PinMeTo Is Key to Your Local Marketing

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PinMeTo provides local marketing for national brands on Facebook, Google+, Google Maps, Apple maps, Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.

Management of a digital presence that can reach and affect customers locally can be a challenge for any business. That challenge is exceptionally difficult for companies that have several locations across the country, all with varying business information and data (hours, contact numbers, addresses, etc.). As consumers continue to embrace a mobile-first experience at a constant rate, the importance of maintaining an impactful digital presence becomes increasingly important.

In the wake of that challenge, marketing platform PinMeTo has developed extremely effective solutions that allow small and major brands alike to maintain a consistent, effective online presence. PinMeTo’s ability to localize the presence and performance of franchise-sized brands results in considerable success regarding engagement, performance, and exposure.

PinMeTo Tools Provide Local Marketing for National Brands

Using PinMeTo, national brands can gain a local presence on Facebook, Google+/Search/Maps, Apple maps, Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, Pinterest and essentially every other app, platform and service out there. It utilizes the platforms that customers use the most to contact businesses, find and post reviews and follow for future updates. The tools include:

  • Dynamic Text-Templating: Automated posts to one, some or all of your pages. Despite the automated posting, the fields contain locally relevant information.

Local Marketing for National Brands - PinMeTo Dynamic Text Template

  • Filter and Segment Locations: Management of content or special offers in a specific city without disrupting every page existing for separate business locations.

Local Marketing for National Brands - PinMeTo Can Filter and Segment Locations

  • Post Scheduling: A calendar/clock to schedule posts when your audience is most active and engaged.

Local Marketing for National Brands - PinMeTo Post Scheduling

  • Local Insights: Data summaries that outline how consumers react and engage with the content you’re posting. Includes impression, reach, photo views, link clicks and overall performance to a single post on a single location.

Local Marketing for National Brands - PinMeTo Local Insights

The results of PinMeTo have gained the attention of software and digital authorities, such as TechCrunch, as well as a slew of positive reviews and success stories, and the numbers don’t lie. Based on an analysis of PinMeTo’s clients, the increase in exposure and brand presence is little less than dramatic in value increase.

Local Marketing for National Brands - PinMeTo Results Stats

Getting Started

Through the PinMeTo website, you can request a demo for your business and get a feel for the benefits the service has to offer you. You can also subscribe to their newsletter for the latest in location marketing trends, tools and ideas, and follow their blog to keep up with their growing success.

Images: PinMeTo, HigherVisibility

More in: Publisher Channel Content


The Value of Cozying Up to Your Local News Reporters Aug 19, 2016 by Personal Branding Blog In Local Marketing 2

The Value of Cozying Up to Your Local News Reporters or, How to Get Local News Coverage

Every business owner or professional wants press coverage. It legitimizes your business in the eye of the public. It creates awareness about you and your services. And of course, it makes you feel proud and accomplished.

Press coverage, or simply getting quoted in an article as an expert in your field, is hard to come by. That’s part of why it feels so good and means so much to successfully get press. More importantly, this means you need a strategy for your press efforts from Day 1 inside your business.

Here’s where I believe most people screw up. They shoot for the stars, thinking the only valuable coverage is in big magazines like Inc and Forbes. They draft congratulatory press releases and pay $900 to have them distributed via PRWeb. They cold email journalists at these big magazines and ask for a favor, with nothing offered in return.

It’s all backwards, and unlikely to produce results.

What does work and what I have learned through trial-and-error over many years, is focusing your press outreach on a local level, and creating relationships in advance of desiring coverage.

How to Get Local News Coverage

Now, I want to get on all the big websites and bask in the glow of a journalist saying how great I am just as much as anyone else, but you have to start at the beginning. The beginning is local, because local press is mathematically much more likely to take an interest in your story. It doesn’t matter if you are in Seattle or Lawrence, Kansas, the local “pool” is smaller than the national or international pool of Inc and Forbes.

So start local. Think publications like local TV stations, your local version of the business journal and local newspapers. In San Diego, it’s places like the SDBJ and

The other step is creating relationships in advance. Don’t make your first email to a journalist at your local business journal be something like “Hey! I just launched a new product and you should cover it!” No. Instead, you want to follow people, comment on their articles, and engage in conversation well before you launch that new product.

Think about being in the shoes of the journalist. They get pitched all the time. They want to write about interesting, relevant business news and people in their area (of focus, or geography).

Journalists are also people. They value relationships. They will return a favor if a favor is given. A good friend of mine who is a local attorney and runs Free Legal Aid put it best: “For value shown, value is given.” It’s classic reciprocity. And you have to give first.

Here’s an example. When I was with a private equity firm here in town, I saw that the local journal syndicated press releases from our firm about acquisitions. It wasn’t a story, but it was a mention. I knew that eventually, it’d be great for recruiting and awareness if we had some quotes or even a dedicated article about us published. So I sought out the two contributing writers who covered our field, and started commenting on their stories. One article that graded San Diego an “F” for its investment culture was harsh, in my view, so the journalist and I debated it via email. Then I sent some additional statistics his way to further my point.

