Common Sense Tips for Start Ups

Is your small business a start up? If you are in business one year or less then your business is considered a start up and there are common sense things that you need to know and understand before you rush off into the sunset thinking because you sell it or offer the service that the people will just come. Because, they won’t.

Before you even think about a website you need to do this first:

Understand that you actually have no idea what you are doing. Face up to this fact and seek help and guidance from those advisers who have the business experience. 

Hire a business coach. Retaining a business mentor should absolutely be your very first expense / investment in your business. Do a phone interview with several business coaches before settling on one. Make sure the fit is right for your business needs. Each business coach that you interview should give you some free initial consultation time on the phone. Be respectful of their time limit. 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Listen for a business coach who expresses genuine interest in your business and who is willing to treat your business and you like the unique entities that you are. 

Decide whether your current idea of your product is fulfilling a need or want that prospective clients have. Do some market research, do internet research. With tangible products explore selling at craft or trade shows or local marketplaces. Gauge the interest, or not. You may have to tweak your product several times in order to find the sweet spot that gets you customers.

With services, determine who your local / main competitors are and analyze how they do what they do and use it to your advantage. Learn from the ones that instinctively grab your interest. You too will have to go through the tweaking stage more than once to find your sweet spot that nets you clients as well. 

When you see that your product or service is viable, this is the time to create a flexible business plan that can grow and evolve with you. 

If you are going to need a payroll service such as ADP go directly to them yourself. Do not use a middleman. In fact, do not use middlemen for anything for your business. Go direct or go nowhere – the commission fees will bleed you dry and when money is slow to come in you will find yourself still having to pay the higher price because of the middleman. 

Be motivated when cold calling on businesses if you offer a service. Don’t hand them a flyer and expect that they will call you. They won’t. You have to get in there, meet the owner or manager, give them a reason to want your service. Your market analysis of competitors should have been done by this point and you and your business coach should have come up with a plan that sets you apart from the rest. 

This legwork is necessary before you spend good money on a website. Putting up the website first is like putting the cart before the horse. You don’t even have a game plan at that point. 

Hiring the right website designer is crucial. Again, you should touch base with several website designers, doing the phone interview bit. If they don’t offer a free 15 or 20 minute consultation they are not right for you, right off the bat. Each website designer should be asked about what they can do for you. Just like the business coach, the website designer should express a genuine interest in your business, and be able to tell you briefly what they can do for you clearly and in understandable terms. If their services include marketing after website launch they need to be able to tell you what they will do to get your business out there. 

If you are a start up and you have found this article helpful, give us a call to find out more about our comprehensive business services such as business coaching, business mentoring, website design and marketing. Call today 201.753.1677

So Your Google My Business Listing Got Suspended What’s Next?

So one day you go into your Google My Business account to perhaps make a post or make an adjustment to your hours and what do you see? Your Google My Business listing has been suspended!! End of the world, right? Not so much. Keep reading.

Google My Business Listing Suspended

Google My Business gives you a free listing for your business complete with a spot on the map, categories for your business, the ability to post pictures and to actually post posts about your business. It’s a free service. Sounds great! 

Enter today’s spammers and scammers who make fake addresses, fake listings, hand out fake damaging reviews to legitimate businesses, and take down legitimate business listings by reporting them as duplicates, or out of business when they are not. Not sounding so great now………..

Google encourages “edits” to listings in the effort to make them hopefully more relevant and accurate. Which opens a door to the scammer, spammer and competition to use this editing power for harm instead of good. 

If your business does NOT see customers at your location, such as a consultant who goes out to meet with clients, or an at home internet business who sells and ships from the home but does not have a physical brick and mortar retail store, you are generally encouraged to clear your address on your Google My Business listing so that your home address isn’t out there for all to see. 

If you operate more than one business from your location, say your home, such as a husband operating one business and the wife operating another, you cannot have both businesses listed on Google My Business. So what’s the point of even listing your businesses on Google My Business?

These two types of scenarios, the one where you clear your address and the operating of more than one business from your home location is what Google has been targeting and suspending lately. 

You’re not dishonest, you’re running a legitimate business, but you are getting your listing suspended. Yes, you can contact Google and ask for it to be reinstated. There is no guarantee they will do so, and there is no guarantee they will constructively interact with you. 

So what’s a small business owner to do? The listing is suspended, you don’t know when or if it’s ever going to be brought back to life. And meanwhile like a fairly normal person you are kind of freaking out. 

