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5 things to do during the Winter slow times.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 09, 2014 @ 10:14 AM

Now for many this is the start of your slow time or winter break and you may think you have nothing much to do but sit around and wait for the temps to get warm again next Spring. Well you are sorely mistaken if you want to improve and even build your business throughout the Winter months. Here are some steps to make sure your New Year is a good year.

1. Do your budget for the New Year. See what you spent this past year. What was more than you expected? Less? Can you make changes next year that will gain you ROI? Stop doing things that are losing you money. If you can't stop them totally, then change them so they won't be the money pit to your budget they are now. As I mentioned in a previous post, now is the time to shop around for phone service, insurance, equipment for next year. Be sure to include a 5% increase from what you spent this year on every line item in your budget. This way even if the cost of a few things don't go up during the course of the year the ones that do can have funds moved from others without undo stress of looking for that money. It may not be perfect but it will help. 

2. Work on your collateral marketing materials, purchase new clients give-a-way items, update, improve or start a customer referral program. Did the items you handed out last year get you new customers? What worked and what didn't? Don't beat a dead horse and by another 1000 imprinted rulers if you did not earn back their cost. Try something new instead. Got an item like your business card magnets that got to a 600% return on their cost? Double your order for this year and hand out even more!! Good tried and true items for this are: Business card magnets, Note pads, Pens, Clips magnetic or other wise for papers or bags, calendars, and other useful household items like rubber disk lid openers.

 3. Up date your web site. Up load newer B&A photos from this years jobs you haven't had the time to get done. Potential customers may visit your site 3-5 times before deciding to call or fill out your on line form for an estimate. Seeing that you are working, adding new photos and gaining more testimonials may sway that person to go ahead and try you instead of someone else. Adding a blog and keeping content current gets you better SEO. If you do not have a testimonial page or area on your site yet, ADD ONE. nothing convinces a potential customer more than reading statements from satisfied customers. Add video to your site. Action segments do not have to be long and having a professionally produced video will look even better. We use a company called iMotionvideo.com. You can either buy single videos one at a time or like us join their video membership club and have a new video produced each month.

4. Update your customer contact list, e-mails and phone numbers. Check to see if any past customers did not use you this year and try to contact them to find out why. You can send out an email survey to all those contacts to see if they moved, didn't think they needed service this year, went with someone else due to price. Send out a E-mail message saying you missed them last year and hope they are doing well. Be sure to send all new customers a Thank You message, Newsletter or New Years savings offer to try and pre book as much work as possible now for Spring. Remember give added value offers not percentage off offers for best results. For example: Book your Spring house cleaning before Feb 1, 2013 and get a free gutter cleaning, or window washing or mail box cleaning. What ever you think is incentive enough for your customers to schedule now instead of waiting until Spring. Make sure you evaluate what worked or did not work last year and possibly increase your enticement. Update or improve on your customer referral package. Send out cards or e-mails offering free services, gift cards, etc for new contact information of friends and family. When these new contacts buy be sure to full fill your referral promises quickly to promote additional referrals coming in.

5. Plan now to network by attending local and National industry events in the coming year. If you go ahead and schedule them into your yearly calendar you can know how much business you will need to book before and after them to still make your monthly budget numbers. Many events local and National are heald in these first few months of the year to get the largest attendance possible. Also explore improving or expanding your business with new offerings by learning or becoming certified with new skills. Check out the industry organization web sites, forums, and on line industry magazines to find these opportunities. If you stop learning you stop growing as a person and a business.

I hope all of you get some much needed family time off this Winter season but also be sure to follow these suggestions and you will have plenty of business to keep you busy all this year.

Tags: marketing, business plan, referral program, budget planning, advertising

How to use long tail key phrases.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Aug 05, 2013 @ 10:30 AM

When I say "long tail" I am talking about the key word phrases that you place in your web site pages body copy, photo meta tags and in your blog posts that allows search engines to chose to show your web site page over another.

You first need to weekly or at least monthly research with your available anylitics to find out what current visitors have used for their search words to find you.

Gone are the days of just a few key words working. You need to create complex long tail phrases to help pin point customers directly to you instead of the competition.

And don't be suprised by the phrases you find. Some may be very difficult to figure out how to incorperate into your page copy.

