Sorry, Google Says We’re Closed.

June 18th, 2014

Closed_SmallWhen I started my digital marketing career in 1994, my motivation was to help local businesses take their show on the road; go national, even global, and break free from their geographic confines. After all, that was the promise of the Internet back in the day. It made the playing field level because you could now take your business global and compete with the big guys. We all boarded the train for a brave new digital world leaving local far behind…or so we thought.

Fast forward twenty years and everyone is clamoring about local. Local search, local check-in, shop local, be local, buy local. If digital marketing were Jan Brady she’d exclaim, local, local, local!

So is this local craze just Internet hype, or is it as important as everyone’s making it out to be? To answer this question, we have to look at the company arguably responsible for pushing this local snowball over the hill– Google.

Google released Google Maps February 8, 2005, and for close to a decade, has spent a great deal of time, energy and capital emblazoning a local ecosystem. In 2006, Google added business listings to maps and in the years that followed, there would be a cascade of local enhancements: street view, business reviews, expanded business listings, Zagat data integration, user edited business listings, Google+ Local (now just Google+), the local Carousel and now self-driving cars.

Perform a Google search for just about anything and take a good look at the results. In most cases, at least 60% of the search results returned by Google have some sort of local intent. No matter your woe, folly or ailment, Google appears to believe that localized information plays a requisite role in finding gratification.

Google isn’t the only one trying to make the world a smaller place. In the early 2000’s, we began to see internet  connected PDA’s become more common. Palm, WindLawyer_SERPows and Blackberry were all working to put data in the palms of our hands. By the mid 2000’s, we watched in astonishment as some of the very first smartphones hit the scene and surged into the mainstream. Add social media to the mix and you had a local trifecta that in short order became the fuel, oxygen and spark that lit a global, local explosion.

Technological momentum is not the only factor in the local equation. Naturally occurring influences play a large role in consumer consciousness. Acts of nature such as hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and fires are all followed with a flurry of “Buy Local / Shop Local / Support Local” campaigns. Local becomes emotional, a responsibility, a pseudo badge of honor that in most cases does something incredible, it trumps price.

Local has become such a critical element in the never-ending strives we make to enter the consciousness of the consumer, that global brands like Geico® are immodestly leveraging the power and feeling of familiarity offered by a local relationship. We’ve seen the brand’s gecko mascot hoofing it across the Brooklyn Bridge, making jokes about the Seattle Space Needle, piloting a boat in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and even doing a somewhat uncomfortable Philly Cheese-steak Shuffle.

Clearly there is enough evidence to conclude, hype is not at play here. A shift needs to be made from reluctant bystander to willing participant. If you have a business of any size or type, getting local right needs to go to the top of your priorities list.

Consider this, 52% of online consumers have visited closed businesses as a result of inaccurate info listed in local search. Even more disturbing are the statistics surrounding companies that are open for business (or so they think) and have incorrect or inconsistent local data. 73% of consumers lose trust in a business whose online listings show inaccurate information. 67% say they lose trust if they get lost attempting to walk or drive to a business because of faulty listings. Improper local listings can also impede search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, acting as a barrier to achieving coveted search listings.

Akin to the adage of a tree falling in the woods, in our local first world, are you really open for business if Google says you’re closed?

The fact is that consumers have taken up arms and those arms have hands with fingers, fingers that once again, are doing the walking. This time, they’re not walking across yellow books, but rather glass screens and keyboards to find, well, everything. The question is, are they finding you?

 

 

Keynote Speaker Best-Selling Author Larry Bailin is a Best-Selling author and top Rated Keynote Speaker.

Larry is the thought leader and CEO  of Single Throw Digital Marketing, one of the top digital marketing  companies in the nation.

 

Source(s): Placeable Survey, April 2014, Infogroup Survey, September 25, 2013.

Speaker feedback from Affiliate Summit East – “These go to Eleven”

September 20th, 2011

Affiliate Summit East 2001 in NYC was a good event for me as a motivational business speaker. At every Affiliate Summit (as with many industry specific shows with numerous sessions and speakers) audience members are asked to fill out a speaker evaluation form for each session they attend.

Motivational Business Speaker FeedbackTypically audience members are asked to rate the content of the presentation on a scale of one to ten (ten being the best) and then rate the speaker independently on the same scale. Attendees are also asked to give their opinion by adding their own handwritten comments.

I’ve always done well as a professional speaker for Affiliate Summit in terms of audience feedback. I’ve spoken at the Summit several times and typically score amongst the highest of all professional speakers and this time seems to be no exception, in fact, I think I hit an all time high! On a scale of one to ten someone gave me an eleven!

