Recap of NEXT! 2018 Event

Brandon Schmidt | June 27, 2018
Digital Marketing

Here’s a recap of what business leaders learned to make smarter marketing decisions in 2018.

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Last week, almost 200 business owners and marketers gathered at the Lancaster Country Club for NEXT! 2018. At this event, participants learned how the internet is changing user behaviors and buying patterns across generations — and what you can do about it.

Thanks to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Local University for helping host this event. A special thanks goes to our Title Sponsor — Business Information Group — for their support and for bringing the awesome Webex Board for participants to experience. Thanks also to our generous supporters: Rhoads Energy, Lancaster Bible College, and Google.

Key Takeaways from NEXT! 2018

I’ve tried to condense hours of talks, discussions, and questions & answers into a few paragraphs. Here’s some key takeaways from this event:

1. Ask Better Questions of Your Marketing

Whether you have an in-house marketing team, work with an agency, or handle the marketing yourself, as a business owner or leader, you are responsible for setting the direction and strategy for your company’s marketing efforts.

Steve Wolgemuth spoke on the key to good marketing leadership: ask the right questions. Asking your team about the marketing strategy and how to measure success is crucial in making the right decisions for your marketing efforts this year.

2. Build a Better Website

high performing websiteIs your website a sports car or a minivan? That’s the analogy Mike Ramsey gave when talking about websites.

During his talk, Mike Ramsey noted how business owners and visitors look at the website differently: businesses want a sleek, modern site that looks impressive and has all the bells and whistles, while a visitor measures a site’s success in how helpful, easy, and practical it is.

Local businesses that are looking to increase their leads need to start with a website that attracts the right audience, provides them with the right information in an easy to find manner, and directs them to contact you when they are ready.

Does your website do that? Is it built to convert visitors into leads or customers? Are you tracking how they navigate your site and fixing areas where they get stuck? To have a website that performs well in 2018, you need to follow this advice.

3. Leverage Google for Local Conversions

Several speakers — including Mary Bowling, Mike Blumenthal, and the team from Google — highlighted the recent updates Google has made for local businesses.

Google Q&A, posts, and a revised Knowledge Panel provide you with new opportunities to beat your competition and raise your profile in local search.

Creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile helps increase your search appearance and improve your branded search. You can start updating the profile yourself or hire an agency to take care of it for you.

4. Don’t Fear the Reviewers

Online reviews have quickly become an important component of a local company’s reputation. Since you can’t turn them off, it is best to create and embrace a review management strategy. Our speakers discussed best practices in soliciting new reviews, responding to negative or neutral reviews, and how to learn from the reviews to improve your business and customer service.

Next Steps

If you are a local business owner and are unsure of how to implement some of these changes in your organization, contact us. We would be happy to sit down with you and your team and talk about how your business can find new customers and beat your competition online.