Bob Goricki helps businesses get found online by their target audience through Google, social media and other digital channels.
Bob has worked at marketing agencies since 2005, joined regional CPA and business advisory firm Skoda Minotti in 2006 as part of an internal marketing department of three people. The goal was to eventually provide marketing services not just to the firm, but to clients of the firm as well, which was achieved within three years.
Over the next few years, the team added a business advisory offering that complemented Skoda’s other non-CPA services such as information technology, staffing and wealth management.
In December of 2019, Skoda Minotti was acquired by Marcum LLP and the team became Marcum Strategic Marketing. And as of November 1, 2021, became Strategic 7 Marketing. Their focus is on results-driven marketing processes that increase brand recognition, build customer loyalty and drive leads and sales.
Bob Goricki, Strategic 7 Marketing: www.strategicseven.com
Free website audit report – https://landing.strategicseven.com/free-website-audit-report
Transcript of Biz Chat Ohio’s podcast 2.1: Bob Goricki
Hello, everyone. Welcome to BizChat Ohio, the podcast bringing you big ideas for small businesses, and the best of small business news and industry trends from Ohio thought leaders. This podcast is made possible by Lakeland Community College and the Ohio Small Business Development Center. I’m your host, Cathy Walsh, director of the Small Business Development Center, and I’m joined by my co-host Gretchen Skok-DiSanto, director of the Lakeland Community College Entrepreneurship Center and business advisor for the Ohio Small Business Development Center.
Hi Cathy. How are you?
I’m good, Gretchen. How are you today?
I’m doing really good today. And for all of you who are listening today, we are back to talking about marketing. Cathy and I often sit down and brainstorm about topics that we want to make sure that we address in these various BizChat podcasts. And we always know that we want to include a lot of marketing topics.
We do that because we know it’s incredibly important to the success of small businesses, but also, because the field of marketing itself is consistently changing. And we think it’s pretty important that businesses are up to date and they’re consistently staying abreast of new ways that they can successfully market their business.
So we’re really excited about our guest today because of his experience helping countless small businesses with their marketing efforts over the last two decades. So without further ado, I’m going to turn everything over to Cathy, and she’s going to introduce our expert this morning.
Yeah. Thank you, Gretchen. Today we are joined by Bob Goricki. Bob is a marketing expert in helping businesses get found online by their target audience through Google, social media, and other digital channels. Bob started working for marketing agencies in 2005. And in 2006, he joined regional CPA and business advisory firm, Skoda Minotti, as part of an internal marketing department of three people. At that time, his team’s goal was to eventually provide marketing services not just to the firm, but to clients of the firm as well.
Over the next few years, he and his team were able to begin serving clients of the firm, adding a unique new business advisory offering that complemented other non-CPA services that the firm offered, such as information technology, staffing, and wealth management.
In December of 2019, Skoda Minotti was acquired by Marcum LLP, and the firm became Marcum Strategic Marketing. As of November 1, 2021, Bob’s team is now known as Strategic Seven Marketing. They focus on results-driven marketing processes that increase brand recognition, build customer loyalty, and drive leads and sales. They are now a department of six full-time employees and several freelancers that work with them. So Bob, thank you so much for joining us at BizChat Ohio today. Gretchen and I are really pleased to have you with us.
Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
OK. So we’re going to jump right in. I hope you’re ready. So the business owners that we typically work with at the SPDC often struggle with being found online. There’s a lot of competition across all industries and a lot of noise online, and it can be very overwhelming to the small business owner. So let’s start with being found online. What should business owners know that will help improve their chance of being found when potential customers are doing a Google search?
One of the main keys to being found online is to really kind of have a first– first, have a clear understanding of how your customers are searching for you. For instance, a local restaurant is going to be searched for and found in a much different way than a professional service, a local law firm, or an accountant. Understanding how people are looking for your business and which keywords they might use, and also which devices they’re searching from– it’s all going to make a difference.
So a great first step that I would recommend would be using a keyword research tool to get a better understanding of how your customers are looking for you. Luckily, Google offers a free tool. It’s called Keyword Planner. You could just type Keyword Planner into Google, and it should pop up for you. You could sign up for a free account. And what the tool does is you can use it to compare and contrast search volumes for terms related to your business.
So you might be surprised in some cases that the terms customers are searching doesn’t always necessarily match the language you use on your website. So you want to use a tool like that to make sure you’re matching the way your customers are searching.