The average rating for the content of my presentation was 9.36 (out of ten) and my rating as a speaker was 9.76 – not bad. I even had an audience member blog about my session.

As a professional keynote speaker I typically do, well, a lot of keynotes for organizations and do not get this type of feedback so it’s nice to see what makes a connection with the audience and what does not.

Here is a PDF of the actual unedited feedback document (with the good and bad comments) sent to me today by the good folks at Affiliate Summit.

An Audience Member Reviews Larry Bailin’s Speaking Session – Customer Behavior in a Hyper Connected World

September 2nd, 2011

I’ve spoken at Affiliate Summit six times in the last seven or so years, it’s one of my favorite organizations. I spoke at this years summit in NYC  and I introduced a new topic titled, Customer Behavior in a Hyper Connected World.

Larry_Bailin_affiliate_summit_session_2011It’s always a little stressful introducing new content at this particular show. There are typically close to 4,000 attendees and they are some of the most connected people you will ever meet. Affiliate Summit attendees are hyper connected to every social media  outlet available to the public (and a few that are not). These attendees tend to be hardcore bloggers and Search Engine Optimization enthusiasts, in short, they know how to get the word out.

If you do a great job on stage at Affiliate Summit thousands will know it before you ever step out from behind the podium but if you bomb, god help you, you’re screwed! Your inept speaking skills and crappy content will lead to a digital roasting as tweets, facebook updates and blog posts fly fast-and-furious alerting all to your lack of skills as a professional speaker.

As a keynote speaker and motivational business speaker I love the challange of a well connect audience, the feedback is invaluable and helps me to hone my message.

I’ve always been one of the higher rated speakers at the summit and it seems my high ratings live on. I found this blog post today written by an attendee of my speaking session.

Original blog post posted on September 1, 2011 by Bobby Hewitt

I recently attended the Affiliate Summit East conference, which had a record breaking 3,943 attendees, it was the largest Affiliate Summit to date.

One of the many information packed sessions was presented by Larry Bailin, of Single Throw his session was titled: Customer Behavior in a Hyper Connected World.

Read More…

Speaker Ratings

June 2nd, 2011

speaking engagementI just received the speaker feedback report from GSMI from my presentation at the “Social Media Legal Risks and Strategies Summit” in Boston last month. I scored a 4.5 out of a possible 5.0. I’m currently trying to find the home address of the guy that gave me the 4.5.

———————————————–

2011 Social Media Legal Risks Summit Rankings- Day Two

Speaker: Larry Bailin

Rank (Out of 5): 4.55

Comments:

-“Entertaining”

-“Excellent totally.”

-“Fun, easy to follow, informative. Again, good to hear from a non lawyer.”

-“Entertaining, practical and useful. A+.”

-“Great speaker, thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, nice placement in the program agenda.”

-“Great!”

-“Very engaging and informative.”

-“Nice relief from all the legal speak- Good speaker- funny stuff- good message.”

-“Entertaining speaker but some legally questionable advice/recommendations.”

The Speed of Feedback

May 19th, 2011

Social Media Legal Risks and Strategies

 Before I even stepped off of the stage at the gsmi conference in Boston the audience was already talking about me. That’s the speed of feedback –instantaneous. People tweeting about you before you even finish what you’re saying. As a motivational business speaker this is scary and fantastic all at the same time.

Fortunately for me I apparently did a great job.

Favorite Instant Feedback from the Social Media Legal Risks and Strategies Conference.

  • Great presentation today. You are a knowledgeable, engaging
    and gifted speaker. You are lots of fun, Larry, and full of positive energy and
    enthusiasm.
  • Looking for the “like” button again. @LarryBailin
    was hilarious.
  • Local is the new global via @LarryBailin.
  • Good advice from @larrybailin on reputation protection in
    social media.
      
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Marketing in the Toilet? – You Wish!

April 11th, 2011

 

Internet marketing article - Marketing in the toilet

 

What visual pops into your head when someone says, “car dealer”? Is it a greasy haired, tooth pick sucking, and, worst of all, plaid suited shyster?  Why is that?  Why does the phrase “car dealer” conjure such a repulsive image?  Why do car buyers associate car buying with a feeling of overwhelming dread and distrust?  Why does the car buying populous hold such distain for this particular Industry? Why do we enter a local car dealership as if we were John Rambo gearing up to take on a forest full of sheriff’s deputies and national guardsman.

