers online gives you an opportunity to increase awareness of your brand by introducing products and services that they may not have thought of you for in the past. However, it is important to avoid turning off your customers by being overly promotional. Stick to an occasional post about a new product or sale, and then spend the rest of your time online sharing information that holds value to your customers such as a helpful tip or link to a related blog post. Take Control of Your Reputation

Take Control of Your Reputation

Hiding behind the brick-and-mortar of your business doesn’t mean that you don’t have an online reputation. With social media, customers are likely already posting comments about their experiences with your company. Setting up a social media platform allows you to read comments that tell you what your business is doing right along with where you need to grow. When you jump on the social media bandwagon, you can also encourage satisfied customers to share your profile with others to continue building your presence online and in your community.

Social media is not going anywhere anytime soon, and resisting interacting online means taking the risk of being outshined by a competitor. Your customers are already using social media to recommend restaurants and other businesses to their friends and family. Meet them there, and demonstrate the dedication and innovation that drives more customers to your doors.


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Have You Claimed Your Google Business Page?

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicAs a business owner, you have likely heard about the importance of claiming your Google Local Business Page. Yet, you may have been putting it off due to a lack of information about its importance or just simply not having time to explore all that it has to offer for your company. While having a company website is a great start for building your online reputation, it is important to understand that your Google Business Page provides a roadmap for getting your target audience to visit your business along with opportunities for interaction that drive growth.

Google Business Page Benefits

Showing up on that first page of a Google search involves using several strategies such as AdWords and search engine optimization. However, claiming your Google Local Business Page puts you on the fast track toward showing up in your local listings. The local search results can vary due to differing factors among users, but your main goal should always be to end up in the top three results offered. When you do so, your business is automatically presented to potential new customers without any additional advertising money from your budget.

Claiming Your Local Page

Setting up your Google Business Page is a relatively simple process that is easier if you already have a Google account. Ideally, any Google services you use should be set up under the same account to streamline your activities. Once you have all of your information entered, Google will require postcard verification to prove your company is legitimate. This simple procedure simply involves a postcard being mailed to your company address with a PIN number on it. Once you receive the card, go to your account and enter the PIN to activate it.

Getting the Most Out of Your Page

Attracting customers to your website is the main goal of your Google Business Page. However, it also has additional benefits for bolstering your sales. For example, you can add photos of your business, products or services to give potential customers a visual picture of what you can do for them. Current customers can also leave reviews regarding your company for others to read, and you can respond to both negative and positive comments to demonstrate your business’s dedication to providing quality experiences for every customer. Helpful information about your business can also be added. For example, letting potential customers know your hours and services that are offered allows them to make an informed decision about visiting your company.

Ignoring your Google Business Page is letting an opportunity for free and effective advertising to pass you by. Don’t ignore the opportunity to increase your brand recognition and drive potential new customers to your business by showing up in the local listings. Instead, set up your page, and stay involved by responding to reviews and changing your business information as needed to keep members of your target audience informed about all that your company offers.


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Why Your Online Reputation Matters

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicAs a business owner, you have invested significant time, effort and money into growing a successful company, and there is nothing quite as exciting as talking with your customers face-to-face. Yet, you may be overlooking a lucrative way to gather feedback about your company while also enjoying the benefit of online marketing. Ignoring online reviews is a common mistake many business owners make due to a lack of understanding about the influence of social media or outright fear of having to deal with a negative comment. Unfortunately, your online reputation matters more than you think, and you can take full advantage of its potential by recognizing online reviews as an opportunity for growth.

Technology has changed how customers research new companies. In the past, a member of your target audience might ask a friend or neighbor for a referral, or they would have read a review in their favorite magazine. Now, they simply turn on their smartphone and start reading online. In fact, they may even be reading reviews as they sit in your parking lot. This instant access to information means that your online reputation impacts how people view your business right at the moment when they are deciding between you and your competition.

Ignoring negative reviews will not make them go away. Yet, it is possible to make even the most scathing comments work in your favor. Knowing what is being posted on social media sites such as Yelp is the first step toward regaining control over your online reputation. Once you know what is being said about your company, then all it takes is some carefully written responses that acknowledge and offer a solution for any negative comments. This shows potential customers that your company is dedicated toward improving the customer experience and helps to minimize the impact that negative comments have on your reputation.

Turn Stars Into Marketing Tools

You can blow your marketing budget on fancy billboards and television commercials, but the truth is that they are less likely to be seen because your target audience’s heads are buried in their smartphones and laptops. Social media review sites are the new word-of-mouth advertising platform that can minimize marketing costs when you use them to their full advantage. Try to picture those five yellow stars as new members of your sales team. Each time you score a new positive review, you influence another person to do business with your company.

Every business has gained a reputation with the public that influences its success. Take control of your online reputation and watch as your business takes the lead when it comes to gaining credibility through the power of positive reviews.

- Phil Fisk, President Coastline Marketing Group


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Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicEvery time you market, you want the campaign to be successful. In order for this to happen, you need to know who your ideal customer is. This will allow you to speak to them effectively within the campaign so they respond positively to your message and use the call-to-action to contact you or buy from you.

Why a Target Demographic Isn’t Good Enough

You might already know some basics about your target demographic. These include some vague statistics, such as:

  • Age Range
  • Gender
  • Geographic Location

 

You’re making a lot of assumptions with this information. Plus, you don’t have enough details to really home in and speak the right language, use the right visuals, or anything else. What happens is that if you don’t “guess” right, you could lose your customers before you have had a chance to close the deal.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

The best way to figure out who your ideal customer is requires creating a buyer persona. You basically bring the specifications to life in order to identify who you are marketing to. This should be a process you go through with each product or service you offer to ensure you know who it is that you want to buy from your business.

