The Marketing Agents Mailbag – @therichbrooks

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Rich-Brooks-Pinterest-2015The Marketing Agents Podcast host, Rich Brooks, answers actual listener questions that have been sent in.  He advises on SEO and driving increased traffic to your website, how to advertise your business so it stands out in the crown and reminiscences on wise words issued from past guests of the show.  He also offers suggestions on one listener’s current website, in hopes that making a few changes will give them the boost in business that they are looking for.

“My question revolves around SEO and driving traffic to my website. If I understand correctly, all I have to do is look for keywords that have a high search rate per month that is related to the topic of my next blog and make the key phrase the title of the blog. I suppose in time this will help drive my targeted audience to my website. If this is true, then buying advertising through Google just quickens your ability to drive that traffic to you, is this correct?

I ask this because I’m trying to start my first online service and I have zero cash to invest in marketing. If my research serves me correctly, I should practice what I mentioned above, then use those same keywords in my Twitter feeds as well and somehow, magically, Google begins to send people my way. Please tell me I have finally figured this sorcery out.”

Well, there are definitely some nuggets of truth in there, and if you actually practice this, you might find success. However, I don’t think you’re exactly right. Let’s take this point by point.

The first point is all about using a specific keyword in a blog post that has a lot of search traffic. In other words, people are searching for what’s related to what you have to offer. Then all you need to do is make that your blog post title, and over time you’ll get traffic. Well, maybe that was true in 1990, but it’s certainly not true now. There’s just too much competition and any highly searched keyword phrase is probably going to have a lot of competition, and just putting it in the title tag of a blog post is not going to make much of a difference.

What I’d recommend – and let’s anchor this using a real example – let’s say that you were a dog trainer and you wanted to talk about positive rewards for dog training, and you did a keyword search and there were some people who were asking questions about positive rewards for training dogs.  So if you just created a blog post and put in the terms “positive rewards for dog training”, there’s probably already so much great content out there that has a lot of inbound links, that your blog – especially if it’s fairly new and you’re just getting started – is not going to see any of that traffic.  You haven’t built up any trust, you haven’t built up any expertise.

Instead it’s a much more involved practice. You need to be regularly creating great content that’s very valuable to your ideal customer. And yes, you need to use the keywords that they’re searching for, but you’re certainly not going to strike gold on your first post. What I might recommend is going back to the interview we did with Brian Dean of Backlinko, and I’ll put the link into the show notes, and learn how to build up trust through getting other people to link to your content. There’s a lot of great information that Brian shares with us in that episode about how you can build the trust of the search engines by getting a bunch of inbound links.

The next part of the question was all about whether just buying the keywords through Google Adwords is just going to drive traffic to your website faster. That actually could be true. The bottom line is, if you know what your audience is searching for and if there’s a lot of search volume for it, you can certainly do some pay per click advertising around those keywords to drive traffic to your blog post to get a lot of traffic. And again, I’m going to recommend that you listen to the episode all about PPC (pay per click) with Larry Kim that I did earlier this year for some great advice on that.

However, spending a lot of money to drive people to a blog post is probably not the best use of your money, especially since you mentioned you have zero dollars to spend on marketing and advertising right now. So instead, if I had money to spend, I’d drive people to a sales page or a lead capture page, not just to a blog post that I’m hoping to build some expertise with.

And the last point that I want to talk about is your belief that if you use those same keywords in your Twitter feeds that somehow Google magically starts to send people your way. No, that one’s absolutely off base. The bottom line is if you are trying to establish your expertise in a given subject using the keywords that your audience is searching for or in your Twitter feeds may help a little bit in establishing your credibility, but it’s not going to help with Google necessarily at all, or such a small amount that that’s not your best bet.

Yeah, I think you should absolutely consider using Twitter for your digital marketing to help establish your expertise. And of course, once you’ve created your blog post about these “positive rewards in dog training”, you want to be talking about that and creating tweets that link back to is as well. But that’s only going to be part of the promotion for that particular blog post, so it’s certainly not magic, it’s just about creating valuable content and creating an editorial calendar around that type of content and having a promotional calendar using tools like Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and all the other tools we’ve talked about over the past year and a half here on The Marketing Agents, to drive traffic and establish credibility.

So I hope this helped in getting you on the right track to growing your company and marketing your business.

“Hey Rich, thanks for the opportunity to share. My specific problem is this: I’m in the process of retiring as a public school music teacher and opening my own guitar teaching studio at my home. I’m having a website built, so my question is how to drive customers to my website. My only competition is music store guitar teachers, so I want to somehow get my students to bypass those teachers even if the student purchases a guitar at the music store, and select me as their “go to” guy from the very beginning. I’d like to hear your thoughts.”

