The free marketing you’re missing on Google My Business

The free marketing you’re missing on Google My Business

Every business that wants to be found online should have an active Google My Business page. Whether you have a brick & mortar location that customers visit or visit customers to provide B2B services, a Google My Business page is a free marketing opportunity with a nice payoff. But claiming your page isn’t enough. You must engage.

Hello, new customers! SEO vs. GMB

There are multiple ways to show up in search results when potential customers look for you. Search engine optimization and Google My Business are two.

SEO

Simply having a website isn’t a guarantee you’ll be found online. Everyone has a website. You. Your direct competitors.  Your indirect competitors. 

Getting your website to rank for words other than your brand name takes an established presence, earned over time with content strategy. One piece of a content strategy could include adding fresh and useful thought leadership blog posts on a regular basis to your site. When people spend time reading your website content, it helps Google, Bing and other search bots know that the content is important to your audience. If that happens consistently, search engines will trust your website and show your pages as a search result more often.

This practice is an important part of search engine optimization or SEO. And it’s a marathon. It takes time to build authority and rank higher in search results. It’s worth doing so that your business ranks ahead of competitors. But it’s not instant.  

Google My Business

On the other hand, Google My Business is an instant efficient search tool for getting found online.

If your Google My Business page is a match for a search, Google is more likely to return a result for your business. The Google search engine return page could even include a snippet – you know, that special box with call-out information for a business. Snippets often include photos from your Google My Business page, an easy-to-click phone number and reviews. Here’s an example of a search results page with a business’ Google My Business Page snippet on the right:

Why is this important? The higher you rank on a page and the more attention-getting your snippet is, the higher chance you will be seen. That’s a higher chance to rank ahead of your competition. Which gives your page a higher chance to be clicked on. Most importantly, a higher ranking means a higher chance to earn a new customer.

Engage for better results

But like SEO, Google My Business pages work better for your business when you engage. This is no set it and forget it. You have to log in. Post links and deals. Respond to reviews. Engage. (There’s that word again.)

You help your Google My Business page be more effective by posting things here, similar to a social media account. Photos of your product, your space or people benefitting from your business, for example. The brand images you already use can be repurposed here. Like social media channels, you can post your thoughts on a current event or links to a blog post on your website or even a third-party website.

Reviews

Your customers can also engage with your page through reviews. You can’t control them. They can be 1-star or 5-star. This is where you get to shine if you provide an amazing product or service. And where you can learn how to do it better. The important thing is to be responsive here. To show that you will make things right with customers if they post a negative review. And to thank your customers for taking the time to share their comments – good or bad.

I can personally attest to the power of Google My Business and SEO. Click here take a look at my ClearWing Google My Business page and to see how simple it is to build one. Or, call ClearWing if you need help creating a content strategy and ongoing content to boost your search engine optimization efforts. 

And remember, while Google My Business is a wonderful, free tool, it will only go so far without checkins from you. Ask customers for reviews. Sign in, post and respond to customers regularly. Update your hours and holidays. Post links to useful content. There’s no reason to miss out on this effective and free marketing tool!

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Discover how to pair positive energy & purpose on The Energy Bus

It was late December of 2017 and Christmas tree pine needles littered the floor. We were all tripping over new toys and the post-Christmas turkey was finally gone. My husband handed me a bright yellow book he had just finished reading: The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. Hm. The floors wouldn’t clean themselves. But a voice said to let go of the vacuum.

I opened the cover and soon met George, a businessman experiencing a breakdown of sorts, and Joy, a bus driver full of smiles and wisdom. I had no idea what an impact Joy was about to make on George and me.

At the time, I was punching a clock daily in a communications department for the largest health system in Georgia. I enjoyed the work itself and the people I came into contact with, but I often felt like a small cog in a giant corporate machine. I certainly did not feel like I made a difference. And I had accepted that in exchange for a steady paycheck, the feeling of a secure job and a pension.

