Signpost Local Marketing Software Case Study | Activities: Segway Outback

Signpost Local Marketing Software Case Study Segway Outback Investing In New Customer Relationships By Marketing Online and Capturing Customer Interest

Signpost works with thousands of small and medium sized local businesses across the country that each have their own story. We will share them here on our blog. This post reviews the story of Segway Outback in Katy, TX.

Tell us a little bit about Segway Outback.

Segway Outback is the ultimate Segway experience. We are a Segway dealership that gives anyone 12 years and older the chance to experience riding a Segway. We have 9 thrilling off-road obstacle courses to ride on, a corporate meeting center to hold corporate events and two party rooms to host any type of celebration ranging from team building to birthday parties. Segway Outback is the ideal place to experience a Segway and get a great deal on a new one of your own.

How do you promote your services?

We are located in the Katy Mills Mall so that we have valuable exposure and get a decent amount of foot traffic outside our doors. So far word-of-mouth and signs outside of our business have been our only marketing efforts. We are looking to broaden our market from just mall shoppers to other potential Segway buyers and even businesses. Segway Outback is looking to reach businesses who would utilize the Segway to increase efficiency (e.g. distribution centers, security companies, any large commercial businesses). And we also offer these same businesses the opportunity to hold their corporate events at Segway Outback.

How does Signpost fit your marketing strategy?

Given our limited marketing efforts until now, Signpost has a been very useful tool to get our name out there for people to find us. Signpost has optimized our online presence which is the foundation for our online marketing activities, but also a way to capture more customers that search for us online after being referred. So far marketing with Signpost has proven beneficial by directing quality customers in our specific market from the top search sites online to our business. The fact that Signpost helps us build a database of interested customers and their emails for us is a valuable investment as this is very useful for future marketing and promotions.

At Signpost, one of our core values is “Signpost fights for small businesses”. How have you experienced this so far?

So far Signpost has been instrumental in getting a start-up business like ours connected to quality customers looking specifically for fun things to do. The customer service is unparalleled to other types of marketing services that I have experimented with in the past. I have my own personal marketing agent assigned to me by Signpost that is full of great ideas and suggestions. They really seem to have a genuine motivation to grow my business by giving us the online exposure to the right people in my area.

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Why Local Businesses Need To Actively Manage Their Front Office

Customer relationship

Consumers prefer buying from small businesses over large businesses largely due to the fact that they feel the experience is more intimate and genuine. Even now that a lot of consumer communications and interactions are moving online, consumers expect a personal touch from their local business. Therefore, it’s important to actively manage your front office by focusing on your customers and their experience.

Front Office Management To Develop Lasting Customer Relationships

Your front office consists of every aspect of your local business that comes in contact with customers. While the back office is where critical internal tasks take place – ranging from accounting, taxes and other important paperwork – the front office is essential for developing relationships with your customers. Especially considering the degree to which the Internet has transformed lines of communication between customers and businesses, managing how you interact with new and existing customers is more important and more complex than ever.

Although the Internet has made communication between businesses and customers more accessible, it has also made it more complex and fragmented. Take your business’ online presence, for instance. There are far too many business listing websites for local business owners to keep track of, let alone manage.

Software To Improve And Personalize Your Customer Interactions

Today’s customer relationship management software aims to streamline complexity, and in doing so, help save local business owners time. This software accomplishes this by automating customer-oriented business processes. By consolidating data on customers and their interactions onto one platform, it becomes easier to learn about your potential and existing customers, and to engage them in a relevant way.

Today’s consumers are powerful – they can target potential businesses to visit and quickly find alternatives online if their standards are not met. Consequently, the most successful businesses are consumer focused. For local businesses that means following up with customers to get their feedback and reviews, and building loyalty by providing special offers.

While customer relationship management software has classically been far too expensive for small businesses, it now represents a positive ROI investment. Local businesses have always been at the forefront of delivering a personal customer experience, and technological advancements are enabling you to continue doing so.

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Should You List Your Business On YP.com?

Online presence

When in search of local products and services, consumers are relying on Internet searches at an increasing rate. As a result, business owners know the importance of maximizing the scope of their online presence. Listing your business on as many local directories as possible is incredibly time consuming, and it’s hard to figure out which ones to prioritize. Google Plus, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Mapquest are definitely at the top of the list, but what about YP.com?

