Ken Tucker Important Local Online Strategies, Specializing in comprehensive integrated marketing strategies and campaigns for small and mid-sized businesses across the US. Specialties include search engine optimization, website design, reputation management, social media marketing, and lead generation marketing automation
Hey, this is Dave Negri with Contractors Secret Weapon. Today, I have a fun guess. There’s going to be a lot of fun. His name is Ken Tucker.
He’s the founder of Changescape Web a Small Business Marketing and Website Design Agency specializing in comprehensive integrated marketing strategies and campaigns for small and mid-sized businesses across the US. Specialties include search engine optimization, website design, reputation management, social media marketing, and lead generation marketing automation.
And Ken is a Master Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional (since 2010), and an SEO for Growth Certified Consultant. Ken is the author of Social Media Marketing for Restaurants. Coauthored Reputation Management (Marketing Guides for Small Businesses) and this compact guide explains how to create and protect your online reputation.
Awesome. This is really awesome. Ken, I just you know thanks so much for being with us and being willing to share your expertise. Thanks, so much Dave, I look forward to it. Cool. Just how did you get started in this crazy business because it’s ever changing, ever moving and is no slow pace to it at all, is there? No, not at all. So, I actually started my company in 2005. Prior to that, I had been in the software development business and I had worked on some very large projects for the Department of Defense.
I started my company largely focused on the Information Technology Business, Dave, that I had done a lot of web application development and not necessarily marketing websites that business you know business web applications I should say. But I, because I ran an entire division of the company. I had to be responsible for my own marketing and so we took on that role we actually built a team of marketing consultants in India to help us supplement what we were doing here in the U.S.
And so, when I started my company in 2008. When the economy took the downturn we just decided hey what do we like to do the most and when we have the most fun with. And we found that that was doing the website design work and then turning that into you know all of the other cool things that you get to do as some digital marketing agents.
That’s cool cause then you get to see and get to help people and you get the result. Like me and most people they just say oh I want to see the results. I have no crazy idea. Yeah exactly. And you know that’s the thing I love about anything that you do from a digital perspective you get. Yes, you can measure and track just about everything. And sometimes there’s too much data. Sometimes there’s a lot of noise.
And you know in terms of data and information that you get that really doesn’t mean that much for your business. But at the end of the day if you do it right you can have a lot of accountability. As a matter of fact, I think it’s the most accountable way that I know you know to do marketing. Right.
Like you said you get that track and see, you get to see what works, what’s not working or and then you can tweak it a little to see and get it to work better or scrap it depends on how many overall applications.
Yeah absolutely. And you know one of one of the things that I know, IBM, kind of became famous for after they became kind of the monolith and they had to reinvent themselves when they moved into the digital space. They, you know, they basically developed a strategy of failing quickly. Yeah.
Because you’re never going to be able to build a perfect solution. So, the goal is having these, have these little experiments you know. Continue to make progress. Be prepared to constantly adapt and change and you’re constantly improving and so I kind of liked that model. I mean I don’t know that I like necessarily failing, nobody does. But the reality is you’re never going to you’re never going to know if you’re accomplishing anything if you don’t have some failures along the way. And we all, we all have those. Right. And the important thing is what do you learn from it. How do you incorporate it and make it better and how do you seize those opportunities?
And I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that I think most business owners have is that of course, no one likes failing and like you said. But the key thing is to try multiple things at once and instead of one thing to see if it works and then finding out it doesn’t work. And then slowly you move on to the next thing and that will drive you crazy in itself.
That’s right. You don’t know obviously you want to set up you know environments that you know and experiments that you can track and monitor you know. I mean when I talk about failure I’m not talking about the catastrophic system. I’m talking about you know like if you were running a Facebook ad for example or Google AdWords Campaign.
You know the first month of that is you’re going to gather a lot of information that you better be taking and reinvesting the knowledge that you’re learning to tweak and optimize that the performance of that ad campaign. And if you do that you’re going to be rewarded because your ad is going to perform so much better.