It was a good debate, and afterward, I mentioned I was with a firm in town and would love to get together for coffee some time to discuss the climate in San Diego. Once our schedules aligned, we met and chatted for 30 minutes at their office. No big deal, but it put a face with a name, and placed me at the front of his rolodex for any stories about private equity in town. It paid off months later when we had a spotlight done on a deal, and we ended up hiring a new CFO who reached out after reading the article.

In the same vein, my partner at PolicyZip moved back to Kansas City two years ago and slowly struck up a relationship with some of the business journalists there. Once again, when we announce company news or make a recruiting push, we have an outlet with those journalists. It’s not like PR Web where you try to pay money to get attention. It’s relationships, and it’s much better.

Stay local, and plan ahead. You’ll see your press coverage increase dramatically, and have plenty of clippings to mail home to mom and dad.

News Photo via Shutterstock


4 Community Outreach Ideas for Small Businesses

4 Community Outreach ideas for Small Businesses

Each time you take your business to market, you’re stepping into the arena. To succeed, you need innovative strategies to stay top of mind. Developing a community outreach program is an excellent way for small businesses to gain local traction and up visibility without a huge investment — simply put, a high return on investment. Here are three community outreach ideas for small businesses that add real value to your marketing campaign.

Community Outreach Ideas for Small Businesses

Work with Schools

Approach a school and offer it something that their funding typically won’t cover. It’s a win-win for them, so they’ll rarely decline the offer. What’s in it for you? Schools encompass the entire community. Students connect you to families and families connect you to neighborhoods. At the local level, this is even more effective than social media marketing.

Students are also a great mouthpiece for your brand. They talk and share more widely than most other groups, and your reach is truly limitless if you maintain a long-term relationship with a school—few other groups have new faces cycling in every year. In other words, you can set into motion a chain of brand promotion events with one initial donation.

Work With NGOs

Just like schools, NGOs are often short on funding and open to mutually beneficial partnerships. By offering them products or services in exchange for positive publicity, you’ll build a respected brand image and foster highly profitable relationships. Host a fundraising event for an NGO and you could get your brand’s name on their staff’s shirts and caps, your logo on their marketing materials, etc.

NGOs have high contact rates with the general public. They go place to place, person to person, focusing on attracting interest for their cause, so even volunteering at their events will increase your visibility. It’s also gratifying as a business owner to help an organization make a difference, particularly if you’re passionate about their cause.

Team Up

Pool your efforts with other local businesses. Put on a free event for the public or table at an annual event that attracts high numbers. The more you collaborate with other business owners, the more you get your bran’s name out there. And you mind find business partners for other co-marketing efforts in the future too.

Add Your Name to a Message

This costs a bit more, but it’s also a superb way to build rapport with people. What you need is your brand’s name or logo next to a message. Look around and you’ll easily find people wanting to put up a message. Get this message put up for them, and next to the message, put your logo. Having a catchy name helps. Does it work?

Yes. People often ignore the marketing stuff around them, but they rarely do it with messages. Very few people pass by a message without reading it. In other words, it’s one more area where you get to attract the attention of a large audience without much effort. How to do it?

It’s simple: your name next to the message. Just one catch: make sure the background theme is plain, the message is short and your name is the only thing noticeable on the board other than the message.


A sense of community provides people with a sense of belonging.  If you can manage to associate your product with the emotions that a strong sense of community elicit, you will be forging a sense of trust with your prospective clients.  Community outreach is a great option for growing your product, but it takes a lot of respect and consideration.  Remember, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Volunteering Photo via Shutterstock


The Surprising Holiday Marketing Tactic Retailers Should Try

The Surprising Holiday Marketing With Direct Mail Tactic Retailers Should Try

You’re getting your store ready for the holidays by putting out festive décor, developing an email marketing campaign, boosting your local search optimization and planning your social media attack. But one holiday marketing tactic that might not be on your radar could actually be highly effective: direct mail.

Direct mail influences holiday purchases for 77 percent of shoppers, a study by Epsilon reports. By comparison, just 41 percent of respondents say online banner ads influence their decisions.

Why the love for direct mail? Respondents say direct mail usually includes some kind of discount. They can take more time to review the offer than if it were online. Plenty of respondents enjoy looking at mailers in a leisurely fashion. And many say they simply get too many emails — direct mail cuts through the clutter.

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore digital marketing — 90 percent of respondents say they will go online or look at retailer emails as part of their holiday shopping. But the surprising popularity of direct mail means it deserves a second look.