The Energy Bus

Before I tell you more about my journey into business, I’ll say The Energy Bus is a speedy and entertaining read about taking responsibility for your own future.  It is actionable wisdom set to a story, which speaks to my own personal feelings about the power of storytelling (and how we should all be doing that in our businesses). It’s about developing a vision with purpose. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your vision. Inviting them to ride your bus. And fueling your vision and yourself with positivity.

I wouldn’t have picked the book out for myself. But it was exactly what I needed to read. I’m thankful I was exposed and reminded of some really wonderful and foundational concepts that carried me through the first year of my new business.

Positive energy

George – the main character of the book – revamps his life, his marriage, his career and his team – all of which had gone very wrong. And he does it with the help of The Energy Bus. In addition to fixing situations gone awry, the book is also good for someone about to launch something new…because you’re going to need a lot of positive energy.

“You have no idea of the challenges I am facing right now. I’m hitting a lot of roadblocks,” George complains early in the story.

That’s when Joy – the bus driver about whom George is quite skeptical – introduces him to the importance of positive energy.  It is the fuel that keeps his, mine and your vision moving forward. Without it, we’re eventually stranded on the side of the road.

“And we’re not talking about the fake kind of chest-thumping rah, rah positive energy that simply masks our negativity and annoys people…We’re talking about real positive energy that help you overcome obstacles and challenges to create success. We’re talking about trust, faith, enthusiasm, purpose, joy and happiness.”

A bus full of cheerleaders

Not even a month later, I began seeking a new job. But nothing felt right. I wanted to make a difference – not punch a clock. My husband told me for the umpteenth time that I should start my own business. I put on my ear muffs and kept looking for the right job.

I made a lot of phone calls searching for ideas and opportunities. And then someone else encouraged me to start my own business. And then someone else.

I finally started listening.

The conversation sounded different when I called people after that. I’d say, “I’m thinking of starting my own business. Can I have some advice?”

That’s when I realized I had a bus full of cheerleaders. They believed I could really help people. Which helped me believe it. And do it.

In The Energy Bus, there’s a whole section on how to lead people and how to get people to follow your vision. There are steps you take to ask people to get on your bus. While I didn’t have a team to lead at that time, I realized that I had a lot of cheerleaders on my bus. I had an incredible gift of positive energy all around me.

I took that fuel and I hit the gas like I was 16 driving a sporty red VW to Ft. Myers Beach. (Memories…)

Seriously, the early days of building my PR business are a blur seen from a vehicle going way over the speed limit. I had little sleep and stared into the bright blue glow of a laptop into the wee hours of the night. I made countless phone calls and had too many face-to-face meetings to count. But those people on my bus cheering me on helped fuel those late nights…and fuel my business with referrals – THANK YOU!).

Here’s an off-the-cuff video I recently made to say thanks to all those cheerleaders who have been on the bus with me. I didn’t list anyone by name (other than the family) – there are just too many.

Leave energy vampires in the dust

Just because I had a busload (fleet?) of support, that didn’t mean it was always sunny and 70 on the highway. On one occasion, I took time out of my crazed schedule to catch up with an old acquaintance. Who nearly sucked the life out of me and my dream.

I couldn’t believe how fast the air whizzed out of my tires when I spent time with an “energy vampire,” as the book calls it. I came home KNOWING I would fail. I sneered at myself for trying to start my own business. What was I thinking? What was I doing?

Luckily, I snapped out of it.

A quick consult with Joy, the bus driver, says there is no room for energy vampires on the bus. That’s a priceless lesson. Once I made a decision to move forward with my business, I hadn’t doubted myself until an energy vampire did it for me. And I almost let that run me off the road to my dream. It was a hard lesson but an important one. It was time to post a sign that said, “No energy vampires allowed on my bus.”

The first road trip

About 2 months after I read The Energy Bus, I launched ClearWing Communications.

It’s been a year of learning how to lift people up in the pursuit of their goals. Luckily, I am surrounded by a lot of incredibly smart people who share their own experiences and help me grow. And…I read great books.

Thanks to many incredible cheerleaders on my bus, ClearWing has helped 30 clients in pursuit of a goal. Some were big goals, like communications around a new business launch. Others were smaller pieces of a larger plan, like writing taglines, a speech or a thought leadership article. It’s priceless to get to work with many of these clients continuously, leading their strategic communications, marketing plans and execution every month.

