Greg Sterling Explains How to Bridge the Gap Between the Online and Offline Shopping Experience

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Guest:
Greg Sterling
VP of Market Insights
Uberall
Host:
James Fratzke
Head of Client Success
Fratzke Media
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REad Interview Transcript

Quick disclaimer: these transcripts are auto-generated. They are best used in addition to the Podcast audio not instead of. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.

James Fratzke: [00:00:05] Hi, I'm James Fratzke, and this is Back to Business: COVID-19 & You, powered by Fratzke Media.

James Fratzke: [00:00:17] Hello and welcome to the podcast. On today's episode, we're talking to Greg Sterling. He is one of the most authoritative voices in the local marketing world. And when I say local marketing, we're talking specifically about this key fact. Local is 10 times more than e-commerce. What does that mean? That means that a lot of the things that we buy, we still go into a brick and mortar store. We still have to go to a local business. But as we're about to get into with Greg, what your business does online has a lot to do with how your business performs in person. So without further ado, let's get into my interview with the one and only Greg Sterling. All right, Greg Sterling, welcome to the show. How are you?

Greg Sterling: [00:01:03] I'm doing good. It's good to be here. And I think the last time I saw you was like four years ago or so.

James Fratzke: [00:01:09] I think it was a while. Yeah, my my hair has changed a little bit since then.

Greg Sterling: [00:01:16] Did you do that yourself? Is that a pandemic cut?

James Fratzke: [00:01:19] This is a COVID-19 cut. And I will say my wife did it for me. Yeah. I put it all in her hand.

Greg Sterling: [00:01:26] Does it doesn't look bad at all.

James Fratzke: [00:01:28] No, thank you. I appreciate that. Well it's changing my perspective totally on on how much money I need to be spending at the barber.

Greg Sterling: [00:01:35] Yeah. That's that's one of the interesting things, is like all these people sort of cut their own hair, realize that one hundred dollar haircut is unnecessary.

James Fratzke: [00:01:45] Yeah, exactly. I was hoping we kind of set the scene a little bit for people listening. They'll probably know or have an idea of what local search is. But could you just kind of hit a couple of the key pillars because you're an expert in that space. And just to kind of hear you explain it, I think would be really helpful.

Greg Sterling: [00:02:02] OK, great. Do you want me to give a little background on who I am first?

James Fratzke: [00:02:07] That would be that would be great.

Greg Sterling: [00:02:08] Yeah. OK. Just so people think, who is this random guy giving us information? So I'm somebody who's been around kind of the local marketing space for basically 20 years.

Greg Sterling: [00:02:22] And I was at a few Internet startups that were focused on small business and e-commerce back in the late 90s. If I can say that. And then and then became a kind of an analyst with The Kelsey Group, which was the Yellow Pages consulting firm. And since that time, I've done a number of different things, but all with a kind of emphasis on local or location based marketing and media. And now I work for a company called Uberall, which is a German Berlin based company that does listings and presence management, reputation management and ads. They have a local Web product and some other stuff and work with a bunch of partners. So and throughout that time, I've been a blogger for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land writing about a range of visual marketing issues. So that's kind of the short version of my story. And, you know.

Greg Sterling: [00:03:19] And your question was, why is this local stuff important was that what you asked?

James Fratzke: [00:03:23] Yeah, something to that, too. And I mean, it was in that vein. Yeah, go ahead.

Greg Sterling: [00:03:27] OK. All right. So it's interesting because historically, people have really not well, not understood this market very well. Right. They've sort of associated it exclusively with small business, local business. They haven't thought this is a brand thing.

Greg Sterling: [00:03:42] This is for, you know, international companies. But really, the the majority of spending has has happened in the local market. I mean, until we get to COVID-19. Right. So it's it's well over 90 percent of transactions happen in the real world. You know, people always like to talk about retail, 90 percent of retail still happening in stores, but it's service businesses as well. And that's a much bigger market. That's almost 70 percent of U.S. GDP. But the thing that I've been focused on and that's really important and which is relevant to your question, is the way in which digital media and the Internet influence those online buying decisions. There's there's almost nobody who doesn't make a purchase over a small amount. That isn't using the Internet in some way, either to do research or to find a business, you know, near me. Lookups, comparing prices, whatever it is, the Internet has become this indispensable tool that drives all this online activity. Now, with Coronavirus, you know, that's changed. And we've seen this massive spike in e-commerce, which is we talk about and it's going to kind of persist after everything returns to normal in 2050 or whatever that is.