Holiday Marketing with Direct Mail

Here are six tips for a successful direct mail campaign:

  1. Use the right mailing list. If you have a mailing list of current customers, that’s the best place to start — you know they’re interested in what you have to offer. Want to target nearby residents? The U.S. Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail program enables you to target recipients by ZIP code, income level and other demographic characteristics, and can simplify direct mail creation and distribution.
  2. Include an offer. Three-fourths of survey respondents say they are likely to use coupons they received in the mail — even more than those who plan to use coupons received by email or found online.
  3. Create a sense of urgency. Time-sensitive offers can get customers into your store during slower times of the week. For instance, hold a pre-Black Friday sale targeting customers who want to avoid the hectic crowds, a midweek sale or special deals available only from 9 to noon.
  4. Include a clear call to action. Whether it’s “Free Gift Inside” or “Bring in this postcard for 40 percent off,” make it immediately clear what you want customers about how the direct mail piece benefits them and what you want them to do next.
  5. Don’t forget the basics. I once got a postcard with an offer I was eager to act on, but I couldn’t find the business’s name anywhere on the piece! Hard to believe, but true. Make sure your direct mail piece includes your name, address (maybe even a little map), phone number, website URL and business hours.
  6. Track responses. Asking customers to bring in the direct mail piece for a free gift or discount is a good way to track who responds. You can then invest more in mailers to those customers going forward.

What type of format should you use? That’s partly determined by your brand image, but here are some alternatives:

  • A letter — Gift Card Enclosed or Gift Certificate Enclosed on the outside of an envelope will almost always get customers to open it. A gift card or certificate has a higher perceived value than a discount coupon — and customers will almost always spend more than the value of the gift card when they visit your store.
  • A card — Consumers are primed to open cards at the holidays, so a holiday greeting card or “thank you for your business” card (with a discount, gift certificate or other offer inside, of course) is sure to get opened.
  • A flyer — A colorful one-sheet flyer, tri-folded and addressed on the outside, can be surprisingly effective as well as inexpensive. If you use an attention-getting color, it will stand out from other mailers.
  • A postcard — Postcards can be a colorful way to stand out from the pack too. Bonus: They’re also cheaper to mail. Invest in quality stock and four-color printing, as well as attention-getting graphics.

Get more direct mail tips.

Holiday Mail Photo via Shutterstock

Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more tips about holiday trends.

More in: Holidays


A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

Close to Home: A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

A significant portion of Google searches relate to a specific location. People search for things like “pizza New York City” or “spa Daytona Beach” millions of times per day. That’s because location is just as important for your website as it is for real estate. Tagging your content with relevant local information can draw in a sea of new visitors and keep your page relevant longer.

The Unique Situation of Being Local

Building an online presence for a local company can be a bit challenging. The strategies are different for content creation. Since being local ties your company to a specific market, you’ll often see a smaller selection of topics and options.

A website’s bounce rate is a measure of how many people viewed only one page without clicking another link. Some companies will naturally have higher bounce rates, like news stations. Others struggle to keep them as low as possible. The more your website demonstrates local personalization combined with beautiful design, the more likely you’ll get your ratings where they need to be.

The Steps to Crafting Unique, Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

Tailoring your subject matter doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, if you do some research ahead of time, you might find the entire process easier than you anticipated.

1. Identify the local audience. If you stay local, then you’re already narrowing the scope of your content and making it easier to find your audience. However, you should fine-tune it for consistency and relatability. Think about crafting buyer personas. These simple profiles offer imaginary people for whom to write. The result feels like very personalized content for anyone who meets the target audience requirements.

TOOLS: Try Facebook Audience Insights or Neilson Prizm to see specific information about your local demographics.

2. Examine the competition and your existing content. Another great way to find useful content types is to look at successful businesses. You can peruse their articles to see if any particular topics are popular. Likewise, you’ll get a good idea about what should be avoided to keep your audience happy.

Take the time to compare the content you already have. Look for things such as shares, comments and likes, which are easy indicators of the post’s exposure. If you seem to be doing better, great! If not, give your content another look. You also can take advantage of analytics to see which of your topics are performing the best.

TOOLS: For analytics, Buzzsumo and Google Analytics transform page views and interactions into usable information and statistics.

3. Redefine broad tactics to make them local. Just because you’re targeting a smaller audience doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of broad content strategies. In fact, adding a local twist to these proven methods is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create engaging local subject matter.

One simple way to accomplish this is by crafting unique headlines. Some formats are simply more successful than others and have proven themselves over and over. Use numbers or a “how-to” approach followed by a geographical keyword. For example, “7 Fun Things to Do During a Daytona Beach Vacation” or “5 Dates You Should Avoid Las Vegas.”

TOOLS: This style of heading is wildly popular among big-name entertainment sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Looking to them for inspiration can be incredibly helpful.

4. Look to the past for inspiration. If you’re really running low on ideas, check out past infographics from the town in question. In many cases, you can find data that’s already been fully researched. All you need to do is make sure it’s up-to-date and expand into the story to craft something interesting.

TOOLS: A Google image search, of course, yields high-volume infographic results.

Once you figure out what works in your local area, it will be easier than ever to add your personal touch and creative spin to the information. Do your research when choosing topics and titles — and you’re bound to see interest from your local patrons.