It all boils down to doing things the old fashioned way, boys and girls. Good old fashioned search engine optimization done the way we did it quite a few years ago, before Google My Business was ever even a thought or a conception. Google My Business started in 2014. We’ve been doing search engine optimization long before that, since 2000. 

And how did we get our clients all over the Internet like splat back then? Good old honest search engine optimization with geo targeting and precisely constructed landing pages. All white hat, all transparent and all targeted at your desired target audience. No black hat seo BS. 

Honest, creative search engine optimization with geo targeting and carefully constructed landing pages has survived the test of time. It has survived innumerable Google algorithm changes, it has survived all of the trendy techniques of times past, and it survives today alive and well. 

So, if your Google My Business page has been suspended never fear. There is life after suspension. Plenty of life. And plenty of business that you can acquire just by making the move towards geo targeted SEO and carefully crafted landing pages. 

In 20 years of business there has been plenty of change and we have always successfully reinvented ourselves and our clients so we can roll with the punches and move ahead. We can help you do that too. 

Call or text us today at 201.753.1677 to find out more.

Be Aware of Google Maps Hackers

Yes, I know this article was written back in 2014…….. yet it still holds the same relevance today as it did then unfortunately. With the rising rates of fraudulent transactions and mean spirited behaviors among people, when a competitor wants to shut you down there’s a very easy way to do it. On Google Maps. They can take your Google My Business listing down in a virtual heartbeat. 

All the stories in the article I’m about to link to have either taken down the business completely or caused enough grief to the business owner to cause real financial hardship. Community edits are a main source of trouble, as are the infamous map hackers and those who change the business hours and flood the business with fake reviews.

Read original article here

The point is no one checks their Google My Business listing every day. I check it about every two weeks on my phone or iPad with the app. All has been well with my Google My Business listing for a long time. No issues.

I checked it today whilst doing social media because I thought how neat would it be to copy my Instagram post which immediately is shared on Facebook to my Google My Business listing. Lo and behold I was listed as a duplicate listing which could NOT be removed because someone else had become the manager. Which was not true because when I looked up Users it was only my account managing it. 

I had no ability to change anything and I could not obtain permission to transfer it to another account. Then I noticed 2 other listings had been tampered with as well. Bottom line after 2 hours of trying everything in the book, I copied my reviews, and finally was able to delete all listings. Then I created a new listing which was immediately suspended. I was not allowed to use LLC after my name. 

I created yet another listing and now am waiting for that pesky verification postcard. 

It really is imperative that you stay on top of your Google My Business listing because you never ever know when that evil individual who is your competitor or a hacker will strike. Sad world we live in. But one must remain vigilant. 

Getting Your Business to Show Up on Google Local Near Me Searches

It makes perfect sense for any business to be able to show up on Google when potential clients search for a local business near them. However, many businesses do NOT show up when potential customers or clients search. The typical search would be “jewelry store near me” or “dwi lawyer near me” or “general contractor near me”.

The landscape has changed in regards to the demise of Google+, sometimes referred to as Google Plus, which I personally considered pretty lame. However, the upside of this is the new and improved Google My Business. Which I am actually impressed with. And I’ll tell you why. It really enables the business owner to control their presence and to connect with their audience and potential clients.

The quick and dirty procedure to get your business to show up on the local near me listings is the following:

Google Maps Ranking Factors – fill out your entire business listing completely and comprehensively and you will see the rewards with better exposure.

1) It always pays to verify your Google My Business Information – so make sure you do this.

2) Encourage your current clients / customers to leave you reviews on Google.

3) Take the time to properly categorize your business – the more careful you are to target your niche, the easier it will be for people to find your business.

4) Optimize your listing description – this is all done under the INFO tab on the left. Categories, service areas, your hours, phone, website, appointment url (even if that is just your contact us page), description, and any photos you might want to add.

5) Using a local telephone number is preferable to using an 800 number. Many 800 or 888 numbers are robo call numbers or spam numbers. If you want to come up in local searches, use a local phone number. This also shows Google you really are a local business.

6) Embedding a Google Map on your website is further proof of credibility and legitimacy.

How to embed a Google Map on your website? Google My Business makes this super easy for you. From the dashboard of your listing, click on INFO in the left hand menu. Then, all the way to your right click on View on Maps. Next, on your maps view, look in the left hand column for the three bar menu icon at the top left of the page. Click on that and scroll down to where it says Share or Embed a Map. Click on that.