Greg Sterling: [00:05:02] Hopefully not. But. But, you know, so people live their lives in the physical world. You know, that's where I mean, there was this apocryphal stat that 80 percent of commerce happens within 20 miles of your home or office. And it turns out that there's no single source for that. But it's kind of true when you collect all the data. And that's still going to be true. But we're living now in a world which is is kind of more complicated and where the online and offline peak gets much more tightly integrated for those businesses that survive. So just because we're in a context, in a physical world, in a community here in Southern California, I'm in northern California, most of our lives revolve around a very short distance from our workplace or home, which are now one and the same. At this point. So that's kind of the long winded answer to your question.

James Fratzke: [00:05:57] I know it was a good one. And there's so many things that I will want to dive into in just that five minutes. That's the nice thing about talking to you, Greg, is that you. You have so many rabbit holes that I could go down. And so I'll just start kind of picking up and going from there.. I love that. That piece that you said about 90 percent of of commerce, 90 percent is happening in the real world. We do get caught up on the idea of Amazon and some of the things that are happing from an e commerce standpoint. But a lot of it's happening in the physical space. To your point earlier, with COVID now making people stay at home, reducing capacity's as restaurants open, they'll only have twenty five percent capacity. As different stores open, they'll continue to have reduced capacity. How do we bridge the gap between the need to. To use the Internet and our smartphones, things to make purchases, but also that desire or just that how it works is is out in the real world. How to midsize businesses kind of bridge that gap?

Greg Sterling: [00:07:07] It depends to some degree on the vertical. Depends on the industry you're in.

Greg Sterling: [00:07:11] But, you know, you're the Internet and all the different media tools and channels on the Internet are communication tools and transactional tools. Now, you know, online booking, buy online pickup in store inventory checks, all of that kind of stuff is becoming more and more and more important. You know, in retail, they've talked about omnichannel for 10, 15 years. And it was always kind of this aspirational thing that people had executed in pieces.

Greg Sterling: [00:07:42] Well, now it's now it's an imperative. And you really have to do it. You have to have your inventory accessible online. You have to do buy online pickup in store. You have to do it, you know, in the immediate aftermath of this curbside pickup. You've got to integrate those experiences. You know, no more separate teams, separate PNL. It's got to be an integrated experience in terms of like execution. That's the big challenge. Right. That's that's sort of what your question goes to. That's the enormous challenge.

Greg Sterling: [00:08:16] It's hard for me to comment on this in the total abstract.

James Fratzke: [00:08:19] Well give it a shot.

Greg Sterlling: [00:08:22] Yeah. No, no, I'm I'm I'm trying. So let me give you a kind of a very mundane example from a small business, and we can talk about larger businesses. So so there's a Mexican restaurant which we'd like to get takeout from. It's really kind of one of these taquerias where you stand in line. You get your food, you go and they haven't eaten component. These guys have never had a mobile app. And they had sort of old school credit card, you know, traditional put the card in the slot. So we've covered they've had to move to contactless payments. So they take Apple Pay and Google Pay now, which is great. And they still don't have an app that they should have an app. So, you know, if they want to know a lot of a lot of the bigger restaurant chains have online ordering, which is just much more efficient and food delivery. Right. So that whole that whole integrated experience, when you initiate the transaction online, you pay online and then there's some pick up component or the food gets delivered to you. That's the way the future will look. Before it was really pretty much, you know, limited to a handful of larger enterprises. And and all these other features were kind of nice to haves. But the competitive landscape is such that you're going to have to match the best usability, you know, the best UX experience of your competitor or you're going to you're going to suffer.

Greg Sterling: [00:09:53] Or Nordstrom is a good example of a retailer that's starting to do some really interesting things.

