Can small business success come primarily from free advertising? And will it work for both a local business and ecommerce?
That answer is yes for LMT Guy Siverson, founder and owner of Graceful Touch Licensed massage therapy and Graceful Touch Products.
Guy runs Graceful Touch in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife, Irene, who is also a Licensed Massage Therapist.
Advertising a Service and Products
Before they started their business, Guy was known as the Local Social SEOGuy. Who better to share what works and what doesn’t than a couple who make a living from their own small business?
You may not be surprised to find out that Guy uses two different free advertising methods. What works for a local business is not the same as what works for ecommerce.
Guy recently joined us for a BizSugar TipTalk where he shared what works for him. Read on for the highlights of that chat. Use them to grow your own small business!
Launch Strategy: Use Local Television
When Graceful Touch first launched, Guy knew he needed some visibility:
While we were waiting for things like SEO to kick in we checked in our local area and found the TV station doing a program called “Click Big Deals.” We would gain nothing from their efforts other than potential clients. It was a risk but it paid off and helped to give us a solid foundation to our launch.
We still use Click Big Deals from time to time and will be using it once again as we extend our services into Cryotherapy which happens next week. However, for the service side of our business GMB is without question a front runner.
They could have launched with only a Google Business Profile. But the television exposure would definitely drive recognition and interest from the start.
So consider getting free or paid exposure locally where you are.
Best Free Advertising Method for Local Businesses: GBP
The #1 driver of customers for local businesses is their Google Business Profile. Guy confirmed this during our TipTalk chat.
I find using their free setup in conjunction with paid ads on Google is the best strategy. It is my own opinion that part of the reason that we rank so high on GMB is because we also run paid ads with them. Even if I am incorrect it provides two points of exposure for us through Google.
That in conjunction with tripling any other competition in our area as it relates to reviews makes a huge difference in getting bookings coming our way. People so much as tell us that regularly.
Google says that ads and organic are totally separate. However, if you have both running, your business gets more visibility and clicks. And increased clicks will push your profile higher.
$150 Per Month on Google AdWords Can Make All the Difference
Our member Lisa Sicard of Inspire to Thrive asked Guy how much a local business would need to spend on Google AdWords to get his results. Guy responded:
I try to keep it at about $150 monthly and have it automated to do that. We get tons of traffic from Google with both listings at the top.
Actually, organic and paid work together in tandem especially as it relates to Google. If you pay it is more likely that you will also rank well organically.
Because people use Google especially when looking for a local service. Being at the top of that platform has made a huge difference in our success.
Reviews are Key to Google Business Profiles (Google My Business Profiles)
A local company’s Google Business Profile (GBP) is what was known as a Google My Business (GMB) profile. It is so critical that businesses must focus on doing it well.
Guy shared what he feels is most important:
Make sure to complete your profile as best as possible including all details and pictures, too. Also, reviews are key. We’ve been in practice just over 4 years and are headed toward 500 reviews. So many people tell us that they came because of the reviews.
Once a review is left make sure to respond back. This is even more important if the reviews are negative. Negative reviews can be an outstanding way to positively market your business if and only if you handle them correctly.
Persuasive Reviews Drive New Business
The 445 reviews for Graceful Touch go beyond the ordinary. I’m sure they factor into their success. Here are a couple of examples:
Should You Publish Posts or News on Google Business Profile?
What works for Guy can work for any local business. Our loyal member and small business consultant Poulomi Basu of Ignite has experience with managing GMB pages.
She added her thoughts:
I tried posts and news but did not see a great deal of difference. For me, making sure that the profile is completely filled out, getting backlinks to my GMB page, and reviews are where it is at.
The best strategy is to test the various features available on Google Business Profiles. Try different variations and see what works best for your small business.
Google My Business: Claiming, Optimization and Engagement
We encourage you to read and apply Ben Fisher’s advice from our Webinar Google My Business: claiming, optimization and engagement.
The Webinar was recorded just before Google announced the name change to Google Business Profile. So we contacted Ben and he confirmed that the contents were still relevant after the name change.
Any business willing to put their physical address online can have a Google Business Profile. Moreover, I have personally known many small businesses that get almost all of their customers from their free profile!
Best Free Advertising Strategy for Ecommerce Businesses
An ecommerce business without a local location may not benefit from focusing on Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business).
Google Shopping is an option, but Guy shared his and his wife’s experience with it:
We also use the shopping side of Google for our products and have had orders as a result but Instagram (IG) just does it so much better in my opinion.
Instagram Works Best for Graceful Touch Products
Guy has found that Instagram is driving sales of their Graceful Touch Products ecommerce site. They use the Instragram username painrelief4u.
