Off the Ladder Social Media

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account (and why it matters)

Another one of my favorite poems “The Road Not Taken” explains (loosely – very loosely) how I arrived at today’s Digital Marketing in 60 Seconds or Less (DMSSL) and this accompanying blog.

Robert Frost was an amazing poet. In the poem, Mr. Frost comes upon a fork in the road and randomly decides to take one path over another. In other words, ‘way leads on to way’ (from the poem for those who don’t know it) and when I started researching how to best research hashtags for Instagram I came across the fact that you can change your personal account to a Professional account with the click of a few buttons.

Look, I’m a website guy ( 😉) and a Google My Business guy so I’m learning this social media and hashtag stuff with you. I think it’s probably pretty safe to say that there will be many other forks in the road – I only hope we remember to come back to where we are now and explore them all.

Anyway, enough enigmatic philosophical b.s. – we have work to do.

How do I switch to a professional Instagram account and why does that matter? GREAT question… I’m so glad you asked.

Why does switching to a professional Instagram account help with hashtag research?

With a personal account insights are not available to you for your posts. With a professional Instagram account they are.

Mic drop – I’m out!

That’s all you really need to know.

With insights you can now start understanding how people are interacting with your posts and hashtags. Now, when you change hashtags, you’ll be able to measure if there is a drop or increase in engagement and make decisions based on real data instead of a whim and a prayer.

A for instance…

For the last episode of DMSSL, after I had completed the research on the types of hashtags for Instagram, in knee-jerk fashion, I changed all of my Instagram hashtags. I sat back and looked pridefully at my work. It literally took well over an hour to come up with even a rudimentary strategy following the formula I gave. I was happy.


Well, then I thought to myself, how the heck am I going to figure out if my new strategy has any affect (affect or effect… I’m so confused!) whatsoever on what I’m doing? Hence the ‘road not taken’.

I’ll spare you the details of how I came across the information on switching account types. All that matters is now, because I’ve switched to a professional account, when I post this Monday morning I’ll be able to track engagement and get insights on how my followers are interacting with my posts. Then, when I change hashtags, I should be able to see what kind of affect they’re having.

As a former hammer swinging sage and philosopher once said; Right tool for the right job.

Okay, so how do you set up a Professional Instagram account?

I’m getting there…

It’s actually pretty easy. Once you get to the right place you just follow the prompts. I haven’t figured out if you can do this from your desktop so I’ve taken some screenshots form my phone to illustrate.

Here’s where you go:

Step 01

Go to your profile and hit the Edit button:

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 01

Side Note: When I started posting videos I had 47 followers. 3 months later I have 219… VIDEO WORKS!

Step 02

Hit settings at the bottom of the page.

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 02

Step 03

Click on “Switch to Professional Account” towards the bottom of the screen.

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 03

Step 04

Choose what type of profile suits you best. We chose “Business”.

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 04

Step 05

Click through on the next four screens (I hate when apps waste my time!) until you get to “Select A Category”. Pretty self explanatory… choose your business category by typing and then using the autofill from the list given. We chose “Website Designer”.

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 09

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 11

Step 06

Review/edit your contact information for the available profile buttons.

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 12

Step 07


How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 13

Step 08

Now you can check out the Insights tab and get a feel for what’s to come.

How to Switch to a Professional Instagram Account 14

What’s next?

There won’t be anything in your Insights tab yet. Instagram won’t go back in your history. But, now you’re set up to start measuring engagement for the hashtags you use. You’re on your way to making informed decisions that can help you climb the ranks in this everchanging digital marketing landscape.

Notice how I used the image of a landscape to come full circle to the beginning imagery of “The Road not Taken” in the woods. Pretty nifty way of saying, “I’m not saying what’s next because I don’t know what path my research will take me on and what I’ll be exploring next”… without actually saying it.

Watch out and don’t try that at home!

Only trained and highly skilled professionals who have completed college level literature and writing courses and own a literary license can do this kind of stuff…

Off the Ladder Social Media

Types of Hashtags for Instagram


When I decided to take a look into hashtags the other day I hadn’t realized the Pandora’s box I was opening for myself. I can see it now…😓 I will immerse myself for months into this topic just as I had for Google My Business.

The Fly Circa 1958 with Vincent Price and Herbert MarshallMy family will be leaving food at my office door and no one will see me for weeks at a time. I’ll emerge some months later transformed into this half hashtag half human being caught in a spiderweb 🕸 with Uncle Francois (One of my favorite Vincent Price characters) aghast in horror while Inspector Charas flattens me with a large rock.