Greg Sterling: [00:09:58] So, you know, they're they're doing virtual kind of style consultations online. And they've got they're initiating it like a drive through pickup. So you buy your product and you just drive through and pick it up. So, you know, all contact. Hundred percent contactless payment. Hundred percent. You know, either NFC with the card or, you know, smart smartphone payments. These kinds of things are necessities to varying degrees, but they are also opportunities to improve the user experience. You know, I mean, the key to this kind of execution question, which you asked is, is think about the customer. How do you  make the customer experience better, easier, less awkward, you know, less friction. And those are those are the things that that need to drive. You know, this kind of thinking. And the Internet is the chief mechanism of that right now.

James Fratzke: [00:10:53] Right. Yeah, I think you brought up a really interesting comparison of the small talk of shop versus what I would call like a digital giant of Nordstrom's, or you think of like a Wal-Mart to some these upstart companies that have really been investing in digital over the years. And we were talking to the CEO of Philz Coffee and he said, you know, we've been investing in digital for years. So when COVID came and we had an app already in use and we we had our customers used to it. We were able to kind of coast into COVID and still produce pretty strong numbers. But if you were a business prior to COVID, which is how we're gonna start telling time before and after COVID, B.C..

Greg Sterling: [00:11:36] B.C. before COVID.

James Fratzke: [00:11:38] Yeah, exactly. That you're probably hurting right now.

James Fratzke: [00:11:42] And so now that the idea is OK.

James Fratzke: [00:11:47] Is it now or never, it's like invest in digital now or never. Because the consumer trends are going to change so much they already have in the last 60, 70 days. And when we come out of this, people are going to start thinking customers are going to start expecting some of these things that the Giants are doing. It's like, how does the mid-sized business or the small business keep up or start to invest and change their perspective to say, hey, we need to be more digital first thinking? [00:12:17][29.6]

Greg Sterling: [00:12:18] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think a lot of the a lot of the dabbling or experimentation in digital that was sort of going on for an extended period of time with extended sales cycles has been really accelerated. I mean, one of the things that we've seen is, you know, is B2C has sort of slowed. Right. I mean, with the sort of sales declines that we saw in April. But B2B has accelerated. So a lot of things have really been, you know, people recognize what you're just what you're saying is that we've got to do this now. We've got to implement. Now, there's been an enormous in certain categories, volume increase in app downloads, you know, food delivery, grocery and other categories. And, you know, you've got to have you've got to make it convenient and safe for your customers to get to buy from you. And, you know, you you know, going in, waiting in a long line with all the friction that used to exist. I mean, I was with my wife this past weekend, and we were trying to buy some garden supplies. And so we went to our local Ace Hardware Garden Garden Center. And the question was Home Depot or the Ace Hardware. And we were looking for planter boxes and neither. You know, what we wanted to know is what did they have in stock that we could go pick up? And neither of them really could do it. I mean, Home Depot sort of can, but that's the kind of information you're going to need to be able to provide. It's like in the past, I could have gone to a bunch of stores back to back. Oh, they don't have it here. No big deal will describe down the street. But right now, I don't want to do that. I don't want to go into some store and deal with a lot of people and expose myself to, you know, to infection. And they're going to be a lot of consumers like that. So you really just have to get your information online. You have to make it possible for them to buy something easily, pick it up. That kind of stuff. Those those improved user experiences have to become the norm, as you suggest. Or, you know, you're you're you're kind of SLA as they say in the vernacular. And like with with Phil's coffee, you know, they they probably could just keep going because they have their loyal customers. Those people that didn't have the app downloaded the app and they could just, you know, deal with the to go business. [00:14:34][136.1]

Greg Sterling: [00:14:34] And they didn't suffer as much as some of the other folks.

James Fratzke: [00:14:38] Right. You know, I want to kind of pivot or shift gears a little bit and talk about reviews or online reviews, because I think that's such a big part of local marketing. And, you know, when you're doing your search on Google, the number of reviews, the ratings that your business has is going to factor into the algorithm of where it displays above other businesses. And I think for a long time, folks have kind of ignored the online ratings or at least some companies have some have really double down invested in quite a bit. But how important are those online reviews going to be moving forward as doors start to open and people start to go back into businesses? [00:15:18][40.4]

Greg Sterling: [00:15:20] So that's that's a very interesting question. So my theory is that people will be looking at reviews as a way to find out what the customer experience is like in the business or with the business. You know, in the past, reviews have been about the quality, the product or service, and that will continue to be the case. And reviews are one of the most critical things, whether you're a multi location brand or a small business.