Formerly YellowPages.com, YP.com is an online yellow pages directory that is supported by paid advertising. Basic local business listings are free, and they’re fairly easy and painless to set up. Jointly owned by Cerberus Capital and AT&T, the company purports to reach more than 90% of monthly Internet users through its YP Local Ad Network, with between 40% and 50% of network searches being mobile.

Allison Checchi, YP.com’s newly appointed CMO, believes that the company can and will be able to compete directly with Google and Yelp in the very near future. YP.com employs 4,000 sales and accounts representatives to service and retain nearly 575,000 paid advertisers. By focusing on personalization, depth of content and multi-platform experiences, Checchi plans to leverage the company’s new MyBook app to help businesses connect more deeply with their customers.

Setting Up and Managing a YP.com Account

Getting started with YP.com is free and only takes a few minutes. Simply go to the new accounts page and follow the directions. A basic listing allows you to provide all of your business information, hours of operation, methods of payment and a link to your business website. This listing will pop up whenever a customer searches business categories in your neighborhood.

The site also allows customers to rate and review your business, so you should pay close attention to any comments being made, and respond to them positively. This lets customers know there is a live person at the other end of the listing who is interested in their feedback.

As with everywhere else on the net, keywords should be used judiciously to help optimize your listing. Also, be sure to select as many relevant business categories as possible. Finally, consider using YP.com’s free coupon tool to create a coupon for your business.

Is YP.com the Right Platform for Your Business?

While it may not be the very first directory that pops into mind when considering local listings, YP.com is definitely a contender poised to claim more market share in the future. Its mobile functionality makes it popular with the younger crowd, while its connection to the original bound yellow page directories makes it familiar to older generations. By optimizing your online yellow pages presence along with the other big search engines and social media sites, you make sure you can get found.

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Should You List Your Business On Foursquare?

Mobile customer

When it comes to marketing your local business online, there are many, many choices. Obviously, the heavy hitters like Google+, Yelp, Facebook, Bing Local and Yahoo Local are excellent hosts for local listings. But what about Foursquare?

A hefty chunk of the population virtually lives on their cell phones, pinging, poking, texting and tweeting each other, and “checking in” at various locations. While they may access any or all of the aforementioned sites to search for a local business, there’s one more that’s designed exclusively for the smartphone crowd: Foursquare.

As a location-based social networking site for mobile devices, Foursquare has allowed users to “check in” at different locations with their smartphones. Every time they check in, a user is awarded points and sometimes ‘badges.” The user who checks in to a venue the most often over a 60-day period is declared the “mayor” of that spot.

Foursquare Recently Split Up Their Features In Two Apps

Several months ago Foursquare Labs Inc. unbundled its popular features and now offers two apps: Swarm and Foursquare. Swarm, which is essentially designed to be Foursquare 2.0. is focused on the check-in features discussed above. Unfortunately, the app has not been received well so far, as it has a two star review on the App Store. According to Foursquare execs, however, this is just a minor bump in the road. They have already updated the app several times, repackaging and adding back in popular game features which make checking in a competition.

The regular Foursquare app will focus on offering individualized local listing information. Foursquare started out as an app for those who love to stay connected with their friends, the new and improved version is making a play to compete with Yelp and Google as a local search engine. For this reason, a savvy business owner would be wise to optimize their listing on Foursquare.

List Your Business on Foursquare and Connect With Your Customers

To become one of the businesses that use Foursquare, all you need to do is go to the Foursquare for Business website. You may find that your business is already listed.  If so, you just need to claim and validate it by signing in and adding all of your pertinent information. In addition to your address and phone number, Foursquare allows you to add a business description, hours of operation, a link to your website, links to your Facebook and Twitter pages, food or service menus, payment information and other miscellaneous details.

If you don’t already have a listing, once you register and sign in, you’ll be walked through the process of creating your listing from scratch. If you manage more than 10 locations, there are separate applications that allow you to bulk upload your listings.

To keep your listing fresh, Foursquare offers several free business tools that you can use to connect with your customers. Foursquare Local Updates allows you to share news, events or featured items with customers who have checked in nearby as well as customers who visit your business page. You can create and post these updates as often as you like, and your customers will automatically see them on their phone.

The Foursquare Specials tool allows you to set up specials to attract customers for free. Users can then redeem your special when they check in at your business.