The reality is it’s hard to make a decision and it’s hard to get something set up perfectly from the start. And so, you know you definitely need to think about the structure of when you’re when you’re moving forward in any event whether it’s a Web site design, whether it’s copy that you have on your homepage, or call the action button on your homepage. Measure or track it. See what behavior is happening and be prepared to change it.
And you know the great thing is there are so many inexpensive tools and solutions that a lot of people can do it themselves. A lot of people may not ever want to mess with that, but you know there’s plenty of technology out there for all levels of users. Right.
Yeah, I agree. And it’s just it’s just creating habits, is really all that is. Whether it be five or 10 minutes I mean going into your you know Google Analytics just check see what’s going on and little stuff like that. But I agree with you. And it’s even I mean it’s all forms of marketing because nothing works perfectly out of the case.
Yeah. That would be nice because there would be oh I can do it the first time and I think that’s what gets people frustrated that they can’t get to a point where they want it to work so bad the first time that they say well it doesn’t work and a lot of that I think has to do with the mindset of I need to work. Now. They’re not planning for the future. You know what I’m saying.
Yeah. Yeah absolutely. And so much of digital you know I mean there are some things that are very immediate and direct but a lot you know we’re like the example from search engine optimization perspective, that you know that can take quite a bit of time to really optimize and you get to the point where you work at what you have it working the way you want it to. You know so. So, I think it’s important also to strike that balance and you know one of the things that’s interesting you know is I often think you know think coming from a software development background I come from my mindset is I think about software development like I think about building a house. OK. You know where you have blue clear blueprints and you have you know different diagrams for you know your different contractors you know the electrical contractors and plumbers and all kind of stuff.
Well, you do software very much the same way when you do it on a large scale and especially you know for Department of Defense where you’re building software and if that fails people you know people’s lives are at stake. Right.
Well, I don’t see marketing any different than that. And so you know I think it’s really important to have some kind of a system that you use to create all of these different blueprints and have these understandings in place, in these different systems in place to be able to build an effective overall marketing system that does kind of start to break down a little bit in that analogy and that application on the marketing side is you know if I’m if I’m hiring somebody that’s building a window for me I want them to get that pretty accurately measure that building. And so that’s really where I think best practices and experience come into play.
You know in the world of marketing we can’t be as precise as a lot of you know a lot of contractors and home builders but you know with best practices and with marketing automation and things like that where we can build repeatable systems and components, it helps us to you know to get much closer to that. Right. And one of the cool things about the digital marketing and like you said earlier is that it’s almost instant gratification in a sense.
If you can get it you know you may not get the exact results you want but you can spend a little bit of money to find out if that concept is even going to work. Then you can add onto it because now if you took it into the old school way which would be EDDMM or Letters, and stuff like that then you’ve got to wait months sometimes to find out if just because you got one word that’s wrong, you’ve got to wait months. But with digital, bingo it’s like almost instantaneous, isn’t it?
Yeah, it is. That’s a great point. I think it gives you the ability to create a lot of really inexpensive experiments to find success. And you know it’s a fraction of the price of a lot of the old traditional types of things that we used to do in marketing. Right
And then a lot of times you know I’ll suggest to guys, to your social media when you Google AdWords or your Facebook ads and put them together see how they work and if they pull well. Now design a postcard off of that information and that. Yeah. And instead of reversing it. So now you’ve already done a little bit. And you run it by hundreds and even thousands of people. And now you can ___ and do your mailing if you want to then send them back to the website or whatever the case may be.
Yeah absolutely. As a matter of fact, I’m a big fan of Integrated Marketing Solutions. It’s not all about digital. You make a great point. I mean you can use. You can do use digital messaging to find out what resonates most effectively. But you know take it take another step, and incorporate some other different type of touch point. For example, every door direct mail I mean you could do a targeting of a Facebook ad for based around the zip code or when you go overlay and every door direct mail campaign with those mail routes that line up pretty well with that zip code area. And now you’re touching people from a marketing perspective in a couple of different ways.
You know not everybody learns and not everybody responds in the same way. So, you’d be very receptive to a digital message. Other people want to have that tactical or that tactile physical touch you know and being able to read a postcard or a direct mail piece of what is sent to them. So, I think there’s a lot of opportunities and honestly, I think that’s a huge missed opportunity for most people.
