So hopefully by now you know I am all about learning from the competition! Following competitors on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is another way to get valuable insights to help the local businesses you represent.

Staying ahead of the competition requires knowing where the competition stands, how they are doing and what you can improve upon. Let’s dive in and explore how you can use social media to learn from others.

Learn These 5 Things From Stalking Competitors on Social Media

1. Different Approaches To Social Media Marketing

Simply observing social media activity can reveal plenty about a brand’s marketing strategy. Look at which social channels other businesses are most active on, how often they post updates, what time of day they share content, and whether or not any of their content is sponsored (i.e., whether they pay to get more views and engagement). Size up how effective a brand’s social media marketing tactics are by looking at their engagement levels, and take note of brands receiving a consistently high number of comments, shares, likes, and replies.

2. What Content Sparks The Most Engagement

Successfully connecting with consumers on social media requires sharing content that inspires engagement. Follow similar businesses and brands to see what type of content their audience enjoys most. For instance, do their followers prefer humorous GIFs over informative articles? Do certain hashtags or keywords result in more retweets or reactions? Keep in mind that what works best on Facebook might not translate well to a tweet, so it’s important to consider how content can be repurposed and presented differently across multiple social networks.

3. Find Consumers And Influencers To Follow

There are several things businesses can learn from analyzing their competitors’ social media fans and followers. The consumers following competitors can reveal insights into the target audience of the business you represent, including online behaviors and preferred social media channels.

Scoping out a competitor’s connections can help identify industry influencers who might be interested in partnering up or reviewing products. Remember to look at the competitor’s followers as well as who the competitor is following back.

4. Social Media Tactics To Avoid

In addition to finding out what strategies work well for similar brands on social media, businesses can also learn from their competitors’ mistakes. Anytime a business or brand fails to address a negative comment or acknowledge a customer concern, it presents an opportunity for competing brands to think about how they could have handled the situation better. In some cases, it may even be appropriate to step in and provide the answer or resolution sought by the competitor’s audience.

5. Relevant Industry News And Trends

Following competitors on Twitter is like subscribing to a steady stream of relevant industry news. Whether checking out what they’re retweeting or following links to their latest blog posts, other brands in the industry are sources of real-time updates and information that may be relevant to you. Brands can use social media to gain awareness about trending topics, events, and anything else top industry brands or local competitors are posting about.

5 Things Businesses Can Learn from Following Competitors on #SocialMedia by @BernieColeman
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It’s about more than just following the competition on social media. Explore studying the competition to rank higher in search.

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The fact that local businesses can build brand awareness through local engagement and community involvement is both a luxury and a challenge. While many consumers happily support local businesses over out-of-town competitors, there’s also a heightened expectation for local businesses to participate in community events and connect with customers.

Local businesses that keep a close eye on local news, events, and announcements have an advantage when it comes to building relationships with potential brand advocates, developing an online presence, and solidifying the business’s position as part of the local community. Put simply, keeping up with what’s happening locally is good business sense.

The Top Reasons Local Businesses Should Stay Up-To-Date on Local News

Stronger Community Ties

Local businesses can leverage their knowledge of local news to build stronger community ties and connect with consumers on a more personal level. It’s not just a matter of following along with local news, but actively participating in conversations – both online and in person – about local events, people, and businesses. Understanding the local community allows businesses to stand out from competitors and encourages brand advocates.

Content Marketing Inspiration

Regional stories and local news can provide brands with creative local content marketing ideas. Whether a local story inspires an infographic or an upcoming event sparks a blog post idea, a local brand can draw plenty of inspiration from its newsfeed. Local content marketing can expand brand presence, drive more local customers to the business’s website, and generate new leads.

Improved Social Media Presence

Integrating local news into a brand’s social media strategy contributes to a well-rounded, authentic, and relatable online presence that both attracts local customers and reinforces the brand’s position within the community. Since consumers are more likely to share and comment on a social media post if it’s relevant to their friends and contacts, injecting some local flavor is an easy way to boost a business’s social media engagement.

