Declaration For Independents – The Local Business Strategy For Online Success

A Declaration For Independents – The Local Business Strategy For Online Success

The Simple 3-Step Strategy For Local Brick And Mortar Businesses To Succeed In 2018

So, you think because you run an offline business, you don’t need to be online, huh?

Or that your customers aren’t looking for you online because your business is right down the street?

The thing is you’re wrong on both counts, and it’s costing your business an arm and a leg.  I’ll show you why and what to do about it in just a minute, because…

If you don’t change your ways soon, it will cost you your livelihood.

81%Conduct Online Research4 out of 5 shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases. (Retailing Today, 2014)

Selling more everyday items?78%Searches Resulting In Purchase4 out of 5 local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. (Search Engine Land, 2014)

Honestly, I can bombard you with 100’s of other statistics, but they all come down to this:

Your offline business must be online because that’s where all buying decisions now begin…and in time, will end.

The time to get in front of this trend is now — and fortunately, it’s much, much easier than you think.

But you have to let go of your old ways and embrace the new.

And it all starts with having a strategy.

Most businesses struggle because they have absolutely no strategy, relying solely on a handful of tactics (like advertising), instead.

Michael Porter of Harvard Business School warns,

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

To help you understand the difference, consider these definitions:

Strategy Definition:

“Strategy has to do with identifying the ways and means necessary and sufficient to achieve a well-defined goal.”

Tactics Definition:

“Tactics are the means to achieve that specific goal.”

 

The Difference Between Strategy & Tactics: A Star Wars Example

  • GOAL
  • STRATEGY
  • TACTICS

Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious wants to restore the Sith, take over the galaxy and destroy the Jedi once and for all.

He plans to accomplish his goal by building separate droid and clone armies to create a fake war, justify martial law and take full control of the government.

Some of the tactics he used were manipulating galactic politics, playing both sides of the conflict, accusing the Jedi of treason, building the Death Star, luring Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side and using him to destroy the Jedi.

So, do you have a strategy?

If not, the good news is that I’m here to give you the exact strategy (and even some of the tactics) for your business to succeed now and long into the future, regardless of your industry.

Ready for it?

The bulletproof strategy for your offline, brick and mortar business to succeed, is a simple 3-pronged approach that you can start using today, even without spending more money.

The Local Business Strategy For Online Success

  • Position your business to stand out from the competition
  • Leverage some or all of the 25 “hidden” assets you already possess
  • Embrace an educational, customer-centric content marketing plan

I know, I know, a bunch of buzzwords, yuck!

Here’s the short version:

  • Be different
  • Improve what you already have
  • Continually create and publish helpful content online

Better?

Probably not, so let’s take a look at each in more detail to help you understand why you need to do all 3 to keep from being “phased out”.

How To Stand Out In A Crowded Marketplace

Being different, is arguably the most important thing any business can do.

Being better is good, but being different is what really sets one business apart from another.

Obviously being both is best — but if you have to choose one, be the best you can, but be different.

Not sure how?

Here are just a few of the ways you can stand out in your industry:

  • Widest selection
  • Top quality materials or ingredients
  • Locally sourced materials
  • Lowest prices
  • Better customer service
  • Most convenient
  • Fastest
  • Better design/ease of use
  • Unique offerings
  • Most reliable
  • Longest warranty
  • Best performance
  • More narrow niche

Download The Entire List: USP Checklist

What can you do, today, to make your business different than your competitors?

How can you make your business more distinguishable in the marketplace?

A good exercise is to brainstorm 5 things you can do in each of the above categories.  Think of businesses in other industries for inspiration.

Next, go through your list and cross off each item until you are left with the one that makes the most sense for your business.

Leverage The Assets You Already Have

Once you’ve decided on your differentiator, it’s time to promote it!

This differentiator is often called a Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.) and is one of (at least) 25 possible marketing assets that you already have and that when used correctly, can help turn your business around fast.

They can even help you double sales in as little as 90 days without spending more on advertising.

A bold claim, I know, but it’s true.

Let me show you how…

There’s a better than likely chance that your business has everything it needs to succeed right now, they just aren’t being “leveraged” or used to their best capacity.