They picked one thing they do it and they don’t they don’t compliment it and they certainly don’t create enough touch points to really have the effectiveness. You know it takes seven touch touches typically from a marketing perspective to be effective. Right. And when you when you balance digital and you know and some of the more traditional styles, you can really cut your costs substantially.
Oh, that’s an interesting topic. Yeah well here’s the here’s the thing that I was thinking about and I just wanted to see what you think. I think that a lot of guys don’t. There’s a couple of reasons why they don’t do both. One is that they don’t think about it. And second is I think maybe most people think of marketing as an expense instead of as an investment. Saying they don’t track it. So, if they tracked it then they would know what type of return they are getting, or any at all.
Yeah, that’s exactly right. You know I also, I mean I look at advertising it’s easy to kind of fall into the trap of thinking that that is an expense and that is it. There’s no doubt it is an expense I mean you are laying out cash in return. Right. But you know, and the other thing about you know paying paid advertising is that it only works for as long as you keep continuing to do it.
As opposed to now there are two really true investment strategies with digital too I think where you make an investment in building your online reputation where you’re getting quality reviews about your business. You’re putting content on your Web site and optimizing that content. When you do those things. You know even though you’re paying for that maybe one time to create a piece of content and put it on your Web site.
Every piece of content that you do that for, it turns into a long-term investment in your business. So, not everything in digital is measured in the same way either. Right. But they also have different returns and different timeframes that they return. Right.
Yeah because your blog post on your content is never going to go away. That’s right. And it will always be there and you know. Yeah. Just like when we do our podcast, all the interviews go back go up on anchor so it keeps rotating in and out all of the time. So, it’s always replicating and it’s always there. Yeah.
So, I want to ask you this question because most of our listeners are contractors okay. Local Search Engine Optimization. I know that’s really it should be a big focal point for most contractors. What do you think about that?
Yeah absolutely. You know I think that from a strategy perspective I think it’s really important for a business to be honest with themselves. And if they’re not prepared to spend money on a monthly recurring basis there is no end there. Their goal is to be found online from their Web site. Through to search engine optimization. I’m not talking about a paid advertising strategy. I’m talking about building a website and having your Web site start to rank consistently
Businesses need to be really honest about that. Some businesses honestly can’t afford search engine optimization. And so, they’re better off developing a referral marketing program or you know doing advertising campaigns here or there. But I think you know them from every contractor I think would benefit from a local SEO’s strategy. As a matter of fact, it gives the independent guys an opportunity to outperform some of the larger companies.
Then you look at search engine optimization there’s a very localized set of tactics that you would want to do what we refer to as local SEO. And that would be where somebody is typing into a search for a plumber in a particular location. And so, number one. the number one ranking factor right now appears to be the quality and consistency and currency of online reviews.
And so, developing a review funnel where you’re constantly getting a stream of high-quality reviews where you’re responding to those reviews whether they’re positive or negative ads. Google’s paying attention. The other review sites are paying attention if people are writing reviews and you don’t acknowledge those. You’re losing opportunity there. So, it’s really important to respond to people who are writing reviews.
And if it’s a negative or a record review I recommend everybody still reply but try to take that offline and say we’re sorry to never get experience. Contact us at this number. This email we want to make it right. Right. But after that, you know the other thing that a lot of businesses could take advantage of is you know it’s not obvious at all but there are all these different Web sites that are directory listings that point back to your business.
And there are literally hundreds or thousands of these directories. They all carry. Not all of them but a lot of them carry tremendous domain authority which is you know a trust factor when Google sees your business as listed on a site like CitySearch for example. You know that that carries a lot more weight.
And if a small business association of 10 businesses all got together and created a website for themselves, they decided to link to your Web site. They’re probably not going to have the same main authority as CitySearch so having your business what we refer to as the name address phone number record, consistently, exactly the same as in as many of these directory listings as you can be a really big deal because it just provides a tremendous amount of trust to the search engines and it’s a very powerful thing.