I’ve had the opportunity to serve incredible clients who are changing the world in a variety of ways. I get to be their cheerleader. I bring a lot of positive energy to each team I’m part of or that I lead. And, as the book recommends, I strive to bring more value and joy to the work my clients and I do together every day.

And all of my cheerleaders? Sometimes they surprise me. My daughter’s third-grade teacher patted my arm one day at a school event. She said, “Penelope is so proud of her mom. She loves telling us that you’re a writer and you help people.” Knowing my daughter was proud. Also priceless.

Enjoy the ride

The bonus step at the end of the book is to have fun and enjoy the ride, which I am most certainly doing every day.

Final thoughts: you should know that I only touched on a few points from the book here. The Energy Bus covers “10 steps for fueling your life, work and team with positive energy.” You’re missing a lot if you only read this blog post.

My husband, who recommended the book to me, keeps a shelfful of copies at his office to hand to employees, vendors and colleagues who he thinks will benefit from its quick-to-digest lessons.

If you or someone in your life could use a little gas for current endeavors, get your ticket for the ride of your life before you roll on to the next thing. Here’s a link to The Energy Bus on Amazon.

And if you need support on your journey or just want to chat about the book, contact Christy at ClearWing. I’m over here, enjoying the ride, and so happy to cheer you on.

ClearWing is a participant of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program design to provide a referral fee by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Boost your business when you focus on brand identity

Boost your business when you focus on brand identity

We’re going to play a brand identity game and I’m not even going to tell you the rules. You’ll be fine. I say “Dress for Less.” Now you say, “_______.” Here are a few more. The Happiest Place on Earth. Taste the Feeling. Where Shopping is a Pleasure. Eat More Chicken. And my favorite, Do the Kind Thing.

ClearWing Communications strong brand identity boosts business growth

Just in case you need a memory boost….that’s Ross, Disney, Coca-Cola, Publix, Chik-fil-A and KIND. But you probably already knew that.

These powerhouses have strong brand identities. That’s not a result of being a powerhouse. It’s the other way around. When a company creates a strong brand identity and does a phenomenal job of delivering on its brand promise, people connect with it and even trust it.

It’s clear that Ross, Chick-fil-A and Coke invest a lot of THOUGHT, TIME and MONEY into their branding. And COMMITMENT. While the first three are obvious, you might scratch your head at that word “commitment.” It means that after putting careful thought into creating the brand identity, these companies didn’t tuck the document away and move on. They committed to it for years and even decades. They repeated and continue to repeat the message and use their iconic logos and symbols (like cows for Chik-fil-A) over and over and over.

ClearWing Communications helps companies shape their brand identity

Branding is important for businesses of all sizes

Because these mammoth corporations spend more money than we can imagine on their marketing, does that mean we let them have all the branding fun? Most certainly not. Branding isn’t just important for billion dollar companies.

Branding is a critical step in paving the path to your company’s success. The investment you put into it will affect your ride. So unless you’re Jeep, you probably want to accelerate down a paved road rather than struggle up a rocky mountain incline.

A strong brand identity helps define you so clearly that your dream customers find you. When you’re working with your ideal customers, you’re happier. You provide even more excellent service or the new products that they love. They talk. That attracts more ideal customers. And your business grows.

Is it hard to find the time to do this? Yes! You want to focus on your product or your service. Who has time for a brand identity?

Is it worth it? Yup. Adding something else to your to-do list might feel like a step backward when you’re gearing up for a launch or even just managing the day today.

If you’re ready to level up your brand identity for better connections and growth, read on.

Start with your why

In a nutshell, a brand identity is your brand promise to your customer. It’s your why. It’s what gives you a traction to connect with your customers in a meaningful way.

Some businesses launch because their owners are good at what they do. They are tired of working for someone else. And they work to make sure they’re paying the bills. Those are all real-world reasons to run a business. But they’re not good enough to be a company’s why. They’re selfish. (Ouch.)

