This plan is for you beginners out there who know they need to get started marketing their business online but have no idea where to start.  Before you begin pouring money into some online advertising deal, you need to pour your digital foundation.  

1. Fix your Google My Business listing.

We’re going to start quick and simple: the first thing you’re going to need is a Google My Business listing.

The magical thing about a Google My Business listing is once you set it up, you don’t have to change it until you move or something big about your business changes, and it needs to be corrected.

Google is the essential Millennial. 

It has no patience with people who are not doing the right things online. You have to build a relationship with Google. And if you start screwing it up, it will start ignoring you. And if Google ignores you, then no one will be able to find you.

When was the last time anyone actually picked up a phone book and looked up a company’s number? That’s not a rhetorical question, give me a show of hands. 

No one does.

So how do you find a business’s number? You Google it. You wouldn’t have ignored your yellow pages listing back in the day. When the Yellow Pages rep did their annual business listing check-in, you almost always spent more money because you felt like it would bring in more business, right? And yet, the new yellow pages of today is your Google My Business listing. And businesses ignore it. Because there’s not a sales person knocking down their doors.  And by the way, if someone is calling you about your listing, they’re a big fat liar — they don’t work for Google, feel free to hang up.

I am going to tell you a story now because I love to tell stories about why Google My Business listings are so important.

One of my goals last year was to fence in my yard. And just so you know, this wasn’t small fence…it was like a $10,000 fence.

So I started asking my friends and clients if they knew a good fence installer. I got the name of another business. I Googled it. They didn’t have a website but had multiple online directory listings. Here’s the kicker — none of them had the correct phone number. Not a single one.

They were all disconnected numbers, and I know for a fact that that the company is still in business. Tell me, if this is happening to me with my $10,000 fence, how many hundreds of thousands of dollars is this company missing out on every single month because they don’t have the correct phone number in Google?!

Do you know if your listing is correct? Google your business name.  Does information about your business exist?  Is it right?

Claim and verify your listing.  Add a description then make sure your contact information, photos and category are correct. If you’re not sure what category your business should be listed in, Google the names of your competition, and note what category they’re in, that’s usually a good place to start.  

There are correct ways to do this for multiple locations. Moz offers a great guide to setting up your listings. We made a quick guide to setting up your Google My Business listing, too.

A. Here’s an example of a weird photo… What is that? A pineapple? This is a paving company? Where’s the equipment and paving crew?  Maybe include an image of a finished parking lot at the very least.

B. This is where the category lives in the knowledge graph display.

C. This is what an unclaimed listing looks like.  A claimed listing will say “manage this listing”.

2. Make sure your website isn’t crap.

The second thing you’re going to do is set up a website. Your website is your marketing home. It’s the place (online) where you have the most control over your brand. You can say whatever you want however you want to say it, and nobody can ever take it away. You own that space.

Link to your website from your Google My Business listing.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, I have a website, so I’m set,” I’m going to give you a checklist now to make sure your website passes the test.

Make sure it’s mobile friendly.

It is highly likely that over 25% of your traffic, if not over 50% of your traffic, will be coming in from mobile sources, depending on your target audience. Google has switched every single one of my clients to mobile-first indexing, and what that means is Google first looks at your mobile site to see how awesome it is before it looks at your desktop site.

So if your mobile site sucks, even if your desktop site is the coolest thing ever, it thinks your website sucks. And no matter how cool you are, if Google thinks you suck, it’s not going to show you as high in search results — not just on desktop searches, but even further down on mobile devices.

If you’re not sure if your site is terrible on mobile, you can test it for free with a barrage of Google tests:

Create one page for each of your services.

No, not just one Services page where you have a bulleted list of stuff, but one page for every single one of your services. And on that page for every single one of your services, you’re going to have a minimum of two paragraphs — and I’m talking beefy paragraphs — if not five paragraphs of content, about every one of your services. You have to talk about each one of your services in depth so Google understands that you do them.

Just to reiterate, a bulleted list is not enough to create a relationship with Google. You need multiple paragraphs. Each service needs its own page.

Build a projects or portfolio section on your website to show completed work.

Publish pictures and case studies. Talk about the services you did to complete the work. Each project needs to have its own page.

