I know from personal experience that running your own business means you have a lot on your plate.
But one thing I’ve noticed about the more successful local businesses that I’ve worked with is that they have good habits. It’s the little things that they do consistently that set them apart from the average businesses they are competing against.
And that’s what I’m going to share with you today. Four simple habits that any small or local business can employ to give a significant boost to their business.
So, are you ready?
Excellent. Then let’s begin.
Success Habit #1 – They Ask For Referrals
We all know that referrals are one of the most effective ways to grow any business. They’re also one of the cheapest.
Think about it for a moment. How many times have you found yourself saying to a friend or family member that you know this brilliant plumber/decorator/hairdresser/accountant or whatever?
You’ve probably referred dozens of new customers to them already.
And what’s better is that according to research conducted by Nielsen recommendations from people you know are the most trusted form of advertising. With referrals you really are pushing gently at an open door.
But how many businesses actually ask for referrals? I mean be honest – when was the last time you asked for a referral?
And here’s the problem. We know that people want to refer when they get a great service, but often they don’t realise that this is really important for you as a business owner.
Sometimes we as business owners just need to grease the skids a little. And that just means getting into the habit of asking for referrals.
But this doesn’t need to be a pushy, sales driven approach. Nobody likes to feel that they’re being ‘hit on’ for access to their network.
Often it’s just a question of timing. By that I mean that there’s a time and place for asking for referrals and that’s when you have a happy customer in front of you.
When you’ve delivered a great service for them you just need to gently remind them that you’d love to offer this high level of service to any of their friends, family or business associates too.
There’s no magic formula or phrase that you can use. You’ll work out the best way to ask, but the point is that you need to ask.
If you want you can just explain that one of the best ways you’ve found to grow your business is through referrals. All you need to do is just enter that thought into their minds and say that you’d really appreciate it if they can think of anyone they know who would need your services too.
Finally, when you do get referrals, don’t forget to say thank you or send a small, appropriate gift. Nothing crazy, just a small token of gratitude.
Success Habit #2 – They Ask For Google Reviews
Could you do me a favour?
Run a quick search in Google for your service in your area so that you get the local rankings appear. You should see three local results – this is known as the Google 3 Pack.
Do you notice something that these top 3 businesses have in common?
Usually you’ll see that they have more Google reviews than lower ranked businesses. This isn’t in 100% of cases but the vast majority of the top ranked sites have more reviews.
In fact, when we analyzed over 540 UK Local B2B websites one of the main factors that stood out like a sore thumb was that the Best In Class websites had double the number of reviews that other lower ranked websites had.
But it’s not as if these top sites had hundreds of reviews. On the contrary, the average number of reviews was just under 1 whilst the lower ranked sites averaged less than 0.5 reviews.
Now obviously you can’t give someone half a review but as it was an average, the simple conclusion is that most local businesses are not getting Google Reviews.
You can see a quick summary of our findings here – they may surprise you.
So again, as with Referrals – you just need to get into the habit of asking for reviews.
Probably the best place to start is with your best customers.
In fact, let me re-phrase that. Definitely the best place to start is with your best customers.
You know who they are. They’ve probably been with you for years, you’re on good (probably first name) terms and they’re always referring people to you.
These people are like walking, talking adverts for your business.
So will they want to give you a review? Of course they will. They’ll probably ask you why you didn’t ask before and they’ll probably rally the troops around to get more reviews for you.
So start there and once you’ve got a few reviews from your best customers you can start to approach the rest.
Just email them with a link to your Google Business page and just ask them to leave an honest review for you.
There’s no need to go crazy though. Just set a target of several reviews a month. Just one a week is perfect.
In fact, don’t go crazy. If you get 500 Google reviews in a week it will actually be detrimental to you because Google will think you’re just trying to game the system.
Steady as she goes is how you need to think. Just get into the habit of picking up reviews on a regular basis.
Success Habit #3 – They Build NAP Citations
This sounds strange, but it’s really very, very simple. Let me explain.
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone. A Citation is just a mention of your site in a trusted website like a local business directory or local business listing.
The important point is that your details need to be exactly the same – the same company name, same address and same phone number.
This sends a consistent message to Google about your business.
There are tons of NAP Citation opportunities. Start with the most popular ones like Yelp, ThomsonLocal and 118 if you are in the UK then work your way through the list adding a few more each month.
Here’s a list of the most popular NAP Citation sites.
These are super easy and is usually just a question of filling in an online form. Some may require an annual payment and you just need to leave it to your judgement if you want to pay for that.
Just get the basic service so that you can link back to your site. No need to pay for an enhanced listing or anything like that if the free listing gives you a link.
Just steadily pick up the NAP Citations each and every month. Easy!
Success Habit #4 – They Publish Content Regularly
Another of our findings when we looked at successful local businesses was that Best in Class had more content. They averaged 104 pages vs 48 for low ranking sites.
The best way that you can do this is to create a blog. Installing a blog tool like WordPress is ridiculously easy. Just create a directory called ‘blog’ in your website (eg: www.yourwebsite.com/blog) and then install WordPress using the one click installation tool in your web hosting control panel.
Now you just need to start creating content.
At this point most small business owners start to scratch their heads. “What content should I create? Who will be interested in what I have to say?”. Or maybe they’ll complain that they’re no good at writing.
But don’t let these put you off. All you need to do is to demonstrate your expertise.
Think of all the questions your prospective customers ask you. This is valuable information that people are searching for online.
Just create a list of questions to get started. Questions like:
- How do I…?
- What’s the difference between…?
- What’s the best option for…?
- How much does…cost?
- How long does it take to…?
- What do I need to be aware of when…?
When you start to fill in the blanks you’ll start to realise that these are the questions you hear all the time.
You’ve probably got all of this stuff somewhere on your hard drive or in your outbox or just up in your head.
You just need to get it down and out onto your blog. Over time you’ll get better and better at it and it will feel natural.
Of course, be sure to optimize each and every blog post for maximum effect.
Successful local businesses haven’t got a magic wand. They just focus on things that give results and they work at them consistently. Over time this builds up a massive advantage over their competitors.
So which of these are you doing? Or are you planning on doing some of these? Leave a comment below – we do read them and we will get back to you.