With a buyer persona, you can create a graphic of what your customer actually looks like. You should also be able to identify such things as:

  • Marital status
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Type of home they live in
  • Hobbies

For example, if you are a plumbing company, your average customer might be a 40-year old female homeowner who is married. She’s an administrative assistant in her day job and therefore wants a job taken care of quickly. She lives in a small single-family home with her husband, a dog, and two small children.

Now that you know all of this about your customer, think about how that’s going to change your approach to marketing.

If you choose a graphic, you can find one that looks like your buyer persona. People are more likely to click on an ad that resembles who they are. In the previous example, if you choose a graphic with a male teenager, your ideal customers are going to take one look at your ad and keep on scrolling.

The language you use for one set of people versus another is going to be different, too. Your goal in marketing is to identify the pain points that your ideal customer has. A middle-aged married woman is going to have different pain points from a male teenager and even from a female teenager.

You might have multiple buyer personas and this also means using different marketing campaigns to reach each one. It will allow you to focus on the right marketing message for everyone and therefore be able to close more deals. You will get a better return on your investment, too. Forget about target demographics and start creating buyer personas so you know more about your ideal customers.


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How Consistent Is Your Marketing?

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicMarketing is an ongoing process and many businesses lose sight of this. If all is going well and business is good, why would you market? The real question you have to ask yourself is why would you stop? The moment you stop marketing is the moment you have to worry about not having enough business next week, next month, or next quarter. Consistency is of the utmost importance.

Your Marketing Approach

If you’re like a lot of small to medium-sized businesses, you take the DIY approach to marketing. This means you’re doing all of the work on your own. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you have to be consistent with your marketing. Otherwise, you might not have the business when you need it the most. You might also lose customers to the competition because they’re not hearing from you as often as they used to, which could cause serious problems.

There are all sorts of different marketing tactics you might use, including:

  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Direct response ads
  • Flyers
  • Print ads

Can you say that you’re consistently using all of them? You should have some kind of marketing schedule that allows you to know what you’re doing each week. If you don’t have a schedule, you’re probably not as consistent as you think you are with your marketing.

Keeping Your Brand Out There

Branding is what allows people to know who you are, what you have, and why you’re the best person to buy from. If you’re not consistent with your marketing, your brand never truly penetrates the community. People might see your marketing message in January, and then again in February but then not see you again in April or May.

Why is this a problem? People might see you in January and think about how they will want to contact you in a few months. They didn’t write down the name of your company or your website address because they weren’t ready to take action. Now that they are ready to take action, they can’t find you anywhere. They would know your logo if they see it, but you’ve taken a break from your marketing campaigns because you’re busy.

This means you’re saying “no” to new business without even realizing it. Is this really the kind of message you want to send? Of course not.

Building Loyalty

When you stay consistent with your marketing messages, you build loyalty. This is because you’re always communicating – with your current customers as well as new ones. This ensures they remember who you are so they don’t migrate to the competition.

If you fail to send out a newsletter every month, for example, people might assume that you have closed your doors. When this happens, they go and find another company to do business with.

You want to keep your customers with you and ensure they stay engaged. The only way to do this is to be consistent with your marketing. Keep a schedule so that your efforts don’t fall off the grid.

 

 

 

 


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An Introduction to Direct Response Marketing

Coastline Marketing Group Newsletter GraphicDirect response marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing trends out there right now. The reason so many businesses are taking advantage of it is because it allows a measured response so that the ROI is maintained.

What is Direct Response Marketing?

Direct response marketing generates an immediate response from people. They see an ad and they immediately take action. This could be entering a contest, clicking to get a coupon, or entering their email address to join a newsletter.

Many other forms of marketing involve slower responses. You could mail something out to people and it could take weeks for them to respond. You could spend money on a radio ad and never know if it had the intended purpose. This poses a problem because you don’t know if you wasted your money or not.

With direct response marketing, you get people to take action right away, which enters them into the sales funnel so you can ultimately get their business.

As a small to medium business, you get a lot of benefits for using direct response marketing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a campaign to be successful. Instead of throwing money at the effort of branding and hoping that it works, you can use some of that money to pass it to potential customers in the form of coupons, giveaways, and other incentives. If you can at least collect their contact information for a newsletter in exchange for a contest entry or a coupon, then it has been a success.

What Facebook Ads Offers

Facebook ads are one of the best examples of direct response marketing. Considering there are over a billion regular users on Facebook, it’s a great place to start when you’re trying to reach a lot of people.

When you use Facebook, you get to set your target audience. The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it is to set this and ensure that your ad shows to all of the right people. You can identify such things as:

  • Geographic Location
  • Age Range
  • Gender
  • Occupations
  • Interests

 

Facebook will show you how many people you can reach based upon the specifics you have identified as well as the budget you want to spend. Perhaps more importantly, you get analytics that shows you the total reach, the number of impressions, as well as how many clicks a specific link was given. All of this information shows you the success of a campaign. Depending on the success, you can make changes to the next one so that it’s equally or more successful than the last.

Why is it something you should explore?

You need to be smart about the way you market. If you’re like the average small business, you don’t have a large marketing budget. This means that you need to try and reach as many people as possible and get them into your sales funnel. With direct response marketing, you give out coupons or give away a product in exchange for people buying from you or at least giving you their contact information. This form of marketing makes better sense than branding, especially when you’re limited on what you can spend per campaign.


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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.