Greg Sterling: [00:15:43] You have to pay attention to reviews. You have to respond to reviews. A lot of multi location brands are not good about responding to reviews at the local level. They get them on Yelp, they get them on TripAdvisor. In some cases, they get them on Google in particular and Facebook, and they're not doing a good job of addressing that everywhere.

Greg Sterling: [00:16:01] That has to change. But I think I think consumers will be looking very carefully. You know, what is the experience of shopping there? What is the experience of being in that business or interacting with that business going to be like and it's going to you know, if you're a business promising certain kinds of things to the public, things are safe, you know, social distancing, everything is clean. And people come in and they find, oh, no, it's not like that. It's very different than that. That's going to show up in your reviews. And so you really need to be sensitive and monitor reviews. Google Q&A to see what's going on on the ground with your business, what's happening locally where people are spending the money or people are interacting with the brand. And that's going to be a sort of a place where you can see the problems show up very quickly and and hopefully you can address them. I mean, reviews have always been about customer feedback. You know, ranking is an important thing. But the primary thing about reviews is that it's information from your customers. And people have to pay attention to that, especially as sort of we we go forward. I mean, the great, great example that I'm using in a couple of webinars I'm doing is United Airlines. I'm a United frequent flier and I have a very ambivalent relationship with them. And they said all this communication through like everybody else. You know, a message from our CEO, we're all in this together, blah, blah, blah. And one of the things they said is we're blocking all the middle seats. You know, we're going to keep you safe on the plane. No, no middle seats are going to be filled. And then there was this flight. You probably saw this picture because it was all over the place. The doctor who took the selfie on the plane and it was totally packed. Right? That directly contradicts the communication to the customer. And it's like, what is this? You know, here they promised me this and they're showing up with this other experience. That's an extreme example. But people are going to be on the lookout for that. And that's going to show up in your reviews. [00:17:56][115.8]

James Fratzke: [00:17:57] I think yeah, absolutely. And, you know, there's plenty of data and the numbers change all the time. But more and more people are trusting the online review over even an in-person review from a friend or a family member right.I know for me personally, I'm not going to a restaurant that has lower than four stars because my expectation is four or five stars.

Greg Sterling: [00:18:20] You don't have to. You don't have to.

James Fratzke: [00:18:21] Exactly. I don't have to go and figure it out and rough it and see if I like the food or not.

James Fratzke: [00:18:27] All right. I want to take a quick break and pass it over to our Head of Client Strategy here at Fratzke Media, Lisa. Lisa, take it away.

Lisa Fratzke: [00:18:36] Thank you, James.

Lisa Fratzke: [00:18:37] I'm really excited to talk to this audience today because we've been talking to a lot of our clients at Fratzke Media and truly believe that now more than ever, it's important for mid-sized businesses to connect with their customers online. I think we've all seen that COVID-19 has had widespread impacts on companies, our employees and our economy. We fundamentally believe at Fratzke Media that the rebound will be digital. If you don't know where to start and you want to make digital your competitive edge, we can help. Visit Fratzkemedia.com to schedule your free consultation. Our digital marketing experts specialize in helping mid-sized businesses like you leapfrog the competition. We look forward to talking to you soon.

James Fratzke: [00:19:19] Thanks, Lisa. All right. Let's get back into it.

James Fratzke: [00:19:22] I think we could geek out just a little bit about Google My Business. I'll give you my opinion about them for a second and then maybe you can you can tell me where things are going because you probably spend more time in the trenches seeing all the changes. And I know that as a fact. As I read your blog articles and you really put in a lot of detail. For the longest time, I thought that Google just was letting that thing sit there. And then I would say about a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago, they really start to invest in it and talk to brands and see what brands want it. And work directly with larger brands to kind of incorporate different things. Now we get into kind of this COVID-19 world where they kind of temporarily shut things down. They weren't letting reviews go live. They weren't really updating key information like photos and things like that. So for folks that we're trying to optimize their Google My Business accounts right when this all started, they're kind of another marketing term that you used I'll borrow it, SLA, for a while. Where do you see Google My Business going? Kind of in this post COVID world. As far as what are some of the things and advancements that they're going to start making to the platform, if any at all?

