5 Ways to Optimize Your Shepherd’s Guide Listing

As of August 2013, there are over 70,000 listings on shepherdsguide.com. And even today, we are happy to offer you a listing on the site absolutely free. So what can you do to stand out among the thousands of businesses around you? Here’s how to do it the Shepherd’s Guide way:

  •  What sets you apart from the rest?
    • Be sure to take advantage of the keywords section of your listing, as this is one of the main driving forces of how people can find YOU. After you set your category, put down keywords and phrases that makes you unique from all the other businesses in similar categories. What does your business truly focus on?
    • Examples:
      • Florist: ‘dish gardens, silk arrangements, wedding bouquets, etc.’
      • Lawyer: ‘family law, church law, workers’ comp, etc.’
  • Does your business carry or service specific brands?
    • This is a big one for those in the service and repair industry. People buy and sell on brand names, so make sure to list the brand names you service/offer. This will help customers find the right person for the job.
    • Examples:
      • Appliance: ‘Kenmore, LG, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Westinghouse, etc.’
      • Car Repair: ‘Ford, GMC, Chevy, etc.’
  • Does your brand come with a slogan?
    • Slogans can be a powerful tool in marketing. Ever since the rise of radio ads and TV commercials, corporate taglines/slogans, have been a driving force behind brand reinforcement. Be sure to add yours under the ‘Summary Description’section of your listing!
    • Examples:
      • Subway: ‘Eat Fresh.’
      • Nike: ‘Just do it.’
  • Avoid typical keywords!
    • Keep in mind that when you select your category, a lot of obvious keywords are already taken care of for you. (e.g., If you are listed under the category ‘Roofing,’ the keywords ‘roof, roofing, roofer, roofers,’ as well as popular misspellings are already included. Be sure to prioritize unique keywords over simple keywords to grab the users that have specific needs.
    • Examples:
      • Key Phrases: ‘Most reliable service, Locally owned, etc.’
      • Keywords: ‘business cards, marketing event, etc.’
  • Take advantage of special offers and upgrade your listing

Your customers will be able to find you much faster with an optimized listing.
Now, that wasn’t so hard. Your next phone call is right around the corner!

Be sure to claim your listing at The Shepherd’s Guide!

7 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence and Be Found!

When people look for your business on an online directory, there are several things you can to stand out and be found.

  1. Great Profile Photo - We all know that while you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but people do it all the time. It’s important that you choose a profile picture that best represents you and your business. A professional logo is typically the best option, but if you don’t have one, it’s also best to have photos of your work or service as well. Finding free, commercial licensed images and photos is another great way to utilize the internet to find clean, professional pictures to represent your company. If you have any questions on how to do this, don’t hesitate to ask The Shepherd’s Guide for assistance. We love to serve the small, local businesses.
  2. Fully Completed Profile - Once you find yourself a great profile picture, it’s important to also fully complete all the forms and fields of an online listing, including your Shepherd’s Guide profile. It’s worth it to take some time and write out all the details about your company as it attracts customers and not only helps advertise your company, but create loyalty as well. The better your profile looks, the more viewers will assume you are a professional.
  3. Referrals - Most folks tend to not leave reviews on their favorite businesses on the directory service they found you know, but only because they forget to. All it takes is a friendly reminder to ask for their commendation. Go ahead, be brave and ask for those reviews on your favorite websites. Even tackling poor reviews by responding to them will speak volumes for your company because it will show that you care and are willing to improve yourself to satisfy all customers.
  4. Add Media - Continuing this theme of public image, don’t let all those marketing dollars go to waste. Most services allow you to upload additional photos, videos, blog posts, social media, etc. If you’re a restaurant, posting pictures of your best dishes is a no-brainer. The more you add to your profile, the more engaging it will be. Plain and simple. People spend more time on websites and listings that have photos than not. The more information they can get before the phone call, the easier it will be to answer closing questions and earn that sale.
  5. Share Media - Similar to how you may use social media to push out stories and press releases about your business, be sure to share your personal listing pages on all your marketing. The Shepherd’s Guide assigns a unique URL to each listing so that our advertisers can easily cut and paste the URL into emails and other marketing avenues.
  6. Participate in a Variety of Social Sites - Make as many friends as you can in life and online. The internet has made it ten times easier to network and meet others in your industry, especially with services like LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the more venues you have to get the word out about your business and what’s happening.

When your customers see the time and attention you are putting into your business, and they’re kept up-to-date on what’s new with your company, it helps keep you in their minds. How often we tell our friends and families the first company that comes to their head, it’s important to stay relevant. The Shepherd’s Guide lets you do this across different channels and the best news, we provide it for free!

Be sure to claim your listing at The Shepherd’s Guide!

