Why Big Brands Shouldn’t Neglect Local Marketing

When it comes to search, Google is rewarding those who prioritize proximity and relevancy in their digital marketing strategy. In fact, it’s become such an important part of the search equation, brands large and small –even those with a national or global focus — should be looking at local as an integrated part of the overall digital strategy and customer experience.

Naturally, local marketing may not be a fit for every brand, but as digital continues to blur the locality lines, it might be time for you to redouble your efforts to make sure you’re not only reaching the right people, but creating a more personalized experience from the customer’s first interaction. Here are three key reasons why neglecting local marketing could be a mistake for big brands.

The hyper-local expectations of search

Current trends in search marketing point to a subtle, yet sweeping, behavior change in consumers looking for information. No longer do potential customers feel the need to add disclaimers like “near me” or enter their zip code when searching for restaurants, retail banks, electricians, urgent care, etc.

In fact, 93% of consumers typically travel less than 20 minutes for everyday things like gyms, auto repair, grocery stores, etc. Additionally, according to Google research, almost one-third of all searches on mobile devices are based around location queries, which explains why the top listings on nearly any Google search engine results page (SERP) are those in closest proximity to the searcher. Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey also showed proximity of a business’ address was the number one, most important ranking signal for Google’s local pack results (just four years ago this factor was #8).

And with the number of mobile devices primed to top the 50 billion mark worldwide in just two years’ time, a number of industries that rely on local foot traffic, like retail banking, are looking at local search as a way to improve the customer experience. According to 2018 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions report, 70% said optimizing the customer journey across multiple touch points will be critical to shaping their digital marketing strategies.

Monitoring behavioral data can translate to real results

And if you think your customers and prospects aren’t searching local, think again. According to research conducted by Google, nearly two-thirds of all mobile users are more inclined to choose brands with apps or mobile sites that are localized.

Shockingly, a majority of businesses haven’t so much as claimed their listing on the most popular search engines. And this does more than hurt your search rankings. When a potential customer can’t easily locate your brand’s information online, it impacts the experience.

Furthermore, when you have a finger on the pulse of the trends occurring in individual markets, you can better tailor your marketing to attract customers based on their current need. For example, pharmacies and urgent care facilities might identify a higher than average incidence of the flu in one particular community or a bad allergy season in another city, and with that insight, they can create more effective ads and relevant content that address the need.

On the subject of insights, the connected devices I mentioned earlier have unlocked more data than ever before to local advertisers. Now you can go one level deeper beyond location-based targeting and use the data to reveal behaviors and patterns in your prospective customer’s movement. This means better targeting based on routines and behaviors, higher conversion rates and a better return on your digital marketing spend.

Local SEO tying into your overall marketing strategy

Many brands find local marketing a nuisance and prefer the set-it-and-forget-it philosophy, which means claiming some listings and moving on to bigger and better marketing initiatives.

This is a missed opportunity for brands to truly integrate all online and offline marketing strategies on the local level. Each location should, in theory, have their own SEO, paid media, content, and social strategy which all rolls up into a brand’s overarching marketing roadmap. Think about local SEO from a customer experience perspective — it’s the first and sometimes the last interaction a customer has with a brand before they make a purchase decision. Everything from the local listings, website, social behavior, and customer reviews should all impact a potential consumer through the brand’s buying cycle.

Approaching local SEO as set-it-and-forget-it won’t do that. Only a clear and implemented local marketing strategy will make this sort of an impact on your audience.

If you’ve turned a blind eye to your local digital strategy or haven’t revisited it recently, now is the time to take a hard look at it. With Google prioritizing proximity, voice search impacting results, and more searches being conducted on mobile devices, brands without a local digital strategy could be leaving opportunity open for the competition’s taking.

We Tried It: Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant

Nordic style baths are one of the biggest trends in spas across North America. We went to the Scandinave Spa in beautiful Mont-Tremblant, Quebec to try out the hydrotherapy focused spa. 