Local Shop Photo via Shutterstock


The Key to Local Marketing: Blending Online and Offline

The Key to Local Marketing: Blending Online and Offline Marketing Channels

Any business that believes marketing can be divided into neat little categories is destined for failure. There’s no such thing as an online marketing strategy and an offline marketing strategy. Local marketing requires a unified effort, regardless of the medium.

The Rule of Seven

The rule of seven is one of the classic principles of marketing. It says that, in order for a prospect to become a customer, they must see your offer at least seven times. In other words, once a customer has seen a brand’s offer on seven different occasions, they have everything they need to follow through with a purchase.

While the underlying principles of the rule of seven still apply, the number will be larger in 2016 and beyond. Jay Walker-Smith of Yankelovich Consumer Research points out that the average customer was exposed to just 500 ads per day in the 1970s, compared to 5,000 ads today. As a result, the rule of seven may as well be the rule of seventy.

But this is where marketers are going astray. Many assume that throwing a bunch of marketing and advertising campaigns against a wall in hopes that a couple stick is a good idea. “It seems like the goal of most marketers and advertisers nowadays is to cover every blank space with some kind of brand logo or a promotion or an advertisement,” Walker-Smith says. But should that be the goal?

If you want to satisfy the rule of seven(ty), the goal shouldn’t be to make a bunch of noise and hope that your message rings the loudest. Instead, you should be looking for ways to maximize your reach by going after both online and offline channels. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some specific offline and online strategies that will help your small business enhance its local marketing efforts.

Three Offline Local Marketing Tips

Thanks to the growth of the internet and ecommerce, offline marketing often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. So let’s start with this channel and discuss a couple of specific tips and techniques for getting your brand in front of customers in today’s saturated marketplace.

Spend on Signage

“As a famous quote goes, ‘A business without a sign is a sign of no business’ and so, signage should never be an afterthought. You should see it as an investment that will get you a good return in the long run,” says Luke Markey of ShieldCo. “A well-designed and smartly placed sign will attract customers and generate good profits over the course of time.”

Few investments bring as high of a return as physical signage. Think about it! If you’re trying to expose the same customer to your brand over and over again, a physical sign is the best option. People have routines and walk the same streets, drive the same roads, and eat at the same places. Thus, if your sign is on a street corner on a crowded city block, the same 5,000 people are going to see your sign every single day. After just a month, they’ve already been exposed to your brand a handful of times.

Make Sponsorships a Priority

If you’re looking to get the proverbial bang for your buck, sponsoring local events and programs is a fantastic way to get your brand in front of lots of people. Some of the more popular options include sponsoring school sports teams, nonprofit events, and cultural events.

“There are so many other possibilities, such as carnivals, county fairs, beauty pageants, cook-offs, flea markets, walks/runs, concerts, business associations, and trade shows,” marketer Dana Zarcone suggests. “Not only do these sponsorships help get your name out there, you’ll also be building your referral network as you make connections within the organization or group you’re helping.”

Speak at Industry Events

All B2B industries – and most B2C industries – have regular conferences and events that take place at different times all over the world. If you can find a way to earn a speaking engagement at one of these events, you can give your brand some much-needed visibility. In addition to being able to reference your brand and include your logo in print materials, you can also grow your reputation as an expert or thought leader in your niche.

This also represents a great opportunity for a little online crossover. Most events and conferences these days are recorded. Get a copy of the recording and upload it to your website, YouTube, and social media channels to expand your reach.

Three Online Local Marketing Tips

You can’t survive with an offline marketing strategy alone. You also need to invest in some local online marketing to reach people where they spend hours of their time each day.

Here are a few tips:

Move Television Ads Online

Here’s a progressive strategy that will allow you to maximize your ROI: Reallocate any money you’re spending on local television ads to online video.

“ComScore recently found that 84% of people watch videos online. On the flip side, fewer people are watching television, let alone seeing the ads that companies still pay big bucks to have,” cloud marketing expert Gravity4 notes. “To merge these two worlds, more businesses are moving their television ads and messaging online.”

The wonderful thing about online video advertising is that it’s becoming increasingly programmatic and cost-effective. There’s no more guessing which channels, shows, and at what times your customers are watching. With online video advertising platforms, you can target very specific customers and base your decisions on robust insights and analytics.

Put Social Media to Work

Social media is a challenge for many small businesses. It can feel like a huge responsibility and many business owners are too intimidated to invest any time in this powerful engagement resource. You shouldn’t be, though. When properly leveraged, social media is the ultimate marketing tool – allowing for repetitive exposure and meaningful engagement.

Keeping the rule of seven in mind, social media is highly effective because it allows you to control when customers see your brand (as well as how). If you know that your users are most active during the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slot, then you can invest all of your resources into targeting them during this time. Contrarily, if you know that your customers don’t get on social media during business hours, then you don’t have to waste your time. Social media puts you in control of the messaging and timing, which is incredibly valuable in the long run.

