Online Marketing Training Can Remove the Sting of Hastings Bridge Repairs

It is hard to imagine any businesses in Hastings that will not be affected by the 4 1/2 month long bridge closure. Many businesses in Warkworth and Norwood and the Trent Hills area generally will also feel a pinch. And not just from the locals who will be taking their business elsewhere. You all know what will face pass-through motorists coming from either the north or the south. Great big detour signs saying that the Hastings bridge across the Trent River is closed and directing them along alternate routes before they even get into town. Anyone wanting to get from the north side to the south side by car (or vice versa) will face a 33-35 kilometer detour. Businesses can kiss the “drive though” traffic business goodbye. So it’s not just customers from the opposite side of town that will be MIA. The flow of business from casual traffic will disappear as well.

The pedestrian bridge will allow walking and those electric scooters to cross, and I have heard many people say that they will be making the effort to cross the river to support the town’s businesses; but if the weather is bad, or you expect to be carrying a load of groceries etc. it is easy to imagine people simply driving to Norwood or Campbellford or Warkworth, instead of walking across the bridge.

Online Marketing Can Help Small Businesses

This is a situation where businesses have little leeway in what they can do, but they can do something. Online marketing provides a zero cost way to make sure potential customers know about you. But it’s not just the name of a business that has to get out there. People have to learn what services or products a business has and what they do.

According to Google there is no catering in Hastings, but when I called up three restaurants, they all said they would do catering. Google says that there is no “truck repair” in Hastings, but Doug Irvine and Jamie McIlmoyle would be surprised to learn that. Google doesn’t know that there is a “real estate lawyer” in Hastings Ontario. Google doesn’t know that there are RV parts and water filters at Home Hardware etc. etc.

If you are a business, you need to stop thinking about simply giving your name some prominence, and start thinking in terms of “what problems can I solve” for consumers. When people have problems, they go to Google looking for answers. The answers you provide need to be findable online, or Google can’t serve them up as search results. If you aren’t making your solutions available online, your online marketing efforts need a boost.

I will be presenting a two hour training session on how to use the internet to improve your online presence, and increase the chances of you getting found by people when they do a search online for products or services. We will cover how to find out what keywords people are actually using when they look for answers to their problems online. And then we will cover how to create an optimized and free Google Plus listing for your business, so you have an online presence. There are numerous other places online where your business should show up, but doesn’t, just as in the examples above for “truck repair” and “catering.” I will be covering the most important of these, and showing you what your profile needs to look like and how you can make sure people can find you when they are trying to solve their problems.

The effect of this material will be to ensure that your business shows up online. Maybe a business has great word of mouth advertising going on, but people new to the area aren’t talking to folks that have been here a long time…at least not initially. They don’t know anyone. When they want something, they look for it online. Make sure they can find you.

The online marketing training is going to happen in January, probably at the Hastings Civic Center. The cost will  be $50.00 and all money goes to the Hastings Historical Society. Everyone attending gets a free family membership to the Hastings Historical Society and can apply some or all of the $50.00 towards additional training sessions that I will be holding in the new year. And all attendees will leave the training session with access to workbooks and videos demonstrating all the material covered, as well as a step-by-step list of actions to take, so that there can be no confusion about what a business needs to do.

Call to register: Paul Stevens at 705-931-2223

More information and an outline of the training is available at

Here are a few testimonials to the full day workshop that this two hour session will be extracted from:

Louise Nettleton – ​If you want to take your online business presence to the next level then you need to attend the one-day marketing course presented by Paul Stevens of Bootstrap Marketing.  Paul touches upon all the key areas that you need to first address and reviews the material at a pace that makes it easy to learn.  I was amazed at the material we touched upon in just one-day.  This workshop is worth every penny! ​The CD material is invaluable – that in itself was worth the price of the ​seminar!
Catherine Hawley – I finally understand on-line marketing! Thanks to Paul Stevens’ one-day workshop “Be Your Own Marketing Department.”
…Paul uses simple to understand language, a slide show indicating where to find what you need to use, as well as videos and guidebooks of the program to confidently continue the workshop on your own. BEST value for understanding and implementing a proven successful strategy to increase business.

