Marketing a local business comes with its own unique set of challenges. Local business marketing expert Stacy Tuschl is here to remind us not to assume that people already know who we are, and also not to just copy what our competitors are doing.
Taking a creative and proactive approach to marketing your local business, and building on the trust and credibility of other local businesses, is a great way to create a buzz and to get prospective customers excited and interested in you. Consider creating connections by partnering with local businesses with a referral strategy. And don’t believe the hype, organic marketing on Facebook is not dead. Have you created a “foot traffic formula” for your business yet?
Rich: My next guest is a local business expert and marketing strategist, best-selling author, and the creator of Foot Traffic Podcast. Formally she’s building her empire podcast community where she helps female entrepreneurs grow their local search-based businesses.
She started her first business as the age of 18 in her parent’s backyard and turned that company into a 7-figure business that she still runs today. She’s a mom of two little girls and married to her husband, Ken. I’m very excited to have with me, Stacy Tuschl. Stacy, welcome to the show.
Stacy: Hi Rich, thanks so much for having me.
Rich: So I love the name of your new podcast, Foot Traffic Podcast. Tell me a little bit about what spurred the name change and what do you cover on the show?
Stacy: So for me I think one of the biggest things that all of my clients want – and I want – as a small business owner, is we all want more foot traffic. And that word just organically kept popping up. And I think that’s when I feel an alignment with those names is when it just feels so organic like that when it happens. Or that people keep saying it.
So as we relaunch the podcast to Foot Traffic, we’re getting such great feedback and it feels like such a great fit and I’m so glad we did it. But of course just like the name, we are helping people get more people in the door into their brick and mortar businesses.
Rich: Ok, so I know that you’ve got this foot traffic formula. Why don’t you tell me a little bit more about that?
Stacy: Yeah. So if you can envision a triangle, there are three sides to it. And the first step is “touch”, the next one if “traffic” and getting them actually into the building, and then the last one is getting them to commit in “transaction”.
So “touch” is going to be getting more visibility, more people to be aware of who you are. I always tell people you want to see a Facebook post where somebody says, “Do you know a business that provides x, y, or z?” And imagine what it would feel like to have your name be tagged all over the place in those comments. Everybody wants to be that go to expert, so we have to really get awareness out there into our audience so people know who we are in our community. So that’s the biggest one, it’s starting out with touch. And that’s free traffic, that’s paid traffic. So that’s where your Facebook ads are going to come in, social media, all of those collaborations and things like that.
Rich: Ok, that makes sense.
Stacy: Then the next piece is “traffic”, actually getting people to come to you. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to buy, that just might mean they’re stopping in. So whether that is something like an event that you have or a paid event, or maybe a trial, something for them to try you out. So that’s the next step. When people find out about you through your touch, how do we actually get them to take that one more step closer to you?
Rich: Just to confirm that the traffic you’re discussing is physical traffic walking into my front door.
Stacy: Correct. So we want them to get as close to us as possible, and typically that could be just a phone call. It could absolutely be taking the next step to go on your website, try to book something right off of there. I know w lot of us do online registration and you can buy right there. Or it might be them actually physically walking in the door.
Rich: Alright. And then we’ve got “transactions”.
Stacy: Yes. So now is the part that a lot of us start to get a little nervous about. We want to actually have them commit. So we want them to whip out their credit card and say, “Yes, I’m interested.” So a lot of the things we talk about here in this stage is, how do we get them to commit by using a sense of urgency, maybe there’s scarcity, incentives, bonuses, things like that.
So those are basically the three pillars of this, and then in the center there’s this follow-up piece where we can really amplify what we’re doing. So I always tell people think of a bathtub and the water coming in. Maybe it trickles in, maybe it’s just flowing right now, but those are potential customers. And unfortunately a lot of us are focusing on the water coming in, we just want more and more water. However, some of us have the drain open and we don’t realize that, and we’re losing customers.
So that center section, “follow-up”, is following up with people that haven’t purchased, maybe they’re not saying “no,” but “not right now”. Or even the people that have purchased. A lot of times we think, “Great, I’ve got their credit card, move on to the next person”. There’s a lot of things we do in our business in the follow-up stage to make sure that we keep our customers happy and staying with us for many years.
Rich: Ok, so we’ve got touch, traffic, transactions, and then we’re doing follow-up. Let’s talk first about the touch aspect. What are you seeing that’s working right now when it comes to touch? And is this all online stuff or could this also be anything like things that we’re putting in the front of our brick and mortar stores?
Stacy: Yeah. So I think there’s a couple things. First with touch, there’s internal marketing and there’s external marketing. So like you said, in your stores you can have internal marketing for people that are already in the building, they’re trying you out, they’re doing something. But you could also let them know what other services or products you sell.