More Local Link Building Opportunities

Keeping a pulse on regional events and announcements can also promote online visibility and improve local presence. That’s because awareness of upcoming festivals or tournaments gives businesses a chance to support the community through sponsorships, donations, or participation. Involvement in community events not only establishes good will, but can also create opportunities for local link building. For instance, sponsoring a local event or sports team often results in a credible backlink from the organization’s official website.

Why Keeping a Pulse on Local News is Good for #Business via @Advice_Local
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Ready to start getting more involved locally? Check out and use the map to find your local community news.

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Google news

Last week one of our team members was working in the Google My Business Dashboard and noticed a change that makes our work easier. We thought you’d like to hear more about it and explore how it can help you manage your own Google My Business listings.

The updated dashboard allows users to quickly locate listings based on their current status. Under Account Summary, listings are organized by whether they’re published, not published, pending review, permanently closed, disabled, or suspended.

The Updated Google My Business Dashboard Look

Google My Business Dashboard To Do

Manage Business Listings, Issues, and Updates in One Place

Immediately upon logging in, you’ll see the helpful “To-do” tab front and center. This area provides a list of any outstanding issues that should be addressed by the account holder, such as duplicate listings or another listing that has been found with the same address. This section of the dashboard also alerts business owners to any Google updates or downloads that must be manually installed.

“Download not enabled” means there are updates that must be viewed and approved by going into the actual listing, reviewing the information, and clicking the submit button at the bottom of the page.

Easily Toggle Between Card View and List View

To access the card view, simply scroll down a bit further. The option to view all locations as a list is also available.

Google My Business Dashboard Card view

Updated #GMB Dashboard Makes it Easier to Manage #Business Listings on #Google
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If you’d like professional help creating or optimizing a Google My Business listing, get in touch with Advice Local today. Give us a call at 855-714-7634 or contact us online.

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Small Business Saturday is right around the corner! Are you one of those marketers or small business owners that plans to do something each year to participate, but waits until the last minute? Don’t worry; it’s never too late to leverage an annual event like this.

Keep reading for 6 quick ways to get more exposure for local business on Small Business Saturday.

Celebrate Small Business Saturday Nov. 26. Click NOW to get started. #ShopSmall
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Small Business Saturday Is For Every Local Business

1. Email Customers An Exclusive Discount

So do you have an email list that you haven’t reached out to in awhile? What about those customers who used to come in all the time, but now it seems like they have dropped off the face of the earth? Send them an email. It’s pretty simple to draft up a quick email and say “Hey, we miss you! Come see us this Saturday. Show us this email and save $$%.”

2. Head Over To Social Media

Connect the local business you represent to other local businesses that are celebrating Small Business Saturday.

  • Here is a Facebook Page to watch and tag in some social media posts (but don’t overdo it – that will have the reverse effect of the desired goal). If you tag the page, perhaps they’ll reply back and even give a share if you do something really creative.
  • This hashtag #smallbusinesssaturday is quite popular on Facebook. Search for it and then comment (don’t spam) on the posts of other businesses as your business Facebook.
  • This hashtag #shopsmall seems to be the one that is popular on Twitter – at least right now. Write creative tweets to engage followers of the hashtag and get some new customers into the business.
  • @ShopSmall is the official Twitter account for American Express. Follow it for tips, retweet it and engage with it. See if you can get the account to reply or retweet. It has a lot of followers.

3. Head To The Local Printer

Small Business Saturday BadgeSeriously, there’s still time to get some signs made up if you hurry. There are several ways to do this pretty easily. American Express has designs that businesses can get for free. Simply fill in a few simple blanks and the files will be ready for download and delivery to the local printer.

(Btw … The Small Business Saturday images included in this post were provided by the American Express free design tool.)

For company branded signage contact a local graphic artist right away or head over to fiverr to get a design created by a freelancer.

4. Partner With Other Local Businesses

Now this idea will take a bit more work, but not too much. Identify other local businesses that offer complementary services and partner up. You can create joint email campaigns, signage, coupons and so much more.