Foursquare’s free analytics tool shows you how many check-ins you’re getting each week, and how many of those are being shared on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find out who is the current “mayor” of your business, and learn more about your other top visitors. Foursquare will actually send you an email every week with your key stats and any recent tips or photos that people have posted to your site.

Is Foursquare the Right Platform for your Business?

There’s a whole demographic out there that doesn’t even own a PC or a laptop since they do all of their business on their mobile devices. While customers they may also be searching on Google, Bing and Yahoo, Foursquare is an excellent local listing service to help you make a solid connection with mobile users. Foursquare’s re-branding is also promising, as it seems that they are committed to becoming an even big player in the local search space.

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Spa Marketing Ideas: 9 Easy Tips to Promote Your Day Spa

Spa Marketing

In the highly competitive and crowded day spa industry, effective marketing can make or break your business.  Typically, spa and salon business tends to fluctuate from one season to the next, and from year to year.  An effective marketing plan can help you get through the thin times, and make the most of the good ones.

Before you start raising your prices in order to pay for an expensive marketing campaign, however, consider these simple but essential low cost ideas to help your customers find you, encourage them to visit and keep them coming back.

Get Found With These 3 Day Spa Marketing Strategies

1. Optimize the World Wide Web.  Claim your Yelp page and add photos and information about your business.  Ensure your business is listed in every day spa directory that shows up on a Google, Bing and Yahoo search, and don’t forget Google+, Bing Local and Yahoo Local, for starters.  All of these listings are free advertising so take advantage of them.  Encourage customers who visit your page to provide their email address in exchange for a 10% discount on services or some other bonus.  Then you can send them a newsletter or notices of specials and promotions.

2. Leverage the social media frenzy.  Create a Facebook page for your business, and an account on Twitter.  Add new posts several times a day, if possible, and encourage customers to like your Facebook page.  Since your day spa website doesn’t change often, your Facebook page is where you can post daily specials and promotions, new products and services, new staff members, extended holiday hours and anything else that comes up.  Make it informative by posting beauty tips and tricks, relaxation techniques and more.  They can be techniques used by you and your staff or ideas you find online.  If you post a link to the blog where you found them, that blogger will appreciate the promo.

3. List your business on Foursquare, and utilize their Specials tool to generate promotions that will pop up on a user’s smartphone when they check in to a nearby location.  This will bring in customers who happen to be nearby, and when they check in at your location, they can down load the discount, even if they just make an appointment for another day.

Get Customers with These 3 Day Spa Marketing Initiatives

1. Optimize your web page.  Your website is quite often the first thing people will see before they visit your spa.  Does it look inviting?  Include lots of pictures, but rather than purchasing generic clipart, get some professional (and flattering) photos taken on the actual premises.  People like to see what a spa looks like before they visit.  You can also place these photos on your Yelp site and your various local directories and listings. Create a comprehensive menu of your services, with a full description of each one.

2. Offer a variety of combination packages, such as a facial and a manicure, or a head-to-toe facial, massage and mani-pedi.  This will get customers to try services they might not otherwise purchase.  Mother/daughter specials and girlfriend specials can bring in twice the business.  A first time, new customer “try me” package is especially effective to introduce new customers to the full range of your services.

3. Get referrals.  A referral incentive program is a must.  It keeps your customers happy and helps you build your business.  Instead of just offering a discount, try offering a free service that your customers may not use that often.  This way they’ll not only get a reward, but you can acquaint them with some of your other services.  Don’t forget about business referrals, from dermatologists, hair salons and other professionals, especially those you do business with.  If your salon provides a catered lunch, put some business cards and menus from the caterer or restaurant on your counter and ask to leave some of yours on theirs.

Get Repeat Business with These 3 Day Spa Marketing Methods

1. Sell services in a package of five, or ten or more, at a corresponding discount.  This keeps the customer coming back to get the treatments and you get the money up front.  Or start a “frequent buyer” program, with incremental rewards each time a customer reaches another milestone.  After a while, your customers will have so much invested in reaching their reward status that they’ll never go anywhere else.  Consider giving a gift card as a reward, so that they can give it to a friend if they desire.