Natasa Djordjevic – The seminar that I attended was programmed for local businesses, and I could not find more appropriate presentation for my needs and wants. The lecture saved me weeks of my own research how to plan the marketing strategy. Now I have all basics and overall system and directions on which I will build up the future marketing of my company.


Renee Duckworth – Paul was excellent today giving out important and easy to understand tips on marketing my business. He is very easy to talk to a has a vast knowledge of HOW THINGS WORK

Customer Reviews and Local Businesses

One of the most powerful forces to drive new customers to an existing business is word of mouth. Surveys indicate that 92% of us listen to and trust the recommendations of our friends and family when it comes to deciding whether or not we should do business with a company we haven’t dealt with before.

Reputation Marketing Yelp Review

Online Reviews Help Businesses

It makes sense. We expect that friends and family have our best interests at heart, so they wouldn’t send us to a business that they didn’t believe was good.

Here’s another interesting survey result. Over 70% of consumers trust the online reviews of local businesses that are left by complete strangers. This is somewhat surprising until you start thinking about the dynamics.

We’ve all suffered through poor service and bad products sold to us by shaddy or unscrupulous business people and sales staff. We seem to get satisfaction from telling everyone we know about bad businesses. On the other hand, we get a big kick out of letting people in our own private list of “Good Guys,” businesses and people that treat you well and provide full value. In fact, when we can tell others about a great business they never knew about, we feel a little bit like a hero. We have prevented them from getting taken in by a scam artist.

Online reviews are just this same process only written much larger. How about having the ability to warn hundreds of others away from the bad guys, and direct those same hundreds to the good guys. How great is that. And online reviews can really help local businesses. We know how many visitors and tourists come through Hastings and Trent Hills every year. Many of them have no idea where to go for meals, hardware, vehicle service or anything…but a lot of them use their smartphones and tablets to look online for recommendations. So let’s provide them with the info they need to trust our local establishments. If you can leave an honest positive review, go ahead and do it. But just be careful. Shading the truth or exaggerating how good a place is can have an opposite effect than the one you intended.

Imagine you’ve been driving in the car for 2 hours, the kids are cranky, the AC is busted, and all you want is to stop someplace in the Northumberland hills for a cool drink. You dig out your smartphone and look for lunch places. You read a glowing review about fresh, homemade iced tea and lemonade.

So you stop the car for a break. And find out the iced tea comes out of a can, the lemonade comes in a bottle, the service is poor, and the prices are high. Guess what kind of a scathing review you are going to leave. Angry, disappointed customers are more likely to leave a review than happy ones. And one bad review will take 4 or 5 good ones to erase.

Bad Online Reviews

Bad Reviews Hurt Business

So I encourage you to leave reviews for the good places you deal with. Good businesses deserve your business and support. Letting others in on how good they are is one of the best forms of support you can provide.

For a little more on reviews, you can go to my website Bootstrap Local Marketing


Wokshops to Run in Campbellford?

Right now I am engaged in an effort to see the marketing workshops delivered in Campbellford.

Schelle Holmes, of The Holmestead: Print and Business Services, is trying to get them set up for early mornings (8:00 am) in June. They will be essentially the same workshops that I have put on in Hastings and Warkworth. In the process of giving the workshops, however, I have come across some ideas for delivering the information more effectively. The questions from the participants provide direction, and raise interesting points as well. I am happy to be able to include additional and more directed information to my presentation because of this back and forth flow of ideas. So I would say that these workshops should be better than the originals.

These will be the last set of workshops I am running locally for the summer, so if you would like to participate, jump on-board now. If you want to be contacted with the details when they become available, shoot me an email (use the contact form in this site) and I will get back to you.