If the business you represent is in the downtown area, hit up all the local businesses and get them participating. One idea is to create a punchcard that each local business would punch when a customer visits their location. After the customer gets say 10 punches, they can get a free gift, or perhaps they complete the back of the card with their contact information to enter a grand prize drawing that all of the local businesses contributed to. (By the way, all the local businesses could have access to the email addresses provided on the back of the cards, and now they have more prospective customers to add to their list.)

5. Extend The Celebration

There is no study that says Saturday is the only day customers want to save money. Celebrate Small Business Saturday for the entire week. This will provide the opportunity for customers to come into the location after work, on lunch break, or even return multiple times for the item they want to buy (but didn’t yet) because they were waiting to measure something, to get paid, or a number of other reasons.

6. Not Open On Saturday? That’s OK.

Shop Small BannerNot every business is open on Saturdays for many reasons. This ranges from the fact that the business’s customer base doesn’t frequent the area on the weekend, to the business not having the staff to enable them to open on a Saturday. It’s OK; the business will not go under because they missed this Saturday celebration.

Instead, offer online exclusive specials and go with the idea above to celebrate earlier or later, when the business can be open. Better yet, come up with your own way to celebrate and honor your customers. The idea is to get more customers thinking about the business. How that happens doesn’t matter as much as the end result.

The simple fact is customers want to save money! Leveraging national events such as Small Business Saturday gets customers in the door in the mindset that they are ready to spend money! If you have the right item and provide customers the best experience, they’ll spend it with the local businesses you represent.

6 Last Minute Ways to Participate in #SmallBusinessSaturday by @BernieColeman #ShopSmall
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Want more tips like this? Download my guide, 18 Tips to Master Local and Mobile, TODAY!

Come back next week for more local business marketing tips from the #QueenofLocalSEO.

The post Yes, Local Businesses Can Leverage the Last Minute To Celebrate Small Business Saturday appeared first on Advice Local.

Google news

In an effort to reduce fraudulent local business listings, Google recently announced an advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths in the Greater San Diego area. All plumbing and locksmith professionals will have to apply for advanced verification whether they are currently verified or not. Affected businesses have until November 10 to complete the advanced verification – which takes about two weeks to process – or they will be removed from Google Maps.

Google is Cracking Down on Fraud

Of course, Google’s intention is not to make verification more difficult for legitimate professionals, but to protect consumers from the growing number of fraudulent listings in the plumbing and locksmith industries.

As Google explained, they’ve “identified a number of fraudulent local service businesses, including locksmiths and plumbers, who use false identities on Google.” The new advanced verification process is designed to “help reduce fraud and improve the overall experience for [businesses] and [their] customers.”

Google hopes the new process will penalize the high number of scammers who penetrate these industries. The additional verification requirements should also make it easier for reputable plumbers and locksmiths to get discovered by customers who need their services.

Website Rankings Will Not Be Affected

As long as professionals affected by the change take action and apply for advanced verification by November 10, their business listings will not be negatively impacted. Even businesses that fail to qualify or do not receive advanced verification in time will not experience a drop in website rankings. However, San Diego plumbers and locksmiths that do not complete advanced verification will be removed from Google Maps and the Knowledge Panel.

How to Apply for Advanced Verification

Google describes the advanced verification process itself as rather simple and straightforward: “answer a few questions about [the] business and complete an application with Google’s third-party verification company.” Although advanced verification is currently only available to (and required for) locksmiths and plumbers in the Greater San Diego area, Google is expected to roll out the process to more locations in the near future. 

Businesses should follow these steps to apply for advanced verification:

  1. Create a Google My Business account with a plumber or locksmith listing in the San Diego area.
  2. Review and confirm the business’s information here, including the owner’s name, contact information, business location, business hours, areas serviced, services offered, and professional licenses.
  3. Complete an application with Pinkerton (Google’s third-party verification company). This should take about 30 minutes.
  4. Wait to receive email confirmation that the application has been processed. This will take up to two weeks.

While the sudden introduction of advanced verification might seem like a drastic move by Google, it’s important to remember that the search engine giant is testing and changing its processes all the time. All the advanced verification process proves is that Google is actively working on a solution to penalize spammers in the plumbing and locksmith industries – which is ultimately beneficial for consumers and professionals alike.