Greg Sterling: [00:20:36] Well, I don't have inside information. I think.

Greg Sterling: [00:20:42] So just for people who may not know, I mean, there's probably nobody listening to this is what Google My Business is.

Greg Sterling: [00:20:47] But it's the it's the sort of entry point for business information. And  a lot of the features of Google My Business show up in maps and search. There's a lot of interactivity now. So it's sort of gone from being just a place to input information, kind of static information now to much more dynamic kind of platform that has, you know, food ordering and online booking and just an enormous amount of content.

Greg Sterling: [00:21:15] I think that Google.

Greg Sterling: [00:21:20] Google sees Google My Business as as kind of the bridge, to quote you sort of earlier, between the online and offline world.

Greg Sterling: [00:21:28] It is it is the the place where the information and the utilities and the tools live. That really, you know, kind of bridge between the digital representation of the world, which is Google Maps and the physical world, which is your actual physical location.

Greg Sterling: [00:21:51] And, you know, they'll just be more interactivity and more transactional capabilities. I mean, I think they're going to continue to push transactional tools. Payments, they're going to get more content, real time inventory information from businesses. They're doing that at Google Shopping. But they're going to do that for small businesses that the products will show up there. Google My Business is an e-commerce driver. People don't know that because Google posts, you can drive people to your website and drive transactions, feature products. So it's a kind of hub for all kinds of activity. You know, previously just directing you off line, but increasingly driving online transactions, including e-commerce, product sales, and that there's also kind of a CRM feature to it. You can follow businesses. I think those kinds of features will come out more. So it's a kind of quasi social CRM lite kind of capability. I think we're going to see more of that kind of stuff, too.

James Fratzke: [00:23:02] Right. Right. Yeah. I love what you said there about being kind of that conduit between the offline and the online, and that kind of sparks an idea in my head. So I want to circle back to something we talked about earlier, which is this idea of e-commerce vs. kind of the in-person app. Order it, drive by, pick it up. Where do you see the future kind of going?

James Fratzke: [00:23:25] Because the last mile is the most expensive myself. Wal-Mart didn't have to ship it to you if they could get you to show up. They would prefer that every time. What do you see that the kind of winner being as we kind of get into this new normal?

Greg Sterling: [00:23:42] Well, I don't I don't think e-commerce will ever represent an equivalent amount of business, you know, just from a dollar volume standpoint.

Greg Sterling: [00:23:53] So we're always going to see more more activity off line than we will online. But e-commerce is growing and it's going to be a much more substantial. You know, maybe we'll even see. Jeff Bezos at one point in the past said it e-commerce would be ten to fifteen percent of total retail based on COVID-19 and some of the new behaviors, we may see it get higher than that. We may see it get to 20 or 25 percent ultimately in the next, you know, five to 10 years. But it's never going to be as big as offline. But companies have to offer both. They have to they have to be omnichannel. You have to make it possible to get a product shipped to you and you have to make it possible to to buy it in the store. And to the extent that they've got a sort of a single database that can enable me to do either, you know, you have to cater to my needs as a customer. Otherwise, I'm just going to go to Amazon, you know. Right. I mean, the advantage of retailers like Wal-Mart or Target is that they have physical stores and stores actually, you know, represent more than just the place to buy products. It's about it's an expression of the brand. It's an expression of a kind of customer experience and human experience that you can't get from Amazon. So there's a wide range of reasons to have stores. Stores also allow you to store help e-commerce.

Greg Sterling: [00:25:22] And I'm going on and on and on here now.

Greg Sterling: [00:25:24] Stores help stores help e-commerce because people have confidence to buy when they know they can return something locally. I have bought a lot of things from Macy's that I probably wouldn't have bought if they would if it was just straight online because of the pain of returns.