Speaking of workshops, thanks to those at the last one in Hastings who picked up copies of my book, Online Marketing for Your Local Business. I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review at that link. If you have been to any of the workshops and feel you got value from them, then I also wouldn’t mind a review at my Google Places listing.


Thanks again to all. Look forward to seeing you at the Campbellford workshops.


Marketing Workshops to be Scheduled for Warkworth

I’ve just confirmed with Kim MacNeil, Trent Hills councillor for Warkworth, that I will be presenting four marketing workshops at the Warkworth Town Hall Centre for the Arts.

The Centre for the Arts is big enough that it can hold anyone who might want to attend with no problem. It has WiFi so I will be able to do some live demonstrations. The Hall has to be rented, so there will be a nominal charge for attendance. It should be something like $5.00. (I haven’t talked to Kim about opening the doors for folks from outside Warkworth, but I think I have some pull in this deal so I can get you in)    :-)

(Note: All are welcome)

I will be presenting the same workshops in Warkworth that I have presented in Hastings. I have had an opportunity to tune them up a little though; and an opportunity to run through them, so I expect they will be better. In addition I will commit to including additional material, based on your feedback. So, if you attended the Hastings workshops, I am certain you will still come away with valuable information you either missed the first time, or that I have added. The truth is that a couple of months can be a long time on the internet. A perfect example is Facebook completely changing their look and utility between the time I committed to doing the Facebook workshop and when I had to present it. They had me scrambling for a few days, I don’t mind admitting.

The workshops are all running in the morning, from 8:15 to 9:45. I don’t know if that works better or worse for you, but there it is. Dates established so far as below:

Workshop #1 – Keywords and Your Google Places Listing – Thursday, May 10th

  • Keywords, Keywords Phrases, The Long Tail and why you need to care
  • What are your customers looking for? Women’s clothing, women’s dresses, women’s apparel or clothing stores? It’s costing you money if you don’t know
  • Using the Google Keyword Tool
  • Other research resources
  • Google Places, your free internet real estate
  • Common mistakes with Google Places listings
  • Directories, directories and more directories – why they matter
  • Optimizing your Places listing with descriptions, categories, pictures and video
  • Effective use of your Places listing
  • Getting positive reviews
  • Dealing with negative reviews

Workshop #2 – Email Marketing – Thursday, May 17th

  • Best return on investment
  • Your emails are not SPAM, they are wanted by customers
  • Where are you on the relationship matrix
  • What do you do with people who don’t buy today?
  • Managing your list
    • Manually – up to 100
    • Autroresponder for over 100 – As low as $5/month
  • Getting sign-ups
  • Autoresponder features
  • Kinds of email
  • Scheduling emails
  • Construction of an effective email
  • Email topics/content

Workshop #3 – Social Media – Facebook – Thursday, May 31st

  • Why you need to use Social Media
  • What “Web 2.0 means to business
  • Facebook for Business
  • Building your Facebook page step-by-step
  • What an effective Facebook page looks like
  • Getting people to your page
  • Using Applications on your page
  • Facebook advertising
  • Creating content for your page
  • Resources

Workshop #4 – Why Your Web-site Isn’t Working – Thursday, June 7th

  • What your website can do for you, and what it can’t
  • Why it isn’t working
  • Getting found
    • On-page SEO
    • Off-page SEO
  • Driving traffic to your site
  • Making your site “sticky”
  • Bringing customers back for another look
  • A “call to action”
  • Your website and email marketing
  • RSS feeds
  • Blogging
  • Becoming an “authority site”
  • Selling from your site
  • Analytics – who has been there, for how long, from where did they come and what did they look at?

This is a great opportunity to learn a little about internet marketing. The information in these workshops is actionable. You can go ahead with your new knowledge and improve your own marketing enough to put dollars in your pocket. The four workshops add up to 5-6 hours of training that you can’t even buy anywhere locally. An added bonus is that I am there, live, so you can ask questions and get answers specific to your business. It’s not one-on -one consulting, but it is the closest you can come for free (oops, I mean for $5.00).