We’ve already covered two of the most important marketing assets you’ll ever have:

  1. Your marketing strategy (ignore this at your own peril)
  2. Your U.S.P. (Why should someone choose you over your direct competitors?)

But there are literally dozens of others.

How can you leverage them for optimal results to…

Get Everything You Can Out Of Everything You’ve Got?

Here are some of the more important marketing assets you should or do already have and how to put them to use:

Customer Database

If you aren’t keeping track of your customers, you are missing out on your best opportunities.

It’s 7x more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell to a current one and depending on your industry, you may already have “enough” customers to grow your business considerably.

Focus more on reselling to your current customers instead of constantly trying to get new ones.  You can only do this by capturing your customer details, so get started on this immediately.

Inactive Customers

If you do have a customer database, congratulations!

You’re way ahead of the curve already…but have you forgotten about your inactive customers?

There are several reasons a person stops buying from you, but most can be overcome with a simple invitation to come back and start being a customer again.

They’d probably appreciate hearing about your new U.S.P. and love the chance to see how you’re different.  Give it a try!

Excellent Employees

We all know how hard it is to find good help.

And businesses that actually have great employees rarely promote the fact.

But ask anyone and they’ll tell you, they prefer to shop at places with happy, helpful and humble staff.  Statistics show they’ll even pay more to be treated better.

If your staff is hurting your business, train them better or fire them immediately.

But if you do have great employees, let it be known in your marketing efforts and in store whenever possible.

Effective Website

Let’s face it, most local business websites are subpar.  They’re often made from old templates, have little or no useful information and as a result, get no traffic.

An effective website on the other hand, guides your prospect’s through each stage of your buying cycle, from simple awareness to loyal customer.  It can also capture customer information for you, sell products and services, and be the hub of your entire marketing strategy, as I’ll outline later.

Current Marketing Costs

How is a cost an asset you’re wondering?

Much like your employment costs, your marketing costs are pretty consistent each month yet can yield massively different results.

And it’s definitely in your best interest to have the best in both areas.

Did you know you can literally double your sales just by improving the performance of your advertisements?

You should reread that sentence again.

An advertisement that gets 10 sales and one that gets 20 sales costs the exact same amount of money.  The problem is, most advertisements are written the complete wrong way and thus become a cost rather than an asset.

Do these 4 things to skyrocket your ROI and see instant results:

  1. Improve your targeting
  2. Speak to your audience and no one else
  3. Highlight your U.S.P.
  4. Improve your offer

That’s a good start for now, but to help you identify other opportunities in your business, here are

20 More Hidden Assets To Look For

  • Search engine rankings
  • Your positioning
  • Awards and certifications
  • Customer demographics
  • Lead magnets
  • Good reviews and testimonials
  • Endorsements
  • Intellectual capital
  • Financial capital
  • Distribution networks
  • Special relationships or mastermind groups
  • Brand recognition
  • Important customers
  • Previous high-performing ads/promotions
  • Unique location
  • Proximity to colleges/universities
  • Excess space
  • Excess inventory
  • Backend System
  • Content calendar (more on this next!)

Content Upgrade: 25 Hidden Assets Hiding In Your Business

Take this list and brainstorm all the ways you can leverage each of these assets.  If you don’t have some of them, write down ways you can get them.

For the most part, these assets work for you perpetually once you have them, and increase the perceived value of your business without being a cost.

Now, you can’t exactly add financial capital with great ease, but one of the most powerful ways to grow your business in 2018 and beyond is with an educational content marketing strategy, which you can implement for free or with very little money.

Content Drives Commerce

Again, I could pummel you with stats, but better evidence is the fact everyone around you is constantly staring at their cell phone…so let’s assume we agree that your customers are using the internet and starting the majority of their buying decisions online.

Let’s do a quick breakdown of how this process works:

  1. A person has a problem (i.e., they’re hungry, they need to buy a birthday present, they need to file their taxes, etc.)
  2. They hop on their cell phone or tablet and do a Google search for solutions to their specific problem (this is called a search term)
  3. Google gives them a page of results, but statistics say that 60% of users only click the top 3 results (thus the importance of search engine optimization and showing up in the top spots for results — and 75% never leave the first page
  4. They click a link and visit a website, gathering as much information as possible.  Websites with more information keep visitors on their sites longer and improve their chances of making the sale
  5. The person visits the local business that does the best job of showing them that they can solve their problem to their desired expectations
  6. If the business does a great job serving the customer, the customer is more likely to return without having to do another Google search the next time they have a similar problem

This is basically a simplified version of the way the world works now.