Split Test Everything

Whereas you need to gather a ton of data, interview customers, and host focus groups to really understand when an offline marketing campaign is effective, you can gauge efficacy online in a matter of hours. The key is to split test everything.

You should be split testing your PPC ads, social media posts, landing pages, blog posts, web design, and everything in between. The information you extract from these tests will help you better understand your customers and produce more accurate marketing materials in the future.

Bridging the Divide Between Online and Offline Marketing Channels

It doesn’t matter if you’re a brick and mortar business or an ecommerce brand, you can’t afford to only target online or offline marketing. Furthermore, you can’t totally separate these two channels. There needs to be some crossover between them. Otherwise, you’re missing out on a chance to maximize exposure in strategic and brand-relevant ways.

Map Pinpoints Photo via Shutterstock


50 Main Street Local Marketing Ideas for the Holidays

There are plenty of different way to encourage support for business districts. Here are 50 different Main Street local marketing ideas for the holidays.

The holiday shopping season can be a great time for Main Street organizations and Chambers of Commerce to support local merchants and other downtown businesses. There are plenty of different paths you can take to encourage support for business districts. Here are 50 different ideas for marketing Main Street this holiday season.

Local Marketing Ideas for the Holidays

Create a Local Gift Guide

If you want to showcase all the different products people can buy from local businesses, put together a gift guide, either in print or online, to offer some ideas.

Print a Shopping Magazine

You could also print out a special magazine or brochure that includes information about local retailers and other businesses and deliver it to nearby residents.

Host a Special Event

Special events like parades, tree lightings and more can attract people to a downtown area. Then you can include sales or other promotions specifically aimed at getting people to buy from local businesses.

Have Regular Events

Or you could host a regular event once a week or so. This allows customers to get into the habit of visiting the business district and lets them know when there’s likely to be a lot going on in the area.

Include Sidewalk Sales

If you’re in an area where it’s not too cold, you could have local businesses set up some of their products outside so that people attending those local events don’t even have to go out of their way to see some of the products available.

Create a Facebook Page

Having an online presence on sites like Facebook can be a great way to alert people about local events and promotions. So you could create a Facebook page specifically for the downtown area so that local residents can follow for updates.

Have a Coupon/Flyer Exchange

To drum up more sales for a variety of different local businesses, you could have business owners trade coupons, flyers and other promotional materials to give out at their locations.

Invite Santa to Town

You could also host an event where you let kids get their picture taken with Santa Claus at a centrally located part of the local business district. Or you could even have Santa move around to visit multiple different business locations.

Organize a Scavenger Hunt

A contest or scavenger hunt of some kind can be a great way to get people to visit multiple different locations throughout a downtown business district. You could organize your own scavenger hunt with local business owners and even give it a holiday theme.

Have a Progressive Dinner

You could also offer some kind of food or treats that people can get at different businesses. Then have each business include flyers or information about what items they can get from the other businesses in the area.

Print Holiday Maps

For those customers who aren’t sure exactly what they can get at every downtown business, print out some informational maps and have them available at prominent locations throughout town.

Offer a Mitten Tree

Consumers are likely to want to do some kind of charitable giving during the holidays. So you could set up a mitten or giving tree with some requests from local families in need. Then shoppers can buy those requested items and drop them back off downtown.

Hire Local Entertainers

To create a really festive environment in your area, you could hire local musicians to play holiday songs for shoppers in the area.

Make a Promotional Calendar

You could also create a calendar that includes information about local businesses and any relevant promotions.

Offer Multi-Store Gift Cards

Gift cards are really popular during the holiday season. And you can help local businesses in your area gain some business having them team up to offer gift cards that are usable at a variety of different downtown locations.

Create a Cohesive Light Display

People also love looking at impressive light displays throughout the holidays. So if you can get local business owners to team up to create a cohesive display throughout the business district, it could attract even more shoppers to the area.

Host a Holiday Movie Viewing

There are plenty of themed movies that are popular throughout the holiday season. You can set up a big screen outside or at a local business and invite customers to come downtown for a special viewing.

Offer Local Transportation

For customers that want to browse around different downtown businesses, you can make it easier for them by providing some kind of fun transportation like a trolley or even horse and carriage rides.

Create a Dinner and a Movie Promotion

To support restaurants, theaters and other businesses in your downtown district, you can create gift certificates that they can use for a dinner and a movie or similar night out.

Host a Craft Fair

You can even get smaller businesses that might not have a physical location involved in your Main Street holiday promotions by hosting a craft fair or similar event in the area.

Create Memorable Graphics

When promoting your downtown area in stores and online, it’s a good idea to have some kind of recognizable graphic that people will recognize. You can even make holiday themed graphics to really get people into the spirit.

Have a Local Shopping Hashtag

To encourage people to share their experience patronizing local businesses, you can create a special hashtag just for holiday shoppers and local customers.

Encourage Facebook Check-ins

You can also put up signs reminding people to check into your downtown district and specific local businesses on Facebook.

