Should I be managing local listings and reviews?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been investigating local listings issues. I want to understand how companies and brands are affected by their local listings on Google, Bing, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other local sites. There is a lot to cover when you are considering everything from search engine impact, ratings / reviews, and just plain old presentation and curb appeal.

My hypothesis is that few people inside of businesses are thinking about the quality and impact of their local online listings. There is basic care and maintenance required that businesses either don’t understand or don’t focus on.

Companies (especially large companies) expect that these activities just happen automatically. I understand why. Google, Facebook, and many others have taken the initial steps to create local establishments with or with out the company’s involvement. Most of the time, they have gotten it ‘close enough’, so we don’t worry about it.

This is an inside-out view of the situation. Businesses need to step back and view these listings from a customer’s perspective. You need to look at your business from the outside-in.

This is how I always try to work. I challenge my colleagues to do everything you can to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Go do a google searches for a local franchise locations in a sample of states or countries. Ask Siri or Alexia to tell you where the closest dealership is located. Check the Yelp ratings.

Do you like what you see? Many times you will find inaccuracies in the location details. Associated photos are listed that don’t make sense. Reviews or questions are sitting and have not been addressed. If you see these types of issues, it should be a major red flag.

These types of issues show that you are not working the way your customers are expecting. At minimum, you want to make sure that when they type in your address into their map software, they are taken to the right place and it looks good!

Chances are, you will see the information and determine that you need to be managing your local details more effectively. You have choices on how to approach.

You can manually manage the locations by claiming the details with the listing sites such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, yelp, etc… If you are a Global company, don’t forget to manage local sites, such as Baidu and Yandex. This is a good approach for a company that has a limited number of locations.

If you are at a large organization, you will probably need additional help. There are several companies that offer platforms and services to assist with the management of listings. These services can even make you aware of requested changes and new ratings or reviews. There are many companies out there that offer these types of services. Yext, Moz, BrightLocal, Synup are just a few.

So, there you have it. I hope you found this perspective helpful. As always, feel free to reach out if you would like to chat.


Creative Commons Image Credit: Eric Fischer

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series

All the pieces needed to manage a content program can be overwhelming. Every component from strategy to tactics have so many details. Individually they deserve deep dive analysis and study. I love to dig into the details, but first I always feel the need to see the big picture. I want to understand the process. This is my intention with the graphic in this post. When you boil down the key elements of a content program that need to work together, it should look something like this.

click here for larger version of the graphic

I absolutely understand that this is not all encompassing. My intention is to not go too deep. There may be people you work with that need to understand the basics and also have a general understanding of how the process flows. I know I do. That is why I decided to put this together. I hope you find that it is a valuable resource.

With that said, I’d love to hear opinions of areas that are missing. Many details below this surface area are not represented. However, I’d love to hear opinions of processes & capabilities that should be shown at this level.

You will find a series of posts that dig into each subject a bit deeper. Lets get started!

Hope you enjoy.


Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

Measurement and Adjustment

The flood of data from the posting of your content can be daunting.

It is critical that a measurement and adjustment strategy is in place.

I like to look at things on a monthly basis and build a 12 month review dashboard. We use predefined labels aligned to personas, themes, and any other important filter we may need to consider. By reviewing the activity, you can better understand what is working, what is not, and what outside factors are affecting the results.

First , you need to have a reporting structure that articulates the impact on revenue. This is a difficult task and sometimes seemingly impossible. It is critical to get as close as possible. This builds credibility for the content program with your leadership.

For example, with products and services that have a long buying cycles, you can track the progress of customers in their earliest stages then count the handoff to your sales team as ‘potential’ revenue. That is pretty good. Longer term, work with the sales teams to confirm sales and then you have rock solid $ attribution… even if it takes several months (or years).

Beyond the direct business impact, metrics should also be helping refine your persona definition, content strategies and distribution strategies. These day-to-day insights help you produce better content that resonates with the customer.

The whole content process is complex and time consuming. However, I cannot underestimate the importance of following up with the measurement and adjustment process. If this looses priority, your program will begin to fail.


*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

Intentional Distribution / Marketing Automation

If great content is developed, but no one sees it, did it exist?

It is time to put your work in front of the customers. At the stage where you are ready to distribute content to the world, your structure, strategy, planning and execution all comes together as a crescendo.

The step of distributing is sometimes completed manually, there are pros and cons to this approach. Others use marketing automation systems, or perhaps a mixture of both.

A well constructed marketing automation program can be entrancing. By constructing distribution paths that customers can experience as they show signs of progressing through a purchasing cycle, you can put your marketing plans on autopilot.

While the expense can be avoided by manually managing distribution of content, chances are your team cannot keep up with the rapid and disjointed pace of change amongst your customers. At minimum, marketing teams must evaluate the capabilities of platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua, or Partod.


*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

Content Factory – Make Great Content!

I like the idea of thinking about content development as a factory. There are specific skill sets that are necessary to develop great content. Far too often, we expect a single person to be the policy maker, vendor relationship manager, content developer, and analyst. You need to treat content development as a specific focus. Give the folks responsible for this never ending task some room to breath.