I think you can have a lot of fun doing this. You’re getting your website built up and hopefully one of the things that going to be on your website – besides the ability to schedule appointments and schedule lessons – is also the ability to sign up for your email newsletter. And you’re going to try and come up with some reason why somebody would want to sign up for your email newsletter – and I’m not sure what the copyright laws are – but it might be like, “Five Easy Steps To Learning How To Play Your First Song” and maybe you can include some music in there or not, depending on the copyright laws, but you want to give people who do arrive at your website a real incentive to sign up for your email newsletter so they can get whatever the lead magnet is that you want.

But besides that, some of the things that I would do is invest in a camera or recording software of some sort and I would teach people how to play popular songs, and then post those videos to YouTube. And then within the videos, maybe you show them how to play specific chords or specific songs, I use the YouTube annotation tools that allow people to – right within the video – to click on a link and go to your website. Maybe it’s to download the sheet music or to get some additional information or to win something, whatever it is I’m going to use the YouTube annotations to drive traffic back to my website.

Once I have those videos up at YouTube I can also go to my blog – which hopefully you’re going to have on your website, too – and create blog posts and embed that video in there and maybe even provide some more information. And again, we’re just trying to lure people back to our website at all times. I’m probably also going to do some search engine keyword research to find out what some of the most popular songs for guitars are and do searches on “how to play -blank- on the guitar”, because that’s what people are going to be looking for.

I’d also be trying to build my list as much as possible. I’d do some blog posts around “how to buy your first guitar”, “how to buy your first acoustic guitar”, “how to  buy your first electric guitar”, so you’re getting the people before they actually make that purchase. Also, I’d create some content that kind of “attacks” your competition, so I’d create some blog posts around why you shouldn’t buy lessons from the guy working at the guitar store. Now I’m sure you have some really good reasons why you’re a better person. You’re experienced, your ability to work with a wide range of kids – some of whom love to play instruments and some that don’t –  so you really have a much wider range of experience, and that’s going to be interesting to a lot of parents who may be trying to get their kids into guitar.

So I hope that those are just a few ways that you can leverage what you’ve already got to drive traffic to the website, and then from your convert those people to get them to sign up for your mailing list and also have some sort of scheduling tool on your website so they can buy lessons.

“Rich, I really enjoyed your ‘10 point list’. My big issue is that we’re a mom and pop company, specifically a trampoline training center, and there are copycats springing up all around us, splitting the market big time. Our unique value has dissolved. The only unique thing about us is that we were here first.

Now after 34 years, former students who are now married are raising little kids are now bringing their little ones to us. We are truly generational. My husband and I have huge backgrounds in gymnastics, me running Olympic gymnastics in 1984, for example.  If you have a chance, could you please look at our website? Thanks so much, at least I feel like someone is listening.”

Well, I will tell you that obviously you’re facing something that a lot of small businesses face. You might have been early, first to market and had a great idea and something different, but people see your success and they follow suit. That’s going to happen to just about anyone. You can’t keep a blue ocean strategy forever. But what I think you need to do is focus on your differentiating factor. The fact that you’ve been in business for 34 years is great, but some people might see that actually as a detriment. Some people are looking for newer and fresher ideas. Maybe you have them. So I would definitely mention the fact that you’ve been doing it for 34 years, but I think your best differentiating factor is the fact that you’ve got Olympic background. That’s pretty powerful.

Parents have a pretty skewed vision of the actual talent that their kids have, and a lot of people, once they see their child do some tumbling in the front yard think they’re going to be the next Olympic gymnast superstar. So you need to capitalize on that and you need to promote that on your website, because parents who see themselves and their success wrapped up in their kids, they’re going to want to go with the people who actually have an Olympic background.

Now that’s obviously not going to speak to every parent out there, there are a lot of reasonable parents who just want their kids to have a good time or want some downtime while their kids are playing. But the bottom line is, I think that’s huge and I really think you need to play it up.

Now the other thing I want you to focus on is really getting a better sense of who your ideal customer is, who your avatar is. And I’d like you to go back and if you haven’t listened to this one or if you haven’t listened to it in a while, listen to the interview I do with John Lee Dumas on how to create a business avatar. I think you really need to focus on who is your best, most ideal customer and really create marketing content for that person as well as make sure that marketing message comes through on your website.

