Rahul Alim is CEO of Custom Creatives

Running a small business takes a lot of work. As a leader at a small business, I have to focus on sales, marketing, managing people, bookkeeping, and the list goes on and on. Given that I only have a limited amount of time each day, I focus my attention on what’s going to have the greatest impact for my business.

Below are five high-impact marketing tactics that I’ve used to grow my business. As an expert in digital marketing, I think you should incorporate these into your marketing strategy today.  You will see the rewards for your business if you stay consistent and focused on improving in these areas. Keep in mind there are things you probably already do, you just don’t know it yet.

1. Get More Reviews – 5 Ways Your Can Double Your Reviews In No Time

Do you read reviews on Yelp, Google+ (G+), or elsewhere?  Your customers do too. Positive reviews are a great way to gain credibility online and draw people to your business. Additionally, getting positive reviews on these sources can increase your visibility on search engines like Google. According to MOZ, roughly 9.8% of your domain authority (e.g. the strength of your website in search results) is related to reviews.

Here are some easy ways you can gain more reviews for your business:

  1. Ask. This strategy is the most overlooked technique for getting reviews. Happy and delighted customers will happily write you a review if you ask “Would you mind writing us an online review about your experience with our company?”
  2. Staple a review card to your customer’s receipts (or if you provide receipts online, provide a link to a targeted review site). Make it easy for your customer to write you a review.
  3. Send out emails to your customers requesting a review of your services. Target your best and happiest customers, and ask them for a review.
  4. Automate reviews with Review Management software.  You can pay a service to help you follow up and nurture reviews so clients will receive emails, reminders and SMS messages if you’d like.  The neat part about a review software is that they will often not show reviews with 1-3 stars by filtering them out and only displaying your 4-5 star reviews.
  5. Have links on your page to your review profile pages (Yelp, Angies List, G+, etc) to make it easy for clients to write you a review and read other reviews about you.

Don’t feel shy and don’t ever stop asking.  When you’re done fulfilling an order for your customer, ask them for a review on a site that you are targeting. My business focuses on G+, Facebook and Yelp, but your business may rely on different review marketplaces.

Remember – Google builds its results system around reviews as part of their overall ranking algorithm. You cannot afford to not ask your customers for reviews. Well-reviewed businesses are often placed in front of others when potential customers look up businesses on Google and other popular search engines.

2. Get Social – How to Automate Your Social Media in 1 Hour A Week

I hear a lot of excuses for why local businesses do not use social media. Social media is confusing, it’s a waste of time, it’s too difficult, etc. If you don’t like social media, maybe you would if you could automate it and turn it into a source of revenue.  You really only need an hour per week to schedule out automated posts on social media, and better yet there are some free tools to help you do this.

How to Automate Social Posts


Go to HootSuite and set up a free account.  Hootsuite allows you to connect all of your social media accounts to one platform so that you can post on multiple sites with one action. At Custom Creatives, we use G+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

At the beginning of the week, plan out a series of posts about your business and topics related to your business. During the week, take 10 to 15 minutes a day to review the week’s posts and make adjustments based off of what is trending in your business space. If you don’t want to manage your social account, you can easily have a staff member do this in “filler” time, hire an intern, or outsource your social media to a content company.

Here’s a sample of a few posts I set up:

Why Social Media?

Social media is easily one of the fastest growing and most significant ways that businesses can establish a noteworthy presence online. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn are capable of generating traction, leads and profit, and their popularity is going up over time. Social media enables you to connect directly with your potential customers. What was once capable of being communicated about a business in an hour can now be done in a few seconds.

Social media also helps us also keep your website updated so clients see you are active. With social media, you can gain followers that would have never connected with you otherwise, stay in tune with your industry, and brand yourself as local experts. The more active you are on social media, the greater the potential following your business can achieve.

3. Claim and Verify Your Google+ Listing on Google My Business

Google+ Local is Google’s way of merging business listings, maps and social media. Earlier this year, Google consolidated all its business products into Google My Business, making this tool simpler to use and quicker to take effect. From the Google My Business dashboard, business owners can see and edit their Google+ Local listing with ease and clarity.

A business that has an updated (optimized) Google+ Local listing will receive a nice boost in rankings and traffic from Google Maps, Google Search and YouTube.  You can easily keep your services up to date, hours of operation, special offers, videos, attract great reviews that show up in search results and much much more.

Google+ is growing fast, and taking the time to get in now will lead to a competitive edge for your business.  Your competitors may not be fully taking advantage or know how – this means a leg up for you!

4. Blog More Frequently

Quality content helps you establish yourself or company as an authority.  Here are some mind blowing stats that should help you realize what you’re missing out on right now:

  • Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages. (Content+)
  • Content creation is ranked as the single most effective SEO technique (Marketing Sherpa 2013)
  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. (Custom Content Council)
  • Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people connect with brands on social media. (Content+)
  • 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site. (Content+)

Blogging attracts customers. People love being able to identify with what a business is saying about the world and how it could be made better. Secondly, blogging helps customers find a business’s website, because it improves a site’s SEO quality dramatically – when done right.

Here’s a great resource, HubSpot’s free Blog Editorial Calendar, and their Blog Topic Generator for extra inspiration.

5. Claim and Verify Business Directory Listings

The final must-do for small businesses is perhaps both the simplest and the most difficult: creating consistency across the internet. Businesses do this by claiming and verifying business directory listings or citations.

One of the most underutilized activities are CONSISTENT business directory listings. Business directory listings are Internet Yellow Pages such as YP.com, Manta.com, SuperPages.com, MerchantCircle.com, and more.

This is a very important local ranking factor for Google (accounts for 15.2% of local ranking factors, accord to the Moz Local Ranking Study).  You want to have your business profile listed in as many relevant and general directories as possible with consistent information, most notably the “NAP” – Name, Address, Phone Number.  When you set up these citations online, you can pay to get it set up which is quicker and much more efficient or do it yourself.  Whatever route you choose just keep it consistent and fill out as much information as you can such as links to your other social profiles, photos, videos, awards, payment types, etc.

Here’s a helpful tip: most local directories get their data on your business from one or two of the five biggest data aggregators in the world. If you are correct on these data aggregators, the data will get correct on the local directories.

Get straightened out on these five directories and you’ll have a major leg up:

Additional directory/citation sources: Moz’s Top Citations by City and Top Citations by Category.

Good luck, small businesses!