Create a YouTube Video

And you can spread the word about all the different businesses in your downtown district by creating an informational video and posting it on YouTube.

Make a Locally Focused Pinterest Board

To share relevant products and business information on Pinterest, you can create some themed pin boards to showcase specific types of products from local retailers.

Support a Local Charity

To show off the philanthropic spirit of your area, you can choose a local charity and invite members to come to your area and collect money or educate people about a cause. Or you could even get multiple businesses in the area to donate proceeds to a particular charity.

Send Out Invitations

When you host an event in your downtown district, it can be a good idea to send out actual invitations to people in the area who might not otherwise hear about the opportunity.

Partner for a Giveaway

Consumers love winning free things. So you could organize a giveaway with multiple local businesses so that one or more customers has the chance to win a curated selection of local items.

Decorate Cookies at Different Businesses

You could also have a district-wide cookie decorating contest where people can show off their skills throughout the season for the chance to win specific local prizes.

Let Customers Decorate Stores

Or you could give customers the opportunity to make some holiday decorations at different local businesses. And then those businesses can use those homemade decorations to create a unique and festive environment.

Call Attention to the Benefits of Shopping Local

There are many ways that shopping local can help the economy and local residents. So you could create a video, brochure or other marketing materials to remind customers of some of those benefits.

Leverage the Local Parade

Many communities have parades around the holiday season. And you can use those events as a way to get the word out about different businesses in your community by making your own float or display or even sponsoring the event.

Offer Historical Tours

If you have any historical buildings in your downtown area, you could offer tours aimed attracting those who want to learn about the history of the area.

Keep Businesses Open Late

To offer even more options for shoppers, you could set up extended shopping hours for some businesses in the downtown area.

Set Up Ice Skating

You could also offer outdoor winter activities like ice skating to attract more potential customers to the area.

Partner With Local Publications

To show off some of the offerings of local businesses and to publicize events or promotions, you could sponsor or pitch stories to a local newspaper, magazine or even a popular local website.

Host an Online Contest

You can also get customers engaged online by having some type of contest where customers can submit photos, stories or other items on social media.

Display Local Art

Throughout your downtown area, you could show off artwork from local artists to encourage people to walk around and see all of the different pieces.

Encourage Customer Photos

You could also set up photo opportunities like some cool backdrops or props to encourage customers to share their experience of shopping in your community.

Offer Special “Shop Local” Products

Those who really like shopping local might even buy some products with that message. You could sell items like t-shirts and tote bags with your downtown district’s slogan and then use the money to support promotional efforts.

Get Local Shoppers Involved in Publicity

Every year, there’s some kind of trend, like flash mobs or this year’s mannequin challenge, that gets a lot of attention on the internet. You could organize one of those stunts with customers in your local community. This would get people to come to the area to participate and also get you some attention online.

Change the Name of Your Main Street

What might be Main Street the rest of the year could be Christmas Avenue or Candy Cane Lane during the holiday season, just for a little extra holiday cheer.

Put Up a Giant Tree

A giant tree is a must for any festive holiday shopping district. You could even have a big tree lighting event to kick off the holiday season.

Collect Items for Charity

Many charities accept items like winter coats or canned goods to help families in need. You could have local businesses set up boxes to accept those items from customers and then facilitate the donations.

Set Up a Gift Registry Site

To make gift giving a bit easier, you could set up a website with different products and gift cards from local merchants and then let customers create wishlists that they can send to people.

Provide Reusable Bags

Reusable bags can help the environment and spread positive messages throughout the holidays. You can provide stores with some reusable bags that include messages about shopping local.

Target Specific Customers

There are plenty of opportunities for special events throughout the holidays. But you can get even more specific with the consumers you target by hosting events like “girls’ night out” or kid-focused activities.

Host a Sporting Event

Sporting events like races or games can get people to visit your downtown district. You could organize this type of event and then have local businesses sponsor it for publicity.

Set Up a Pop-Up Shop

You could also get more people to visit the area by setting up some special pop-up shops for a limited time.

Offer a Loyalty Program

And throughout the year, you might consider starting a loyalty program so that consumers can get rewarded for shopping at any participating local businesses.

Christmas Decoration Photo via Shutterstock


What is USPS Every Door Direct Mail and Which Small Businesses Should Use It?

What is USPS EDDM and Which Small Businesses Should Use It?

If you would like to increase your business through affordable direct mail advertising, Every Door Direct Mail target advertising can direct your mail easily and effectively?

What is USPS EDDM?

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a relatively new mailing program offered by United States Postal Service (USPS) with a discounted postage rate of as little as $0.154 per piece for Flats weighing no more than 3.3 Ounces (oz). It was designed to help businesses reach existing and new customers — without a mailing list or mailing permit.

USPS EDDM features an online mapping tool that lets you map your own direct mail delivery area, as well as map your marketing mail audience by age, income or household size. For example, a local restaurant can target anyone within a 5 mile radius who makes more than $40k per year.