Scrolling through the Graceful Touch Products Instagram feed, we see that they have:
- Pinned a product offer at the top of the page.
- The vast majority of their posts are informational and relevant to what they do and sell.
- Created a guide with 6 posts under guides.
- Their followers have tagged them in posts that serve as testimonials on their products.
- They have shared many video reels that directly relate to their products.
So, their Instagram is highly informational throughout. But it is also very relevant to both their local and their ecommerce business.
While I have not found IG suitable for a local business approach it is excellent for product approaches in my opinion. I’m still building my IG account but integrating ads together with organic is working very positively for me.
I also look for ways to go beyond the norm in what I’m putting out on IG. I highly recommend looking into FLICK (Affiliate link: https://flick.tech?fpr=guy-74 – If you want to build on IG. I have found it an awesome resource.
People are paying attention on FLICK. Make your content interesting and engaging to get more love from the social site. Within carousels I am doing things to encourage people to look to the next carousel and also engage with the work completed. It is a work in progress.
Look for ways to be creative and yet to catch the readers attention. Some posts need to be more visual than textual. Also – absolutely use FLICK. I shared a link to it in the conversations below. Some say tags are no longer useful. I would absolutely disagree.
Our members had a lot of questions about FLICK because no one had used it before. Guy elaborated:
So the main feature of FLICK is to monitor hashtags and give you an idea of how your IG account is doing based on a variety of stats that they collect. Using their SMART system they can recommend the best tags to use for your account based on the growth phase of your account.
They also will let you know as you start ranking for the various tags. I really REALLY like FLICK. There is a lot going on that is so valuable for the success of Instagram. – This is the only tool I use for IG.
Google Business Profile (Google My Business) Vs Instagram
We asked Guy what he would do if he could only use his Google Business Profile or his Instagram account. Unsurprisingly, considering the previous discussion, he responded:
Cry. They are used for entirely different purposes. I believe I have had a total of one massage in four years as a result of IG. Google is our service side “go to.” But that’s not the end of the story. When we get to products we like IG because it doesn’t matter if the person is even in the USA as products can be sent virtually anywhere as long as someone is willing to accept the cost of shipping.
On the Importance of Outsourcing
Small business owners often complain that they are too busy working in their businesses. With no energy or time left, they don’t take advantage of the free advertising they could be doing.
Every business should hire someone to create and optimize their Google Business Profile. They are giving away money if they don’t.
BizSugar has a free Advisors Directory where you can find experts we personally know to assist you in your business. Or join our free Mastermind Community for DIY assistance and recommendations.
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What should you outsource?
My best advice on outsourcing is if you only need to do something once, hire someone qualified to do it. But if it is a recurring task, and you have the time, do it yourself.
Small business owners often just simply don’t have the time or the desire, though. For example, Guy has a full time Virtual Assistant (VA) to assist him.
And he also has a freelancer to manage his Instagram account. (If we ask sweetly, he might even refer them to you!)
Without outsourcing I would not have been able to accomplish half of what I have done. My favorite place to look for new outsourcers is FIVERR but please remember it is a buyer beware site for a reason.
I have an IG Manager who has been golden for us. Very communicative and effective at what he does. I also have a VA who has been golden on everything I ask him to do. Those are my main two freelancers that I have working right now.
The safest way to hire a VA is to get a referral from someone they’ve done work for in the past. That is a great reason to join our Mastermind Community. Being featured in a post like this is another.
Book on Replicating Guy’s Success
Massage competition is brutal here. We have 3 schools that I am aware of and tons of people doing it. We were told that if we launched in Rapid we would fail. That was from our Instructors. We failed forward with great success. I like this type of failure.
If one knows what they are doing I believe what we have done here can be replicated anywhere.
Guy believes anyone can follow their dreams regardless of their age. So he wrote the book Massage Therapist: True Story about Becoming Mid-Aged Massage Therapists to encourage others.
It includes “Motivational chapters that will make you realize that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.”
About his book, Guy said:
I’ve actually written a book about the entire journey. We have carved out a unique niche within the Deep Tissue world where we believe we bring better relief with less pain from the typical type of Therapist. We are now bringing Cryotherapy into our practice too as of next week.
In case it isn’t obvious, both Guy and Irene made a mid-life change of course and became Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs).
More Small Business Advice
You can read through the entire discussion and see what else our members contributed inside the Mastermind Community.
We also have replays of all of our expert Webinars by category here. This coming week on 2/22/23 at noon Central we have Andy Crestodina LIVE Webinar: Content Strategy and SEO for B2B Lead Generation ~ Register Here.
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Disclaimer: Guy’s links to FLICK and his book are affiliate links. If you choose to use them, he would receive a small percentage which does not affect the price you pay.