Now I also want you to start thinking a little outside the box. Because a lot of people think posting on social media for free, or taking it to the next level and paying. But another thing we do in our business is we have what we call our “Dream 50”. And we are looking for other local collaborations, businesses that we can partner with that really make a good fit.
So again, this isn’t your typical marketing, but there are so many people in your community that you can be partnering with. So it’s really easy for me to say, “My business is amazing, come try me out”. But the problem is people don’t know me and they don’t trust me yet.
However, if they’re going to the local hair salon and they trust their hairstylist and they ask for a recommendation, there’s a lot more trust built. So if we can partner with other local businesses, it really has helped our business take off. And the reason I say to people to find your Dream 50 – or maybe even your Dream 100 – some people won’t understand the value of this and they’re going to turn you down and say no. But we found some amazing collaborations in our community that has really helped continue to pour in new customers.
Rich: Can you give me an example of one or two that’s really worked for you, or that you want to shine a spotlight on.
Stacy: Yeah, for sure. So first you have to ask yourself, who is my ideal clientele. So for me it’s somebody who own performing arts studios. We have mostly families with young children that come to our facilities, so I have to ask myself where are other moms hanging out or young children hanging out?
So I’m not going to go to another dance studio that’s going to be my main competitor. But could I go to the children’s consignment shop in town, could I go to the swimming lessons because just because you take dance doesn’t mean you can’t take swim. So if I can pair up or partner with, maybe even reach out to certain people, and say, “We love your gymnastics opportunity and we’d love to have you as our featured recommended gymnastics place. Would you do the same for us?” And we’re building relationships with people like that. So you have to ask yourself what makes sense. If you have a pet grooming business, where are other animal lovers hanging out? Who would be a great fit for you?
Rich: That makes a lot of sense. And I’m sure that there’s other things just outside of these activities, like ice cream shops or something like that, where moms and parents are going.
Stacy: Absolutely. And we’ve even done some things where we purchase just a simple little brochure folder from Office Depot or Office Max, and we have it in our lobby. And what we do with our strategic relationship and other collaborations is, we will put their flyers in this little folder on our wall, and they have our brochure sitting out there on their desk somewhere when you walk into their building. So it’s a great win/win and it’s free. We haven’t been charged and they haven’t charged us, it’s just building these strategic relationships.
Rich: Alright, so once we’ve done that and maybe there’s some awareness around us and we’ve made these connections, how do we move to traffic?
Stacy: So one of the biggest things – and I’ll go back to touch for a second – when you’re talking about paid Facebook ad searches, are these free organic social media posts. We have to build that trust so fast and get credibility as fast as we can. So by having another business for your local news or the newspaper to talk about you builds that much faster.
And now we want to get them after they’ve seen that to come into the building or go to our website and maybe try something out. So whether that’s still a free download or a thing to get online where we grab the email or a phone number. In the online space a lot of people just grab email, but for somebody who has a local business it is very common for us to ask for phone numbers and people aren’t skeptical of that. They kind of understand that probably they’re going to call me.
So for us we’re really making sure that we’re grabbing some of their email or some sort of contact information. But now the goal is to get them in the building. So even if they do something online or they call us, our main goal is come and try us out, get in here.
We know by tracking and just looking at our numbers that when you come into the building, about 80-90% actually convert. So we just have to get them there, that’s the hardest part. Some people might schedule a trial or book something online, but they don’t show up, just like a webinar. You get them to register for the webinar, but have they actually shown up for the webinar. We have the same problem in our local brick and mortar business.
Rich: Alright. So if we’re trying to move them from touch to traffic, how have you had some success in that category?
Stacy: So one of the things that we’re doing is really using our credibility. So if we’d been featured in the local newspaper or some sort of article online showing them maybe a Facebook ad of that credibility. So showing off what we can already offer, but again, it’s not just me saying “look at me, look at my business”, it’s somebody who’s credible saying, “check out what this business has done or what they are all about”.
So for us we’re really trying to build that trust as fast as possible and really convincing you that we’re the place. So when you come in the building we know that it’s going to be very easy to get that transaction piece and commit a lot faster.
So for us we do a lot of events, some are free events for the community, some are paid events. Sometimes we do trials where they can come in and maybe get a discount for something just as a first time member. Again, just an incentive to try us out and why not now. You’ve got to have that urgency as well.
Rich: Ok. So we get some people into our space – and if you have more to say on traffic I’d love to hear – but are there certain things that you’ve seen that work for moving people from traffic to transactions? Which at the end of the day pays our bills.