Well… May as well start the transmogrification (I love that word – I learned it in a writing poetry class in college. It’s from a great poem called Janet Waking).

What are the most popular Instagram hashtags?

As of July 2020, the 40 most popular Instagram hashtags are as follows:

#love #picoftheday #girl #igers
#instagood #follow #fun #tagsforlikes
#photooftheday #me #style #follow4follow
#fashion #selfie #smile #nofilter
#beautiful #summer #food #life
#happy #art #instalike #beauty
#cute #instadaily #likeforlike #amazing
#tbt #friends #family #instamood
#like4like #repost #travel #instagram
#followme #nature #fitness #photography

I felt it was important to post this list for you to see that while they get millions of posts a day, the top hashtags will probably not help you in your marketing efforts.

Look at it this way. If the hashtag #love has been used in 1.2 billion posts (that’s a lot!) how will your post about the new decking material you just used stand out? Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you should use it.

What types of hashtags should I use?

There are literally millions of hashtags on Instagram. You may ask, “How do I choose the right hashtags for my campaign?” and that would be a great question.

I think you should start with understanding the types of hashtags that will help you in marketing your product or services.

For our purposes, I have decided on 5 types of hashtags that research has shown to be effective when marketing. They are: community, subject, niche, location, and brand.


By far the community type of hashtag encompasses the lion’s share of subcategories. We’ll look at community as an association or interest group you’re a part of such as #contractorsofinsta or #homerenovationlife.


This type of hashtag will be used to tag the things your talking about in your post. A good hashtag for this blog for instance would be #hashtags. You can use things like #deckbuilding or #plumberstips.


We know you’re part of a community or interest group from your community hashtag, now use niche hashtags to attract the specific audience you’re looking for such as #roofingcontractor or #builders.


Most small businesses do their business, well… locally. Be sure to include hashtags that will attract your local audience like #staffordva or #fxbg.


Create a hashtag for your brand like #staffordtechnologies (found this hashtag from something I posted 5 years ago!). It may take a while – a long while – for it to pick up steam but once it does it will allow your followers to see all the things you post rather than just seeing posts from the other hashtags they are following. In other words, a plumber may be following us for #marketingforplumbers but may get just as much value from a post we made for #deckbuildermarketing.

How do I use this to create a hashtag strategy for Instagram?

This is just the beginning of the journey. We still need to talk about how many hashtags to use and how to find the best hashtags.

For now, take a look at what you’re currently doing and see if these five types of hashtags are included. If not, add one or two that seem to make sense for now and we’ll see if we can’t help you find the best hashtags to use in our next blog and on our next episode of Digital Marketing in 60 Seconds or Less.


Off the Ladder Social Media

Why Use Hashtags When I Post to Social Media?


When we saw the first use of the hashtag on Twitter in 2007 (August 23 to be exact… WHY DO I KNOW THAT!😖 ) we all thought it was kind of cool but no one ever knew they would become a prevalent part of the worldwide lexicon. Nor did we know they would become the bane of a marketers existence.

My mea culpa: I never took the time to learn much about them.

They’re a mystery and the secret formula is sealed away in a safe. In a vault. In a volcano.

Why are hashtags important?

Now that I am posting almost daily videos they have become pretty important to me. I know I need them but I know I’m not using them correctly. For instance, I have recorded and posted 64 episodes of Digital Marketing in 60 Seconds or Less (DMSSL) and I have used the same collection of 30 or so hashtags on every one of the social media accounts I post my videos on.

That’s definitely not the right way to do it…

But I figured I would get to the hashtag research later and for now posting some kind of hashtag is better than posting no hashtags at all. I would venture to say that’s true for most people using hashtags.

There are very differing opinions about hashtags. Some say to use as many as you can. Some say limit the number to 7 or 9. Some say don’t use them at all and your engagement will improve.

There is a study that states an Instagram post with at least one hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement (a measurement of public shares, likes and comments) than a post without. I want some of that! But how?

Instagram Post Engagement Comparison by Number of Hashtags Used - Stafford Technologies

How important are they on other social media platforms?

How much engagement do they recieve elsewhere?

How do I create a hashtag?

Should I create my own hashtags?

There are a litany of questions that must be answered before we can confidently say we are using a well thought out, well structured hashtag strategy. I hope to figure out that strategy and share it with you.

Should I stop using hashtags?

Obviously hashtags are not going away and I’m tired of losing to the competition because I’m not using them correctly. You should be too.

Does it mean I should stop using hashtags for now?