As you might expect, USPS EDDM is extremely popular among small business owners and franchisees that use it as a marketing tool to reach new customers and increase sales. With this program you can stop buying address lists for targeted mailings. Simply map your own direct mail delivery area with the EDDM mapping tool and let USPS direct custom mail to your specific audiences easily and affordably.

Check out the video below to see how Vocelli Pizza, a restaurant chain, uses EDDM to increase sales and revenue.

Grow Your Business with USPS EDDM

USPS EDDM delivers to every residential mailbox (business and P.O. boxes optional) within defined geographic parameters. Small businesses frequently use it to reach entire ZIP Codes, or specific postal routes. Here’s what the service can do for your next direct mail campaign:

  • Help you reach a location without an address list.
  • Seek new customers or markets in a targeted area
  • Build community awareness
  • Drive store or website traffic
  • Promote events or special offers
  • Introduce new products and services
  • Reduce mail preparation costs involved with a direct mailing campaign.

According to the USPS DDM user guide (PDF), retail users can ship a minimum of 200 and up to 5,000 mail pieces in a given Zip Code in a day. That means you can reach anywhere from 200 to 5,000 potential customers each day that you don’t have contact information for. That is a huge number considering that you don’t have any of the information that you would normally need to send direct mail.

Businesses that Benefit from USPS EDDM

Apart from restaurant chains that benefit from using direct mail campaigns, USPS EDDM also works particularly well for field service businesses and other businesses in industries such as:

  • Moving/storage companies
  • General retail stores
  • Auto repair Shops
  • Car washes
  • Gyms

USPS EDDM is generally also useful to small businesses that deal with an audience or customers who are a bit older than the technological age. It can be a great tool to reach those people who pay all of their bills via check and love to hold physical paper, while also rarely checking email.

Get Started with USPS EDDM

Any direct mail advertiser can easily launch an USPS EDDM campaign using the online campaign builder to target prospects, choose design and print options, and schedule mail delivery. You can also get help with design, printing, and mail preparation and drop-off using USPS affiliate vendors.

Once your EDDM mail pieces are received by USPS at the Post Office where you drop them off, they are typically delivered within a few business days. USPS does not guarantee delivery dates, so it is important that you are mindful of any deadlines or time-sensitive items that you want to mail using the service.


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5 Reasons Your Local SEO Company Isn’t Providing Results

January 19, 2017

5 Reasons Your Local SEO Company Isn’t Providing Results

5 Reasons Your Local SEO Company Isn't Providing Results

Local SEO is one of the hardest SEO campaigns to run for a variety of reasons. The reasons vary, but here are some main reasons local SEO is so difficult:

  • The local search pack is integrated with the search results.
  • The local search pack is very difficult to influence positively.
  • Results are very hard to track.
  • Google changes local results a lot with algorithm changes.
  • Search behavior changes.

5 Reasons Your Local SEO Company Isn't Providing ResultsYou get the point. There are a lot of reasons and variables which can influence a local SEO campaign. However, even though it is difficult, you can see a great impact from a well-executed local SEO campaign.

If you are not getting the results you want from your local SEO campaign, then it could be your vendor. Here are the top reasons your local SEO company isn’t getting you the results you want:

Reasons Your Local SEO Company is Failing

Disconnect Between Client & Vendor

This seems to be the biggest reason for failure: an overall lack of understanding SEO. Back in 2010-2013, I audited a lot of SEO companies’ reporting of campaigns, mainly due to the client not knowing if the vendor was providing results or not. The reporting was always very advanced, cookie cutter, and automated. Almost 100 percent of the time the issue was it was too advanced, cookie cutter, and automated — it was hard for the client to understand.

The clients were all the same. They were small business owners who did not have time to learn SEO, which is why they hired an SEO company. Then, after they hired the SEO company, they received this automated report which they didn’t understand. Half of them didn’t understand what “organic search” meant in Google Analytics. There was this huge disconnect between “success” from the point of view of the SEO company and the vendor.

Your campaign could be performing and you wouldn’t know it! If your reporting and measures of “success” are different from the SEO company — i.e., you care about phone calls and they care about keyword rankings — set up a meeting to discuss the different key performance indicators and make sure you are aligned. Make sure you get monthly calls scheduled to review the data and make sure your key performance indicators are being measured.

Inaccurate Reporting

Local SEO is hard to report, being that the local search pack skews results and you have to track them all. I have found ranking trackers really help show keyword performance, and most of them can incorporate local search pack and the web results as well. So, if you rank for “Atlanta Plastic Surgeon” in the local pack and the web results, it would track both. That would be a big win!

Some SEO companies also report organic search traffic and phone calls from organic search traffic. In theory, this is a great idea, right? Well, not exactly. Usually, a lot of people search for your brand name. This is much more so, in general, than for an eCommerce business or someone selling products online.

You could run TV shows, radio spots, or other offline marketing, which creates people searching Google for your name to find your local business. This traffic and these phone calls can go up and down depending on thousands of factors outside of whether SEO is working for you or not.