If you find yourself in the Mont-Tremblant area and you’re more après ski inclined then ski bunny, a visit to the Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant is a must. Nestled on the edge of the Rivière du Diable, the nordic-like spa which includes saunas, steam rooms and cold and hot baths provide a complete relaxation in a calm and natural setting. 

The spa’s been open since 1999, and although it’s seen many upgrades over the years the most recent reno was pretty major. At the start of 2018 they officially opened the new facilities. The upgrades include a massive infinity edge hot tub complete with thermal waterfall, an additional dry sauna, steam bath and cold pool.  

Over family day long weekend I found myself in the area hitting the slopes, but after two days on the hill my muscles were moaning and my inner spa hound was howling to go to Scandinavia Spa Mont-Tremblant. So I did!

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Image courtesy of Scandinave

#Goal: To slow down, detox, relax my sore muscles and reach a full on blissed out state of zen.

The treatment: My partner and I arrived at the spa moments after our last run on the mountain, aka we were rushing, to make it in time for our treatments. We both opted for the deep tissue massage. In order to use the baths you don’t need to book a treatment, however it’s recommended. They also offer Swedish, therapeutic, duo and prenatal massages.

I’m pretty active, and currently training for a marathon, so my muscles are in a constant state of pain. The massage was expertly done by a registered massage therapist. Although I do prefer a firm pressure my masseuse’s pressure was a little lighter then what I am use to, however, she had magic fingers and released tensions in my back and legs. I immediately felt more limber post treatment.

Next, we hit the baths. The staff recommended to try the classic Finnish way. Meaning cycling through the hot tubes, then cold dip, followed by some relaxation in one of the saunas. Following this protocol has proven to be both energizing and relaxing for the body, improving blood circulation and activating the lymphatic system to help detoxification. I’m here to say believe the hype, it was wonderful, especially being surrounded by a winter wonderland.  We even saw a few dear on the river while peeking out over the edge of one of the hot tubes. I mean…

One of the highlights was a cold pool cut out of the ice in the Rivière du Diable. The temperature was only 2°C, after my crazy partner did it, being the competitive person I am I promptly followed. I got to say, it felt cold (obviously) but invigorating. Post dip, we quickly made our way into a dry sauna to warm up. 

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Image courtesy of Scandinave

The result: Have you heard of the Danish term hygge (pronounced hue-guh)? The word is used to acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, charming or special. It only requires a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present–but recognize and enjoy the present. In all honestly I’ve never been to a place, until now, that evokes the feelings of hygge to this degree. I felt cozy, relaxing and we both felt very happy after. 

The cost: Bath access, $60 | 60 minute massage and bath access (depending on massage) $150-$160 | 120 minutes massage and bath access (depending on massage) $240-$260. scandinave.com

How to Get Customers as Excited About Your Business as You Are

Many business leaders have a real passion for their product or service. They’re natural advocates, able to inspire anyone they talk to when they sit down for a face-to-face chat. But how can businesses get consumers to exude the same level of passion on a large scale?

Imagine your customers did your marketing for you. Wouldn’t that be amazing? While this might seem like an impossible dream, it’s actually already happening. Consumers use specific brand names in conversations 60 times per week, and over 80 percent of us ask for recommendations before making a purchase.

This word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful force that drives five times the sales of paid impression marketing. Why? Because people trust peer recommendations over ads. Companies that build successful referral programs see an average of 86 percent revenue growth over two years compared to competitors.

But building a successful referral marketing campaign can be tricky. How can you take the brand passion you emote for your products or services and get everyday consumers to spread it?

Building a Successful Peer-to-Peer Campaign

While there isn’t a particular formula for finding referral marketing success, there are some guidelines that can help enhance your efforts.

1. Find advocates hiding in plain sight.

You already have brand advocates, whether you realize it or not. Start by looking to internal employees who are already representing your brand to family and friends.