Now your business is very geographically challenged, in other words, the bottom line is if all things being equal I’m going to go to a gymnasium or gymnastics tumbling center that’s closer to me rather than farther than me. This is a real differentiator out there. You are working with people who are in a geographically targeted area. Now hopefully, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you’ve been building your list.

That’s a theme that we come back to time and time again, building up that email list. Now you can do it through all the digital marketing techniques that we’ve talked about, but you also have a list of people who come physically into your gym, and you should be collecting those emails and getting people to opt in to your email newsletter right then and there.

In fact, I’ve got some more homework for you. I want you to go listen to the episode we did with Dan Faggella, all about how to build your email list from scratch. Now if you already have an email list, that’s great. But Dan was actually working a Judo gym and built his email list from a very small community, you live in a much bigger community. So take the lessons that Dan shares with us and put those to use as well.

I would take your email list, I would upload it to Facebook and I would be targeting people who are both on your email list through the power editor – we’ve talked about this in a few different episodes when we’ve interviewed Facebook advertising experts – you can upload that list to Facebook and you can target the people who are on your email list to remind them to have their birthday parties there, of the classes that you’re teaching there, whatever it may be. And then using the lookalike audiences on Facebook, you can create similar psychographic groups within Facebook of other parents and tailor it and filter it down to a similar geographic area. So you can reach even more people and be spending a very small amount of money but be advertising and getting in front of those people on Facebook and driving them back to your website, getting them on your email list, getting them to sign up for classes.

So you did share with me your website and I want to talk to you a little bit about your website. And obviously I’m not going to share this url on the show, but I do want to kind of talk to you about it, and hopefully the people that are listening in can get a sense of what your website is like and just kind of think about their own website and what kind of things that they need to be doing on their own websites to improve it.

Whatever we do in digital marketing, almost always we’re driving people back to a website, which is where most people are going to make decisions these days. So again, I think you really need to promote the fact that you have this Olympic background and that you are not just another gymnasium, that you’ve been doing this for 34 years and you’ve got the experience, you’ve got something really unique to offer.

Now that being said, I will say that in my opinion your website lacks bounce, for lack of a better phrase. It is feeling very dated, it doesn’t really have all the energy that I would expect from a trampoline gym, and I think that needs to be rectified.  I really think in 2015 you need to build out your website, create a new one that’s mobile friendly so that it works on tablets and smart phones. I love that you have a video, in fact I was going to recommend that, and then I saw that you do have one right on your homepage. I think it should be a little bit bigger, but that’s neither here nor there. I’d love to see a slideshow with much bigger, more professionally taken photographs. Find out if any of your customer’s parents are professional photographers and maybe you could do some sort of barter with them, or invest $500 – $1,000 to have somebody come down and take really high level, professional photos that you can use on your website and your email marketing and your blog and your Facebook. Because I think you need to take it up a notch and really show off this professionalism so that you set yourself apart from everybody else.

The other thing that I’m noticing on your website besides just the visuals,  is you’re not really trying to get people to sign up for an email newsletter. And although there are a couple of register buttons – I like to see those – I think you need a couple stronger calls to action. I think you need to get people signing up for your email newsletter so you can tell them about all the awesome things that are going on at the gym.

The other thing I want to see you do is  really focus on local search. I mentioned before that you were geographically challenged. If you are a geographically challenged business, you need to focus on improving your result in the local search engines. That includes really focusing on your NAP information (Name, Address & Phone number). And I’d recommend that you check out the interview I did with Andrew Shotland, who’s a local search engine experts, and some great information in that episode.

Finally I just want to mention that the blog that you have there is not really a blog, it’s 3 short articles all on the page, no comments, it’s not really going to be doing anything for you.  I would recommend a blog, I think you should be creating content for it once a week or every other week. Talk about some of the things that are going on, talking about tumbling or even stories about your time in the Olympics. These are all things that might gather interest and build up visibility for your business on the web.

If you thought this was valuable and if you’ve got a question and you want me to weigh in on some of the marketing or your business practices going on in your small business right now, I’d love to hear more about it.

You can email me your questions, rich@themarketingagents.com, or you can head on over to themarketingagents.com website, if you’re not there already, and fill out the contact form there and let me know what you’re struggling with and maybe we’ll answer your question in the next mailbag episode.

Now for all the links and the episodes that I mentioned in today’s episode, you can head on over to themarketingagents.com/79, for the full transcript and all of those links.

Show notes:

Rich referred to the following past episodes of The Marketing Agents Podcast:

Submit your own questions to Rich via  the contact form.Rich-Brooks-Facebook-2015