The real reason a company exists is to serve a purpose. To serve someone, somewhere. The financial payoff is what allows the company to keep on trucking. And when profits are high, they’re a reward for doing a good job. But money shouldn’t be the primary reason a company exists (unless it’s a bank.)

In other cases, a company is started with a deeper purpose. But then the day-to-day gets in the way and brand identity gets set aside.

No matter where you are, it’s never too late to rethink or rev up your brand identity. And then to maintain it. The more attention you give it, the better the results.

When you take the time to get granular with your why, it will serve to guide many of the business decisions you make in the future. In a nutshell, your why needs to define:

  • What you do
  • How you’re different
  • Why customers choose you

More than ever, millennials and the generations that follow are looking for connection. They’re looking for authenticity. They want to support brands with purpose. As an example, think about KIND Snacks. KIND promotes a message of kindness to our bodies as well as other humans in the world. Check out the KIND site – you can actually nominate someone for doing something #kindaawesome and hit them with a KIND card and a KIND bar.

You can gift a KIND bar to someone for doing “the kind thing.” This is brand identity genius.

Who do you serve?

Just as important as our why is our who. It’s imperative to drill down to who exactly we want to serve. A clearly defined customer makes it easier to deliver your message to the right people.

If you keep your brand as generic as possible so you can serve everybody, no one really has any way to connect with you.

But if you define your dream customer and deliver on your brand promise, you will stand out from a crowd to the people who really matter to you.

ClearWing Communications helps companies shape brand identity

One way to develop a clear idea about who you serve is to create an avatar. That’s just another name for your audience or target market. An avatar typically includes a stock photo to represent your customer and a name to humanize him or her. It’s a lot more friendly than referring to your audience as a “target.” And before you get too concerned, yes,  you can have more than one avatar. Many businesses reach more than one group and help alleviate more than one pain point.

When you’re creating your avatar, get specific. Male or female? Is she 25 or 35? Is she married? Does she have kids? Did she go to college? Does she drink Starbucks or Red Bull? Is she in a BMW or a Jeep? Would she prefer to get a manicure or go hiking next Saturday? Is she motivated by being a super mom, a super businesswoman or staying in great shape? 

When your company has a clear sense of who your customer is, to know what they live for and what they care about, you’ll show them that you “get” them. Connect with who you want to serve and your ideal customer will seek you out. And as you deliver on your brand promise, you will grow.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level with a strong brand identity, I’m thrilled for you! If you’re looking for support, tell me all about your why and your who so ClearWing can help your brand fly.

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Read our follow up brand identity post with tips on developing key messaging and brand voice. If you’re interested in receiving ClearWing’s future tips on brand storytelling and how to let your brand fly, sign up for the occasional e-blast here:

Tech will change your business: Are you prepared?

Technology will change your business: Are you prepared?

Has your life been disrupted or improved by technology? What about your business? Probably yes and yes. And you can expect more change in the near future. As the rate of innovation picks up its pace, so does change across many industries. Are you ready to lead effective change management in your organization? Read on for a look at how technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives and for tips on how to be change-adept for the future.

technology-change-management-business

You’re probably using AI, even if you don’t know it

How has tech disrupted your life? Or made it better? This may surprise you, but according to a March 2018 Gallup poll, 85 percent of Americans already use at least one of six products with artificial intelligence (AI).

The hottest tech buzzword now: Internet of Things (IoT)       

I personally use AI and another emerging tech known as the Internet of Things (IoT) every day. IoT connects devices (other than computers, tablets and smartphones) to the internet. Cars or kitchen appliances for example. For a fuller explanation, click here to visit Business Insider.

Auto command center

Are you a Wazer? I use AI & IOT in my car with Waze to drive smart. The smartphone app offers real-time help of road warriors driving in the same geography as me. If you don’t already use it, try it! It’s amazing.

headset-close-up-safer-driving-change-management-technology-business
This Bluetooth headset makes driving and doing business on the phone just a little safer (and more legal).

Do you use a headset yet? My Bluetooth headset allows me to talk hands-free in the car for a safer driving experience. With the new Georgia driving laws, any Georgian could get into hot water for holding their phone up to their ear, scrolling through contacts and touching the dial button.