There’s also another free tool from Google that offers similar functionality. It’s called Google Trends. You can access that at google.com/trends. And this is a way– it goes back more than a decade in terms of search volume.
And you can look at historical search data, and you can compare multiple terms, and you can see how terms have– search volume for terms has changed over time. So it’s kind of a way to monitor trends in your industry and see what people specifically are looking for and how that’s changed over time.
OK. So when you’re using these, you were talking about the Keyword Planner software? That gives you the words. It doesn’t tell you what kind of device they’re searching on? Or does it tell you that as well, like whether it’s a phone or a desktop?
Yeah. You can get some of that data. You can set all kind of parameters in there. So you can actually set geographically and see how search volume might vary by state, if you’ve got locations in multiple states or something like that.
So there are different parameters on there. And one of the parameters could be desktop versus mobile, that sort of thing. And why would the small business care how they’re searching, meaning whether they’re searching off their tablet or their computer or their phone? Why is that so important?
For a couple of reasons. When you’re looking at your website– we work with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies. And there could be a pretty sharp difference between– a business-to-consumer website most likely sees the majority of its traffic through mobile devices. Whereas, business-to-business sites tend to still lean heavier to desktop. A lot of times we’ll see 80% or 70% of traffic still coming from desktop.
And the reason that’s important is you want to make sure you’ve got a web experience that’s tailored to how your customer is likely finding you. If 80% of your traffic is coming in via mobile, but your site is slow on mobile and you’re trying to load a lot of huge images and video, you probably need to rethink that strategy.
That makes a whole lot of sense. You know, the term optimizing is thrown a lot, or thrown around a lot, in this marketing space when you’re talking about a website. So can we talk about that for a few minutes? You know, how would a business owner know if their site is optimized or not?
Optimizing just can have a few different meanings. First of all, from a technical standpoint, you need to make sure that Google is able to find your site and index it. And there’s actually– there could be technical settings on the back end of your site that might even prevent Google from crawling it.
So that means you can– without knowing it in some cases, and we’ve had clients and prospects come to us with this being the situation– without knowing it, they’ve had settings on the back end of their site that made the site basically invisible to Google. So that’s kind of the first step of optimization, making sure you’re hitting all the right technical boxes to being found.
So a great way to check on that, on the technical side of things, is another free Google tool. This one’s called Search Console. So you can Google the term Search Console. You’ll find it.
Setup is pretty simple. You may need to get your web developer involved. But once you get Search Console set up, it’s a nice dashboard to track any technical issues you might be having with Google. Google’s going to flag any technical issues in this dashboard for you so you can address it quickly.
The other area– when we talk about optimization, the other area we’re talking about is making sure you’re utilizing those keywords correctly throughout your site. So we talked about finding the keywords people are looking for. Step two is making sure you’re using those terms in the right place.
Google’s going to be looking at things like page titles and headlines. And you want to make sure that you’re using that terminology in prominent places on your site, in addition to creating quality content that Google likes.
I’ve got a follow-up question there. Is it possible to use your keywords too much? I know that the algorithms are always changing as to how Google works. But yeah, can you overload it and it actually work against you?
Back in probably the earlier days of SEO, that wasn’t as much of a concern. But yeah, the algorithms definitely catch on if you’re trying to game it in any way. And kind of the key point that Google always makes is write your content for the user, don’t write it for a search crawler.
You want to write for the human. And if it doesn’t sound like you’re writing for a human, you’re probably doing something wrong. And in the long run, it’s not going to benefit you in Google. Because even if you do achieve good search rankings at some point, part of Google’s algorithm is going to be the quality of the visit on your site. Are people clicking on your search result, and then turning right back around to click on another search result because what you’ve written isn’t helpful to a human searcher?
Another issue that we hear from our clients is that a lot of them have– they know they’ve got a lot of traffic on their website, but it’s not resulting in sales or people reaching out for more information. So now that we’ve talked a little bit about optimization and choosing keywords– “if you build it, they will come,” how can we be sure that our clients are attracting the right customer?
Converting that traffic into leads or sales, that’s really the key to a successful online presence. And it’s going to vary. For sites that sell products and services online, it really comes down to user experience and making sure that purchase process is as simple as possible from a technical standpoint. And if somebody wants to buy a product, you’re not throwing up unnecessary hurdles.