2. Start a birthday club, and encourage your clients to provide their birth date along with their email address.  Then you can send them a birthday greeting with a special discount or free service.  You can also send them a thank you email after their first visit, and ask for their input as to how they liked your services.  Ask what could be done better, and if they respond with criticism, offer them a discount to come back and try it again.

3. Give every customer the royal treatment.  There’s no substitution for excellent customer service.  If a promotion should get out of hand and you find yourself inundated with new customers all coming in for a discounted service, do your best to manage the situation and don’t overbook.  Customers who feel they’re being slighted because they have a coupon are quick to complain on Yelp.  Remember, the whole point of offering the discount is to bring in new clients.  Give each one the same outstanding service you give to those who are paying full price.  If even a small percentage become regular clients, it will have been worth it!

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Software for Small Businesses Can Help Them Grow, and Be Profitable for You Too

This post by Stuart Wall, CEO of Signpost, was originally published at Entrepreneur

Local storefront

Small businesses power the U.S. economy. They employ the majority of the nation’s workforce and contribute more than half of the private non-farming GDP.

Despite the fact that consumers prefer small businesses over larger ones, eight in 10 small businesses expect flat or negative growth in 2014. Small business failures now outpace the number of new small businesses by 30 percent.

What’s driving small business failure? In a recent survey of 265 independent small businesses, more than 83 percent told us that increasing time constraints are one of the biggest obstacles to success.

As one owner comments, “There is not enough time to do everything — so some things suffer, like online support, marketing and social media.”

Another tells us, “I spend time working in the business instead of on the business.”

The same group valued having extra time to reinvest in their business at $154 per hour, or about $322,000 per year.

Our research suggests that a lack of time is in part to blame for flat or negative growth. Today’s complex demands of running a business combined with the rapid proliferation of technology — from the social web to smartphones to other connected devices — increasingly overwhelms small-business owners and leads to ineffective and inefficient business operations.

Continuous innovations in consumer technology have greatly impacted small businesses. Widespread mobile adoption is transforming the way people find, interact with and make payments to businesses.

But every update to Google’s algorithm, Facebook’s page settings or Apple’s operating system adds more complexity. These constant changes create significant anxiety for business owners trying to keep up with technology, platforms and consumers.

As small business time constraints increase, so will the need for cloud-based software designed to increase small-business efficiency. Because cloud-based software is easy to set up, manage and update without hardware or other capital expenses, they naturally facilitate a more productive and efficient workflow.

Ninety four percent of respondents indicated that they’ve already adopted technology to simplify various business processes, a majority of which focus on automation of “back-office” tasks ranging from accounting to payroll to data storage. Here are some examples of cloud-based technology utilized by small businesses:

  • File management (Dropbox, Google Drive): With the increase in prevalence of mobile apps, small businesses now know that their files are always a few taps away with an Internet connection.
  • Accounting (ADP, Intuit, Freshbooks): Cloud-based software that handles back-office tasks such as payroll, time tracking and invoicing are becoming more and more popular and affordable.
  • Website management (Squarespace, Wix): As the Associated Press recently reported, 55 percent of small businesses don’t have a website, according to a 2013 survey of more than 3,800 small businesses conducted by Google and research company Ipsos. Services such as Squarespace and Wix make creating a customer-facing website almost effortless for mom-and-pop shops.
  • Advertising and marketing (Signpost, Shakr): All businesses need to market their products and services, keep track of customers and build loyalty. My company, Signpost, develops software for automating these “front-office” tasks that are essential for local businesses to build lasting customer relationships. Another fast-growing marketing channel for small business is video advertising. Like Signpost, Shakr’s clients include salons and other small business service providers who can drag and drop photos and videos they already own in templates for video pre-roll ads.

The next wave of small-business automation will likely come in the “front office,” automating essential customer interactions across different buying-decision stages and channels. Customer relationships are the lifeblood of business, but as their complexity increases they become harder to manage. The simplicity of cloud-based software can help business owners instantly adapt to advances in consumer technology.

We’ve only scratched the surface of meeting the needs of small businesses in an increasingly tech-driven economy. American small businesses represent a huge addressable market and there’s an equally large opportunity to create technology designed to improve their success.

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How to Make Customers King in Local Businesses

Gym customer and trainer

The customer is king, and local business owners would be smart to treat them as such. In order to ensure that you’re always able to offer your customers the best experience, here are some tips for before, while, and after you serve customers.