 

 

Over the last few years, I have worked with auto dealerships to help them improve their Internet marketing, customer communication, and perception.  I have helped over fifty dealerships break a vicious and ineffective marketing cycle.  The reason I’ve been chosen by dealerships to tackle this particular problem is simple, if a little unconventional: I had no prior car dealership experience.  I have a different and new perspective than the companies they usually work with; I’m a car buyer.  I look at everything from that point of view—the point of view of the buyer.  This is Marketing 101.  You should always look at your business’s marketing and sales processes from your customer’s point of view.

Car dealer marketing, both online and off is, well, not good.  It’s loud, obnoxious, disruptive, aggressive, and, not to mention, forgettable.  Every ad, whether in print, radio, or television, is the same.  “We’ll beat any deal,” “We’ve got the best price,” “We crush the competition.”  The online experience is no different. Every car dealer website is a variation of the last: template-based and homogenized.  There is no unique information and no value.  At the end of the day, they’re all just terribly annoying.  If the goal was to see how many popup windows, video greeters, and chat boxes you could throw at a potential customer, then mission accomplished.

The bottom line is, car dealer marketing is aggressive.

One of my automotive clients recently said to me, “No one haggles with Home Depot over the price of a toilet, why do they haggle with us?”  Then he added, “And there is more margin in a toilet!”  It’s a valid question with an interesting answer.

We aggressively haggle when buying a car because that is the sales process car dealer marketing created. The buyer didn’t bring the fight to the dealership the dealership brought the fight to the buyer. In the words of John Rambo, “They drew first blood, not me! Aggressive, price-driven messages have conditioned consumers to haggle over price.  When you treat every potential buyer (of anything) as an aggressive buyer, the only possible outcome is the creation of aggressive buyers.  Pavlov could not have done it better himself.  

With all of the incentives, rebates, price beating and matching, and overall wheeling and dealing of car dealer marketing, car buyers can never trust that they know what the price is.  They’re confused by the whole process, so they haggle. If you applied this type of baffling marketing to a toilet purchase, they’d haggle at Home Depot, too.  Hmm, what would it look like if we marketed toilets like a cars?  I imagine something like this:

We’ve got the largest inventory of new and pre-owned toilets in the tri-state-area.  You have to go, and so do they!  We’ll beat any price, and now, this weekend only, we’ll give you $500.00 over the value of your trade no matter what condition!  Push it in, drag it in, we don’t care!  If you’re peeing in a bucket, we’ll give you $500.00 more than your bucket’s worth – we don’t care, we just want to see you in our toilets!  And for a limited time we’ll pay for your first 12 rolls of toilet paper!

That’s not the way toilets are sold; it’s not the way most things are sold. When you apply car dealer marketing to other products, you really begin to see how absurd and woefully outdated the model is. Some degree of farcicality and disconnection can be found in almost any industry’s marketing.  Using our car-dealer-toilet model, we see an extreme example, which helps to illustrate the effect of disconnected marketing on information rich, on-demand, and socially connected consumers.

Today’s customer is in perpetual beta mode—they evolve and adapt minute by minute.  Bombarded by information, increased access to data, and socially linked to one and other, customers are in complete control, and yes, price is a factor in almost anything they buy.  However, it is not the only factor.  

Consumers are naturally attracted to products and services that provide the greatest value, and value goes beyond price. If your marketing puts price front-and-center in your value proposition, be prepared to battle. Instead of going to war, go back to basics. Sales 101 advises creating value before discussing price and showcasing benefits over features.  Low price is a feature, not a benefit. Demonstrate that your product has unique value above the competition and beyond the price.  Soon enough, you’ll regain control of the conversation and begin the process of changing aggressive shoppers into better customers, forming more referrals for your business, which will, in turn, result in a significant increase in sales.

Analyze your marketing, your messaging, and your sales process to determine what behavior you are likely evoking from your customers before your business gets flushed away.

 

Article written by best-selling author, motivational business speaker and Single Throw Internet Markeitng CEO, Larry Bailin

Television Interview with Marketing Author Larry Bailin

September 21st, 2010

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The Quest for Social Marketing’s Holy Grail

January 6th, 2010

Social Media MarketingBy Larry Bailin, author of the bestselling Internet marketing book,
Mommy, Where Do Customers come From? and CEO of Single Throw
Internet Marketing. @LarryBailin - Written for FeedFront Magazine

Social networking giant Facebook recently surpassed Wikipedia as the fourth largest website in the world while micro-blogging powerhouse, Twitter, reportedly handled 5000 tweets per minute when the king-of-pop passed. These announcements have businesses scrambling to social websites like they were, well, the Holy Grail of marketing success.

Here’s the thing about finding the Holy Grail: what do you do once you’ve found it? Companies large and small, although excited over the promise of social marketing, often have no idea what to do in this new and unfamiliar space.