#Google’s Advanced Verification for Plumbers & Locksmiths via @Advice_Local
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A branded mobile app can be an excellent marketing opportunity for businesses – but only if consumers actually use the app on a regular basis. Creating a branded app is easier than ever, but boosting engagement and user retention is a bit more challenging.

If you’ve already built a custom app and landed a spot on a consumer’s mobile device (that is, they’ve downloaded your app), then congratulations, you’ve passed the first hurdle! However, smartphones have a limited capacity for storing apps, so you have to earn your position by consistently providing value and giving users a reason to engage with the app.

Draw Customers Back into Your App

One way to boost engagement and remain top-of-mind for mobile consumers is through strategic push notifications. A push notification is an alert sent from an app to a mobile user’s home screen when the app isn’t in use – sort of like a friendly nudge that encourages consumers to re-engage.

Whether used to introduce new promotions, motivate users to catch up on recent activity, or remind them to review a mobile receipt, push notifications present a valuable opportunity for brands to reach out directly to their audience.

Tips for Using Push Notifications Effectively

1. Give Customers Control

After downloading an app, mobile users must opt in to receive push notifications – so it’s important to make it easy to do so. But it’s equally important to make it clear that consumers can opt back out if they ever change their mind. This gives consumers a sense of control and increases the likelihood that they’ll agree to receive notifications in the first place.

2. Don’t Overdo It

By downloading your app and allowing you to send push notifications, consumers are giving you a direct line of access to them. It might be tempting to send as many notifications as possible to keep your business on their mind, but spamming will reflect badly on the brand and likely lead to the app being deleted. Be respectful of your customers’ time and only send meaningful notifications that serve a clear purpose.

3. Offer Personalized Settings

Not all push notifications are relevant to all consumers. Categorizing notifications into different types, such as activity alerts, updates, and reminders, allows users to customize their settings and opt out of specific alerts without turning off notifications altogether. Plus, this prevents users from getting annoyed by notifications they don’t care about – a mistake that could lead to your app being deleted.

4. Create Exclusive Incentives

Don’t waste the potential of a push notification on a coupon that won’t thrill consumers. Instead, stimulate engagement by sending notifications that offer real value, such as deals that customers will actually want and special bonuses only available to mobile users. The more irresistible or exclusive the offer, the more consumers will want to re-engage with your app and your brand.

Reading …. How Push Notifications Can Increase Engagement via @Advice_Local #Mobile
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Want to start engaging mobile customers with a branded app of your own? Request your free demo of Advice Mobile today and discover how easy it is to customize an app for your business!

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I’m looking for the hot new wine bar I want to visit when I’m in New York City next week. How do I solve this problem? Ask Facebook. Seriously, ask Facebook for a recommendation. But how? Let’s talk.

But first …

When I think of the Facebook Recommendations feature I see crowdsourcing on steroids! Normally, we use crowdsourcing on Facebook for solving a problem related to work, health, and things like getting our car fixed. But with this recommendation feature we can ask our friends their favorite places to eat, drink, visit, etc. and Facebook will serve all of this information up on a map showing the physical location of the businesses.

Facebook Recommendations Map

When you hover the cursor over one of the pins on the map, the respective Facebook Page will appear in a popup box. From there you can click to visit the page of the business, like the page, or use whatever call-to-action feature the business has set up. (Another reason to ensure these are set up on the Facebook Page!)

#Facebook Recommendations Feature Takes Local to a New Level by @BernieColeman #SEO
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How the Facebook Recommendation Feature Works

Simply go to Facebook and type in a status update. Based on my example that started this post, I would type, “I’m looking for a recommendation for a wine bar in New York City.” Then the map would appear and all my friends (and really their friends too if I post the update as public) can immediately start recommending their favorite wine bars.

It’s actually really simple for the friend to make the recommendation. All they do is type in the business name as a comment, and after a few seconds options will start popping up for the friend to click and select the right business. If there is only one business with that name it will automatically appear when the friend presses enter. If there isn’t a business that matches the name, Facebook will present a few options that are similar for the friend to choose from and potentially select. If nothing is similar, the name will post as just a comment.