Generating excitement among those working for your brand–and rewarding them just as you would reward an outside advocate–can be a great way to get the ball rolling. According to Cassie Hughes and Gabrey Means of Grow Marketing, “When working with PepsiCo to launch a new campaign for one of their brands, we always activated an experience for employees and bottlers at their campuses first to generate excitement around and support for the initiative.”

Your CRM system or customer list is another tool that already contains advocates. Go through the list and identify anyone who has expressed positive feelings about your company. Use this list to generate testimonials and reviews or even to solicit referrals. Then reward these new advocates with a personal thank you, small gift, or invitation to your next company luncheon.

2. Inject fun into the customer experience.

No one likes boring requests that sound like work. Nearly all of the top downloaded apps are entertainment-based, and part of this comes from the viral spread of referrals. Even if your product isn’t explicitly a game, adding an entertainment element to the customer experience can inspire advocacy without the need for an explicit referral program.

One company leading the way in this approach is Tophatter, a pioneering mobile discovery shopping site. Many consumers simply go online and hope for inspiration to strike, according to Tophatter COO Andrew Blachman. “We’ve seen this on Tophatter, where more than 90 percent of the three million purchases each month are ‘discovered,’ meaning there’s no search query before a purchase. The experience is more like a treasure hunt.”

3. Transform your brand into a great friend.

True friends have three main qualities: They’re great listeners; they are real human beings who can share values, viewpoints, and opinions with you; and they are there to help you when you need it. A brand that wants to build a great referral network needs to be these three things as well.

Find ways to truly listen to your target audience and provide the information, products, and tools they are asking for. Look for small and large opportunities to give back to loyal customers. Start conversations and find viewpoints that support your brand.

Even controversial viewpoints build loyalty for those who identify with them. “Sharing your opinion reveals your brand’s values and allows your audience either to agree or disagree with you,” says Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits. “In this way, you find your true audience, the ones who will advocate for and believe in your brand.”

Most importantly, care about your customers and find ways to demonstrate that. From offering pop-up experiences to answering social media posts (good and bad), focus on creating authentic, caring interactions that people will remember, share, and talk about.

Companies will always have natural advocates, but those that can harness the power of consumer networking will thrive in our ever more marketing-saturated world. The proliferation of invasive advertising erodes consumers’ trust and increases the importance of their knowing someone who has tried your brand before. Make sure that someone had a stand-out experience, and you will reap the rewards of many referrals to come.

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

Everyone knows what a team is, and most of us work, to varying degrees, with teams. Often, an entrepreneur getting a start-up off the ground has a tight team. The finance group is a team. Even units and subunits sometimes operate as teams.  Teams are relatively stable, and there typically is no formal start-date or end-date of when they will be in effect. That said, when there is a crisis, when you need all the collective adrenalin you can get, when you need to be intensely creative, when you need to readjust, and when time is short–you need a hot group.  In all of these instances you need a supercharged team.

The term hot group is commonly used to describe teams who not only work tremendously well together, but also achieve great things in a relatively compressed time frame due to task-focused passion. Jean Lipman-Blumen and Harold Leavitt, authors of Hot Groups, maintain that “any group can be a hot group”–so long as it has the “distinctive state of mind,” which they define as “task-obsessed and full of passion. . . . coupled with a distinctive way of behaving, a style that is intense, sharply focused, and full-bore.”

One of the most famous examples of a hot group is the NASA control room in Houston when the Apollo 13 crew faced a near calamity. When an explosion in the spacecraft damaged two oxygen tanks, venting oxygen into outer space, the mission to the moon became an emergency rescue operation. Quickly, the control room sprang alive becoming a miraculous, organic, problem-solving unit–essentially operating as an incredibly efficient hot group. All ideas focused on reaching a solution to the problem. Role differentiation vanished, task specificity became diffuse, and any notion of a plan went by the wayside. Flight director Gene Krantz gave the parameters of the assignment ahead of them: “Let’s work on the problem, people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.” Working together, the team improvised ingenious solutions. Jack Lousma, the capsule communicator, recalls, “We just responded as we had to. . . . It was dynamic, people working real hard to find out what the problems were. It was a bunch of people who were trying to solve these problems as they came up.”