A small screen pops up that says Share. You have two choices – Send a Link or Embed a Map. Choose Embed a Map. You can choose the map size. Then click on Copy HTML and add that to your contact us page or your website footer widget or send to your website manager to do this for you.

The next step is to create posts with pictures. This is a mission critical step. Going back to your dashboard page, see Posts in the left menu. Click on that. Create a post complete with relevant hashtags, and a relevant image. Your post doesn’t have to be the Great American Novel. Keep it short and sweet.

Since we are always posting about a service we offer or a web design product that we offer, we choose What’s New. At the very bottom you can Add a Button. We always choose Learn More and put the link to the service or product in there. When done, hit Publish.

Be advised that all Google posts expire after 7 days with the exception of Event posts. So be sure to post on a consistent basis of every 3 or 4 days to serve up fresh content. Monitor your insights and watch the traffic to your listing go up. And watch your search engine visibility grow. And listen to the phone ring. It takes some time, as do all good things, but you will have done your business a great service by following these steps and maximizing your Google My Business listing.

***HINT: To make your posting easier and a more streamlined process, we create our original post in our business Instagram Account with all of the appropriate hashtags. We then share it from Instagram directly to our business Facebook page. From there, we copy the content to our Google My Business post. Upload the picture, and we are done. 5 minutes. Literally. And painless.

Maureen McCullough LLC is your Bergen County New Jersey website design, SEO and marketing agency. We care about your business and want you to succeed. Give us a call today at 201.753.1677 for a free 20 minute consultation.

Is It Time To Turn Your Business Around?

Every business reaches a point where processes and tasks could be done more efficiently making better use of time and resources. Employee morale is directly tied to the company culture and what flavor of the company Kool-Aid is being served. Sometimes these things need to be changed up a bit so that the business can experience sustainable growth and take things to the next level. 

As a business consulting firm here in Northern New Jersey, we help clients throughout Bergen County and Rockland County New York turn their businesses around from stagnant to viable and growing. Sometimes it’s a simple issue such as the company or culture having gotten stuck in a particular groove that’s old and not very apparent until you look at it from the outside – and begin thinking out of the box.

Other times it’s a little more serious. Maybe some financial concerns because profits are down, or e-commerce is not what it should be, or new programs need to be introduced to breath life into the business. We are actually working with a local company now who’s mantra was “but we’ve always done it this way” and in the same breath “but everything we try never works” which simply screams “help we are stuck in the mud!!!!”.

How you do what you do sometimes also needs to be kicked up a notch or two. If processes are too clunky there would be a call for streamlining and efficiency and creating an easy to follow routine. This not only encourages efficient usage of time and resources but also can bring up employee morale which encourages teamwork and camaraderie. Maybe your employees would benefit from work at home flex time, a revamped company culture of a more relaxed and productive atmosphere. Rewards for jobs well done. Who knows? Some companies expect their employees to drink the company Kool-Aid while ignoring the fact that many are pretending to like the culture simply because they need the job, not because it’s actually an enjoyable experience.

The last thing your company needs is a negative tone. This is picked up by employees and customers alike. You don’t need production slipping, you need it to grow. You don’t need staff turnover, you need staff to be happy and productive and to do their best every day.

Working with Maureen McCullough LLC, we help you:

  • Identify the challenges
  • Develop a customized plan of action
  • Create a make-sense execution strategy
  • Build an operational groundwork for success and growth

We will help you implement systems and processes while providing common sense guidance, enabling everyone from the executive wing on down the line to cultivate a thriving and sustainable business.

Maureen McCullough LLC is your Bergen County New Jersey website design, SEO and marketing agency. We care about your business and want you to succeed. Give us a call today at 201.753.1677 for a free 20 minute consultation.

3 Reasons Why A Large Marketing Agency May Be Dead Wrong For Your Business

Many small businesses are correct in knowing that they need to hire a marketing agency to beef up brand recognition, search engine visibility, handle email campaigns, setup and monitor pay per click PPC campaigns as well as organic campaigns, and much more.

In the same breath, many of these same small businesses, regardless of industry – be it attorneys or manufacturing or food and hospitality – make a critical mistake when choosing what type of marketing agency they will work with.

Many are under the misconception that the MORE they spend means they will get more at the end of the day.  Many feel it’s worth it to spend $3000 a month as opposed to $300 a month just because the $3000 simply MUST be better quality. They could not be more wrong. 

Let’s examine this for what it’s worth.

A) Let’s get the basic cost bit out of the way. Large marketing agencies have overhead, employees, consultants and more high maintenance costs. So by the nature of the beast they MUST charge more. And they do.