I realize it is not practical for all companies to separate these responsibilities. Still, the structure of the content development process should separated.  You need to create an environment where creativity, skill, understanding of audience, and a little luck can come together to craft great content.

With the guardrails of a content development framework, the creative development process can flourish.

Considering you might be serving several persona audiences and building several sets of content, it can be easy to let things slip through the cracks. This is why you need a process.

The Content factory is your process. It is your checklist. Each week / month, you work against a calendar. You divide tasks and activities. You test the historical trends of previous content and make it better with each round.

Of course, many people dread processes, but if you expect to be serious about creating great content, it’s a must.


*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

Defining strategies for each persona group

After building personas and establishing your CRM processes, it is time to document a content development framework.*

This whole process is done for the benefit of your content development team.

The value of the persona based content development framework is to focus on the soft elements that differ between customer types. Examples may include tone, imagery, and value proposition differences. Each element you tailor is intended to help the customer better connect with the message you are developing.

Based on your general go-to-market strategy, you can probably establish a foundational messaging approach to be used across all personas. Use these tailored elements to supplement the broad plan.

Think of it this way… I might approach a sales call with a newly minted mother or father much differently than I would with a nearing retierment gradfather or grandmother. Their priorities and interestes are naturally different.

These documented strategies help the content development teams hit their mark.

Once completed, do not fall into the trap of treating these frameworks as something that last forever. Be prepared to maintain each strategy. As findings are discovered from reviewing the metrics, you will see how some things work and others don’t. Plan to adjust and learn.

Tip: Don’t forget to engage your sales team in this process. They understand these different approaches and can help guide the development of frameworks for content development teams to follow.

*Occasionally, this process is bundled with persona development.



*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

CRM Structure

To make personas produce value, your CRM system needs represent the persona groupings. Your CRM system brings life to your personas.

The CRM system is bedrock for an effective personalization strategy.

Group customer contacts in your CRM system as indicated in your various personas. Group the contacts, and maintain a process for assigning the appropriate personas as contacts are added or changed. This is critical as you work downstream in your distribution process.

Each time you configure an email, social message, and advertisement, the CRM system needs to act as your source for contact information.

CRM elevates your marketing game from a spray-and-pray to a surgical-and-measured approach.

Looking back to our broad view of the Content Program, you see the CRM structure and strategy must be established early on. It is a foundational element to your success.

CRM is a complex process that can be overpowered by the sales processes. The marketing process must support the sales teams. Be sure to leverage CRM and integrate marketing into the overarching process. There are many success stories to tell in this space. Don’t overlook it or let it pass you by.


*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Knowing your audience = Personas
I’ve seen many teams balk at the idea of developing personas. I think they are a must!

Without a view to the larger picture of personalized content development, this can be seen as wasted effort.

If not connected to a personalization process, it actually can be a waste. Far too often, teams spend large sums to develop personas that end up generally telling you what you already knew.

However, if completed in the context of a robust personalized content program, it is critical.

Knowing your audience helps you:

  • Group subsets of customers.
  • Create better definition of their interests which ties to better advertising and sponsorship placement.
  • Recognize daily habits which ties to intentional social media and email tactics.

Personas are representations of your various target audiences. You may have one or two, or you may have ten. It all depends on how much diversity there is in your audience.

Case Study: Geico
A great example of diverse persona use is evident by Geico. Consider the variety of themes used in their messaging. The Gecko. The Cavemen. Maxwell the Pig. The “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance” bit.

These concepts from Geico have all run at the same time and each have a different flavor. Each connecting with different groups of people. With something as general as Insurance, broad is necessary.

Prioritization is Key
It is also important to prioritize the number of personas / target audiences you maintain against the amount of budget you have available. Each persona represents a full set of reach possibilities that all cost money. It is easy to stretch budget too thin or conversely, be so generic that the message does not connect. There are many levers to use to find the right mix. The key is to identify your most important personas and evolve your understanding of the customer to better reach them in the future.

So, consider a set of personas to be your ever evolving guide to best reaching your customers. Without this foundational element you may 1) be missing the mark with your customers or 2) be setting yourself up to not take advantage of smart marketing infrastructure that can provide a personalized experience for your customers.


*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

My 2017 Reading List

Throughout the year, I made my way through a great collection of books on Audible. It is way too hard to pick out my favorites. Always looking for recommendations. The following list is in my reading order starting from most recently completed:

  • Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
  • All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 – Dennis E. Taylor
  • A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  • For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 – Dennis E. Taylor
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 – Dennis E. Taylor
  • Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead – Laszlo Bock
  • The Android’s Dream – John Scalzi
  • The Butterfly Effect – Jon Ronson
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America – Gilbert King
  • The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger – Stephen King
  • The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life – Alice Schroeder
  • Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe – Mike Massimino
  • Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir – Alan Cumming
  • Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built – Duncan Clark
  • Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight
  • Digging Up Mother: A Love Story – Doug Stanhope
  • A Cold Day for Murder: A Kate Shugak Mystery – Dana Stabenow
  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life – Scott Adams
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
  • Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA – Tim Weiner