This NASA team exemplifies the core elements of a hot group: the sense of the importance of their mission, passion, teamwork, hard work, and a cast of very skilled individuals. While many in the group were initially assigned to specific tasks, the rules of the game quickly changed. The mission became complex, urgent, and intensely captivating, pulling together resources and bright minds to work around the multitude of limitations. With incredible time pressure and an impossibly complicated task, the group worked feverishly to deliver results. According to NASA, “the most remarkable achievement of mission control was quickly developing procedures for powering up the CM [control module] after its long, cold sleep. Flight controllers wrote the documents for this innovation in three days, instead of the usual three months.”

While we don’t normally face crisis situations at the scale that NASA does, the principles of hot groups can be applied to some work situations. It is unrealistic to have a hot group that can stick together once a particular problem is solved. Hot groups are an assembly of the best and brightest, working in a tight frame. That said, they are often short-lived. They solve the problem. They come up with the innovation, and entropy sets in. The intensity cannot be kept up. The most successful organizations promote an environment where hot groups can form, solve problems, dissolve, and reform to solve new problems as they come up.

The National Autistic Society Just Taught a Huge Lesson in Empathic Marketing

Empathy has become a major business buzzword, but it’s not just about stronger leadership–it’s about becoming a more emotionally intelligent marketer.

Instead of telling your customers what you think they should hear, it’s listening to your customer–and yes, some analytics data–and delivering them content that they value based on your understanding of their needs.

The dialogues brands have been sharing with their followers on social media is on the right path to this, but it’s less about responding to questions in real time, and more about processing what consumers are saying, using it to assess needs or pain points, and then delivering solutions that provide value.

And I think content marketing is a great way to do this. After all, a whopping 90 percent of consumers are already asking for brands to engage with them through content, so why not connect with your audience in a way they want to hear from you?

These three savvy brands and organizations are listening to what their audiences want and delivering with empathetic content.

National Autistic Society

In a brilliant use of VR, the National Autistic Society both showed empathy and drove empathy with the Autism TMI VR Experience. The campaign came from the learning that while the majority of people surveyed in the UK knew what autism was, very few understood it in a meaningful way. The National Autism Society used that learning to inspire the video campaign, which uses video to mirror what it is like for a child with autism to navigate a busy store.

LinkedIn

More than just a tool for forging professional connections, LinkedIn has become a marketing tool, but one for which many wished they had a handbook. Enter exactly that. LinkedIn released a free ebook “The Secret Sauce: Learn How to Use LinkedIn for Marketing” to help subscribers get the most out of this marketing platform, and even created an infographic summing it up for all the visual learners out there.

Slack

Slack created an entire business by listening to the workforce’s pain points (overflowing email inboxes, anyone?), and creating a product solution. Its marketing followed suit when the brand realized that its growth was largely word of mouth, and that their prospective audience sought out testimonials from people and brands that they trusted to drive trial. The resulting “So Yeah…We Tried Slack” video has garnered over 1 million views on YouTube, and has generated a better understanding about the product and how it can help growing businesses.

6 Soft Skills You Need to Land Your Next Job

Some of the most important qualities as a job candidate are the hardest ones to list on a resume.

Specific traits, beyond technical skills, are what a discerning recruiter or employer is looking for when making a hiring decision. These qualities are called “soft skills,” desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.

When bringing new employees aboard, managers consider attitude as much as aptitude. Some believe you can train employees for the specific skills they need to do the job. Hiring a candidate with the right demeanor may actually be a better choice than hiring someone who is rigid, set in their ways and has years of experience.

Here are 6 tips to give you an edge at your next job interview.

Be eager to learn. Technology has ushered change into virtually every field, which means many industries are constantly – and quickly – evolving. Employers want to feel confident in your ability to adjust, switch gears and actively seek opportunities to learn new skills. Your job description is a template to follow. It’s your responsibility to continue to add value to your position through continued growth, letting your interviewer know you are ready and able to step up to the challenge.