This is not a photo gallery, my friends, this is a portfolio. It’s like a blog on steroids. Every single project you publish talking about the service that you provide reestablishes the fact that you provide this service with Google, and it gives you another chance to show up in searches when people are looking for more specific search terms related to what you do. If you’re not sure where to start with your portfolio, here are a few things to consider before setting it up.

Consider a news or blog section.

Depending upon how much you really want to grow and connect with people online, you’ll have either a news section or a blog where you can publish content to regularly about what’s going on.

Share career opportunities.

If you’re hiring, and you’re trying to reach the millennial audience, you need this section on your site as much as you need the project section. This is where you introduce potential hires to what you’re all about and your values as a company. Accepting a job is about more than just what you do. It’s about how you do it and how you treat others.

Update your site 4 times a month.

Next, you’re going to publish a minimum of four pieces of content on your website, every single month. Now, you can mix and match based on the types of content that are easiest for you to produce.

  • If you provide a service at the general public, and you get tons of frequently asked questions and they’re very easy for you to answer and answering them on your website will lower your call volumes, publish a lot of frequently asked questions.
  • If you’re looking to hire, I would publish to completed projects, and news- or culture-oriented stories.
  • If you’re looking for mostly new work, post three completed jobs, and a news story.

Publishing content to your website creates a magnifier effect. The more you publish, the more traffic you’ll get.  The more traffic, the more people you have a chance to build a relationship with.

Many of my clients post projects to their websites regularly — here’s why:

  1. A year ago, one of my Asphalt Paving clients started posting their projects to their site. They posted 12 projects in 2019. They get 1,375 sessions per year from their projects pages, 10.44% of their overall traffic.
  2. Two years ago, one of my Drywall Contractor clients started posting projects to their site. They posted 13 projects in 2019. They get 1,012 sessions per year from their projects pages, 16.72% of their overall traffic.
  3. Three years ago, one of my Architect clients started posting projects to their site. They posted 12 projects in 2019. They get 2,546 sessions per year from their projects pages, 17.44% of their overall traffic.

It may seem like a lot of work to post about one project per month, but here’s the deal: if you had to pay for all this traffic through Google ads, it might cost you someplace between $3 and $50 a click. You might have paid between $3,000 and $50,000 to drive that same number of visitors to your site. 

When you blog. you get it for free. It may just be 80 people a month, but they’re free people. If you stop paying for your Google ads, the traffic stops.  If you stop posting to your website, the traffic still keeps coming. So yes, you have to spend the time and effort to write that blog post initially, but it pays off every single month.

3. Stop hating on social media.

Since you’re generating content for your website, you can start pushing it out to other places and not have to wonder what to write about. The first place you’re going to publish it is social media. 

Which social media?

Every market is different.  I work with mostly commercial construction health care companies and non-profits, and most of my clients start on LinkedIn and Facebook, possibly Instagram.

Many of my clients steer clear of Twitter and Pinterest. You have to post more to be seen on those networks, and that takes more time than they have. But, if that’s where your target market is, that’s probably where you need to go to build a relationship with them.

So if you’re feeling frisky, then go for LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. Post a minimum of two and a maximum of 14 posts, all about the stuff that’s going on in your world.

What are you going to post about?

  • Talk about each of the items you posted to your website on social media twice.
  • For projects, mention them once the month you post them and once the month after. 
  • For jobs, post about them twice the same month — you are looking to hire after all! 
  • Post a new photo and use different words EVERY time. 
  • Include a photo or two of people around the office or one the job site working, and voila!  You’ve fulfilled your social media posting quota!

Your Goal: Tell the story of how you solve problems for people.

One of the things I think people miss, because we all see it every day, is the “specialness” of what we do. Even though you may see this pavement being poured every single day, or you’re used to firing up the asphalt plant, other people don’t see it as often as you do, if at all.

Try to look at those experiences through the lens of someone who has never experienced them. When I first watched an asphalt plant fire up and saw the flame, felt the heat on my face, I thought it was so freaking cool because I don’t see it every day. I’m here writing blog posts and telling people how to do their marketing, I don’t do these cool things that you do, a lot of people don’t — not even those who might potentially be looking for a job with your company.

Tell them the story by gathering pictures and giving them little details, just like you would tell a story about anything else. And don’t forget that one of the biggest services you provide is peace of mind.