Hope to see you there.

By the way, I am also talking with Schelle Holmes, president of the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce, about putting on the workshops for the Trent Hills Chamber members. We haven’t established dates as yet, but I expect them to run in May and June. Details about when and where to be worked out.



How Not to Survive, Closed Bridge or Not

Just a short little slice of real life that illustrates some of what I have been writing about on these pages.

My wife, Lynn, decided to take her Mom out for a little drive this afternoon. She thought they could go down to Brighton and look at some women’s clothing stores, maybe grab a snack at some restaurant. Since we live in Hastings, and Brighton is about a 45 minute drive away, Lynn wanted to be sure the stores would be open, so I volunteered to do a search for “women’s clothing stores in Brighton Ontario” on Google Maps.

What followed was a perfect lesson in how to lose business. When I did my search, here is what I found. (Click on the image to make it bigger)

Do you notice the absence of red dots or little lettered tags for Brighton? In fact nothing comes up for “women’s clothing stores in Brighton Ontario” except stores in other towns. Well, Lynn knew that wasn’t correct because she had been in Brighton before. But suppose she hadn’t? What if she was a tourist or vacationer, or someone with some time to kill between appointments? If she had wanted to amuse herself by doing a little shopping, Brighton would have  just dropped off the lists of possible destinations after a Google Search result like that. And people are doing Google searches when they travel. They can use their phones or tablets now. Don’t count on anyone seeing your Yellow Pages ad.

Not only does any clothing store lose business, but so could the restaurant, gas station and maybe the book store.

You might note that The Water Lily, owned and operated by Sue and Randy right here in Hastings, shows up. Good job Sue.

Because Lynn assured me there really were women’s stores there, I did a little virtual walkby. You can use Google to get a street level view of most towns and cities in North america now. So off I went to Google maps again.

You can see the little orange figure I have circled in the screenshot to the left. You just have to drag the little fellow onto your map where you want to take a look at the scenery, as in the next image.



What happens next is a new window opens, with an actual street view that is a 360 degree rotatable point of view from the Google Camera van, when it drove down the streets of Brighton a year or two ago.

I was able to scroll around until I had a good look at the store fronts on Main Street and got the next look.

There it was. The Dragonfly, a women’s clothing store, just what we were looking for. So now I had the name of the store. Was it open? I went to their website and guess what? No hours of business!

Now I don’t mean to single out the Dragonfly. They had a nice enough looking website. They had even claimed their Google Places listing and uploaded some photographs, which is more than 70% of the businesses in small towns have done. The problem is, they seem not to have sat down and thought their internet strategy through. What are they trying to do with their web properties, the website and the Places listing?

One answer to that question should be “Provide potential customers with more information.”

Listing hours of business would seem like one of the most basic things they could do. As it was, they DID list their phone number. After making the call I listened to the recorded message that said they were open on Sundays, at 12:00 PM. So the Mom and daughter outing to Brighton occurred after-all. But if you are the Dragonfly, you have to ask yourself, “Are all potential customers going to be so persistent?”

If you are counting on that kind of persistence to make your business successful, I think you should think again. The internet provides you with a wonderful opportunity to give your existing and potential customers information about how you can meet their needs and wants. If you, as a business, are not using it, you should be. Once the information is on-line, it can work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for free if you limit yourself to a Google Places listing, and for only about $4.00 a week if you want a simple website. It is pretty tough for a business to get that kind of marketing value any place else.

Of course, you need to be sure your Places listing, or web site includes words and phrases that people might use when searching for a product or service. But how tough is that. See some earlier posts on this site for more information.

Whether you are planning to survive a bridge closure or not, take some steps to use the internet. And help your potential customers spend their money at YOUR store. Dragonfly, I’m talking to you.