Terminal Value

Local Marketing in the Post-Pandemic Era with Liz Cortes

Doug Utberg

Business Growth Authority | Technology Strategy & Resourcing | Cost Optimization Expert | Business Process Architect | Financial Strategist | Founder - Terminal Value Podcast

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We have Liz Cortez with us today. And what we’re going to be talking about is the way that local marketing has changed with the COVID era and kind of how many of those changes are permanent and how many of those are you are maybe going back. And when I say local marketing, let me just kind of give a brief primer and then I follow square that I’ll stop talking and let Liz join. So when you have big companies, a lot of times what they do is brand marketing, which is where they pay just ungodly amounts of money to have their logos everywhere. And then a lot of times you’ll have regional companies which usually will market things like trade shows, maybe publications, kind of local media. And a lot of times you’ll have a local business, which would be in a lot of cases will be say like restaurants, insurance agencies, et cetera. And they’ll typically market any geographically constrained region. But we just came out of about two years or let me knock on wood. We’re coming out about two years where pretty much nobody went anywhere. And so that kind of changed the dynamics. And that’s what Liz and I are going to be talking about today. All right, Liz, make me shut up. Tell us about yourself for a little bit, and let’s get the conversation going.

Thanks, Doug, for having me on. And thank you for listening to us right now talking about local marketing. And I’m down in San Diego. I’ve worked with my husband full time the past seven years. And all we do is local marketing. We just love local businesses, those brick and mortars or local service based businesses. That’s how we love helping. And yes, the past couple of years has been so hard for them. But we only had one client, Pause Services, during that time. It was May 2020. We had three new local SEO clients come on board. We were growing our company during that time because there was local businesses. People got scared. They pulled back from marketing. A lot of people quit their advertising, but they pushed more into that local marketing. And what could I be doing? That’s a long term strategy while I have more time.

So help us understand the distinction. You’re talking about advertising versus local marketing, because for me, I don’t necessarily know where one stops and the other begins to help educate me.

Right. So there’s local SEO, there’s Google ads, there’s Facebook ads that you can target locally. So one is more called organic, like organic marketing strategies, which that could even be, hey, I’m going to go buy Little League jerseys for the elementary school, and I’m going to get a shout out on the news and get my usage logo up. That could be something that you do that’s more organic, that just costs a little bit of money. But a lot of people just pulled back just not spend any money. I pulled back too, with spending advertising money. It just didn’t work because people weren’t going out.

Yeah, well, because I know for the way that I think in a certain way, I’m probably a victim of my own anal retentiveness. But when I think about marketing, advertising, I’m like, okay, I have to be able to measure it. I need to know exactly who I’m sending it to, exactly what kind of response I’m getting, exactly what my revenue, perhaps many dollars of advertising is. Because the way that I think about marketing and ads is that you don’t have a budget per se. What you do is you test and then if the test is successful and you’re able to profitably run ads, you plow as much money into those ads as you possibly can until they stop working. If they don’t test successfully, you turn it off and then you rejigger the system and then you retest. And to me, that’s the way that I think about marketing and advertising. But I understand that the world is a lot bigger than me.