A lot of businesses that we work with don’t actually sell online, but they still need a mechanism on their site that allows a potential customer to identify themselves as a lead and easily reach you with a question or a concern. And it’s surprising still for us how often we don’t see this basic piece.
We literally looked at a site yesterday that a prospect had just redesigned, re-launched. Site looked great. But then when you got to any of their product pages, they had an “Email Us” button. And you clicked that button, and it was broken. It didn’t go anywhere. So this is the type of thing that– customers are going to get frustrated by that. They’re likely not going to stay on the site and work to contact you when you don’t make it easy for them.
We always recommend making sure you’ve got all the applicable forms on your site. So if it’s a contact form, or a quote request form, or a scheduling form, or whatever you need to do so that potential customer can identify themselves and easily get in touch with you.
I’ve got a follow-up question on that, and something I’ve noticed personally– let’s just say I’ve been in the shopping mood lately. And because of COVID, my husband doesn’t want me going to the mall, so I do a lot of online shopping. And wow, the payment options are expanding.
I mean, I’ve been on some sites lately where three, four, five different types of payment options. So you’ve got your Apple Pay. You’ve got your PayPal. What are you seeing for those clients of yours that are taking payment on their websites and they don’t have the forms? I mean, is that becoming a best practice, where you have so many options for payment?
Yeah. I mean, so the e-commerce sites that we build and manage, we tend to go through a platform called Shopify, one of the industry leaders, especially for small businesses building out an e-commerce site. And the thing we like about it is Shopify kind of handles those options.
So if there are new payment options out there, you don’t have to configure each individual Apple Pay and Amazon Pay and PayPal. You let the software kind of handle the back end of that for you. And they even recently launched kind of their own installment pay option that you see on some sites, especially with higher-end products.
So yeah. We don’t get too involved in building a lot of that back end. Because, in our opinion, there’s some software out there that’s already done that and makes the management easy for the small business.
That’s great to know. Thanks so much. I actually, in one of my classes– and by the way, Bob, I don’t think I mentioned, I teach entrepreneurship here at the college. So there’s always a marketing piece to every entrepreneurship class– critically important– got to get the word out about your business.
And in one of those classes I actually teach the students about personas. And I get a fair amount of complaints about doing an assignment where we actually have to walk through the persona for your ideal client. And they have a hard time understanding, well, why is that so important? Could you explain for our listeners today the concept of the persona, and why that’s so critically important to your marketing, whether it be traditional or digital, et cetera?
From a website standpoint when we think about personas, we think about who are the different types of users accessing the site, and how do their needs differ? So I think a common example probably on many, many websites is, you’re not only hoping to attract potential customers, but a key pain point for just about all of our clients is potential employees as well.
When you have a site, and it’s fully geared to customers, kind of don’t forget that a good chunk of your audience might be potential employees as well. So do you have a career section of the site dedicated to them? Does it make a good first impression? You don’t want to make that piece kind of an afterthought if– especially when hiring employees might be very important right now.
So from a website persona standpoint, you’ve got your target customer. You’ve got a target employee. How do they need to use the site?
When they get to that careers section, is it easy to navigate? Can they find job opportunities? Can they easily apply? So I think that’s a pretty common one we run into a lot.
Other examples, we have businesses that might sell, let’s say, both direct to consumer, but they can also sell through distributors situation. It’s do you have an area of your site that speaks to distributor needs? A lot of our clients in that scenario might have something like a distributor portal where they can access information that’s very specific to them– maybe view order history or get things like relevant [INAUDIBLE] dates.
So when we’re looking at personas from a website standpoint, it’s how do different users use your site differently? And how can you kind of make that easiest for all of them?
Well, and I’m just going to pop in here. So another term that we’ve heard is premium content. Can you explain that– what that means and it’s important to an online presence?
From our standpoint, premium content– that’s a term we’ll use to describe content on the site that has a high perceived value among site visitors. So this varies a lot kind of across the different clients we work with. But these can be things like an e-book or a how-to guide or a checklist or a worksheet or a calculator. They’re kind of pieces of content that add value for your visitors.
In some cases, we’ve started working with a client and said, hey, you’ve got what looks like this very valuable piece of content. Maybe it’s a PDF. Have you ever considered putting this behind a form and using it to help generate leads?
