This edition of 3 Digital Things dives into some “firsts” you need to think about. As you’ll find out it’s really areas I think you should focus on in the coming months, putting these items first on your list to help drive your online marketing.

1- Local First

It’s as simple as owning your own backyard before you set out to conquer the world.  When out speaking at Local University events I talk to many business owners and marketers that want to skip local search because they have their sights set on bigger things.  Don’t do this, take care of local first.

Local search first backyard

If you haven’t thought about local search, here is a great way to start:

  1. Dive into a great primer like the Learn Local section Moz offers on their website
  2. Conduct searches yourself on your business type and location to see what the results are
  3. Complete your business data in directories like Google My Business, Yelp and more

Now there are a ton of local search resources and areas to dive into, but these first steps will help make you aware of the space and lead you to explore how to strengthen your local digital presence.

I want to leave you with this … the giants of the web (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) are all working towards one thing and that is how to localize the world wide web.  Having “everything” is great, but having everything close to you is the key.

2- Mobile First

This term has been around the last few years as web design and customers have flocked to mobile web engagement.  The “mobile first” design approach stressed that you needed to start with the mobile user and work up … whereas most everyone at the time was taking the desktop and then paring it down or shoving it into a smaller container.

mobile marketing

I’m not taking about design though (you REALLY better be a mobile-friendly site by now), I’m talking about your mobile marketing.  The aspect of mobile I see under utilized by small businesses is Text / SMS marketing.  While most businesses might be still struggling to get their email marketing in order, some have moved to mobile and are killing it.

You simply can’t afford to ignore trying this.  It’s easy, there are tons of providers and it’s where ALL of your customers are. One simple and affordable service I have use recently is Textiful, give them a shot.

Building a mobile number marketing list should be a priority.  Once you start with that you can figure out how to use it (NOT abuse it) to better connect with your customers.  Here are a few ideas from a few different types of businesses

Heating/HVAC – Send a text message at the change of seasons for equipment check-ups or maintenance offers

Realtor – Send a quarterly text message linking to the last quarters market update, property values and data

Bowling Alley – Send a link about open bowling on days when kids have off from school

Dry Cleaner – Send a monthly campaign reminding them of your pick-up and delivery service

Restaurant – Send a weekly or timely special.  On a recent visit to Chicago for work I signed up for a small sandwich shop’s SMS campaign to see how they use it.  Famos Subs uses some very simple but valuable SMS marketing as the Cubs went through the World Series.

SMS marketing

As you can see from all of these above, it can be simple but so helpful in connecting with your customers.  I believe SMS marketing carries a great deal of responsibility to not “over communicate” with your customers.  You’ll notice most of my ideas are 2- 12 times a year campaigns, not daily.

3- Customer First

This is a favorite and it should be, it’s how I spend my days (and nights) with GetFiveStars.  Start figuring out what you can do to always put your customer first.  An easy and huge win is by asking them what they think of you, your service or product.

customer feedback

If you are currently not asking your customers for feedback you need to start today. Of course I’d love you to use GetFiveStars for that, but you can start with simple forms, handouts and even plain conversations with your customers.  When was the last time you called a customer to ask them what they think of you?

This tiny little company Amazon, have you heard of them? Amazon built itself on putting the customer first and it has led to many things that have and are revolutionizing how we buy.  Customers wanted competitive prices … check, compare away from multiple sellers.  Customers wanted to know how other customers felt about the product … check, customer reviews in the hundreds for so many products. Customers want it now … check, Amazon Prime with 2 day shipping and now many products have SAME DAY shipping.

I’m not telling you to be Amazon, but I wanted to illustrate that customers can CREATE and MARKET your competitive advantages if you listen to them and evolve with what they want.

So here is what you can do to start making this happen:

  1. Become customer centric and work with your team to open channels for customers to talk to you, give feedback, complain, give praise, rate you, etc.
  2. Identify how to capture feedback and then be able to use it to make decisions, explore Net Promoter Score
  3. Learn from your unhappy customers, work to resolve their issues, improve your business
  4. Retain your happy customers, show them you care, listen to them, market their love of you (testimonials, reviews)
  5. Make the above steps part of your business, not just a campaign

Being customer first is something many businesses would claim, but most really lack any execution on it.  You can completely crush your competitors by mastering this.

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