Before You Serve Customers

  1. Plan ahead and be ready. Be sure that procedures are perfected and finalized so that you can focus entirely on the customer. If anything fails to go according to plan, you will be forced to deal with something unexpected, and the customer might become agitated. Ensuring that nothing goes awry will allow you to maintain control and focus exclusively on your temperament towards the customer.
  2. There is only so much that you can control and account for. Sometimes, you will have to react to something quickly while maintaining your professionalism. While big businesses benefit from systems and structures, small businesses have to operate off the cuff. Embrace this spontaneity – have fun with it, create lasting memories and develop some great long-term customer relationships.

While You Serve Customers

  1. When you’re with the customer, focus solely on their experience. This is why your operational fortitude is important – rest assured knowing that everything on your end is functioning properly. At this point, you can fully cater to the customer’s needs.
  2. Address your customers by name. Personalizing your customer’s experience will show them that they are valued.
  3. Treat your staff the same way that you treat your customers. Treating everyone well will allow customers to feel comfortable and it reflects well upon you as a business owner.
  4. Good customer service does not just involve how you interact with customers. Customer service is a combination of your product, procedures and people. Having a good product goes a long way, but procedures and people are crucial. Your procedures (how your business operates and deals with customers) determine how professional you seem and how efficiently you are able to deal with customers. People (your employees and customers) determine your shop’s environment, so in hiring people and instructing them how to deal with customer, you ultimately dictate this.
  5. Be empathetic. Although your ultimate goal is to make money, the customer’s isn’t. The customer wants to feel valued and receive value for their money. Placing yourself in the customer’s shoes and thinking about the things that matter to them will go a long way. In the long run, valuing customers above all else and empathizing with them will create a situation where sustainable profits come easily.
  6. Make your shop welcoming. Your shop’s appearance determines how new customers perceive your business at first brush, and significantly influences how customers view your business in general. Ensuring that your shop is clean, inviting, and comfortable is crucial.
  7. Under-promise and over-deliver, or at least promise and deliver. You never want to get caught over-promising and under-delivering. Customers will leave your shop disappointed, and it will be unlikely that they’ll return. Be realistic and customers will have a hard time finding something be disappointed about.

After You Serve Customers

  1. Social media and online review sites make it so you are automatically always in a two-way dialogue with customers, so be sure to use this to your advantage. Maintain your online presence, use review sites to manage customer relationships, and never hesitate to admit a fault and remedy it.
  2. Make sure that you have – and customers are aware of – multiple avenues for communication. A single method of communication with customers can be a bottleneck. Different customers are comfortable communicating over different mediums, so you need to be available for regular, open, and honest communication with all of your customers.
  3. Actively make an effort to keep existing customers. A consistently good customer experience is the best form of advertising. Many companies spend a lot of money on customer acquisition, but they focus very little on customer retention. Retained customers cost less, so they’re more profitable.
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Promoting Your Dental Practice: 9 Simple Marketing Ideas for Dentists

Dentist

You’re an outstanding dentist offering great services at reasonable prices, but how do you get that message out to potential patients?  In this fast-paced, information-overloaded world, it’s important to find easy, inexpensive ways to market your business so that customers can find you. Here are some dental marketing strategies to help you optimize your online presence and gain referrals from existing customers.

Get Found With These 3 Dental Marketing Strategies

1. Strengthen your online presence.  If you don’t have at least a website, a Facebook account and a Yelp page, you’re behind the 8-ball.  When people search for a dentist, they’re using a search engine rather than a phone book.  The more places your practice can be found online, the higher it will rank in a local search.  Claim your Yelp page and encourage your customers to post reviews.  These will pop up in local searches such as Yahoo Local and Bing Local.  Do a search for dentists in your area, and then make sure to add your listing to every directory you find.

2. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert.  Use a blog or your Facebook page to post articles, advice and information about your particular specialty.  You don’t have to write everything yourself; you can link to other articles on the internet, as well as informative videos on YouTube.  The more information on a particular subject that you post on your social media pages, the more likely your site will pop up when someone is searching for information.  Encourage your patients to visit your site and post comments and ask questions.