And it’s all driven by content…useful content that solves problems related to your products and services.

Sure it takes time to create good content, but it’s free to create and you should already be an expert on the subject.

It also lasts forever if you have a solid content strategy.

Not sure where to start?

A Content Strategy For Local Businesses

The first thing you need is a website.

If you don’t have one, look into having one built soon.  In the meantime, you can use Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to get started.

Next, you’ll need to do a bit of research to determine as accurately as possible these two things:

  • Your best customer avatar:
    • Who are they?
    • What do they do?
    • Where do they live?
    • What do they like?
    • Who do they know?
  • Your complete buying cycle:
    • Why do people need your products or services?
    • How do they find you?
    • What do they really need to know about your goods before and after the purchase?
    • How can you add more value after the sale?

Content Upgrade: Avatar Template

Now that you have this information and have the answers to these questions (and more like them), you already have all the information you need to create your content.

Pretty cool, right?

You can use each question as a separate piece of content or combine them to create even more valuable content that makes your business really stand out.

Share this content on the platforms where your customers are hanging out while working on your website.

How To Set Up A Winning Business Website

While a website is vital to the long-term success of your strategy, it really doesn’t need to be all that complex at first.

To save you time and get you started in the right direction as quickly as possible, be sure to include the following features:

  • Your U.S.P.
  • Your exact business name, address and phone number (N.A.P.)Important: This must be consistent across the internet
  • Your logo/branding
  • An about page that tells the story of your business
  • Friendly, conversational writing that focuses on customer benefits
  • Meta descriptions and title tags that include your main products, services and service locations
  • Hours of operation
  • Detailed driving directions to your business and a map
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Pictures of your business and employees
  • A blog/content management system to easily add new content over time
  • At least one video (can be made on an iPhone)
  • A lead magnet (something you offer in exchange for customer information)

Content Upgrade:  Website Checklist

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Most of those items aren’t very technical at all, right?

But if you have them all and commit to publishing new content based on the questions you answered above, your website will become an asset in no time.

One way to improve the performance of your website, and your entire marketing process, is to offer the best, most specific lead magnet possible.

Here are a few ideas to get your mind working:

 

A Lead Magnet Example For Your Industry

  • Construction: How adding on to your home will save you money over the life of your mortgage.
  • Elder Care: Senior community residents are happier than those that remain at home for these 7 reasons.
  • Bars:  9 New Cocktails Made To Order With Local Ingredients
  • Manufacturers: Get the answer to these questions before partnering with a manufacturer
  • Medical Care: 5 Ways You’re Hurting Your Health By Not Seeing A Doctor Every Year
  • Retailers:  Summer’s Coming:  What Do You Think About These Top 5 Fashion Trends?
  • Restaurants:  Rank these 10 hamburger/taco toppings
  • Car Repair: 8 Potential Problems For Chevy’s/Ford’s/Audi’s With 100k Miles And What To Do About Them
  • Accounting:  7 Business Write-Offs That Can Save You $1000’s Each Year
  • Lawyers:  Do These 5 Things Before Filing Your Divorce

But don’t just stop there.

An effective lead magnet can multiply your leads by 300% or more, very quickly.

But leads are just leads.

True success comes from building a relationship, so it’s vital that you nurture those leads with helpful, entertaining and informative content that builds your brand, inspires customer loyalty and gives you a strategic advantage in your marketplace.

Like everything else, what seems difficult at first becomes quite easy, and even fun, when you have a clear strategy and a philosophy of providing value.

And like most things, the most important thing is to just get started.  Writing is completely daunting to many busy business owners.  It doesn’t have to be if you just break the process down into its main pieces and then spread them out to give yourself time to think and breathe.

