As a professional and business owner, given the state of the world these days, we know what you’re likely thinking about right now. What am I missing out on with regard to winning clients now that so many people are still stuck at home?
As professionals and business owners, you're likely not taking advantage of all that the internet offers. Google My Business is a gold mine and you'll find what you might be missing out on here.
Your Comfort Zone Will Destroy You
This pandemic has reminded the professional services industry that personal customer engagement is critical to success. When clients were coming into your office or you were meeting with prospective clients at outside events and functions, that engagement was straight forward. Given government mandated shutdowns, and even in the face of some of those restrictions being lifted, you might be reminiscing and thinking to yourself that you could have a lot more engagement with clients and potential clients if you were able to operate normally from your office or business location. And you might be finding it difficult to embrace virtual engagement platforms, and even be questioning their effectiveness. We would agree 100 percent that face-to-face interaction with customers is always better than virtual.
What should be on your mind though is that your customers are in the same dilemma:
“I don’t want to be out and about and expose myself or my family to illness, so how can I get service?”
Well, let’s answer that question right now and then discuss what you are missing out on regarding virtual engagement opportunities.
First, let’s establish our goal here: it is to get individuals in need of your services to find you and engage with you. Again, that is for the customers to:
- Find you
- Engage with you
So, now more than ever, we need to get you on the map – the “online map”. Think of it as the digital yellow pages. That “online map” though is vast and loaded with information and competitors right now. Literally, every minute you delay you are potentially allowing opportunity to pass you by and giving your competitors an opportunity to capture marketshare.
You might have been reaching out on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms. You might even have your own website and that’s good! But that's also the case for many businesses these days. We can worry about the competition later, so let’s make your presence better known first.
Hold up. We know what you're thinking now.
"You mean to tell me that I have these social media accounts and even my website, but I’m still non-existent?"
Well, the truth is … yes … that’s correct.
You earned a spot but that is a teeny-tiny, micro spot when it comes to the vastness of the internet and the power you can leverage to increase engagement with your target audience. What we’re going to share with you is another platform with free tools, of which you’ve likely never taken advantage.
If you’ve read the title of this article, you should’ve guessed it. It’s Google My Business! As Google defines it:
It’s free, easy to use, and it’s built for you – so why are you still not using it?
Now let’s look at some of the features of this tool that you are missing out on.
1. It Literally Puts You on the Map (and Searches)
Google is the largest search engine company in the world right now, and they created the Google My Business (GMB) platform. That's a major point already. You can always promote your business or your profile on other social media accounts. However, it’s Google where people turn to first when searching for answers to their queries.
Let's examine the following scenario:
People in your city are looking for the nearest attorney, and you are one and just happen to have a GMB account set up. Chances are if your location is nearest to them, you will show up toward the top of the search results page after they enter their search query on Google. This is so because GMB literally puts you on the“online map.” The technology behind Google can determine exactly how close your office is located to the individual making the query. Along with many other variables Google considers, the algorithm uses GMB data about your business such as location, hours of operation, and customer reviews to determine whether to present your business as a potential solution to a visitor’s query. Not having a GMB account puts you at a disadvantage in this game.
Quick Tip: If you and your team go around to interesting points of your community and take selfies with your "location services" activated on your mobile phones, you can post those photographs in your Google My Business account in the team section and capture virtual real estate, expanding your geographic reach in search results.
Remember, our two goals are that customers find you and engage with you. Well, GMB assists with the “find you” goal. But what about engagement?
2. Offers and Events (Google Posts)
So let’s assume that you are considering a grand launch of virtual access to your professional services, or maybe a simple seasonal promotion for your business. Posting these on your website and social media pages may indeed get you noticed. However, to really catapult your efforts you can also make it an event on your GMB profile. Your GMB account has a feature called Google Posts with which you can create an event (similar to Facebook Events). These posts will show up on your profile and will stay there for 7 days following the event date.
For example: you created an event on September 22nd to be held on October 1st. That particular event will be on your GMB profile until October 8th. What’s so great about this is that you can link blog posts and other websites straight to that event, or even partner up with others! This could help build up your online presence giving you a higher ranking on the local search results pages while also providing you with a forum in which to engage with your target audience.
In relation to this, you can also create Offers on your GMB account. For instance, if you have a welcome gift for your new followers or a holiday special, you can create an offer on your profile as an enticing gift to motivate engagement. Then leverage that engagement with yet another interesting event. The result? You will increase your opportunities for engagement.
3. Appointments and Quotations
As a professional service provider, you might also be interested in GMB’s appointment setting features built to integrate directly with Google’s search results pages. GMB can either promote the booking calendar feature of your website, and if you don’t have one incorporated within your site, GMB will provide you with access to its own online booking services.
Another major plus is that you can link this particular schedule with Google Calendar.
There is also a button for GMB that you can activate that will authorize site visitors to “Request a Quote.” If your customer wants to know more, you can activate a messaging feature.
Now, about messaging…
4. Messaging with Question and Answer
Nothing beats instantaneous messaging for customer service. Personal engagement is always best because the nuance of actual person-to-person interaction helps to engender trust. But we can’t emphasize enough the importance of speed when it comes to replying to queries from potential clients. Answering a customer’s query as fast as possible will often make them feel more valued and reduces the bounce rate for visitors due to a lack of patience on their end.
Previously, a separate program called Allo was the go-to app for customers to message you about your business on GMB. Now the messaging can be done through the GMB app itself. Everything is now integrated on one application instead of relying on SMS or Allo before which used to be the standard. A few features were added along with it like:
- Adding a welcome message and offer. The customer will see a message template when they try to message you via the GMB app. A great advantage is to add a “Welcome Offer” to your message so visitors know what the best deal you can provide is.
- A booking process. This is the appointment setting mentioned in number 3 above. You will receive a notification when a customer decides to book an appointment with you. Along with that are the dates, times and the request itself. You can confirm back and the customer will be notified too! All of this can be done via GMB messaging.
And like many other platforms, GMB also has a Question and Answer feature for your profile. This can serve as an FAQ board for your business that you can manage. You can respond to comments or questions, and even flag those you think might be inappropriate.
5. Description, Short Name and Links
One of the major aspects of your business getting attention online is the business description. Regardless of all the technical things that go into being discovered online, a well-written business description can be the most critical! Make sure that your business description is precise. Also, don’t forget to update and coordinate your N.A.P. (Name, Address, Phone Number) on GMB and across your social media accounts and website. You don’t want to mislead people with the slightest mistake. Inconsistencies can also detract from your search engine optimization score.
GMB is a service waiting to be mined by all professionals out there. It integrates most of the channels you are using right now with underrated features that are provided by the largest search engine company in the world. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s ready to be leveraged right now. So what are you waiting for?
If you would like to learn more about Google My Business and how Vimagery helps Entreprofessionals like you to leverage this and other amazing tools, click here to see if you qualify for a Vimagery Strategy Session. Together, we can help you to gain an unfair advantage regarding your efforts to cultivate, convert, and close new clients in the weeks and months ahead.