Highlight your communication skills. How well you speak, write and listen will be revealed throughout your interactions with your interviewer. It’s important to make sure you are at the top of your game. Any written communication, even a brief email confirming your interview time, must be free of errors and casual abbreviations, with all names spelled correctly (don’t guess; double-check).

Show enthusiasm. It doesn’t mean you have to bounce off the walls with over-the-top zeal. You just have to show a genuine interest in the job, the company and the opportunity. Demonstrate this by doing your homework in advance, understanding the company mission, its history and who the company caters to as a client. In other words, show your research skills and ask questions. Body language also plays a part: sit up straight, make eye contact, smile genuinely and look alive.

Be a good listener. While it’s important to showcase your abilities, a solid interviewee knows the value of thoughtful contemplation. Don’t interrupt the interviewer or get ahead of yourself and lose sight of the conversation. Show respect for the interviewer by allowing them to finish a thought, while you process their statement or point of view and then respond at the appropriate time. Asking a question which has already been answered shows immaturity or lack of focus on your part.

Emphasize your collaborative spirit. Teamwork is part of almost any job. Employers want to know that they are hiring people who work well with a variety of people and can help bring out the best in others. Offering examples of successful collaborative efforts, both with co-workers and clients, can help let them know that you are a team player. An “it’s not my job” attitude is the kiss of death for any employee over the long term.

Spotlight Your Integrity. Being a leader is not about where you sit on the company org chart. It’s more about your ability to show good judgment, display a solid work ethic,  face challenges with calm and confidence; and show loyalty to the company, peers and the overall brand. A good job candidate must also be a good community member and trusted friend. Business and pleasure often overlap. Be careful to speak only positive words about your former employer, a business associate or a neighbor.

Why Facebook’s New Jobs Feature Is a Smart Move

I’m LinkedIn’s biggest fan. I spent more time on LinkedIn than any other platform. Yes, even more than Facebook. Every job I’ve ever had was because of LinkedIn.

So, when I saw that Facebook is rolling out a job search and application feature to the UK, Brazil, France, Spain and Italy I had to do a double take.

Who in their right mind would ever apply for a job with their Facebook profile?

I already spent an inordinate amount time making sure potential employers can’t see my Facebook, so why would I under any situation alert the employer to my Facebook profile? Aren’t users worried about this, too?

We’ve already heard of stories of companies firing employees from content on their Facebook profile, and even going as far as asking for their credentials so they can evaluate everything on their Facebook.

But, even with those two big concerns, I think this is a genius move by Facebook. Here’s why.

There are plenty of folks who aren’t on LinkedIn.

The way I see it, Facebook is going after the blue-collar worker and small business workers who want to hire lower-skilled workers that would never have a profile on Linkedin.

Now, via Facebook Jobs, you can apply using a FB autofill feature, and then talk to the hiring managers directly on messenger.

If you have a small business, this is music to your ears, because now you can create a job post via Facebook, and get applications immediately. Considering you’re hiring people who don’t have amazing LinkedIn profiles or deep professional experience, this gives you direct access to the people who are most likely to work for your company anyway.

I personally won’t be using the jobs platform — not immediately, anyway — but I do know a couple people who have used the platform and found success with it. Of course, both of them spent significant time adjusting their Facebook profiles to be a little bit more “professional” before applying. It’s the sacrifice you have to make if you want to look good when applying for a job.

If you’re blue-collar worker and are afraid to create a LinkedIn profile because of your experience, this is the perfect solution for you. No need to create a resume that you didn’t like to create anyway, and it allows you to easily apply to jobs.

This is a win-win for everyone, even with my concerns.

Facebook closes a huge gap and probably a gap that LinkedIn was well aware of, but maybe purposely avoided. 

I love you, LinkedIn — but Facebook is definitely on to something here.