Here’s an example of the writing process I use:

  • Day 1: Brainstorm
    • Choose best idea from written lists or something seasonally topical; always be sure to think of things from your customer’s perspective and not yours
    • Brainstorm ideas, themes, takeaways, visuals, potential value; be creative, offer value and you generally can’t go wrong if your ideas are good
    • Research, research, research, research — then stop; at some point enough information is enough
  • Day 2: Write
    • Between your brainstorm session, researching other content and giving your brain time to process, you should have no problem writing
    • Use templates and consistent voice and style in your writing to increase your writing speed and build your branding and authority
    • Use stories, analogies and examples generously to maximize reader engagement
  • Day 3: Edit
    • Reread what you’ve written and make sure it makes sense; Ernest Hemingway is thought to have said “The first draft of anything is shit.” If Ernie says so, you’re wise to take his advice.
    • Clean up grammatical errors and break up your thoughts, paragraphs and sections with bullet points, quotes, headlines, underlines, bolditalic, etc. to make it easier for your audience to read
    • Include any relevant visual aids, downloads, links or resources that add to the value of your content — then give it one last read, or better yet, let someone else read it, too!
  • Day 4: Publish & Promote
    • The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here; and because you’ve planned, you’re prepared — just add your content to your content management system (or social media network) and click Publish!
    • Share your new piece of content with all of your friends, employees, customers and networks; caring is sharing and as long as you were proving value instead of being promotional, they will appreciate and continue sharing what you’ve created
    • If you know your perfect customer avatars (and you should) and have potential customers on Facebook (and you do), it’s probably worth a small ad investment to secure new leads for your business

There ya have it!

Nothing is scary when you break things down to their smallest parts.  If you need to break the four steps above into smaller parts, then that’s what you should do.  Over time, you’ll learn what works best for your specific resources and habits — it doesn’t really matter, just move forward.

One of the most powerful things about content is that if you write it right, it can provide value for years and years to come.  You can’t say that about too many other things in your business and when you recognize it, you may get so excited about creating content, you’ll get to a point where you do each of the steps above each day, but for different pieces of content.

With a system in place, you can do anything you want and in half the time.  I don’t know, I think my grandpa used to say that, but either way, it’s at least half true.

With a system in place, you can do anything you want.

And when you master the systems you put in place, you’ll save so much time, it might even be half for all I know…

Anyway, test it out and let me know!

TL; DR (too long, didn’t read)

So there you have it, the exact strategy any local business can (and should) use to increase sales, revenue and profits.

The 3 Step Strategy To Success

  1. Have a unique selling proposition that distinguishes your business from the competition in the mind’s of your customers
  2. Uncover underperforming or underused assets currently in your business and make them work for you
  3. Have a website with a lead magnet and a commitment to publishing helpful content that guides prospects through your buying cycle

I’m committed to helping independent businesses and am here to help you achieve your goals.  By far, the very best thing you can do is have a strategy in place that helps you reach those goals.

If your goal is to grow your local business, this is that strategy.

And it’s surprisingly simple and straightforward to put into place.

Stop wasting time and money with tactics and get started putting this powerful and proven process in place in your business today.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tsu

Hey You — Need A Website?

Can you imagine a business 50 years ago without a telephone or 20 years ago without a computer?  Though preposterous, those are far more forgivable offenses than a business not having a website today.  And I don’t mean some cobweb-covered, yellow cigarette smoke-stained rotary dial website, either.

The days of just opening your doors in the morning and hanging your hat on your reputation are over.  I know, it sucks, I miss the old days, too.

Sorta.

The truth is, if you’re a legitimate business owner operating on integrity, I believe you and your business should succeed beyond your wildest dreams.  But you can only do that by providing more value than you currently do today.

I know this because:

  • If you were already providing the value you need to succeed, you wouldn’t be here reading this
  • Most websites are Buddha Bad (Similar to God Awful, but worse…)
  • If your website is bad, your business has little chance of success in the future.
    • It’s that simple ^^^

Here’s something else I know…

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be good better the best.

In fact, everything great was just an improvement on something that already existed.

Even you yourself!

The best things are just a rearrangement of the right things.

Avoid the hassle and headaches of Project Hell!

Fill out a (rather long) document and we’ll do the rest — 10 business days later, get your own customized website with everything on the list above — all for just $999.

Guaranteed better than your last experience and a few other times things didn’t quite go so well for ya!  I’ll even give your money back if you’re not completely thrilled by Day 11.  And I mean smile on your face, sigh of relief, doing the happy dance (in your mind) thrilled!

No questions asked.

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