Greg Sterling: [00:25:41] Oh, I'll take a risk on this because I know if it doesn't work, I can bring it back to the store as opposed to, like, shipping it back. That's painful. So stores have advantages, they're expensive and we'll see fewer of them in the future. But they're a critical advantage for retailers versus Amazon. And J.C. Penney, which filed bankruptcy, is going to close two hundred forty stores. They said that's going to hurt them online as well. Not just in store.

James Fratzke: [00:26:11] Right. Right now, I think that's a really good point in a kind of brings me to that the last couple of questions I wanted to ask, which was in this transition for mid-sized businesses, specifically, if we could try to think about it in that realm, but we could always open it up to smaller or bigger business.

Greg Sterling: [00:26:28] No, that's that's fine.

James Fratzke: [00:26:30] What are the digital marketing strategies or the tactics that you're doubling down on if you're consulting them? What are what are the things you're telling them, like, hey, if you're doing this, you need to double down on it. If you're not doing it, you need to get started. What are maybe the top three that you could think of?

Greg Sterling: [00:26:49] Well, again, it's going to depend a little bit on the category of somebody who's a pure e-commerce company versus there's a retailer selling something in store. So but in general, if they've got any kind of physical business location, if they're a service area business, meaning somebody comes into the home or if they're they have a business where you come in and you buy something or consult, they they need to they need to have their Google My Business profile claimed and optimized. They need to have a comparable profile or profiles for every one of their locations on Facebook, you know, claimed and fully filled out, fully fleshed out. So you've got a sort of parent child relationship. You've got the main brand page. And then your pages for your locations. You need to think about other social media channels, potentially Instagram, certainly depending on your business. And increasingly, Pinterest, I think, is a really interesting platform depending on your business. Yelp is really critical for most kinds of businesses. Not only do they have influential reviews, but they rank in Google results. So you get a sort of secondary benefit. If you're optimized there, you'll show up in search rankings. So you even see you've got to you've got to have those sort of key platforms and Bing of course, you've got to have those key platforms kind of claimed optimized. Well, you know, photos, video, reviews, all that stuff has to be there. And you've got to have people paying attention to those platforms and responding to customers on those platforms. You know, you should think about chat, right? I mean, a lot of the sites have bots on them, chat bots with FAQ's. That's a really important. That's a really important tool for certain kinds of businesses to offload a lot of simple customer service questions. I would also say, you know, your website obviously is critical. You know, people say, oh, websites are not important anymore because it's all about these other platforms. But that's not true. Your website is going to be your most trusted communication tool. You know, that needs to be optimized for speed and for mobile users. YouTube is a really critical platform.

Greg Sterling: [00:29:15] And Facebook video can also be really important. So, I mean, I could go on with the laundry list. You asked me for three.

James Fratzke: [00:29:23] You know, I think that the natural feeling that people have is to pull back on their marketing spend right now, or at least that was the case six weeks ago. Is that the right advice? And I kind of know the answer. I'm leading the witness a little bit. But what do you do with that marketing budget?

James Fratzke: [00:29:44] Do you pull it back or do you keep it the same or do you increase it and move it around and invest in different areas? How how would you go about doing that?

Greg Sterling: [00:29:53] So so the question of what to do with marketing budgets is a little bit of a controversial question. I mean, what everybody did is they sort of pulled back. They sort of spend, discontinued some of their campaigns and a lot of people just focused on sort of, you know, non advertising, marketing. I think it's a mistake to shut off your marketing. There are certain key things that you need to keep doing. And some companies really should benefit from ad spending. A lot of CPM, you know, CPM on Facebook and it is on Google went down. They're starting to go back up. But it's an opportunity when the competitors are sort of not there to grab some market share. But but, you know, you have to do things like SEO and you probably should do things to build awareness. You know, unique, even brand advertising fell away and a lot of cases in favor of, you know, bottom of the funnel kinds of campaigns. And I think that that's a mistake. I mean, I think people need to address the full the full funnel. But in an environment of restricted, it's you have to be thoughtful and selective and it depends on your industry, right? That's right. B2B companies continue marketing, continue pushing, continue advertising. You know, be thoughtful about where you're putting your budget. Sorry about the video.