Think about all the things you do every single day that cultivate peace of mind for your clients. A huge part of your job is making sure problems don’t happen. That’s what makes you good at what you do. So how do you get that point across to people? How do you show people that every day, you’re working on their behalf without them even knowing it? Is it updating a process or consulting with a co-worker to make sure that the grade or mix is exactly right? What is it?

Tell that story so they understand you truly care about the people you work with and work for.

Get a little skin in the game.

I know we’re talking about free stuff, but I have to say, one thing you should certainly consider is boosting a post on your social media networks each month. It will get you in front of new people, and you can specify what audience of people you want to show it to. Especially if you’re new, you’ll need to push your content out there. You’re a business, and the social media networks do not love businesses, they love people, they love faces, they love the personal story.

Which means that you have to become the story to have people learn about your business. But first, you need people to share that story with. So you’re probably going to have to pay to have people see it, at least at first. Boost your post at least one a month, start at $10 or $20 to get a couple thousand views. If normally you would only be showing your content to a couple people, it’s worth the investment.  Plus, you put all that time into making the content and posting about it, it would be a shame if no one saw it!

4. Leverage automated emails.

You published your stuff. You put it on your on your website, and then you pushed that information out into social media. So now you’re going to do something that is so incredibly cool, because you’re going to do it. You’re going to set it up once, and they’re never going to have to do it again and it is called automated email marketing.

You’re going to need to have a signup form on your website for people to sign up for your emails. They get to sign up for emails about the stuff that they want to know.

You’re like, “Monica. Why would anybody want to know this stuff.” Okay. Do you have job listings on your site, because I think that people really do want to know when you’re hiring. And believe it or not, people may want to know about what you’re doing.

It’s like magic. Only you have to set it up once.

If you don’t want to set it up yourself. Go to your web developer and have them set it up for you. Using an email marketing software, we use mailchimp, you can update your website, and then the content from your website pulled into an email and automatically formatted and sent to your recipient list daily or weekly or monthly. If you don’t update your website no emails will send. 

Now I know you’re  thinking, “I don’t want to spam people so I’m not going to do this.” Remember, people choose to get your email.  And if you’re sending them crappy content then that’s spam. But you’re in charge of your content so that shouldn’t happen. Heck even if they don’t open your emails, they see your name.

Here’s the deal, emails have a huge return on investment. When I do online donation campaigns the only traffic that’s higher converting than emails, is people who typed in the domain to get to the website. The close ratio on emails for my biggest donation campaign is 16%. So the email. While it seems so antiquated is still a way that people communicate.

And you can automate it, you only have to set it up once, it should take a profession around 4 hours to do it. And with MailChimp you have no monthly fees, until your list is over 2500 people. You have no excuse not to do it.

You can pay for stuff, too.

Most of the things I listed above require more elbow grease than investment capital. I could take you on a bunny trail of all the ways you can market your company online and pay for it. 

You can place ads out on Google, you can pay to place ads out on Facebook, you can run ads to people who’ve been to your website… you can do all those things. But first, you gotta do the stuff at the top of the list.

You probably think I’m crazy because you have no idea how you’ll ever get this done.

Now we agreed though you’re actually going to do it and that’s what’s going to make it so different from last year. So the way I see it you have two options. You can hire somebody to get it done and you can hire somebody to get it done.

You can hire yourself. You can hire a marketing person, to come in to your company that that is an employee. Or you can outsource it clearly I am a fan, to some degree of outsourcing, because that is how I make a living.

A good entry level marketing employee will cost you $35,000 – $40,000 plus a year plus benefits and all the taxes. Depending on what you need an agency may be less or more. 

You can hire a company like mine to take care of it all for you and not have to manage a person and not have to worry about whether or not you’re being guided in the wrong direction or if you’re making the right decision. Because if they do it every day they should be able to advise you on what you should be doing.  But in the long run the marketer should be able to produce far more work because they’re dedicated to you full time, while a company is only dedicating a contracted number of hours per month.

There are pros and cons to all the choices.  But the choice you don’t want to make to to table it all together.  You don’t purchase every single piece of equipment that you utilize to run your company. And you don’t always do every single piece of every single job that is sold. You don’t have to take care of your marketing activities personally but you do have to decide who will do it for you because this year, you’re getting it done!

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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