Does it mean I can use one of the most popular hashtags such as #love and my post about digital marketing for contractors will get 12.6 shares, likes or comments rather than 0?

Definitely not.

I’m not saying to stop using them. I’m also not saying to use them with no rhyme or reason. After all a post about digital marketing for contractors with a hashtag of #love will be one of about 3 million Instagram posts daily using the same hashtag – good luck getting found there!

Hashtag Love - Stafford Technologies

On the contrary. Use them as you are but we have to start learning how to use them correctly on all the major social media platforms. I do believe an effective hashtag strategy can help propel your posts and get you to the top of the heap in your industry.

What now?

I’m going to be taking a look at hashtags over the next several blog posts and DMSSL episodes. My goal is to figure out the best strategies for using hashtags on the following:

Let’s learn more about hashtags together and see if we can’t climb the face of the volcano and crack the code on the safe.


Directories and Listings Off the Ladder

How To Use Google’s Business Redressal Complaint Form to Fight Spam

I hate SPAM!

I hate spam phone calls. I hate spam emails. I hate spam snail mail.

But, what I hate more than all those types of spam is Google My Business spam. After all, the other types of spam don’t cost me a dime. In fact, they cost the spammer a boat load of money and, now that I think it through, I think those companies should spend even more on their efforts 😉.

I hate Google My Business spam the most because it potentially costs me customers and therefore costs me money. The problem is, while I love Google My Business, it’s free and open to anyone including spammers who, by definition, don’t practice ethically. They aren’t playing by the same rules and they can easily rig the GMB game.

How Google My Business Spam Is Affecting Your Business

Although we are experts in running Google My Business Optimization for ourselves and our customers, we are always finding new spammers affecting our rankings on the Map Pack and have to be vigilant in our efforts to stop them.

Take for example this search result:

Fraudulent Listings on Google My Business

As you can see we are ranked fourth for this search term. Not a bad ranking. In fact, most would be okay with this and simply say to themselves that they have to work harder on that particular term. The problem is the two top businesses are fraudulent!

The first, uses a name (I wish I could say it here!) that does not match the name of their company and they actually do business in a city 50 miles away and have an office in another country!

The second has nothing to do with websites, their website is written in Chinese and their address is in the middle of a field behind a funeral home. Nothing suspicious there!

If these two results were removed we would be ranked second for this search term and we would be on the front page of search results in Google’s Map Pack. We would still work to grab the first position but I don’t mind losing to a guy who’s working the term better than me right now – I can change that.

At the minimum, we suggest you take a look monthly at several search terms and research the other businesses that come up. If you find they have fraud within their listings report them. If they are beating you fair and square I suggest you hire us to help you (shameless plug…LOL).

The Google Form

So what can we do about this?

Not much.

Google provides us with the Business Redressal Complaint Form to report fraud complaints. Once submitted, we have to depend on Google’s spam team to take care of this for us. And, as you can imagine, they are super busy all the time. They can’t communicate with you after you submit the form because it is not your business. So you wait. And wait. And wait.

The good news is, if you fill out the form correctly you can get results.

How to fill out the Google Business Redress Complaint Form to get the best results

Step 01 – Personal Information

Name: Use your real name here. There is no way for the business you’re reporting to know who you are so no worries about being honest.

Email: Again, no worries about anyone seeing your email so use the email you’re signed in with or use an email you’d prefer to receive the confirmation at.

Entity: Not really necessary to fill. You should use ‘N/A’ unless you have some real proof on how the fraud is having a negative affect on your ability to conduct business.

Business Redressal Complaint Form Google My Business Help 02

Step 02 – Malicious Content

Malicious Content Type: There are four types of Spam you can report with this form. We suggest you submit a separate form for different types of spam.

  • Title: Is the name of the listing spam? Is a company naming their listing using keywords instead of the name of their company? Are they adding keywords to their name? Are they using multiple names to get listed several times? There are lots of reasons spammers use fraudulent names.
  • Address: Is the listing address in the middle of a cemetery? Is it in the parking lot of the local Walmart? Is it a post office box? Is it the address of another company?
  • Phone Number: Is this a listing that lead to a lead generation scam?
  • Website: Does the website button lead to a lead generation scam? Does it lead to a malicious website? Does it lead to a different company?

Public URL: This is the Google Map link for the business you are reporting. If you’re not sure simply Google the business name and location (stafford technologies stafford va) and click on the map then copy the website address and paste it in the form field.

NOTE: You can report several locations at once. This is why there is and “Add additional” link. We may cover reporting multiple locations later in another post.