So, I typically talk about reputation management program where it’s a combination of reviews and directories. One of the biggest problems with businesses online is there’s so much bad data out there. There were bad phone numbers or bad physical addresses. You may have changed your name. You may have brought on a new partner and as a result, you changed your name.
Maybe you used to work out of your house. Now you have an office you work out of. You know look those are all captured at one point or another whether you whether you do anything or not that information is being put on websites. And so, it’s important to take control and ownership of that.
So that’s fine I would go back to something you said a little bit earlier about the contingency of about name address telephone number because I know that there are guys that have in the past because they think well let’s say carpet cleaner and I do carpet cleaning and let’s say Joe’s Carpet Cleaner. OK. But on one directory put Joe’s name as Carpet Cleaning and another directory says I’m going to buy Joe’s famous Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning. That’s a no, no?
It is because it introduces potential confusion to the search engines, one. But it also introduces confusion. You know with potential searchers. Consumers who are looking for a company and maybe they get referred from a friend by one name and so they go you’ll look them up online and they find that their information and they are like I’m not sure it’s the same company. So, you know it’s one is you know more about a user experience related issue. But the other is a search engine related issue.
Now, humans, we can probably make a judgment call and say you know those names are close enough to where yeah that’s probably the same company I’m going to go ahead and give them a call. The search engines don’t operate that way. They don’t necessarily have the sophistication to say these are the same company.
And so, you’ve just eroded the confidence that a search engine has in delivering the search results. And when you think about it if Google consistently delivers search results that are not what somebody is expecting when they do those searches. They’re going to stop using Google and they’re going to go start trying being or you know a variety of other search engines that are out there. That’s Google’s number one job is to deliver the highest most quality and most relevant and accurate search results that it can for you know based on what people are typing into those searches. So, don’t go changing things around. Whatever you start off with. Stick with that. Everything is the same, your name, your address, telephone number, and if you have to change and you’ve got to go back and throw those directories and change everything, don’t you?
You do. It’s really important to do. And the other thing is, keep in mind that you know these are going to be created whether you do anything or not. So, it’s important for you to go and do an audit. You know they are going to pull from you know where you were. Every state you know wherever you put your business license information. When you register as a business with that city or state, where they’re going to have a record of that, that somebody, some Web site is going to pull that data from.
And so even if you’re like for me you know when I started my company it was Changelandscape, now it’s Changescape Web. Part of my challenge was I found that a lot of people thought we were in the landscaping business because of the name. So, I wanted to be really obvious that you know where in the web space.
And so, I have a Doing Business ads but my company is still technically you know and certain Web sites it’s still listed as changscape. So, I actually have some management tools that I used to go out there and run some business scans to see how my business is listed in it. And you know you can either sign up for subscription services where that you can control that data or can do a regular push to that data or at least make it give you a central console so that you know you can go in and periodically just do a quick check yourself to make sure that that information is still accurate and up to date. But it is very important to do.
The access it’s got to be something fluency in there’s got to be consistency so that you get to get the maximum exposure from Google that you can possibly get. That’s right. And you know the good news is if you if you decide to take that on I guarantee it the majority of your competitors are not. If you do that that you know just by doing that could be the thing that puts you know over the top and helps you show up on those search results especially on the Google map results.
Yeah because I know that you know just getting there on the first page of Google. I know it’s important and but I know with the map and the local and the views I think everyone needs to if nothing else really spend their time in getting reviews from their customers Yeah absolutely. And you know not all review sites are equal. So, a lot of a lot of you know the folks that listened to this podcast. You know they like Home Advisor or thrummed or Angie’s list or is probably pretty important.
And yes, they are important. But keep in mind that there are a lot of solutions that are out there and a lot of tool vendors that give you a view capability that will build a review profile for you and you spend a tremendous amount of time getting reviews that are listed there but they’re not the same as being a having a review on you know some of the industry-specific sites and especially not the same as Google. Right.
You know Google is such a fundamentally important review site for every local business that that is the first place I would ask people to go write reviews and just you know it’s kind of a shame because I see a lot of people who have done a lot of really hard work and they’ve done the right thing to go get a lot of customer reviews.