Small hometown marketing agencies do not have these costs. Many work out of their home office, and do not have employees and consultants but instead have teams that work remotely from their home offices. Sure they still have to pay themselves and their remote team members, but the cost to expense ratio is far diminished. 

B) Large marketing agencies are hung up on numbers, flowcharts, pie charts, funnel charts besides which THEY tell YOU what keywords they are going to list you for or spend your ad dollars on. They do not take the time to explain Google Analytics to their clients who actually have an interest in understanding it. They are SO caught up in the numbers game with their clients, caught up with feeding the client all possible industry buzzwords, they actually brainwash the client to an extent. 

Small marketing agencies operate the exact opposite way. They realize the client really doesn’t care about all the intricacies of Google Analytics, or industry buzzwords, or charts. They realize the client wants one thing to happen.

The client, at the end of the day, wants the damn phone to ring. That’s it.

That’s the point of first contact. The phone ringing, even if it is a tire kicker on the other end, is a good thing. The tire kicker may be converted to a customer or client. Maybe not. But the phone is ringing. 

Case in point: A colleague and I were discussing this and she pointed out the case of Proctor & Gamble and also Unilever. Proctor & Gamble cut $200 million of it’s marketing spend and they reduced spending with what they called several “big players” by 20% to 50%.  The cuts enabled Proctor & Gamble to eliminate 20% of it’s ineffective marketing and actually INCREASED the company reach by 10%. 
Read original article here.

C) The Personal Care Aspect. Large marketing agencies do not preach nor do they practice the personal care aspect. They do not take the time to get to know you, the client. They do not take the time to get to know your business, your goals, needs, aspirations for success, or wish lists. They take your money, assign you to an account manager who may or may not be the same account manager the next time you call, and they do not focus on you. Often the marketing efforts are not closely tailored or even closely focused on what your business needs but instead are focused on what they feel is best for you at this time.

Small marketing agencies embrace the personal care aspect and the hometown feel of “we’ve got your back and if what we are doing is not working we’ve got a Plan B in the lineup”. With many if not most smaller marketing agencies, you are taken care of personally by the owner or a dedicated account manager who knows it’s your 5 year old’s birthday this coming Wednesday. If you are local to them they are willing to meet with you on a monthly basis or whenever schedules permit to discuss what’s working and what’s not. 

If you are not local, they are willing to Skype a meeting with you to accomplish the same goals. Small marketing agencies don’t tell YOU what’s good for you. They instead LISTEN to you, and create a personalized plan accordingly. They exhaust all organic methods before spending your money on pay per click ad campaigns. Small marketing agencies work WITH you and FOR you, taking a sincere interest in your business and your success. NO ineffective marketing tactics allowed.  

Maureen McCullough LLC is your Bergen County New Jersey website design, SEO and marketing agency. We care about your business and want you to succeed. Give us a call today at 201.753.1677 for a free 20 minute consultation.

Leveraging Google My Business for Business Success

Google is finally doing away with Google+, which in my eyes, was fairly useless as far as business is concerned. Up on the up side, they have made Google My Business much easier to use, more clear cut, and have incorporated the posts feature from Google+ into Google My Business.This is a key selling point in why your small business should take advantage of this and leverage this tool for your business success.

The key to using Google My Business correctly for best business exposure is simple.

  • Fill out your INFO section as completely and thoroughly as possible. Don’t have a dedicated appointment URL? Use your contact us page. Be sure to pick the most relevant categories for your business.
  • Reviews. Respond to your reviews, both good reviews and not so good reviews. It shows you’re keeping up with your client feedback.
  • Turn on messaging. Get the Google My Business App so you can respond quickly to any inquiries that come your way.
  • Upload some photos of your business. They don’t have to be images of your office if you prefer not. They can be images you use in your blog posts or social media as pertains to your business.
  • They give you a free website. We don’t need it because we have one of our own. However, you can turn this one page freebie into a useful landing page for your business. Food for thought.
  • Above all, take advantage of posting POSTS. What we do is we post on Instagram, share it to our Facebook business page, then copy it to our Google My Business Posts. All posts expire after 7 days so it is important to keep your feed fresh. Save images from expiring posts in your photos.

Be consistent and watch your INSIGHTS grow and your phone call rate go up!

Maureen McCullough LLC is your Bergen County New Jersey website design, SEO and marketing agency. We care about your business and want you to succeed. Give us a call today at 201.753.1677 for a free 20 minute consultation.

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