Stacy: Absolutely right. So they’re in the building, they’re trying us out, they’re on the phone, how do we get them to actually commit. How do we actually get their credit card and get them in the right spots. So for us there has to be a reason to buy now. We used to do events and we would just give out these coupons or something to say, “Get a $20 gift card when you register”, but there was a sense of urgency. And we’re always experimenting.
At one of our events we did we experimented with this discount coupon code – a 72-hour coupon code – and then we even gave them a special incentive if they registered on site. So having a special on-site special that day, those types of things have been helping when there’s urgency and scarcity, knowing you can absolutely register or sign up in 3 months, but when you do it today you’re going to get rewarded for it. So what can you be doing and incentivizing your potential customers to committing today?
Rich: I know that there are a lot of small local business owners that always feel a little squeamish about putting on the screws to somebody and they don’t want to come across like a used car salesman. What do you say to somebody like that who’s worried about how it’s going to make them feel or look and they don’t want to be too pushy.
Stacy: Such a great question, and I used to struggle with this a lot. I’ve always cared so much about what people think about me, and we naturally care what our customers are thinking about us, what our employees think about us. And I had to really start to ask myself why am I thinking this way, what is the reason. And if I really truly feel that I am providing this service that people want and people need, and I feel that I’m the best one in the area that does it. I have to know that it’s no longer an option for me, it’s a responsibility, to share with people what I do and why they should come to me and why they should choose my business.
So that’s another thing. If you don’t fully believe yet that you are providing enough value or that you really are the go to place. Some of us don’t believe we are the go to place, they think there’s a competitor that’s better than us. So how can you really master what you’re doing? Maybe there’s some work that you need to do in-house or train your team a little bit more. You’ve got to really own the stance and say, “Yes, I am absolutely the #1 option for you to come to.” And some of us don’t truly believe that yet.
There was a time when we were growing so quickly and I was hiring so fast that I really didn’t believe my team was the best team around. Now, 17 years later, we have an amazing team and because I believe it I can sell my business so much easier than someone who’s not totally positive they are the right person.
Rich: That’s a great point. Because I think that on one hand there’s imposter syndrome when you think you’re a fraud when you might have something really valuable. And then there’s the other side where it’s like maybe there are parts of your own business that you need to work on. And I see this as a recurring theme where we focus so much on marketing and getting more people in the door, but we’re not doing the most important marketing, which is providing a really quality of service, a really good value for somebody else’s money.
Stacy: Absolutely. I think this might have been John Jantsch that said this. I was listening to him talk about referring and he said, “Do you want to know how to refer more people? Be more referable.” And this was such a breakthrough for me because we’re constantly going through, “How do we get more people? How do we get more followers? How do we get more x?” And if you could really just show up and be the person they need, you will get everything you’re looking for. We just get so caught up in the numbers game we forget what we’re actually here to do.
Rich: Yeah, it’s definitely a good point. Something else that I like that you mentioned – the 4th thing in this 3-point formula that you have – is follow-up. And I do think, especially digital marketers, we’re so focused on customer acquisition that we don’t give enough attention to customer retention. So talk to me a little bit about what local businesses can do to improve customer retention?
Stacy: So I think we automatically think if someone didn’t register, they didn’t sign up, they didn’t buy, I’ll follow-up with them in 2 weeks or a month. Or even worse, we know we should but we don’t. But nobody thinks to follow-up with the person that bought, nobody checks in with them a week later or right after their appointment or anything, and that’s when you can actually lose people by not following up.
So I think it’s actually more important to follow-up with our current customers that are purchasing than the people that are saying, “Not right now”. We have to give priority to the people paying us.
And we have a system in place where after somebody signs up with my business we have these little check-ins where our front desk is responsible for calling or sending an email and checking in to say, “How was this class? How do you like your teacher? Are there any questions you have or any concerns?” And sometimes parents will respond back and say, “Yes, actually I’m not sure this is the right teacher for us”, or “I’m not sure this is the right level”. And because we’re being proactive and not just reactive, we’re able to save a sale and get them in the right seat.
So I always talk about getting an employee on our bus and getting them in the right seat. So when you hire somebody sometimes, it takes a little bit to get them where they really belong. That’s the same thing with our customers. Just because they purchased does not mean the transaction is complete. Now we have to go, where do they really need to be to thrive in whatever this is we’re doing. So really making sure that you are taking care of your new clients will go such a long way.
Rich: I think that’s absolutely true because if someone does have a little problem with something you’ve done, chances are they’re not going to say anything to you because they don’t want to be that annoying client. But when their friend asks them for a recommendation, they are going to spill the beans.
Rich: There’s so much evidence that shows if someone has a problem with your product or services, to address it early on, they’ll actually like your brand better than if they had no problem whatsoever.