Yeah. And when it comes to local, we’re talking about local means you want foot traffic typically, or you want clients in about 10 miles of your physical location. Now, if there’s coaches on here, other agencies, you work online, you can still do local marketing strategies, like having a Google business page. You just hide your address because you work from home. There are some local things to get traffic. And there could be like, Google really is pushing more website traffic from searches because you’re searching on your phone or you’re waiting in line somewhere and you’re searching, they’re sending you Google, like track or websites that they think you want to see. So if you do a little bit of local, even if you’re an online business, you work nationwide or around countries. I think it’s important to do that type of stuff. And I’m seeing now a lot more local businesses that want that local traffic in their city. They are doing more ads these days. Because when you do an ad, it’s like what you said. It’s quick. You can see the measurable results, you can make pivots and changes right away. It’s real data. And a lot of businesses, I wouldn’t say desperate, it would be a different word. They are just really yearning for more leads. And so they’re like, well, I could dump this money in. I don’t want to do local SEO anymore. I want to do more ads. I need to dump this. And we had a dentist that was like, we’ve been doing local SEO. We love what we’re doing, but we feel like we need to do ads because that’s what all the other dentists are doing. So we researched their area they would need and we contacted some other ad agency just to compare. Like, what are they doing? And so we have some friends. Like, it’s great we’ll share data. So make sure you are in with other people in your industry that are bigger than you, that can share some case studies. And that’s what we did. And we talked to another agency. They were like, oh yeah, for that client, they would need to spend at least $3,000 per month for dental ads. So we present that to client. We show them in the case of it wasn’t ours, it was our friend’s company showed them that we’re like, we really don’t think this is going to be best. This is a lot of money to spend. And is this for an Invisalign and the margins on Invisalign? I’m like, I don’t know if this will be worth it to spend that much and for you to be able to make this money back. So they decided not to do that. I’m seeing a lot more like solar companies, the plumbers, the home service companies, because everyone is like fixing their homes. They’re like all out on ads. It’s like ad frenzy. And of course, I’m sure the ad companies are like, heck yeah, give me your money. Spend more money on ads. To do this, I think you need an organic approach and you do advertising. But advertising is expensive and things change. I turned off all Facebook ads last week. I’m like, these aren’t working. Like, I’m tired of trying to figure out what happened back in October when things changed and I’ve been trying to tweak the past. What is that, five months. And for our company, I just couldn’t figure it out. I was like, I’m taking a break. I’m just going back to all organic and in person talking online chat, one on one. Like, that’s where I’m personally going for our agency.

Yeah. Well, because as far as online ads, the thing at least that I think about is that it seems to me that the most effective way to do online ads would be instead of just doing a general advertisement, which is the problem is like Facebook, LinkedIn, it’s all starting to get expensive. When it started out, it was insanely cheap. And so you could basically just blurt out ads and you didn’t really need to worry about conversion all that much because your cost per thousand was so low. But now that your cost per thousand is getting up and by extension your cost per click based on click through rates is that you really need to have a specific offer that brings people into a sales funnel so that you can measure that customer revenue and be able to tell whether or not you have a positive ROI or not. Because as you said, as the cost starts escalating, you really need to know what your numbers are. Otherwise you have no idea whether you’re burning your money on fire. That’s the thing is advertisement, it is either the best or worst investment you’re going to make. And if you’re not measuring, you don’t know which it is.

Local businesses have terrible offers. Right. Think about the website. You’ve gone to most local business websites. I can’t even click the phone number on the website and it won’t call. I literally have to copy and paste it. It’s like terrible user experience. So if you’re running ads and someone can’t click to call you, it’s like, stop doing that. Just like the offers. A free consult. I don’t want a free consult. I know that you’re going to want to sell me something like a free consulter. A lot of local businesses will do percentages off that still works. Coupons, I think, are great for local business, but not everyone can do that. Not everyone has a margin to offer. 10% off, 20% off. The offer is so important.

Yeah. Well, and I think the offer is important and also kind of understanding. Right. What’s that customer journey or value ladder? Because like, for example, let’s say you’re a local restaurant and your hook might be, say, 50% off. Obviously, you’re going to take a loss in the first time somebody comes in. Well, but if they come in, you get their contact information, and then you immediately give them a bounce back coupon for like, say 20% off. And then you get them there another time. And then you send them three or four emails in the interim. By the time they come back a third time, they know where you are. And if you don’t have a lifetime customer, you at least have somebody who has developed a track record of coming. And then if you get their birthday and you send them because the birthday promotion is like that’s the oldest trick in the book. But it’s almost guaranteed revenue. Right. Because, you know, if you get a birthday list, you send out birthday cards for a free meal on your birthday. Most people are going to go out with two to four people. So that means, okay, you’re going to pay for one, but you’ll make your margin on the other people’s food and drinks, and you know what your response rates are going to be. Or if you track it, you will. And so if you just do that to build a list, even if you, quote, lose money on your front end offer, you can very effectively kind of build a residual customer list like that. There was actually one case study I read that I thought was fascinating. It was a sandwich shop. And what they did was for their promotion, I think they used every door direct mail, and they sent out basically a free sandwich card. They said, no strings of cat attached, no buy one, get one, no 50% off, free sandwich, bring the card, get a free sandwich. And what they did was they staggered it based on different postal routes. Well, for the first three months, for the first month, it wasn’t three months. It was like the first month. They basically had a line around the building from people getting their free sandwiches. And they took a bath on the food costs, obviously. But basically what they did was they figured that if they do that, they’ll create buzz and they’d have to market anyway. And so instead of having residually running marketing campaigns, they had a focused campaign. And what ended up happening was everybody within about a five mile radius knew about this place within a month, which is almost impossible. That takes years normally. And so sometimes you have to be willing to go in the red a little bit, but you need to have that back end plan in order to bring your average customer value positive. I’m just spouting off the top of my head here, let me know.