Certainly, there is no shortage of social marketing gurus, experts and even ninjas (yes ninjas), but you can’t rely solely on these social Sherpa’s to achieve true success in your social quest.

A good or even average social media consultant can help you traverse an unforgiving social terrain by creating a sound social media strategy and implementing best practices.  However…

…”You can only be catapulted to success if you have something worth flinging into the air”.

Success is imminent when you realize that the knowledge necessary to succeed, no matter the marketing vehicle, comes from within. You have intimate knowledge of your offerings. You understand your customer’s wants and needs as they relate to your services. Most importantly, you know how to speak to a customer, and that is what will ultimately deliver success in the social space.

 Let the gurus obsess over the perfect formula of re-tweets to tweets and which shortened URL gets clicked the most.  You need to spend more time strategizing the creation of valuable dialogue.

Study your customer’s wants and needs, misconceptions and objections, then create shareable contributions that educate and subtly entice. Contributing, educating and subtly enticing – sounds a lot like selling. Despite popular opinion selling is not a bad thing.

There is nothing wrong with using social media to attract and convert customers, just learn to sell in a friendly non-disruptive way. Learn to join the conversation as opposed to interrupting it. You have to sell without selling.

You may be asking, how do you sell without selling? Let me share a little secret with you: it’s not so much a secret as an often overlooked resource.

 I’m frequently asked to recommend books on social marketing. There’s no shortage of books about the intricacies of Facebook and Twitter, but the greatest book ever written on achieving success in the social space was written 70+ years ago.

Dale Carnegies, How to Win Friends and influence People is the Holy Grail, the secret to social nirvana. This book teaches you to speak, think and write with the intent to persuade. How to Win Friends teaches you to think like a customer and provide value in order to evoke a desired outcome.

Social websites and ninjas come and go. When you master the skills to think like a customer and subtly entice, your next quest for marketing’s Holy Grail will be a short crusade.  You’ll only need to look inside yourself.

 

For more information about motivational business speaker and bestselling marketing author Larry Bailin, click here.

How Tweet it is!

August 31st, 2009

How Sweet it is marketing blog post“Knowledge is power” an adage that has been instilled in us since birth. Is there such a thing as too much knowledge? 

Back when times were simpler, televisions  only had thirteen channels, local calls required a mere seven digits and only mind-readers were privy to the inner most thoughts of others, you could never have access to too much knowledge.

In the age of tweets, knowledge is an abundant commodity.  Free flowing tweets on twitter, blog posts, podcasts, social bookmarking and Facebook updates have led to a deluge of useful and useless knowledge merged together into an enormous ever evolving amorphous lump of information.

How do we separate the good, the bad and the ugly from the knowledge we so desperately crave?


First, stop contributing to the clutter.
My recently college bound cousin who I love and adore dearly has gone into update overload. If her updates were litter she’d have an Indian crying outside of her dorm room (for those under the age of 35, look it up).

 “Chillin”, “clubbin”, “doin laundry” and “sleeeeepy” have crossed over from mundane minutia passing through your mind to mundane minutia that I now have to read! Where else in life would this type of veracious status updating be anything but mind-numbingly aggravating? Invite a close friend to join you at home to watch your favorite television show. Now imagine that every three to five minutes he/she gave you a status update; “Hungry”, “happy”, “comfortable”, “still hungry”, “nothing to say”, “sleeeepy”. You would blow a gasket, so why is this acceptable or of any interest whatsoever when done online?

Maybe I’m old fashioned or just plain old; I still struggle with the term “my bad” even being close to a suitable replacement for “I’m sorry”. If anyone ever catches me reciting this loser mantra please punch me square in the face.

Second, when you’ve accepted the fact that no one requires information about your every move start sharing information that your friends and followers can use. Share knowledge that can help better someone’s professional or personal life.  Tweet a bit of knowledge imparted by a brilliant professor during a lecture or a passage from a novel you may be enjoying, even a critique of today’s dinner special in the student cafeteria would be helpful to others on campus. Obviously I’m still talking about my cousin however you can apply the same logic in your professional life as well.

Third and this may be the most beneficial way to acquire a considerable amount of valuable knowledge; only follow and friend people that share and contribute relevant information to the network. My personal twitter page is a treasure trove of information fed directly to me. I follow those that care about what they share. Your feeds can provide more knowledge about your personal and professional interests than any newspaper, magazine or email newsletter could ever hope to deliver.    