3. Exchange referrals with other businesses.  Develop a good working relationship with local orthodontists and other specialists in your area.  This will allow you to help your patients by being able to refer them elsewhere for services you don’t provide, and those businesses will send you patients in exchange.  Don’t limit it to dentistry, however.  If you have a favorite dry cleaner, restaurant, cleaning service or any other business that you strongly recommend, don’t be afraid to feature their business cards on your counter.  Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

Get Customers with These 3 Dental Marketing Initiatives

1. It’s all about the smile.  Too many people associate a trip to the dentist with pain, discomfort and inconvenience.  Emphasize the positive side of the coin, how great it is to have and care for a beautiful smile.  Rather than seeing your office as a place to go to get a cavity drilled, encourage them to see your business as a place where patients of any age can improve their smile in a variety of ways that will fit just about any budget.  Get lots of before and after pictures and use them on your website, your blog and your social media pages.

2. Offer a special discount for new patients.  This is a great way to get customers into your dental office so that you can show them first hand what a patient and gentle dentist you are.  First time visits can be prohibitively expensive for new patients, with all the X-rays and record-keeping involved.  By offering free X-rays or a discounted package, you’ll get them in the door, and the long term revenue will more than make up for any costs you may incur.  People are very reluctant to change dentists once they’ve gone through all the preliminary work to set up their account and are happy where they are.

3. Reward existing patients by offering bonuses for referrals.  Not only will you get new customers, but this is an excellent opportunity to get your regular customers to try new services such as a teeth whitening treatment.  Be sure to promote referral offers on your social media pages, your website and in your office waiting room.

Get Repeat Business With These 3 Dental Marketing Methods

1. Collect contact information, and send out regular emails and newsletters.  Make sure your patients are kept abreast of special promotions, new service offerings, changes in your office hours and anything else that might be of interest to them.  Include helpful tips for maintaining a healthy smile, and new breakthrough treatments and technology on the horizon.  Don’t go overboard, however.  Keep the emails down to no more than one or two a month, or they may get irritated and unsubscribe.

2. Everyone loves a freebie.  Teeth whitening offers are a great way to keep patients coming back.  Some dental offices offer free, custom-fitted whitening trays with an initial visit, and additional tubes of whitening gel with each six-month checkup.  If a patient is considering having a lot of cosmetic work done, you can encourage them by finding ways to combine treatments and procedures, cutting down on the expense and the number of office visits.  Dentists who are considerate of their patients’ time and money will always have plenty of repeat business and referrals.

3. Treat every patient as if they were your best customer.   The patient who comes in for the discounted new patient special may not be spending a lot of money with you today, but whether or not they come back depends on the outcome of this visit.  Yelp reviews are rife with complaints about scheduling snafus, long wait times and poor customer service.  Everyone has a bad day now and then, but every member of your team needs to understand that without a strong client base, things could get a lot worse.  From the person answering the phone to the X-ray technician to the dental hygienist, everyone needs to do their share to ensure your existing patients and your new ones have an outstanding dental experience!

 

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Signpost Local Marketing Software Case Study | Activities: Boating In DC

Signpost Local Marketing Software Case Study | Activities: Boating In DC

Boating in DC Builds Long-Term Customer Relationships By Engaging Local Consumers Through Their Online Presence and Email Marketing

Signpost works with thousands of small and medium sized local businesses across the country that each have their own story. We will share them here on our blog. This post reviews the story of Boating In Boston and Boating in DC on the East Coast.

Tell us a little bit about your business.

Boating in DC is a seasonal boat rental business founded in 2002. It all started at a small reservoir in Hopkinton, Massachusetts – famous for the start of the Boston Marathon. While founded in New England, we are now located in both in the Massachusetts (under Boating In Boston) and Washington, DC area. Our 7 Massachusetts locations and 3 Washington, DC locations offer canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle board rentals, as well as 3 locations that also offer sailing. Our primary business is hourly rentals, but we also have memberships, classes and Boating is Fun summer camps that continue to grow each year.

Our business operation is seasonal, opening part-time in the Spring/Fall and full time in the summer, closing all of our locations in the Wintertime.

How do you promote your services?

Most of our marketing comes internally. We focus on email marketing to a list that we have grown throughout the years, and get great inbound traffic to our fantastic website that we continuously change to maintain excellent SEO. We have a dynamic landing page that continually offers new things. We work closely with the DCR, where we operate the majority of our boathouse locations from as a concessionaire. For summer camps, we advertise through local Parks & Rec organizations.