I love this. Let me know if I work straight for Laundromats. Yeah. Laundromats will do this thing called a loyalty card. It’s typically $10 that’s put on it. And they do that Laundromats. I love Laundromats. They do this, too. And it’s like they get known. And then sometimes the news picks up the story because they’re like, well, this Laundromat is giving away this money or the sandwich shop, like what you shared. And yeah, the buzz goes around. And I love it how you shared, how it was staggered. So depending on what your budget is, maybe you have $500, maybe that print shop that you’re going to partner with, you can sign a contract that you still get the discount for the bulk order, but maybe they do it in stagger. So it works a little better in your budget. I think right now, depending on what your budget is, I think

it’s so great to talk to other marketers that are experts in your industry because they are probably going to have some ideas that worked really well for someone else in other industry.

You can try it out and your customers aren’t used to that type of marketing. And so you’re going to stand out more. And I didn’t get better results

Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s actually one of the things you brought up. It’s kind of a really good strategy, too, would be like if you’re negotiating a print contract, most print contracts are negotiated on a single run. But like, for example, if you know that you’re going to be sending out ten or 20,000 pieces over the next six months, just say, hey, look, can I sign a letter of commitment for 20,000 pieces, but then staggered out because the printer, if they’re printing 2010 or so, they’re still hitting economies of scale. And then they also know they have continuity revenue. That’s an excellent way to try to help trigger.

Yeah, just ask. Whatever idea you come up with, you can just ask. And I don’t think that hurts to ask. They can say no to you, but that’s okay. If you’re a business owner, you used to lots of no’s and people saying stuff, bad reviews. You’re used to that stuff. It happens to everyone. So just ask. And I think more people are getting creative with financing, getting creative with packages because they want your business and they want to work with you. And I think even bigger than that, a lot of local businesses want long term relationships. It isn’t just about the quick sell. The one time they see that we need loyal customers, they’re going to stick with us for a long time. They saw who stuck with them when things were tough in 2020, and they’re seeing how valuable it is to take care of their customers for the long term.

Yeah, well, and I think another case study I read I mean, this is the famous Dan Kennedy case study, which he actually learned from is the three letter sequence or three or four letter sequence. And that’s basically what you do is you’ll send out a direct mail letter and then you’ll do first notice, second notice, third notice, final notice, which is how debt collection works. But what you do is you just attach but every time you remail the same person, you attach the prior messages, and then you up the ante on your offer a little better. And so in a lot of cases, it’ll be like, say some kind of continuity offer. One that I saw was for like an Italian restaurant, which was where the offer was basically for a date night. It was for dinner, wine by the window. And then the second one up the ante where you had somebody playing music, and then the last one and up the ante to where it was like a limited time only respond right now. And your first time we’ll send a limo to take you and your spouse for dinner, and then the owner recast themselves as the romance director instead of being the restaurant owner. And so you can actually get really creative with some of these things. And I think that’s a really effective way to differentiate, particularly because if you’re in a local area, say you’re in a town, because the town I’m in has 30,000 people in it. If you’re in San Diego and you have like say within a three mile radius, you probably have say like a couple of hundred thousand people or so. Right. But even so, say you’re talking 100,000 people. Okay. Well, if you set up like, say, a 5000 postcard per month campaign, it’s only 20 months. And you sent to everybody once, 40 months, you could have sent to everybody twice. Right. A small area, you can saturate very rapidly. And I think that’s the advantage that a local business has is that you can generate recognition really fast, particularly if you have some kind of offer, particularly if you have an offer that will incite response. And if you can get some kind of put people on some kind of continuity program, because I think one of the other things that I read about that’s amazing for local businesses that say if you get somebody to come in and get their email and their address. Well, now what you can do is you can send a message to the people who live on either side of them, behind them and on the other side of the street from them and say, hey, your neighbor just got this great offer. You should ask them about it.