Stacy: Definitely. And we always say to our team, we want to “wow” our customers. We want to go above and beyond and give them just an exceptional experience. And sometimes the best way to wow them is when you mess up. This is a great opportunity to show them we’re going to fix it, we care about you, and we really want you to be happy.
So how can we go the extra mile? They say the extra mile is never crowded and it really isn’t, because when people mess up they just give you what you should have gotten, but after you’ve had to ask for it again.
So if we mess up we always go, “Well, they deserved this, it’s what they paid for. But how do we give them something extra that they would not have gotten without us having this issue. And when we go above and beyond in our mistakes, people just cannot believe the service we give them, and that’s when we just kind of guarantee this lifelong customer. They’re not going anywhere because they know we’re going to take care of them for anything.
Rich: I completely agree. So that’s basically the Foot Traffic Formula. But I want to kind of circle back around, this is a digital marketing podcast after all. I know a lot of local business owners are really concerned about the reach or lack thereof of Facebook organic. What kind of things are you saying to get more visibility or more engagement on Facebook organic? Or have you just given up on it and you’re just throwing money at these things?
Stacy: So I don’t think organic is completely dead. I do feel like some of us are just checking off the boxes. So if they say you should post once a day or you should do 2 Facebook Live’s a week, we’re just checking off the boxes, jumping on Live a few minutes before we’re supposed to go, or we just come up with some fluff content. And I think the harder it gets to be on Facebook and to be seen on Facebook, the better your content needs to be and the more you need to truly show how to show up and serve.
I still do a ton of organic promotion, we are very strategic with our social media. But I had to start asking myself what could I say right now to get a reaction, what could I say to get people engaged versus the fluff content that a lot of us are putting out there. We have to stop putting out what everybody has already heard. We have to really start taking ownership of our thoughts and the way we’re doing things and go, “How can I really truly help somebody that needs this”, whatever it is you’re serving them with.
Rich: Stacy, have you seen or done anything recently in Facebook that got a bigger engagement than you thought? Something that you can share with us that your clients may have done and it just got more bang for the buck than they would have expected?
Stacy: So for us specifically, Facebook Live, for sure. One thing that we are starting to do, because we notice how powerful live video is, is I will dual stream on Facebook Live at the same time I’m on Instagram Live. And while I’m on Facebook Live I’ll have my team behind the scenes share it into my Facebook Group. So I’m really going live in three places at once.
And again, it’s quality over quantity. So instead of me trying to show up on Instagram one time, and my Facebook Group one time, and my Facebook Fan Page one time, I can come out once a week with really great content but you can see it in all three places.
So for me it’s a little bit of a repurpose, but in the way of knowing I can show up better if I just have to give one piece of amazing content that my audience is going to love. Versus trying to play the quantity game and I just need to show up every day. A lot of times that’s when the good stuff is few and far between.
Rich: Alright, so you get some traction out of Facebook Live, and it sounds like you’re using Facebook Groups. Are there anything else these days in organic non-paid social traffic at all that’s working for you?
Stacy: So our best thing that we’re doing right now is in Direct Messaging and Facebook Messages. So instead of trying to get people to go to a link or go to a freebie or anything like that, we’re actually saying, “If you have questions just DM us.” And we are closing so many sales inside of our direct messages. It’s almost like people don’t want to jump on the phone anymore, they don’t want to jump in a webinar, but my team and I can be behind the scenes inside of our DM’s having real personalized customized conversations, and we’re selling people very quickly on some of our high ticket programs. It’s just crazy how the world is evolving but it is unbelievable the difference we are getting by using behind the scenes in direct messages.
Rich: Alright. And I’ve seen similar things in my own marketing once I start talking to people one-on-one. People always talk about scaling up, but sometimes you need to scale down. You really just need to have those one-on-one conversations because it’s amazing what people will do when you’re talking directly to them rather than talking to them in a crowd.
Stacy: Yes. And we’ll do an Instagram Story and actually do a poll – it might be something we’re doing – and I’ll just say below to let me know if you’re interested. And so it might say “yes” or the next one says “yes, send me more info”. And when they click “send me more info”, my team is going in and messaging every single person that said it. So we’re starting conversations in the DMs as well, and that has been super helpful. And you can do the same thing in Facebook Live, let them know to comment below if they want more info, and then reach out to them.
Rich: This has been great and I’ve definitely learned a lot. I love the focus on local businesses. Where can people find out more about you online?
Rich: Awesome. And of course you’ve got the podcast which we’ll be linking to in the show notes.
Stacy: Yes. Rich, thank you so much for having me today.
Rich: This has been great. Stacy, thank you so much for stopping by and we appreciate your time and expertise.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.