To combat this problem, I suggest looking at Google Webmaster Tools data and deleting all branded keywords so you know if it is working or not. Alternatively, if you don’t have a lot of people searching for your brand name, then organic search traffic, calls from organic search traffic, and submission form requests are good key performance indicators.

Lack of Knowledge

There are a lot of SEO companies out there, the reason being it is very easy to make an SEO company and be in business immediately. All you need is a laptop, a WordPress site, some business cards, and every networking event you can attend. Best of all, SEO takes a while, so, even if you are bad at SEO, you usually get 4-6 months of a retainer until the client leaves you! It is the perfect business, which is why so many people are in it.

In fact, a lot of website design agencies, IT businesses, and other businesses also do SEO to complement their internet marketing services. Some are good, but the majority are really bad and a waste of money.

When doing your due diligence, make sure the agency you choose has a good track record of success, does the right things when it comes to SEO, and has clients you can talk to. You can also see if they have any employees who just do SEO or who are working on your account. The majority of the time they outsource it all, and you are just paying a premium for usually an outsourced overseas company to do the work.

Ineffective Strategies

In the same boat that they do not have knowledge, their strategies might not work at all. This happens a lot when companies use outdated strategies, outsource the work, or never update their strategies. If they are going in and adding meta keywords, you are throwing money down the drain. Make sure you know exactly what they are doing and, if need be, consult other SEO companies about whether it is the right thing to do. Just take their work with a grain of salt, as they will most likely try to say anything to get you in the door.


Competition can also be a reason for not producing results. Everyone likes to think they can just leapfrog everyone and go straight to the top. Every time you rise in the rankings, someone else drops. Real estate in Google is extremely competitive, and you are not just going to go in there day one and jump to the top. Usually, businesses in the first 20 results for a highly competitive keyword are using SEO companies. Maybe even the same company you use!

To beat them, you really have to think outside the box, and it takes time. For some of our local clients, it has taken 1-3 years before they are 1-5 for their main phrases. SEO is tough, and if you use a company which says they will get you there in no time, it usually means there is no competition or they are just saying whatever to earn your business.


Overall, local SEO is not impossible, but there are a lot of failures compared to success stories. As long as your local SEO company avoids these 5 points above, you have a much better chance of success.

Local SEO Photo via Shutterstock


42 Percent of Small Businesses Give Up to $1,000 to Charity and Prefer to Donate Cash

Small business donations are a regular part of the holiday season. New data from Funding Circle shows just how selfless small business owners really are.

It’s the time of year when a lot of people think of others.

Small business owners are no different. In fact, you could argue that small business owners may be exceedingly generous when it comes to donating to charity.

New data from Funding Circle shows just how selfless small business owners really are.

Small Business Donations By the Numbers

Turns out, just about every other small business owner donates to charity regularly. And they plan to do so this year just as they did last year.

Funding Circle conducted a survey of about 1,400 small business owners recently on the topic of charity. Namely, the survey sought to find out how much and how many small business owners are giving to charity.

A total of 52 percent of small business owners told Funding Circle they did plan to donate to charity this year or they already have.

Forty-six percent say they will donate up to $1,000.

“The holiday season can be a pretty hectic time for small businesses, so it’s incredible to see so many business owners prioritizing charitable giving this year,” says Liz Pollock, a spokesperson for Funding Circle.

So, if you’re not planning to donate to any charities this year, there’s a good chance the next small business on your block or your competitor will do so.

And you can count on small business owners to figure out exactly what a charity appreciates most. Of the 1,400 or so surveyed by Funding Circle for this data, 44 percent said they preferred to donate cash over anything else.

Several Ways Your Small Business Can Donate to Charity

Picking the right charity is important. A charity that addresses an issue close to you is a good choice.

Do your research on the charities you intend to donate to. Find several that match your or your business’s philosophies. Make sure as much of your money goes to the actual cause as possible — rather than to administrative costs, among other things.

Cut a Check: No one is suggesting you go take out a thousand dollars from the bank and drop it in your local red kettle. Outside of donating money directly from yourself or your business account to a charity, there are other ways you can make donations on behalf of your business.

Set Aside a Portion of Sales: For a certain period of time or on certain items, you can commit to donating a percentage of sales to a charity. This could be a charity of your choosing or one of several charities or a group of charities or even one of a customer’s choosing.

Pass the Hat: Collect money or items in your office or your store and donate it to a charity. Be sure to take care of all legal responsibilities when starting a community drive. The last thing you want is to have a good gesture turn into an accounting or PR nightmare.

“Whether it’s donating a percentage of sales to your favorite charity or volunteering with your team at a local food bank, charitable giving is not only good for the community, it’s good for business,” Pollock says.  “Outside of the potential for tax deductions, having a charitable giving strategy can help enhance consumer loyalty, company culture, goodwill in your local community and brand awareness.”

Kettle Photo via Shutterstock