So, I’m combining the use of my headset with AI in the car with use of Google Assistant and commands like, “Ok Google, call Eduin Rosell.”

AI while I “cook”       

Alexa, a personal assistant in my bedroom and kitchen provided by Amazon, helps me to play music, check the weather, build shopping lists and embarrassingly, boil an egg since I can never remember exactly how to do it.

I’ve lost count of how many times in a day I start a sentence with, “Alexa,” or “Ok Google.” And how many times I mix up their names. It would be nice to have a boss bot to command all the other bots so I can keep them straight. I’m sure it’s in the works…

AI on the job

While most of the examples I gave above are personal, I use AI in my job too. When I launched my business, I needed a better editor than the one we all use in Word. That’s where Grammarly comes in. Not only can it edit at a higher level, it can do it in different types of English. So when I’m writing a thought leadership piece to publish in Europe, I turn on the “British English” language preference. These tools don’t catch a lot of the nuances of our language, but they do help avoid dumb grammar or structural mistakes. I highly recommend it, no matter what type of business you’re in.

When I first launched my PR business, I was asked if I “do tech.” I wasn’t sure how to respond. I made a crazy assumption that I wasn’t already, well, “doing tech.”

But once I thought about it, my work in the past few years has included PR strategy about electronic medical records, robotic surgery and a digital driving test for stroke patients.

That’s just the start. Right now I’m working on communications spanning industries about their new tech applications like:

  • Advertising software that automates media buying and selling
  • Blockchain, bots and augmented reality for travel business management
  • An app that helps hospitalists make tough decisions fast about complex drug delivery
  • An interactive digital classroom for music pedagogy students

How do we stay relevant?

If talk about AI infiltrating your business world makes you squirm, you’re not alone. While many of us say we’re open to change, the majority of us are not early adopters. As our world is increasingly connected, changes won’t slow. Tech is making its way into every realm of our lives, including the office.

So how do we stay relevant? We keep learning. We stay open to change. We try new things. Even if it takes nine tries to call my husband with Ok Google the first time.  It’s a learning process to adopt new technology, but it gets easier with repetition. I can hear my old piano teacher now…”Practice, practice, practice…”

How leaders can lead effective change management

Time after time has shown that change management efforts fall flat too often. But they don’t have to. As technology makes its way into your industry, leaders need to embrace and encourage change for personal and organizational success. Your approach will help your company succeed in the tech-saturated future.

  1. LEARN: The first step to becoming change-adept is as simple as reading the news and trade publications. Subscribe to digital publications like AtlantaInno (or any of its sister sites across the country) to see the cutting-edge ideas incubating in your own backyard. And if there’s something you don’t understand, seek to understand.
  2. IMAGINE: Harvard Business Review suggests imagining the future and creating a culture of calculated risk-taking. Look for things that could be improved around you and make connections with the emerging technology you hear about. Look at what others are doing to solve problems. How could what another industry is doing with AI be applied to fix your business challenges? Invite your team to do the same. Instead of asking “why?” when an employee offers a solution, ask “why not?”
  3. TEST: Before going full throttle, create a safe pilot environment. Keep old systems in place while testing new systems. Test with a small group rather than enterprise-wide. This will help decide if it’s worth moving forward and if so, work out some of the kinks in advance.
  4. COMMUNICATE: When your company adopts a new technology, you must launch effective change management communications at the beginning and continue throughout the process. Your communications team or consultants can help you develop and implement change management communications that lead to success, such as:
  • Share the “why” so employees are less likely to fight the change.
  • Put together a cross-functional team to help the organization adopt. Include leaders, front-line users, techies, influencers, people who have access to other people and skeptics. (By getting people who tend to fight change involved, they will be more likely to help change the minds of other naysayers.)
  • Give people a platform to ask questions and express concerns. Ask for input and respond quickly throughout the process.
  • Publish success stories to create momentum for new tech adoption.
  • Change can’t happen without everyone’s support. When you turn off the old systems and turn on the new because change adoption was a success, be sure to thank everyone in your organization.

