Thrive NOW™ was a full-day virtual summit hosted by Smart Simple Marketing on April 14, 2020, especially for small businesses that have been struggling since COVID-19 imposed unprecedented restrictions on us all.
The live event was the result of conversations Sydni and I had with our clients, fellow marketers, and small business network, as we heard stories of companies struggling to stay open and keep their employees on their payrolls.
We asked each other, “what can we do?” The result of every conversation was the same: We want to help. We quickly got to work and put together an agenda of five one-hour sessions, each with a different topic and guest expert:
- Emotional health: How to Overcome Your Fears and Rewire Your Thinking for Success with business coach Michele Molitor.
- Legal considerations: COVID-19 Legal Considerations – Action to take Now and Pitfalls to Avoid, with attorney Brian Ripley.
- Working remotely: How to Lead a Virtual Team for the First Time Successfully with Tara Powers, founder, and CEO of Powers Resource Center.
- Business model: Creating New Streams of Revenue – What to Consider and How to Do It, featuring Elaine Betts, CEO of Go Far Consulting.
Meet Tom Petty
One of the first people we reached out to was Tom Petty, whom we’ve known and trusted for many years. Tom is a digital marketing consultant who has extensive experience working with many types of businesses, from small startups to large Fortune 100 companies. He helps them answer the top digital marketing questions: How can I get people to find my business online? And, how do I convert website visitors into customers?
One of the reasons we invited Tom to join Thrive NOW™ was because of his specialization in helping small businesses transform what he calls “brochure websites” into digital marketing systems.
He offers some excellent advice for small businesses that need to shift to build a broader online audience, especially during COVID-19.
The ‘Big 4’ Local Search Tools
Tom began his session by sharing the importance of having a local listing with the “big four” online search engines – Google, which is responsible for the majority of online searches, as well as Bing Places, Facebook, and Yelp! Below is the summary of the discussion with tom and some helpful links to setting up these four online sources:
- Google My Business: This free service from Google helps your brand show up when people search for it online, and if you’ve got a physical location, it’s especially helpful for making sure you show up on Google Maps. Google My Business is a must-have for every small business, as Google “owns” more than 60% of online searches worldwide.
- Bing Places: Microsoft’s search engine is the second-most used behind Google, according to data reported by Statista. Follow the steps to claim your location and complete your profile.
- Facebook for Business: If your business isn’t on Facebook, start by creating a Facebook Page; and if you are on Facebook, review their business tips for optimizing your page on all of their channels, including Instagram. Facebook is a for-profit company, so, of course, they are going to try to direct you toward paid advertising. That said they offer a number of free tools that allow you to test the platform and see if your target audience is willing to engage with you there.
- Yelp: Tom says he has a love-hate relationship with Yelp. The company has been criticized for using strong-arm tactics to get small businesses to buy advertising. That said, their search results tend to show up high in searches, so he recommends claiming your business on Yelp if you haven’t already and creating a free profile. As avid users of Yelp ourselves, Sydni and I can attest to using the platform consistently to find local small businesses to buy from, especially when we’re traveling.
The bottom line is this: You need to control how your business shows up online and what prospects see when they search for you. Even if you don’t regularly use each platform mentioned, it’s a very smart move to claim and set up your profile so you are easily visible when people are searching for your business online.
Takeaways: Key Learnings from Tom Petty’s Session
In addition to talking about the importance of claiming your local listings online and setting up profiles on the big four search tools, Tom recommends that you answer the following key questions:
- Is it obvious what your business does? Keep in mind that when someone searches for your business online, they have a key problem in their mind, like “I have a toothache” or “I need an accountant.” Make sure the problems your business solves are clear in all of your online assets, from your website to your social media pages to your listings in directories (like Yelp).
- What do you want visitors to do? Make sure you have a clear call to action on your website. A call to action (CTA) is a signal to your visitor as to what you want them to do. Tom reminded our attendees that people are more likely to give you their email addresses and contact information when you offer something of value – that solves a specific problem they’re facing. Email newsletters and free demos may not be as valuable to your audience as a downloadable ebook, webinars, 30-minute consultations, or a free quote. Make sure your visitors understand the value of what they’re getting.
- Have at least two types of CTAs on your website. One is a “low-touch” CTA for people who are not quite ready to engage with your brand. This could be a downloadable checklist, a tutorial video, or an assessment tool. The other is a “high-barrier” CTA that you can think of which is similar to a “buy now” action.
- How is your reputation online? Regularly invite your customers to leave online reviews. If you happen to get a bad review, make sure you respond in a positive way. Bad reviews aren’t always deal-breakers, especially if you respond in a gracious, professional way. Take it as a learning opportunity and move forward.
Tom had a lot of practical advice to share and we really appreciated his time! Click here to register to listen to his session and our other guest experts from Thrive NOW™ Virtual Summit. It’s free!
Connect With Tom Petty
Thomas Petty is CEO and Founder of Thomas Petty’s Digital Marketing Solutions, who coaches businesses to build web-based businesses, without having to become technical gurus.
About the Thrive NOW™ Virtual Summit
The Thrive NOW™ Virtual Small Business Summit was held on April 14, 2020, after Sydni and I heard from our network the need for support for small businesses and entrepreneurs. One resource predicted that 25% or more of small businesses may not survive in 2020, and we knew we couldn’t just let that happen.
Smart Simple Marketing has been serving the small business community for more than 14 years. We’re so proud to have worked with 8,000+ small business owners in 79 industries from around the globe. Thrive NOW™ is the product of our experience in results-driven content marketing, producing virtual events, and delivering hundreds of workshops, seminars, and webinars worldwide.