I will go through some of ours to show you what I mean. I knew right away that Soap Warehouse was going to have a hard time with certain key words, especially with product  names. One - because most of the names where too common ie: "Hood Cleaner" for our hood cleaning product or because the name was senominous with something else ie: "Brown Derby" like the restaurant of old in LA or currently at Disney World. Or "Top Gun" our aircraft cleaner with the same name as the movie.

Because of this right away we had to use multi key word phrases "Top Gun aircraft cleaner" "Brown Derby truck wash" "Hood Cleaner kitchen exhaust cleaner". But these will not help if people are not actually using them to search with. More often we would see that our top search results where things like: "brown soap", "truck soap", "aircraft soap", "sodium hydroxide cleaner" but even these would bring in very low numbers because too many sites had simular key word phrases.

So we constantly are adding long tails we knew people had used to find us like: "acid cleaners for aluminum", "best degreaser for chinese kitchen grease", "algea cleaner for gloeocapsa magma". You have to take these phrases and go into your page content and match the phrase word for word to gain the maxium effect.

For instance the part of the discription we had for "Hood Cleaner" read "This product has a good performance history in Chinese restaurants." That phrase now reads "This is our best degreaser for chinese kitchen grease." See how we incorporated the long tail search phrase into the body copy. Now the next time someone searches that same phrase we have a much better chance of being the first page to show up for that.

For the phrase "algea cleaner for gloeocapsa magma" we wrote a blog post on the topic and included that phrase in the text.

Even using long tail phrases in free on line directory sites can bring you targeted searches especially for your local area. This is not something we do since we do not try to get just local business but for contrators limited to a specific geographic location it can be key to new business. For example if you would like to have more clients in an affluent area, like Brookhaven here in Atlanta, you might list or showcase some before and after photos with the photo named and meta tagged as "Spectacular house wash in Brookhaven". Then when someone in Brookhaven searches for "house washing Brookhaven" you will be at or near the top of the list.

Tags: Soap Warehouse, key words, long tail, analytics, advertising, business directory, SEO

Free Advertising, How to get it?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

Everyone loves something for free but as they say "Nothing is Free" realistically.

The same can be said for advertising. The only true free advertising is "Word of Mouth" but even then you as a business person did something that cost you money to earn that free recommendation "Who shared it with their friends".wordofmouth resized 600

But here are some ways for just a little effort of your time you can and should get as much FREE advertising as possible.

First and foremost use every no cost on line asset you can find. This will include all business phone directories that are out there. "Yellow Pages" at yellowpagecity.com or Superpages.com are some of the largest but there are many others as well; Whitepages.com, Yelp.com, Kudzu.com, dexknows, Tupalo.com, Hotfrog.com, mojopages.com, linktown.azfamily.com, 411.info, switchboard.com. Local city and business groups have listing, here we have atlanta.citysearch.com, locallife.com, local.com, citysquares.com, showmelocal.com, company.com, ziplocal.com, directorycentral.com, justdial.com, 2findlocal.com, insiderspages.com, tree.com, go.hubbiz.com, getfave.com and I am sure even more. Even local newspapers and magazines can have on line listings, here we have local.post-gazette.com and radarfrog.gatehousemedia.com to name just a few.

To find the directories being used in your area first look up your competition and see where they pop up, then be sure to register your business there too. If you can get in some they have not heard of yet all the better. I have a local customer that doesn't even have his own web site yet he can be found in over 25 directories when you type in "pressure washing Monroe GA". Then if you end up putting in his business name and search he covers over three whole "Google" search pages. And make sure to do searches in more than one search engine. Try Bing.com and Yahoo.com as well.

Then there are all the business contact sites you can list your business in like Merchantcircle.com, Foursquare.com, Manta.com, Linkedin.com, Stik.com. Some that you may pay for like the BBB.org or must be added by customers only like Angislist.com.

Make sure you update and check your listings at least a few times a year. Keep an excel spreadsheet of all the sites addresses to your listing and with any sign in or listed features you can use on that site. For example some let you list coupons or have blog entries. You must know which have what and post on a calendar or a to do list of when to go back to each one to make changes or additions.

Next post I will talk about another free way to advertise; to create and plubish news releases about your business and what you do.

Since all of these cost you noting but your time they will be about as free as you will every find for ways to expand and improve your business.

Tags: marketing, Business, advertise, free advertising, advertising, business directory

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