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OUR TRANSITION TO TOTAL LOCAL IS COMPLETE

Welcome to the first issue of The Pointer, our new marketing newsletter. In each issue, we'll be sharing with you marketing tips as well as information about our community resource guides and marketing services. Look for an electronic version to start soon.

Many changes have been happening over the past year at Total Local, formerly CRG Directories. All of them for the better! We recently changed ownership, moved locations in Eaton Rapids, and have several new staff members. In addition, we’ve become a full-service marketing agency, adding website hosting and online marketing services. Things are going so well that, in 2020, we are adding two new Community Resource Guides and new value-added content to all of our directories!

New Ownership & Staff As many of you know, our former owner, Ed Shotwell, retired in December of 2017 after 25 years establishing and growing CRG Directories. In 2018, we started the transition to new ownership. Prior to Ed’s Retirement, Teresa Miller began to work with Total Local/CRG Directories, as a consultant, through her Website Hosting and Marketing Agency, Agile T Marketing, based in Stockbridge, Michigan. Many of her clients at Agile T Marketing were already advertising with Total Local, and many of Total Local’s advertisers were becoming clients of the agency as well. So, purchasing the business seemed like a mutually beneficial and natural transition. Teresa Miller became the sole owner of Total Local on July 8, 2019.

During the transition, many of our staff members have changed. Our former office manager, Sue Steward, retired and our long term account executives, Mike West and Deb Lyon, pursued new opportunities. However, David Edmonds has stayed in his vital roles of production manager and creative director.

Many of you have already met our new account executive, Kim Frarey. Kim’s territory includes the small towns where we have directories surrounding Lansing. We recently welcomed Dan Trubak as a new account executive for communities we serve surrounding Ann Arbor and Battle Creek. Our new office manager, Alicia Sutfin, handles customer service and billing. We also have a new administrative assistant and social media manager, Laurie Frakes, who lives in Eaton Rapids.

Looking forward to 2020, we’re launching two new Community Resource Guides, one for the Haslett-Okemos area and one for Howell-Pinckney, bringing our total up to 21 directories. We also aim to add even more community information to the front of the Total Local Community Resource Guides, such as historical information, community calendars, trail maps, and other information. With this expanded section, we hope to make our guides even more useful as a community resource.

Currently, we are wrapping up the 2019 books including Milan, Saline, Williamston, and Fowlerville. Contact your sales rep ASAP if you'd like to be included in these directories in 2019.

ONLINE REVIEWS ARE ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR YOUR COMPANY

In this day and age, most consumers do research about a company online before making a purchase or choosing a service. Whether they are ordering a product over the Internet, researching an in-store purchase, or looking for a service like a doctor’s office, chances are the potential customer will check out a company’s online reviews to see how it measures up. Online reviews are an important way for people to learn about your business, and if your reviews are genuine and mainly positive, they can be a huge asset in attracting customers. In fact, authentic, positive online reviews can be one of the best forms of advertisement available. Research from Bright Local shows that 86% of people read online reviews for local businesses and 91% of consumers ages 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. With that in mind, having a collection of mainly positive reviews of your business is essential. There are many different platforms for customer reviews, but since Google and Facebook reviews are the most popular and most visible, those are the focus of this article.

Sometimes Satisfied Customers Just Need a Little Nudge

Sometimes a satisfied customer will be motivated enough to leave a glowing review of your company on their own, either on Facebook, Google, or another platform. But often, customers need a little reminding or nudging to leave reviews. How can you build up your body of online reviews, while still keeping them authentic? There are several ways.

1. Online Directory Listings: Make sure your company’s profile is listed in the biggest review channels, Facebook and Google. Update your Google My Business Profile and make sure the Facebook page for your business is up-to-date and current. That way potential customers can find your business online, and satisfied customers can leave positive reviews for others to see.

2. Follow the Rules: There are a couple of rules about reviews to keep in mind, in order to keep your company in good standing with Facebook and Google. While it is okay to ask for reviews, it is not okay to offer customers incentives for positive reviews, or to hire third party services to solicit or create inauthentic reviews. These guidelines are commonsense ways to ensure that the reviews about companies are genuine.

3. Ask for a Review: The most basic way to encourage positive reviews is to consistently provide excellent service. However, sometimes even happy customers need a little reminder. Asking them in-person, over the phone, or via email is acceptable, depending on the ways your company typically communicates with its customers. If you are sending an email with a request for a review, it’s helpful to include a link or a badge that goes directly to the review pages to make it easy for the customer to simply click on the link. Add a request for a review on your business card or other printed communications as well.

4. In-Store or In-Office Reminders: Another way to gently remind customers about leaving a review is to post a sign in your store or office. All it takes is a simple sign near the checkout counter or the door, thanking them for being a customer/patient/client, etc., and asking if they would consider leaving a review on Facebook or Google, to help others learn about your company’s services.

Responding to Reviews Builds Your Company’s Character

In addition to requesting reviews, it is very important to respond to online reviews. If consumers see that you are reading your company’s reviews and creating a dialogue with customers, they will be more likely to see the reviews as genuine and to see your company as one that cares.

Of course, once in awhile every company, even the best ones, make mistakes and end up with an angry customer and a negative review. If you receive a negative review, it’s best to try to rectify the problem and respond to the review as soon as possible. Even if you are annoyed or outraged about a negative review, it’s always wise to remain professional; respond with understanding and compassion, and don’t let revenge or anger get the better of you. According to researchers, if potential customers see that your business is doing its best to address the stated problem, you will show your business to be sincere and caring, which is something consumers appreciate.

Online Reviews Help Shoppers Become Loyal Customers

With customer testimonials and your company’s responses, online reviews are an important way for consumers to learn about your company and your company’s level of customer service. By building your body of reviews and responding to them, you will create a way for savvy consumers to verify your company’s character, turning those who are shopping around into new customers.

If you need help with directory listings or in setting up your Google My Business or Facebook page, Total Local now offers these services. We also provide monthly Facebook page management and can help you design and develop email marketing, business cards, and other print materials. Talk with your sales representative or call us at 517-663-2405 for a free marketing consultation today!