I tested out a few word options to see how smart Facebook was in deciding I was looking for a recommendation. It seems “Looking for places to ….”, “Looking for recommendations to …” and several different word combinations that have “looking + recommendations” triggers the recommendations feature and the map. I’m sure there are a few more combinations that will trigger it that I haven’t yet tried. I can also tell you the word “recommendations” or “looking for” without any other words does not trigger the map.

So what’s the point in all this, and how does the feature impact local businesses?

First, the recommended businesses populate based on businesses that have a Facebook Page and second, they have a physical address associated with the page.

The Facebook friend can tag pages directly in the comments even if the page doesn’t have an address associated with it, but it will not be displayed on the map.

I’m always talking, writing and educating brands and SMBs about taking control of their data. This situation with Facebook is the perfect example of how bad data can impact a local business.

How Facebook Recommendations Can Impact a Local Business

I love this feature and I’m glad Facebook added it, but with all good things comes some bad. Below I give three examples of how businesses could be losing if they fail to take Facebook seriously when it comes to having an optimized local presence on this platform.

  1. The business doesn’t have a Facebook Page, and so when the friend recommends them, the recommendation is lost amongst all the others for businesses that do have a page, and now a PIN on the map showing their exact location!
  2. The business has a page, but a consumer created the page for them by clicking “Add Joe’s Wine Shop” and doing a check-in when three doors down, or better yet, uploading a photo later in the day as they are 30 miles away from Joe’s. Now Facebook thinks the business address is totally on the other side of town!
  3. The business has a page, but it was created years ago when they were 5 blocks away from their current location. They don’t post on the page anymore (or very rarely), so updating the address is the last thing on their mind.

I will not even get into the scenario where the business no longer has access to the page because the person who created the Facebook Business Page is no longer employed by the company. (Make sure you have access to your Facebook Pages, business owners!) 

As time goes on and this feature becomes more and more popular, you can guess Facebook will figure out a way to monetize it.

In this article, Joe Youngblood made this prediction about how Facebook will monetize the recommendation feature:

“The next step is pretty obvious. Once Facebook gets this system perfected the next time you say ‘Anyone know a good dentist’ Facebook can charge companies in the area to display with ratings or reviews right there and even tell you if your friends have reviewed an advertiser or not.”

Joe is most likely spot on! As a CEO, I look forward to when Facebook is ready to monetize it, because this provides another excellent outlet for us to help our SMB customers get more local traffic to their businesses. As a consumer, I’m not sure how much I’ll love it. Time will tell.

I’m ready to start using #Facebook Recommendations. Read why on #AdviceLocal
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What do you think? Have you tested out the feature? You can access it quickly and directly by clicking here.

Come back next week and this #QueenofLocalSEO will bring you more insights into local.

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From The Queen of Local SEO, Bernadette Coleman

How many times have you contemplated submitting your work for awards programs and then changed your mind? Perhaps you think it isn’t worth the time it will take to pull your entry together. As a CEO who has spent many an hour pulling together entries, I can tell you that it is indeed worth it. My company has won many awards, some of them because I took the time to personally pull the entry information together and hit submit. Don’t take my word for it, check out our trophy case!

Now I will share just some of the benefits that follow from participating in awards programs.

Reasons to Participate in Awards Programs

  • Increased exposure for your company/brand
  • Increased exposure for your client’s brand
  • Puts your company/brand in the position of a leader in the space
  • Preparation and Research for submission = case studies for your website
  • Preparation and Research for submission = presentations for potential clients

Exposure at Awards Ceremony/Conference

  • Potential on-stage time
  • Networking with top media executives
  • Dedicated online post-event exposure
  • Visibility with industry press

Tips for a Winning Entry 

  • Include the compelling reason you chose to submit the project for the award
  • Follow all the rules for a proper submission, including respecting the deadline
  • When submitting using a client’s information, be sure to obtain permission in writing from that client
  • Submit any questions well in advance of the deadline

All in all, this is an excellent opportunity for your company, your clients and the brands you represent to get noticed for their hard work and smart marketing strategies!