4 Ways Technology has Changed Marketing for Christian Businesses

One of the most critical dimensions of a business is branding and marketing. It is imperative that you get your name out to the public and distance your christian company from the competition. When business owners have to wear multiple hats, marketing typically takes a back seat. In order to stand out and become a leader in your industry, you need to create a strong marketing plan, have experts review it, and then execute successfully. Once launched, you must review results and make changes to stay at the forefront of your market.

Traditional marketing practices of the last 30 years have been a constant, allowing you to set your annual plan, post your goals, and implement your marketing strategy without too much research into new advertising mediums.

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In today’s world, marketing has been influenced first by technology, and then by social interaction and feedback (by way of technology). In order to plan your marketing strategy, your christian company needs to research the new advertising outlets. Some of these marketing changes include:

  1. Pay As You Go Advertising - In the past, advertising was purchased and placed prior to results. Even if you are a wizard at tracking your marketing, you have to make an educated decision on where to allocate your marketing dollars. This was, and still is a viable option, but digital marketing has changed the rules. Now you can purchase Pay Per Click advertising that allows you to pay only when a customer clicks on your link and visits your website. Coupled with a larger marketing strategy including the traditional avenues, this can be an effective way to quickly increase your website traffic.
  2. Social Marketing - Having a presence for your business on all social networks has become a viral marketing trend. It is a necessity but cannot be entered into blindly. A good Social Media Marketing plan along with a strong, branded presence can bring success. While traditional marketing is you speaking to your customers, social marketing for a christian business is centered on your customers speaking to you, and your interactions with them. It will increase customer satisfaction and lead to increased brand loyalty.
  3. Options…Options…Options - With internet and mobile marketing, as well as other technological advances, you are now inundated with marketing options for your christian business or christian organization. Yellow Pages, Radio, Billboards, etc have been replaced by Mobile Advertising, Email Marketing, Website Business Directories, Local Marketing, Deal of the Day, Social Marketing, Pay Per Click, and so on. The toughest part is that each of these mediums include a boatload of companies touting their successes. Including some of the newer marketing options into your current plan is essential, but must be done with extensive research. When you are weighing your options, make sure to base decisions not only on volume of traffic to your advertisement, but on whether the traffic is relevant to your business, and whether the visitors are in a buying position.
  4. FREE Content Marketing - About 10 years ago, traditional marketing was starting to slowly morph from a “BUSINESS” to a “CUSTOMER” mentality. The key to this focus is offering relevant, free content to your customer base, and the public. When educating customers on various topics (keep them relevant to your industry or business brand), you will be giving them reason to keep your business name at the top of their list. When they are ready to buy, you have created a rapport and your christian brand is at the top of your new customer’s list.

Technology has drastically changed how a christian company can market their business and stay relevant. When you create and implement your marketing plan for 2012, be sure to include some web marketing strategies to tie into your traditional marketing. Also, keep in mind that as you go “social” and provide content, consistency is the key. Do not create a presence and then let it sit abandoned.

How has technology affected your marketing plan?  Has it increased ROI?

Originally posted by Dan Detwiler on Fri, Dec 09, 2011

Be sure to claim your listing at The Shepherd’s Guide!

How to Market your Christian Business

Have you seen the poll by The Barna Group? The Barna Group is a research company that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture.  I find this research to be extroadinary. It talks about the American consumer marketplace being a patchwork of markets.  It goes on to say that many brands have achieved success by identifying and reaching pockets of consumers among many variables, including ethnic factors.  This is not to say that they ignore other factors, but it says companies have been successful marketing specifically to ethnic factors, i.e. Christian consumers.

In summary, this poll taken in Feb 0f 2011, found that 42% of Americans are more likely to buy a product or service from a company that manages its business according to Christian principles, while 3 % were less likely and 51% said it made no difference.  In the same poll they found that 37% Americans are more likely buy a product or service from a company that promotes the Christian faith, while 3% are less likely and 58% said it makes no difference.

So what does this mean for the Christian Business owner? Given the above, it could be concluded that when marketing dollars utilize a means that would identify a business that manages it’s organization with Christian principles and/ or embraces and promotes the Christian faith, they would have a higher percentage of success when determining return on investment. Christian Businesses would do well in targeting advertising mediums that produce a vehicle to meet this need.

Originally posted by Richard Criste on Wed, Nov 28, 2012

Be sure to claim your listing at The Shepherd’s Guide!

5 Reasons Why People Prefer Christian Owned Businesses

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In this day and age, making the smart decision on a product or service requires a lot of work, energy, and time. It can get pretty overwhelming to sift through the thousands of business listings in your local area, let alone find the trustworthy companies among them.