The information, articles, stories, comments, videos and events delivered by my social networking feeds are the equivalent of having my own personal newspaper that only prints information relevant to my life, all of my professional and personal interests wrapped neatly in one location. Even if I did have my own personal newspaper, a new edition would have to be delivered to me every fifteen minutes to keep up with the quality and quantity of information currently available to me.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are all about giving and getting information and there are far more people giving than getting so why not take advantage of that? Not everyone is hyper connected and most are not writing unique content, articles, blogs or books however, those of us that do write for a living want you to benefit from the fruits of our labor so read, comment, share, subscribe, follow and friend as many experts as you can.

I’m sure that once you’ve honed your friend list and start following the right people you’ll be hooked on the timeliness and quality of the information available and soon you will realize just how tweet it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Habla Friendles

August 7th, 2009

 

Apparently Friendly's is Having a Few Communication Issues.

 

I’ve always envied those that can speak multiple languages. To be able to communicate with someone in their native language must create an amazing connection. I studied intricacies of the Spanish language all through high school, conjugating verbs and identifying when to use the masculine “EL” versus the feminine “LA.”  After four years of studying this, I embraced the Spanish speaking population with an impressive ability to converse, as long as the conversation didn’t require me to say anything aside from. “¿Como se llama? Me llamo Larry. Mi lápiz es grande y Amarillo.” (How are you? My name is Larry and my pencil is big and yellow.)

I often think about taking my Spanish speaking skills to the next level.  You know, by actually being able to form sentences. Nothing is more frustrating than watching my favorite TeleMundo shows and only being able to decipher a few words here and there, completely unable to comprehend enough to understand the concept of the program. C’est la vie! (That’s the extent of my French, but in my defense, I never studied French).

On a recent business trip to Cape Cod Massachusetts a co-worker and I went to grab a bite to eat before starting our five hour journey back to New Jersey. We stopped at a local Friendly’s restaurant. It was here that my colleague made a rookie road-warrior mistake: he ordered the Reuben sandwich. When you’ve been on the road for as long as I have you learn what’s best to order in any restaurant. For example, never order the halibut filet at a roadside diner, or the Reuben at the local Friendly’s.  The Reuben is a delicious combination of pastrami (according to Seinfeld’s George Costanza, the most sensuous of the all the cured meats), Swiss cheese and sauerkraut.  Order this sandwich in a Manhattan deli and your taste buds will be treated to a true sandwich delight. Order a Reuben at Friendly’s and stomach will be taken on quite a different journey.

Me? I stick with the basics when I order food on the road. When asked by the waitress, (in a distinct Bostonian accent) “Wat’ll ya have?” I ordered the very safe turkey club with waffle fries. I assumed I’d given the waitress all the pertinent information she needed to successfully fill my order.  I was mistaken and surprised when she belted out the word “LOADED!?”. Neither I nor my colleague had any idea what to say. Again she bellowed, “LOADED!?” and then the conversation went something like this:

  • Me: I don’t understand.
  • Waitress: Do you want it loaded!
  • Me: Do I want what loaded?
  • Waitress: The fries!”
  • Me: What do you mean loaded?
  • Waitress: Do you want sour cream, bacon, cheese and chives on your fries!
  • Me: No thank you.

Even though I got a C- in high school English, I have no trouble comprehending my native tongue. The Friendly’s waitress assumed I knew what the term “loaded” meant in relation to Friendly’s waffle fries and was very annoyed when I didn’t understand what I now call the language of “Friendles”.

Most marketers are guilty of these types of assumptions. We assume that our customers and those with passing interest understand the terminology, or the jargon, we use in our industries day in and day out – they don’t. 

Our jargon is our own, and, more often than not, customers do not understand what we are talking about. Customers may not always tell us they don’t understand as they don’t want to feel stupid, especially in a selling environment. I remember the first time a car salesman told me I’d have to sign the paperwork with the “F and I” guy. The salesmen said “F and I,” but I heard “Effin I.”  I remember thinking, “What’s an ‘I guy’ and why does this man hate him so much?” FYI: F and I = Finance and Insurance.

Communication is the cornerstone of sales and marketing, if we fail to communicate our messages quickly and concisely we fail to connect with potential clients and risk losing a valuable opportunity.  With the economy in its current state of disarray can anyone risk losing any opportunity over something as minor as deciphering your jargon into clear and concise terminology? 

Take a hard look at your customer communications, marketing material and sales presentations.  Put them to the test, by explaining what you offer to someone that has no knowledge of your industry and your offerings.  See if they understand your message and value proposition.  Don’t forget your Internet marketing!  Enlist the help of an outsider to evaluate your website content, website design and any other online materials you may have.

When it comes to connecting with potential customers you only have a split second to make a great connection. Simple messaging always connects, so ensure your marketing message isn’t “LOADED” with jargon.