Expand Your Brand Reach: Submit for Awards Programs. @BernieColeman shares why! #Branding
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Have you entered your company for an award previously? What did you learn and how did it help your brand exposure?

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Smartphones have created a wealth of new marketing opportunities for businesses. Having a mobile-friendly website is certainly crucial, but it’s not the only way to connect with mobile consumers. Since 90% of all time spent on smartphones and tablets is dedicated to mobile apps, even businesses with amazing responsive websites should create a mobile app that places their brand on the home screen of consumer devices.

Why Every Business Needs a Branded Mobile App

1. Stronger Brand Image

A mobile app provides a business with complete control over the way its brand is presented to smartphone users. An app can be tailored to embody the business’s tone, style, and desired customer interactions. Creating a branded mobile app makes it easier than ever to maintain a consistent brand image across all platforms and deliver an optimal experience to both desktop and mobile users.

2. Improved User Experience

A responsive or mobile-friendly website is important, but it can’t offer smartphone users the same smooth experience of a dedicated mobile app. That’s because apps are more efficient, more functional, and more convenient on mobile devices. Mobile apps are typically less cumbersome than websites, which allows them to load faster, reduce customer frustration, and minimize bounce rate. Offering a mobile app makes it easier for on-the-go consumers to interact with the brand.

3. Higher Engagement Levels

A branded app can offer specific features that integrate smartphone capabilities and drive engagement. For instance, a well-timed push notification can draw a customer back into the app, while the presence of a click-to-call button makes it simple for consumers to contact you with a single interaction. Plus, mobile apps offer more immersive experiences than websites because they are presented in their own customized environment, rather than hosted on a browser.

4. Superior Marketing Opportunities

Smartphones have limited storage space, which means every download places your brand among an exclusive group of selected apps. The fact that an app is always available at the consumer’s fingertips is not only convenient, but it’s also a valuable marketing opportunity. App icons are visible on the user’s mobile screen, which guarantees brand exposure any time they swipe through their phone – even when they don’t actually open the app.

Furthermore, an app doesn’t need to contain all of the information available on your website, which allows for a more efficient sales funnel that can guide customers towards specific interactions, encourage them to take action, and lead to more sales.

5. More Customer Insights

When it comes to delivering better customer experiences, knowledge is power. Mobile analytics provides businesses with precise data about how users interact with the app. These insights reveal how often a user accesses the app, the length of each session, what buttons or screens are most popular, and other patterns that can be used to better understand and leverage specific consumer behaviors.

5 Reasons Businesses Need a #Mobile App via @Advice_Local #Business
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Ready to create a mobile app for your business or a business you represent? Request your free demo of Advice Mobile today and find out how easy it is to customize your own branded app!

The post 5 Reasons Businesses Need a Mobile App (Even If Their Website is Mobile-Friendly) appeared first on Advice Local.

From The Queen of Local SEO, Bernadette Coleman

So those of you that follow my writing know that I’m always talking about how local businesses can engage their local customers to expand their reach and brand awareness. Today, I’m going to give a real world example of a local business that is doing a good job of engaging their local customers when they arrive at their business, before they leave and after the fact.

How The Advice Team Ended Up in a Zombie Escape Room

As the CEO of one of the leading local presence management and digital marketing agencies in the United States, I realize that as an organization, we are only as good as our team. Because of this I make it a priority to get our team members to know each other. Building these types of relationships within a company creates camaraderie and increases productivity, as well as the success of the business. It is because of our team members that we have grown into the organization we are today. And team building is the key.

Zombie Escape Room

Yesterday we brought together the various Advice teams and took those interested to participate in an Escape Room. For those of you who haven’t experienced one, it’s literally a room where participants are locked inside. To escape, the group must complete a series of challenges, and to succeed in this effort the team must work together to solve the riddles, find clues and eventually break out of the room. Our room had a zombie on a chain, and every 5 minutes for up to one hour, that chain got longer. If touched by the zombie you had to go to the “dead area.” Not only was time limited, but we had to work together as a team to warn the others the zombie was coming for them! Working together to solve the challenge would also reveal other clues to solve another challenge.