As a personal example, I recently caught up with a cousin who had become widowed 6 years ago. She mentioned to me how she’s had to make decisions for things she never really had to before, and the difficulties that come with making the right one.  It wasn’t hard to sympathize with her, there are just so many options for plumbers, contractors, handymen, roofers, etc. We’re talking about inviting people into our homes, how do we know who to trust?

When people are in need of a service, they look for a trustworthy business. Here are 5 reasons why people prefer to do business with a Christian owned company:

  1. Higher Standards — You can expect a higher standard of integrity and reliability in how they practice their business. Christians in business share the built-in biblical values that govern them personally and in the workplace. Their business ethics demand that they respect your home & belongings, complete the job and stand behind their work.  You will be able to trust them as though they are a close acquaintance or friend.

  2. Money Well Invested — When doing business with a Christian owned company, you can trust that they will be good stewards of your money and time. Most Christian business owners tithe a portion of their profits.  This money usually goes to their home church, but also can be given to local ministries and charities.  By hiring a Christian contractor, you are also helping promote the work of the Kingdom of God through their giving.

  3. Building Community — When people connect with like-minded, value-oriented companies, it brings a sense of community and fellowship even outside of the church.

  4. Save Time — If you seek a trustworthy company that hold themselves to biblical standards, you’ve already narrowed down the list of businesses to look through tenfold. You save the time that would have been spent looking through reviews, or asking all your friends for referrals.

  5. Peace of Mind — After reading reasons 1 through 4, hasn’t it already given you peace of mind? It makes the process easier and stress-free, and we do our best to keep it that way for you.

As we navigate through the Information Digital Age, many people don’t know where to turn for reliability when faced with a decision. The Shepherd’s Guide came from that need to find trustworthy businesses in faith. Did you know that we encourage every single one of our advertisers to make a Statement of Faith (link) and display themselves as Christian owned businesses?

Be sure to claim your listing at The Shepherd’s Guide!

The Importance of Customer Engagement

ENGAGING (en-gey-jing) adjective: winning, attractive, pleasing (example: an engaging smile)

Whether you’re at the store, walking down the street or sitting in a business meeting, someone smiling at you can change your attitude. It might soften your anger, tear down a defense or objection, or it might simply brighten your already cheery attitude. Good salesmen know how to engage with a potential client and brighten their potential sales outcome.

With that last sentence, over half of you have said: “BUT I’m not a SALESMAN. I’m not in sales.”  Most people don’t realize that all of us are in sales.   We are selling ourselves and our company with every customer interaction.  You might be a bookkeeper responsible for accounts receivable or you might be a service technician for a cable company – you’re still in sales and by engaging with your customer, you’re providing a valuable service for everyone involved.

Engagement is welcoming! It’s a pleasant tone of voice, whether in person or on the phone. It’s seeing comments on social media and responding to them whether they are positive or negative. It’s making information easy to find on your website, or having the contact information readily accessible. It’s making it easier for your customer to have a personal connection. Engaging wins the heart of the customer through attractive interaction which pleases the customer and meets or exceeds their expectations.

3 Reasons Why Customer Engagement is important for YOUR CLIENT

1.  Engaging with your customer helps them feel important.

2.  Your customer feels heard and understood.

3.  Your customer feels like they can come back to you with problems or for their next purchase or service need. They know they will be treated like they are your only customer.

3 Reasons Why Customer Engagement is important for YOU

1.  You are building a community with your customers.  That will inspire your customers to tell their friends and associates; building a bigger community of business prospects.

2.  You are overcoming objections for initial sales or service and resolving problems before they negatively impact your brand.

3.  You are being proactive and being proactive builds confidence within the community you serve. Confidence inspires trust and attracts more business.

Customer engagement occurs in many different arenas:  face-to-face, phone, web, text messages, and of course, the growing popularity of social media platforms.  Customer engagement must be modified for each situation.  While a greeting with a smile when face-to-face is a definite, a customer will also be able to discern whether you are smiling on the phone.  Social media and website traffic should be monitored and responded to in a timely fashion and with a pleasant writing style (“smile”). Engagement starts with being friendly and open no matter the circumstances; and with the appropriate empathetic listening skills it will win the customer’s loyalty and trust through a sale or a positive resolution.

ShepherdsGuide.com offers customer engagement through our Customer Reviews.  Make sure your customers can find you and engage with you…FREE!  Visit www.shepherdsguide.com and Sign Up Today!

Originally posted by guest blogger, Nicole Beus on Mon, Nov 14, 2011

~ Nicole “Indy” Beus is the owner of Indy’s Services a Social Media Management, Graphic Design, and Virtual Assistance company since 2006.  To learn more about her, follow online on Twitter: @Indys, Facebook: Indy’s Services, or Indy’s website indyses.net.

Be sure to claim your listing at The Shepherd’s Guide!