And we’ve had multiple instances where the client has been able to do that. We’ve put a form in front of this piece of content. You can ask for some basic contact information, sometimes as simple as just an email address. Sometimes you might want to ask kind of additional qualifying questions that can help you determine if this person actually is a lead for you or not.
The idea of gating that content, it’s a real solid channel to consider to drive more leads through your site. It not only has that benefit, but it also kind of helps position you as a thought leader.
We’ve worked with firms in the past where we’ve done things like annual industry surveys could be an example of this premium content. And it’s really become a branding piece over time, because you get known for this. So it’s lead generation, it’s branding, you get known as a thought leader in the space as well.
Finally, Bob, we now have the ideal customer at our doorstep. What are some good ways to manage the leads and convert those leads to actual sales? Do you recommend any software or particular services you think can be helpful to small businesses for that?
This is definitely an area we see kind of these the lead generation programs kind of breakdown is when it comes to follow-up and management. So a lead comes in through the website. But maybe there’s not a clear kind of internal process in place– kind of who or when follow-up is going to happen. And then a lot of times we’ll see there isn’t any type of software system in place to track or have any accountability for those leads that come in.
So a solution for a lot of businesses– it’s not right for everybody– but a lot of times we see implementation of a Customer Relationship Management software, CRM. This type of software is going to help you manage your database of contacts, customers, leads, and give you a way to follow activities that you have going on with these customers, whether it’s contract offers you’ve got out to them in a place to kind of see that all in one spot.
CRM software in general we think is a good thing to consider for most businesses. Our personal preference is a software called HubSpot. So they do offer a free CRM.
I’m glad you suggested HubSpot. I was going to ask a follow-up question as to what are your favorites? What about– do you have any clients using Salesforce.com?
Yep. Yeah, we do have clients on Salesforce as well. And we actually have clients who use both HubSpot and Salesforce. They do– HubSpot has kind of a more robust set a set of marketing features. Salesforce kind of does that through a software that they own called Pardot.
Yeah, we do have a good amount of clients that connect the two. Yeah, like I said, we tend to like HubSpot for ease of use, ease of implementation. It probably at the high end, probably at the enterprise level, that’s where something like Salesforce can probably start to make a lot more sense. But small businesses, we think HubSpot is a great starting place.
Perfect. Thanks so much for being with us today, Bob. We greatly appreciate you sharing your marketing knowledge with our listeners. And we have your website here, which we want to make sure we put on our show notes, and that’s www.strategicseven.com.
And before we sign off today, are there other resources you can mention for small businesses who want to make sure that they stay up to speed on marketing trends and approaches? Like, are there any influencers that you suggest that they follow? Or what are your thoughts?
Personally, I follow– HubSpot has a great marketing blog. I mean, they stay pretty on top of digital marketing news and trends. So that’s one. I get their newsletters. And that’s kind of– I subscribe to other ones that are probably a little bit more technical. But I feel like HubSpot probably does a good job of writing for more the small business owner without getting too far into the weeds on a lot of the topics.
If you go to our website, we do have a blog– not as updated quite as often as HubSpot. But the other thing we’ve got there are a few offers for like free website audit reports. So that’s kind of our premium content there. You can fill out a form, and we’ll provide a free website on it for you.
And then I would highly recommend taking advantage of those free Google tools that we talked about earlier. There’s a lot of paid tools that do try to replicate the functionality. But Keyword Planner, Search Console– those are two huge ones. I mean, we use those every day for clients. And a lot of times when we first start working with them, they’re not leveraging those. So I think that’s really important.
Well, that website audit, that’s some really valuable premium content right there I would think.
I would pretty much tell every client just go do that. At least it gives you a place to start and maybe see where your strengths and weaknesses are. If you’re doing some things right, build on those. If there’s some things you need to adjust, you put down a plan for how to do that or hiring somebody to do that. But that’s a really valuable tool that you’re offering.
But we’ll make sure all the resources and websites that you’ve shared with us will be in our show notes. And, again, Bob, I really want to thank you for joining us today. It was very insightful and learned a few new things. So thank you.
Great. Thanks for having me.
Thanks for listening. Look for this BizChat Ohio on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. And subscribe to receive our latest episodes and business blogs at BizChatOhio.com. If you would like to learn more about the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Lakeland, please visit our website at www.lakelandcc.edu/sbdc.