Yes, You Can Learn About Local Business #Marketing from a Zombie Escape Room by @BernieColeman
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So, is this local business doing a great job to engage customers? Let’s explore it now.

Local Business Marketing in Action

1. Timing is Everything

One of the first things: I must award kudos for leveraging the time of the year to attract customers! Using holidays, seasons, and all the way down to people’s mindsets to get customers in the door is smart, smart, smart. They do a great job of this. What we experienced was a Zombie Escape Room. Halloween is right around the corner, so it only makes sense for them to tie the focus of this adventure to the time of year. Many local businesses actually plan to do this but then fail to follow through, or they wait until it’s too late and don’t fully achieve the benefit of a solid plan. I scheduled this adventure, and we have been on their calendar for over a month, so you know they planned on providing the Zombie Experience in October long before now.

2. It’s All About the Greeter

From the moment they walk in the door the customer is greeted with questions and information. You are immediately welcomed and given information about what you are about to experience. Believe it or not, there are lots of rules that come with a Zombie Escape Room. That information is provided via a host, but in a fun & informative style.

The takeaway for SMBs? Make sure the face of your business is an image you want to portray. This is someone happy to be at work and happy to be doing their job! They must be able to connect to the customer so the customer stays engaged throughout the experience.

3. Grow Your Email List

They did a great job here. Part of the process before entering the escape room was signing a release, and when a person signs this release digitally, they are asked right then to join the company’s email list. This box is automatically checked, so the customer must uncheck the box if they don’t want to be added.

I would recommend that the company take this one step further: set up an autoresponder that sends the customer an email providing them with social media links to follow. Then the next day it would send a follow-up email asking about their experience, and directing them to sites where they can provide an online review.

4. Help Them To Create Memories

Before entering the escape room, the host gathers all team members together to take a “before” group picture. The before picture is taken with the business’s tablet for sharing online later, and with the phones of the customers who would like to capture the experience and share on their social media accounts.

5. Get Them Relaxed

Another thing this business did well was getting the customers to talk with each other and the host. Small talk is one way of doing this. That’s right, the host makes small talk with the customers while waiting for them to take their turn signing the release. Anything from asking them what they do for a living to learning about what they do for fun. Getting the team talking to each other and the host increases their comfort level with each other, and with the experience.

Local Business Marketing

6. After-Event Wrap-Up

After you escape the room, the experience doesn’t end there. And they are pretty clever here – the host made notes while all of the customers were in the escape room. She documented a quality about each one and highlighted how they contributed to the team during the experience. These actions further solidified the team and how they worked together, and therefore managed to escape!

I was certainly impressed with the fact that they had fun signage, so the customers could each pick a sign and take photos individually with the zombie, and together as a group.

Again, the host would take these photos on the business’s tablet and on customer phones. We are a social people, so you know these photos were hitting the web with check-ins, sharing, and tagging before they even left the facility.

team adzombie

7. Keep Them Coming Back for More

This business closed out the experience for their customers by later posting the group photos on their Facebook page. This approach has three big benefits:

First, people that are following the page (but have not yet experienced an escape room) are going to like the fact that they see people having fun, and will be more likely to invest financially in the adventure real soon. Second, customers who have experienced the adventure in the past are going to enjoy seeing that others are having fun too, and comment and like the photos. And third, customers who just experienced the adventure are going to visit the Facebook page to find the photograph of their group. They are going to tag themselves and their friends in the photo, comment on the photo, like the photo, and click share. When they complete these actions all of their friends who haven’t heard of the business before are now curious, and are going to check it out. Most likely, they will click “Like” on the Facebook page so they can follow it, and think about visiting sometime soon with their group of friends.

7 Ways This Local Business Is Winning at Local Marketing and You Can too! by @BernieColeman
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So what do you think about this local business? How can you integrate some of these ideas into the customer’s journey when they visit your location? Customers want an experience! Give it to them, and you’ll win them in that moment and all the moments after.

Come back next week as this #QueenofLocalSEO brings you more insights into local and mobile.

The post What You Can Learn About Local Business Marketing from a Zombie Escape Room appeared first on Advice Local.