The solar company, they do that. They all do those strategies. They work. Throw your barbecue for your whole street. Like to celebrate what we did for you.

Yeah, exactly. I think that when you’re talking about a geographically constrained market area, there’s a lot of strategies that like, for example, say you’re trying to sell to everybody in the US. Well, you’re probably not going to do the exact same type of strategy as, like, a local restaurant. But if you’re a local print shop or say, a local restaurant or whatever, say, or some kind of local service company. Right. There are a whole bunch of different strategies that you can employ geographically constrained that become much more feasible.

Absolutely. I love this. What are some other ideas that are other cool local offers that you’ve seen? I know for me, apps, I just saw that as a huge thing. All the restaurants, everyone like up their game on apps. They up their game on push notifications to remind you the online companies did that. I order online stuff for. But the local companies did, too. Seeing those push notifications. But what thinking it’s just like, I just see so many boring offers. I’m like, no one’s going to sign up for this stuff. Like take this off. So maybe we could talk some more about other offers that you’ve seen that will intrigue you. Like that date night. I love that I signed up for that.

Yeah, right. And I think that’s the thing is that

even if the product or service you’re selling is fairly commoditized or people can get it anywhere, that doesn’t mean you sell it that way. Because here’s the other thing that took me a little while to really figure out is that whenever you’re marketing, what you are selling is whatever you present it as.

For example, let’s say that you’re a financial planner. Okay. Well, there are somewhere between 20 and 500,000 of those in every city. And by the way, the stocks and ETFs and Bonte sale are identical. There is no practical differentiation at all. Okay. Well, what’s one thing you can do? Get hyper, hyper, hyper, hyper specific. Okay. For example, let’s say that you specialize on people who are very near retirement and terrified about a stock market crash. Okay. Well, then in that case, you’ll probably focus more on things like annuities. In that case, what you do is you ignore everybody who’s outside of that specialized area. Incidentally, if you’re a financial planner, that’s your specialized area. It’s not too hard to tell who those people are. They’ll fit a certain age range. They’ll fit a certain net worth range. They might fit a certain household income range. And all of those are things that you can get very easily from with brokers.

Or if you want to retire early, what’s the plan? That was something like my husband, like ten years until retirement age. And we’ve always had businesses, so we did not set up. We take high risk. We love to invest in stuff that’s risky. It doesn’t always work out. We have this high hopes for everyone. We’re just positive. But we were like, no, we need to learn the conservative approach. Dave Ramsay was too conservative. So when we switched to someone else, it’s like a lot more aggressive, but it’s to retire early. And now we’re having those conversations of financial planners. I think that’s such good wisdom and advice.

Although I was going to say I have to go on a little bit of a tangent first, because I used to be a big believer in the infinite compounding retire early. I’ve come to believe that that’s nonsense. My line of thought for that is that the idea of infinite compounding is based on the assumption that market crash won’t happen. Right when you want to retire, which we had one in 2001, another one in 2008. And I think there’s another one coming very soon because there’s nearly $30 trillion of debt outstanding. Inflation is getting close to double digits, and you have interest rates that are still near all time loans. Once inflation pushes up interest rate, now you’re going to have one out of five.

I know they’ve increased 1%. I’m like, what are you waiting for? That’s like 4%, right?

Yeah. And just do the math on it. Right. If you have $30 trillion of public debt, and then you end up having to refinance it, even 5%, which is still historically low, that’s like one and a half trillion dollars a year in interest payments, there is no way you cannot go into recession if you put that kind of burden on me. I agree.