Other marketing includes some print ads in local papers/magazines – which we are moving away from – as well as visitor on Boston and DC maps. We have ads running in Boston’s MBTA Red Line. We also participate in numerous social deals programs.

As we attract customers from all these marketing efforts, we make sure to collect their email information. This way we continuously grow our customer list and continue to market programs such as camps, classes and tours.

How does Signpost fit your marketing strategy?

Through our marketing initiatives and happy customer base, we generate valuable exposure and word of mouth. To capitalize on this awareness and activity of potential customers trying to find us, it is important that our online presence is optimal. Accurate business information across the most important websites is an essential first step. And especially since we constantly change our hours of operation due to the seasonality of our business, Signpost’s automated, one-stop-shop approach is a good fit for keeping our online listings up-to-date. Because we operate in places without exact street addresses (in the middle of parks, along waterfronts, etc.), having our location accurately reflected in search engines and maps is often difficult to achieve.

Another reason why working with Signpost is beneficial to us, is the ways we can capture email information from interested customers and convert them to new customers. We’ve been able to add hundreds of new email addresses to our email list. By re-engaging these customers we’re able to build long-term customer relationships.

At Signpost, one of our core values is “Signpost fights for small businesses”. How have you experienced this so far?

Signpost has been a great help to us. As you constantly continue to grow yourself and add new capabilities, we’ve been fortunate to be part of new beta testing and taking advantage of advanced features that we are looking for. We really needed help with our Google+ and Facebook presence, and Signpost went out of their way to accommodate us and take care of that for us as soon as it became available. We appreciate the way Signpost extended a hand to help us out with these essential business profiles to optimize our online presence.

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How Can Local Businesses Collect Customer Feedback and Reviews?

Customer FeedbackCustomer feedback is crucial towards your business’ success, but getting it can often be a challenge. It’s clear why this is the case – customers innately don’t want to review your product. For this reason, you need to incentivize customer feedback.

There are a number of reasons why customers are not eager to review businesses. For one, many feel that their opinion does not hold any weight. Others may not like complimenting or complaining, or they may think that it requires too much work. However, these are ways to elicit feedback and reviews from your customers.

Ask!

The best way to elicit feedback is to simply ask your customers for it. We often see this at restaurants, but it works just as well in other industries. Showing that you’re open to feedback immediately shows customers that you are committed to ensuring their satisfaction, and it hints at the fact that you are looking to constantly improve.

Email

Be sure to collect customer email addresses whenever possible. 57% of small businesses are actively trying to grow their email contact list “at all times”, as a thorough email list is a great way to source customer feedback. Maintaining your email list will allow you to gather candid feedback from your customers (as they may be willing to be more honest via a less direct medium).

Ensure a Response

Regardless of what medium customers use to submit feedback (online or in person), make sure they know you will reply quickly. A study done by a consumer experience research group noted that 43% of consumers don’t leave feedback because they don’t think the business cares. However, of this 43%, 81% said they would leave feedback if they were guaranteed a fast response. Customers want to know that their feedback led directly to a tangible result, and a fast response signals just that.

Customer Surveys

Especially if you’ve been collecting customer email addresses, surveys are a great way to efficiently gather a wide range of feedback. A survey will yield quick analyzable results that give you a holistic view of where you can improve. Google Docs or SurveyMonkey are great options for small businesses on a budget.

Become a Customer

It’s easy to focus on your business from an exclusively managerial standpoint and lose touch with a customer’s perspective. Interact with your business in the same way that a customer would to see first-hand how the customer journey can be improved. With an objective approach, this method can allow you to simply remedy problem areas.

Monitor Online Reviews

Online review websites such as G+ and Yelp are crucial to how your business is perceived. Positive and negative online reviews offer valuable windows for improvement – they can even be used to ask for more feedback. For instance, if you see a negative online review, directly reach out to that customer for further suggestions.

When to Ask

With these strategies in mind, execution is the next step, so knowing when to ask for feedback is a valuable skill. There are proper times to ask for feedback. For instance, ask for feedback within 24-48 hours of customers interacting with your business so they still best remember their interaction. Depending on their feedback, it may also make sense to ask for an online review. Ultimately, properly managing and collecting customer feedback will improve operations and show customers that you are committed to them.

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