James Fratzke: [00:31:15] No, it's okay. Shit happens. Yeah. From a B2B standpoint, you know, a lot of folks are kind of married to, or it's just they have this traditional way of doing things, selling through dealers and those types of things, and they've thought about going direct to the consumer for a while, but their dealer network puts a lot of pressure on them and says, well, I don't want you to compete with me. It is now the time for those be to be businesses that have been sitting on the sideline. I'm going direct to consumer to really think about is, you know, for instance, we have clients where the only way you can get their product is to go into a physical location because they don't sell directly to the consumer. Well, you're not going to be doing much selling right now.

Greg Sterling: [00:32:06] I think that's right. I mean, I think that that all companies really need to think about becoming direct consumer brands. And I recognize, as you say, it's kind of tricky with your with your resellers or your dealer network because you don't want to create channel conflict. But given the uncertainty and the instability of some of these retailers, I mean, I think it's something that brands have to really consider. They have to diversify their their their sales channels. I mean, I think it's just as a general proposition. Yes. You have to think about it on a case by case basis. Gets a little bit more tricky, perhaps.

James Fratzke: [00:32:41] Right. Absolutely. All right, Greg, I really appreciate my time with you today. I'll give you the final word. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the audience?

Greg Sterling: [00:32:51] The final thing I want to emphasize is that there's actually an opportunity here beyond the grim statistics that are out there that are circulating in The New York Times and elsewhere. And that opportunity really is to improve the customer experience, to improve the product, to improve operating efficiency and to take some creative risks and to accelerate product projects that might have been in the pipeline, you know, in the past. But nobody could get to them. This is the time to sort of seize that moment and seize that opportunity. Those that do will come out on the other end stronger and more successful than those that are more conservative or act more tentatively during this time. And so, on that note, I want to thank you, James, for having me on the show. I really appreciated it. And good luck to everybody. You know, I think we're going to get through this. It's just going to be a tough slog for for a while. So thanks very much.

James Fratzke: [00:33:47] I think that is a perfect way to end it. Greg, I really appreciate your time.

Greg Sterling: [00:33:52] It's been great talking with you. Anytime.

James Fratzke: [00:33:55] All righty. Thanks, Greg, for your time today. I really appreciate it. Now, if you were watching this video on our YouTube channel, then you know that we lost Greg's video partway through. But if you listen to this through your ears on a podcast, then, you know, just fast forward through that part. All right. Well, there were some great takeaways with Greg. And again, I mentioned it at the beginning. He's been in the local marketing industry for 20 plus years. So I like to give my three takeaways at the end of each interview on how businesses and the folks that are listening can take some of the things. Our guests are saying and translate those into practical, effective marketing strategies for your business. And in the case of Greg, I could give you a list of of 20 things, but I'm going to pare it down to my three main takeaways. The first is this idea of the bridge between offline in online. Yes. We all know that people are going online to buy things, but we need to keep in mind that so much of that personal connection with a brand and so much of our economy is actually still local. It's physical. It's going into a brick and mortar store. The idea here is how do we marry those two together? How do we bridge those two concepts together? So that's takeaway number one. Takeaway number two is I love his is thoughts on omnichannel. A lot of people have been talking about this omnichannel experience, providing a great customer experience for our customers at the speed of need. Curated to their preferences. So where do they want to buy? How do they want to pick up a product? So on and so forth. So he unpacked this idea that a business needs to have e-commerce and it needs to have pickup and it needs to have it in person experience. I really thought that that was so true, especially going into this new normal where folks are going to be used to some of these new digital habits that they've acquired. It's really going to be on the individual businesses to make sure that they can keep up with changing customer demands and take away. Number three is making sure that your information is consistent all the way across the Internet. We talked about Google My Business. We talked about reviews. Make sure that the story that's being told about you online is consistent with the story that you're trying to tell your customers. That means making sure that if you're telling a certain story on your Web site about safety precautions that you're taking at your locations, you need to take those precautions because you never know when a secret shopper of sorts will be going through your store and see something that's not consistent with the story you're telling and leave a review on Google or Yelp or another platform basically calling you out for not following what you been telling people online. With all that being said, folks. I really appreciate your time today. If you have more questions about some of the things we talked about, go head to Fratzkemedia.com and fill out one of our contact forms. It would be our pleasure to connect with you and talk about how we can help make digital your competitive edge because at Fratzke Mida, we really do believe that the rebound will be digital. I'll talk to you soon. Have a great day.