I looked online the other day, and I’m like, just getting creative right now. It’s like for us, investing, investing. We’re like, okay, we need to rethink through our plan. And is this what we should be doing? So we’re analyzing everything. And so I went online because I was just like, I’m curious. I’m curious what the Realtors are saying about buying real estate in San Diego right now, which we became the highest rented place in the US or something like that, the worst place to live. So I go on there’s literally like, no one talking about this. And I’m like, I’m really curious. I had to dig deep. I finally found, like, two people in the past six months that have filmed a video about why you should buy in San Diego. And I was like, I’m just curious about their opinions. I don’t care what you say. You could start off with Clickbait. Like, yeah, you should buy in San Diego right now, but then go in and point us in the right direction. And I’m like, there’s no one talking about this. I’m sure there’s more people like me because my realtor friends are like, oh, yeah, you should buy. They’re going to go up for one more year. Like, you should invest and buy more properties. And I’m like, I don’t know. Yeah, realtors are not talking about this. And so know what’s going on in your city. Know what’s going on in your local area. I couldn’t believe to get whatever that report was. There’s not a single realtor that gave their explanation about the article that came out about our housing prices here being the highest anywhere. Like, we beat San Francisco and no realtor is talking about it. Make a video. If you’re listening to us right now, make it. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t live here. Like, there could be someone that’s willing to spend some money like we do. We want to invest, we want to spend something. And I’m looking at different areas searching about buying and make videos in your area right now.

Yeah. My old joke that I used to make because I love San Diego, it’s beautiful area. My old joke, I go, okay, once my net worth cracks $10 million, then I’ll move down to San Diego. Of course, now it’d be like, okay, once my network cracks 50 million.

I know. Yeah, we’ve been considering just like everyone else, but yeah, it’s the same thing. Yeah. Net worth of ten. And we’re like, we can always move back. Maybe when they come back.

Yeah. Well, I mean, you go someplace like Bay Area or San Diego or La because a lot of people say millionaire. And I’m like, I don’t know if you’re only talking a couple of million Bucks, that’s like just barely middle class down these areas.

Right. And I’m like, if you go anywhere else, I’m just like, I’m so thankful for our clients. I’m so thankful for our business. But yeah, being around in this area and you look on Zillow can make you get depressed. You talk to your friends, everyone makes six figures. It’s mostly multiple six figure families out here to live. And you forget it makes a difference to have friends in other countries, other smaller areas in other States to get a different perspective because you can get a little too focused on the materialism. And I don’t have enough. But you’re like, wait, what the heck? We are doing great. I’m so thankful for where we are.

Exactly. Well, okay, we just went on a really big tangent from local marketing. Let’s just steer back on topic for a couple more minutes, give us a couple more nuggets to think about, and then let people know where they can learn more where they can either find your website, subscribe to your newsletter or just connect you on social media.

Yeah, I think local marketing, what is that? Finances the Warren Buffett quote. He’s like when people are greedy, pull out.

When people are greedy, greedy when people are fearful.

Yes. So I’ve been thinking about that lately as it relates to local marketing and as I just assess and just think about what people have done of our clients because we have a good group of clients. So I can kind of compare and see what’s happening in my friends with agencies, and I think it’s the same thing. When you are invested, you have a business like you cannot just pull out and get scared and stop doing marketing. I think just like when you’re investing, you’re investing a little bit each month or every paycheck or whatever you do and how you pay yourself as a business owner, you’re investing. You have to do that with, I think your marketing your time, but also reassess and evaluate with finances that you evaluate once a year on your portfolio. But with your business, probably every three to six months, you need to reinvest. And then if you’re hiring agencies to help you put the pressure on them, you’re hiring them to correct our clients, put pressure on me. And I’m like, hey, I want to hire we hire in house for our staff. And I’m like, I want to hire agency and put pressure on them. I want them to have, like, skin in the game and, like, maybe on their case. And so I think that’s something to like, don’t just watch your fear. Like there’s ups and flows in business and you have to get creative. We have to do things differently. You need to talk to people in other industries, other businesses, and don’t be scared to try stuff out.

Absolutely. All right. Well, hey, Liz, let people know where they can get where can we reach out online?

Yeah. So I’m mostly on Instagram. I’m trying to be more on LinkedIn, but on Instagram, our company is rebelfish local. Rebelfish one word. Local do things a little differently. So I like to chat today with you, Doug, or if you want my personal that is fun. And I do lots of videos over there. It’s Liz Cortez online, and we didn’t talk much about SEO, but I do have an SEO. Google how to get found on more local searches, whether it’s mostly focused for local brick and mortar businesses, but online businesses, you could take some Nuggets from there. That’s on our website, rebelfishlocal.com just scrolling down to the bottom of that page and then you can jump in that if that’s something that piques your interest.

All right. Thank you much. Well, Liz, I really appreciate your time today.

Thank you.

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