GMB New Feature: Set Holiday Hours!

Google My Business has launched a new feature that allows bulk-verified users to quickly pre-set special hours for holidays and special events. When you enter special hours in Google My Business, Google will tell customers that they’re seeing holiday-specific opening hours. This should remove all of the guess work in having to push holiday hours updates to Google and hope that they go live within the appropriate time frame.

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New Bing Places for Business Dashboard Accepts Google Feed Format

With the launch of Bing’s new Places Dashboard, Bing claims that they are making “claiming bulk listings quick and hassle-free.” Business owners now have two options for bulk uploading their data on Bing: they can either upload a file in Bing’s feed format (which has not changed significantly from the previous Bing Business Portal version), or upload in Google’s feed format (which is admittedly less comprehensive).

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Google Places Update Pushes Bulk Verification

Last week, Google Places got some minor UI and functional tweaks.  The changes were focused on the ‘business summary’ page that lists all of the locations managed within the account and are summarized here. The most interesting change though, was the push to verify bulk listings.  When you login to an account that has locations added via the bulk feed and they have not been verified, you now get a very prominent message that you should consider doing so:

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Two Worlds Pleasantly Collide

It does not get more local than the message board in the local coffee shop, and that is why I loved what I saw today when I walked in:

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Using the most classic of marketing tools to drive one of the newest and most cutting edge.

Local Media Talking About the Importance of Search

Boston.com has an article talking about the importance of search marketing.  Covers the basics of good links and good content…but also points out that there is a large gap between the value of search marketing and the typical business owner’s understanding of the space.

Showing up prominently in [Google, Yahoo and Bing] search results has become an important part of basic sales and marketing strategy for businesses – but one that isn’t well understood.

Always great to see people out side of “the space” talking about how critical search is to a business.

Real Life Fiction About Running a Small Business

CNN Small Business has a short piece on a the Buddenbrooks chronicles by German author Thomas Mann.   Despite the fact that the books were written over 100 years ago, their lessons around running a small business still ring true — especially when it comes to businesses that span multiple generations.  With all the advances in the last 100 years, it is both refreshing and concerning that things really haven’t changed that much.

The Age Old Question: How Did You Find Us?

Determining how a new customer or client found out about your products and services is extremely valuable information.  Chances are you already pose the question to new customers during some form of initial consultation or interview.  But how specific can you really get?  You can’t exactly ask them to pick the ad out of a lineup that got them into your office.

Or can you? When advertising your local business online, it’s a brand new ballgame. Here are a few basic tracking methods to help you determine which of your online advertisements are bringing in new business, and which ones aren’t.

  1. Track your “Thank You” page.  If you have a form on your website where visitors can contact you or signup for an initial consultation, place a small snippet of code on the “Thank You” page they reach after submitting the form.   When the page is displayed to the visitor, this snippet of code is executed, and can be matched up with the exact ad that brought the visitor to your website.
  2. Track phone calls that originated from your website.  Sometimes a website visitor would like to speak directly with a representative from your business, perhaps to setup an appointment or ask a personal question.  If you don’t have a unique phone number or extension for your website calls, quickly ask how the caller heard about your business and jot down their response. With more advanced call tracking techniques, you can record live conversations or even link a particular call back to the exact online ad that produced it.
  3. Use promotion and coupon codes.  Create unique coupon codes for different online advertising campaigns.  If a website visitor prints a coupon and brings it in for redemption, mark it down on your spreadsheet.  At the end of the month, take a look at the coupons that were brought in to see how well your ads are performing for each offer or service.

These are just a few basic ways to determine how new customers find your local business online.  Spend a little time setting them up, and these tracking methods can give you real insight, save money, and help you determine the most effective way to grow your local business!