We live in a world of innovation. It’s already changed your organization and it’s only a matter of time until it changes again. You can choose to create positive change with an attitude of learning, imagination, experimentation and communication.

How has technology already affected your business? Comment below with your story and tips for successful change management when adopting new tech. 

Does your feedback get good results?

Does your feedback get results?

Work with creatives to hit your brand bull’s eye

Give good feedback for great creative results that will hit the target!
Give good feedback for creative results that will hit your brand’s target. Icon made by Freepik from  www.flaticon.com.

My creative partners and I love constructive criticism. Yes, really. When you give us good feedback, it helps us create something great to support your business goals. With the right feedback, we’ll all get the best possible outcome. But when your feedback leaves us in the dark, there’s a chance your message will miss the target.

How do you give creative feedback that gets you the best creative to achieve your goals?

In a nutshell, avoid general statements and be clear about what you don’t like and what you like. Invite people close to your brand identity to critique with you, but be choosy who you ask. Too many opinions can slow down the process and add confusion.

Good feedback helps get great results. Avoid general comments like "This isn't what I was going for..."
Good feedback helps get great results. Avoid general comments like this one.

Screenshot what you love

Chantelle Catania of graphic design firm Annatto said designers are visual people and love examples, especially when getting started on a new project. (This can apply to writing styles too.)

“If there’s something that you’ve seen that you love, take a photo or screenshot of it and share it with us. Let us know why you love it. It doesn’t need to be a long explanation. A simple, ‘these colors rock’ or ‘it’s easy to follow’ will offer so much insight into the look you are aiming for.”

Generally speaking

When a client says “this isn’t working,” creatives have nothing to go on. But rewriting or redesigning with that kind of feedback is like shooting darts at a target in the dark. We might hit, we might miss. That’s not great when we all want a bull’s eye.

Details, details, details

Specific feedback, like "Could you soften this language" can help a creative understand how their creative will best fit your brand.
Specific feedback, like “Could you soften this language?” can help a creative understand how their creative will best fit your brand.

I recently helped a consultant launch his first website after a number of years in business. He had been so focused on his clients, he had no existing branding. For him, I wasn’t just writing website copy. I was shaping his company’s voice.

The site was for a male business owner who offers professional services. He wanted his brand identity to reflect his hobby as an outdoorsman. I started with his About page – it’s one of the trickiest website pages to write. Even though it’s “about” the company, it really needs to be about the customer/audience and how they’ll benefit from working with the company. I knew if I got the tone there right, the rest of the site would follow.

His initial feedback: “It feels too much like a Mountain Dew commercial.”

Essentially, he told me to de-steroid. You may be thinking, “Ouch!” But this is good feedback. Paired with comments on what he liked, it helped me get the tone right.

Praise can guide (and energize)

Just as important as establishing what you don’t like is what you like. Not only will it make your creative team feel great and want to do more great work for you, it will also help guide future content.

It’s as simple as writing comments as you edit or proof to let them know they hit the target.

After I submitted a concept for a recent project to the client for review, she gave good feedback, “The tone is perfect, and the concept is fun without being overbearingly clichéd or ‘cute.’ Excited to see how this progresses!”

Not only did I know I was on track and to keep going, I was excited to do my best for this client.

Pick your team carefully

Chantelle (lead graphic designer) said critiquing shouldn’t be a team sport for everyone around you. If you plan to ask for opinions, she recommends selecting your team carefully.

“Yes, you want everyone to love your brand but asking your neighbor, your mail carrier or even your coffee barista isn’t necessarily going to make your brand better,” she said. “It’s more than likely going to delay the process. Keep relevant minds on the project – select a few people who know your company’s messaging and goals to consult with when making decisions.”

At the end of the day, your creative team is here to support you. We want to make you look and sound good. And most importantly, achieve your business goals. The better your feedback, the better chance we’ll help you do what you do best. A confident creative will appreciate your constructive criticism and will use it to make something you’ll both feel good about.

Do you have a target you’re ready to hit? Give me the details!