James Fratzke: [00:37:17] Everyone, one last thing before you leave. Make sure you go to whatever platform you're listening to, the Back to Business podcast on and leave us a positive review. Every rating and review really helps us grow the show and make sure you share it with people in your professional network so we can help other people like you and your midsize business get back to business.

About the show:
Back To Business // COVID-19 & You

As the world recovers from COVID-19, we believe the rebound will be digital. In each episode of the Back to Business: COVID-19 & You Podcast, we interview leaders of mid-size businesses to define best practices and next steps companies should be taking to thrive in the new normal. If you are a mid-size business navigating COVID-19 setbacks, and don’t know where to start or need help defining your strategy, this podcast is for you.

About the host:
James Fratzke

James Fratzke is a Co-Founder and Head of Client Success at Fratzke Media. His passion for storytelling comes from his time at the Walt Disney Company where he and his team executed record-breaking media events. He has helped tell the stories of major brands like Dollar Tree, Advance Auto Parts, and Jelly Belly.

About our sponsor:
Infinity Bank

When you bank with Infinity Bank, you are not banking with a faceless corporation. You are banking with industry leaders who want to know you and your business well. They are here to serve and partner with you to help you achieve all of your financial goals and dreams. To learn more visit www.goinfinitybank.com or call (657) 223-1000 today.

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At Fratzke Media, our paths cross with some amazing people. Learn more about their habits, insights and stories behind their success.

A leading authority on local search for over 20 years, Greg Sterling shares his take on how mid-size businesses should navigate COVID-19. The pandemic has changed the way customers search and shop, and businesses must adapt to meet their customers halfway. Businesses should improve the customer experience, focus on customer reviews, and evolve shopping experiences to tackle COVID-19. Optimizing websites, social media, ads, and utilizing marketing spend make it possible for businesses to recover. Learn all this and more in this episode of Back to Business: COVID-19 & You

Our Back to Business: COVID 19 & You Takeaways

#1: Creating A Bridge Between Offline and Online

We’ve mentioned before that the rebound will be digital, but it’s important to remember the economy is still local. Like Greg mentioned, e-commerce may never overshadow in-store retail.  An online and offline presence provides convenient shopping for customers. Online retailers with physical locations have an advantage, and it can help fuel their e-commerce sales.

Mid-size businesses need to optimize both their online and offline presence to cater to customer needs. Vend’s article shares some tools businesses can use to integrate in-store and digital marketing efforts, such as promoting in-store pickup for online orders, optimizing email marketing, and optimizing social media platforms. The goal is to utilize both offline and online to meet customer needs to give your business an advantage post COVID-19.  

#2: Optimizing the Omnichannel Experience to Meet Customer Needs

Omnichannel focuses on bringing a consistent, smooth customer experience through every customer touchpoint. Greg talks about how businesses need to have e-commerce, in-store, and pickup experiences now, and utilizing all of these is key to keeping up with changing customer demands. 

COVID-19 has created a new normal, and there are a number of consumer trends that show how customers are shopping differently. Using omnichannel is a great way to create a seamless shopping experience for customers to meet these demands. Honing these efforts now will help you provide consistent channels customers can engage with. 

#3: Consistency is Key for Customer Satisfaction

Similar to our omnichannel takeaway, consistency is important for customer satisfaction. Greg talks about United Airlines’ social distancing measures, but a social media post by a customer revealed that those measures were not being practiced. This gap between your online and offline stories can create distrust in your customers. 

If you’re posting safety measures on your online platforms, you must follow through with those measures and actually enforce them. Not following through can lead to poor customer reviews and poor perception of your business, and may hinder your business’ recovery. 

More about Greg Sterling and Uberall

Greg Sterling is a local search expert with over 20 years of experience. He previously worked at Local Search Association, is a contributing editor to Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and is currently Marketing Insights VP at Uberall.