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Interview with Damon Gochneaur: Tips for Local Businesses

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Interview with Damon Gochneaur: Tips for Local Businesses

Melissa Fach
Interview with Damon Gochneaur: Tips for Local Businesses

Local SEO and PPC have changed a lot over the years, and with competitors getting smarter about search engines, small businesses are constantly facing obstacles they need to overcome. Standing out and being seen is a lot of work, but with the right marketing strategies, any business can get the results they need. 

I reached out to Damon Gochneaur, Founder of the Aspiro Digital Agency, with some questions about local marketing because he has significant experience helping businesses conquer the local space. And, he does this by being unique, creative, and honest with the companies he works with. Keep reading for some extremely valuable insights. 

1. What are some of the common challenges you see small businesses facing with local competitors? 

Common challenges for most local businesses are really understanding their value proposition in comparison to their competitors. That and they try to be something they are not.

So, I would say a lack of clarity in who they are and a lack of authenticity in their messaging.

2. What steps would you suggest companies take to get a clear picture of their value proposition? 

Believe it or not, I recommend all local businesses actually visit and use their competition. The trick is to look for what they do well, and where they are better than you, as well as the places you have an advantage over them. I will often have friends or family members visit for me as to not tip off the competitor.

Also, it is always a great idea to ask your customers why they chose you over Company X. There is no better indication of how to market better than by using what worked on your current customers. 

3. We all see companies experimenting with advertising and the focus is on being memorable vs. authentic. Is this a bad idea? 

I think you can do both, be memorable and authentic. I think anything done just for attention is a bad idea, but if your idea is honest, in line with your brand and ethos, and also memorable, then you are hitting the sweet spot. If I had to advise, I would push companies to focus on being more authentic than memorable. 

"Bad ideas are ones that fail to match the voice of your brand with the experience being generated."

4. Can a local business make it on Google organic alone?

Short answer yes, but not forever. Longer answer, that is betting the house on a channel you don't control and a recipe for disaster. People are finding your product or service in numerous ways, and if you are only investing or yielding a return from Google organic, then as soon as your rankings shift, user behavior shifts or if any change at all occurs in the marketplace, then you are more vulnerable to a negative economic impact.

5. Can you tell us about the integration of Local SEO and Local PPC? 

Local SEO and local PPC, when managed symbiotically, have the power to yield more return for a lower investment. We use our PPC data to help drive our organic targeting efforts, while simultaneously using top of funnel content to help build brand awareness and effect searchers before they reach the critical "I need ....." moment.

At the end of the day, it is about users and their journey towards solving a problem or needing a solution. 

6. What are your top 3 tips for any local business hoping to shine?

  • Be authentic.
  • Think about getting great reviews before you even begin the work.
  • Weave yourself into the fabric of the community and become the place in the town known for... (you choose).

7. How do you come up with such creative ideas for each client?

I think more than anything it comes down to empathy. I know that sounds abstract, but in every relationship, my first goal is to seek to understand what the other person wants/needs/motivates them, etc. It also helps that I have grown up in an entrepreneurial family and helped be a part of a family-owned business throughout my formative years.

Beyond that though, I get excited in life about solving problems and creating creative solutions when once none existed. Couple that with extensive sales experience, and I have this curated skill that allows me to approach a business and immediately start to break down where their revenue comes from, what lines of service are loss leaders, where their margin is, and what mechanisms for growth are present.

Then from there, I can quickly start thinking about channels, tools, tactics and a strategy to effect the change we're driving for. Then I can start to segment audiences, ideate messaging and push forward some ideas that might not have been otherwise approached. I am also a huge fan of game theory.

Key Takeaways

It isn't every day you get insights from a local SEO and PPC expert, and what I loved about Damon's answers are they are not the typical/average responses. He offered a lot of insights:

  • Discover your value proposition in comparison to your competitors.
  • Visit and use your competition.
  • "Bad ideas are ones that fail to match the voice of your brand with the experience being generated."
  • Banking on organic alone can be a risk for more. 
  • There are ways to yield more return for a lower investment.
  • "Become the place in the town known for..."
  • Helping clients succeed, it "comes down to empathy."

I want to thank Damon for his valuable time. He is an amazing marketer, and you can learn more from him at conferences, where he teaches on local SEO and PPC, social media, and more. 

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Melissa Fach

SEMrush employee.

US Personality of the Year 2017 Winner, SEMrush Blog Editor, and Pubcon Community Manager.
Herder of cats. Superman fan. Non-cook.
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Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Hi Melissa, one thing comes in my mind while reading your blog. Please correct if I am wrong. I personally feel that CRM can help better to establish a small business with less resources as well. I am a small entrepreneur (beginner), so me and my partner taking help from [link removed by moderator] to accelerate our business goals.

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Damon is so right regarding the "lack of authenticity." If local businesses want me to use them, they have to make me feel something about the business, whether it is humor, happiness, nostalgia, etc. Make me want to go there.

The second point I loved - "Weave yourself into the fabric of the community and become the place in the town known for". This is gold.

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

good answer

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