They’re just putting them on websites to really make an impact for them. And so, I really strongly encourage everybody to go do that was with Google. You have to be careful in the way that you get reviews on Yelp. That really needs to happen much more organically but Yelp reviews are important for almost every business.
And when you look at the reviews that are pulled in on being search results it’s pulling from Yelp. So, because Bing doesn’t have a native Review feature. Oh ok, I never knew that.
Yeah. And the interesting thing, as a matter of fact, I was with somebody not long ago and they were talking about a kind of Google paperclip. And they go you know this is kind of interesting for everyone out there that Bing pays per click is cheaper and all your it’s all Microsoft. So, it’s going to Bing first unless you change it over to default in Google.
Yeah, that’s the point I mean Bing still gets about 25% of all search traffic. Yeah. So, it’s less competitive from an advertising perspective. And you know, there maybe I mean depending on the demographics of you know your typical customer you know if they’re the type of customer that they buy a computer and they never change any settings the default search engine may very well be Bing because they may not ever know when they buy a brand-new computer it’s from launch edge Microsoft’s browser and that’s going to return Bing search results unless they go in and make that change.
So, it’s important to understand who your customer is and you know I we certainly encourage and also search engine optimization techniques are a little bit different on Bing and a lot of people forget all about that if they’re going to do. So, we think it’s important to absolutely consider Bing.
Wow. This has just been a ton of information. It’s really been awesome. Is there any last minute thing like in the back of your mind that you want to share with our audience that did not get a chance yet. Yeah absolutely. So, Google has just as matter of fact it’s in 17 cities right now. It’s called Google Local services ads. It used to be called Google Home Services Ads. Now, this is going to impact plumbers, electricians, track contractors, garage door service companies, and locksmiths.
And what’s happening is this is a new brand-new advertising program that Google, as a matter of fact, it’s coming to St. Louis by the end of the year. So, they’re rolling it out to an additional 13 cities. It’s in most of the major metropolitan areas right now as of the end of the year. It’s been you know 30 total cities. It’s a paper lead strategy. They’re going to dominate the very top of the page. They’re going to have a listing of three rectangular listings at the very top followed by the Google ad words followed by the Google map results and then you’re going to have your organic search results.
And so, anybody who is in any of those affected industries, I really strongly encourage you to learn about those. It’s I think it’s you know it’s going to be a really interesting thing. I was talking to you know a person from Google the other day about setting this up for one of our customers. And in the St. Louis market it’s going to be a ten dollar per lead price which is not bad. That’s really reasonable. Yeah.
Yeah and you know it’s you’re only going to be charged if somebody takes a very specific action from that ad so they can click on the ad to go read more about your business. But you’re only going to be charged as one of these businesses if somebody places a phone call and Google’s going to give a call tracking number so they’re going to know that somebody called that number sends a text message or fills out a form on the on the page that they’ll be taken to when they click on the ad.
So, if your them if you are it you have the ability as a plumber or any of these you know to pick your geographies that you want to show up for. And also, to pick the set of services for your locksmith and you don’t want to get calls at 3 o’clock in the morning because somebody locked themselves out of the car. You don’t have to turn on that that that specific category of this Ad. So, I think the important thing is that it’s a paper calling out not a paper clip. That’s right. Yeah
And it’s going to dominate the top of the page for the five industries I mentioned which again are Garage Door service companies, Locksmiths, HVAC, Electrical, and Plumber
Yeah, That’s pretty awesome. So how can how can our guest get in touch with you? So our Web site is http://www.changescapeweb.com and we actually have a blog post that we just add to the Google Local services ads that people might want to check out should be on our homepage right now.
And we’re on social media with the handle changescape for Facebook.Com/changescape or on Twitter Instagram @changescape. Very cool cause we’ll put all that stuff in the show notes when it when we get this whole thing up and running and ready to go. OK. awesome I appreciate that.
You may visit the website of Ken Tucker for more details below:
Twitter and Instagram: @changescape
You may also contact this number for more details: 636.549.8745
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