Business Redressal Complaint Form Google My Business Help

File Upload: If you have some proof you’d like to upload such as a screenshot of the fraudulent address in the middle of a corn field this is where you can do it.

Step 03 – The Explanation

This is the MOST IMPORTANT step. This is where you let Google know why you think the listing is fraudulent and how it is having an impact on businesses and consumers around you. Plead your case here. Make it about the consumer being defrauded by this malicious listing and make it about how the other businesses in the community are being adversely affected.

Business Redressal Complaint Form Google My Business

DO NOT complain that your competition is ahead of you and you don’t think it’s fair. Google doesn’t care.

We do! In fact, we can help you with that. You can check out our Google My Business Management and Optimization Services for help… I have to apologize for the shameless plug again – I can’t seem to keep the salesman in me down! 🤪

Now What?

As I said earlier, there’s not much you can do after submitting the Business Redress Complaint Form. You will get a confirmation but that’s about it from Google.

Keep your eye on the search term results and within a couple of weeks the offending listing may be removed. If not, try again. When you do, you may want to take a look at the explanation and create a more compelling argument next time.

I know this isn’t the best system for fighting fraud but it’s all we have. Be vigilant and continually check the search terms you are trying to rank for and report spam whenever you find it.

Remember, if you need help… Nah, you know what to do if you need help… 😉😉

Directories and Listings Off the Ladder

How To Create Social Posts With The Google My Business Marketing Kit

Every morning I have this conversation in my head about what I am going to talk about that day. And, no matter what day it is, it starts with this “Okay Michael… This morning’s video will NOT be about Google!”

Since I started Digital Marketing in 60 Seconds or Less I’ve only won that argument a handful of times.

I love Google.

There! I said it… I love Google. I love their innovation and I love the tools they give us to market our businesses. After all, Google is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room. Google IS digital marketing (mostly).

You’d have to admit that most of our efforts in the digital marketing of our businesses are based on Google. And that’s okay. Google is a good partner. They are constantly innovating and giving us tools to help us market our businesses on their platform as well as others.

Take the Google My Business Marketing Kit for example. It’s free and it’s chock full of useful tools that any business can use. The best part… It’s easy to use and you don’t have to be a marketing genius, a code revolutionary or the next digital version of Picasso to use it. You simply type in your business name and download or share what’s created for you.

Google Marketing Kit Social Posts

Today we’ll take a look at one of the best features of the Google My Business Marketing Kit – the social post.

What most of us love about Google is the power of the reviews. Reviews make the world go round in local search. It’s important you get as many positive reviews as you can. But, it’s just as important that you scream form the rooftops when you get one.

This tool makes that easy.

Imagine being able to harness those reviews in a few simple steps and share them to social media with the click of a button. That’s what the Google marketing kit website allows you to do.

This is going to be an oft used and powerful tool in your digital marketing toolbox. I’d encourage you to use this every single time you get a new review. Yeah, it’s a bit like boasting or beating your chest, but you know what – you deserve it and your potential customers need to hear it.

How To Create A Social Post

While I love Google, I sometimes believe they can do a better job of explaining how to use their tools. The support page for the Google My Business Marketing Kit is sparse at best. But, that’s how Google likes it – clean and easy.

I’m going to give you an in-depth step by step guide on how to create a social post using Google’s marketing kit website. While it is easy, there are quite a few steps when you include the customization options.

So, here we go…

Step 01

Open a browser and got and type in the name of your business.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 01

Step 02

Click on “Get my free materials”

P.S. you really don’t have to do this. This step is superfluous as all you have to do is start scrolling.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 02

Step 03

Scroll to the section towards the bottom of the page called “Freshen up your feed” and choose which kind of social post you’d like to create, a Review, a Business Info or a Highlight.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 03


The remainder of this post is for a Review social post.

Step 04

Choose which review snippet you’d like to include on your post and click ‘next’.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 04

Step 05

Choose which style you’d like to use and customize the options. We chose the second one, Google.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 05

Step 06

Choose the tile you’ve just customized and click ‘Share’. You’ll have the choice to download it to share to other social profiles or share it as a post on your Google My Business account. We shared ours on Google My Business. 

Google My Business Social Posts Step 06

Step 07

Your Google My Business account will open and a new post will be started. Choose the ‘What’s New’ type of post.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 07

Step 08

Write a short message to include as an overlay on your newly created social post and then add a call to action button with a link to wherever you’d like to send potential customers. Click on ‘Preview’ to be sure you like the way it looks then hit ‘Publish’

Google My Business Social Posts Step 08

Step 09

Once you’ve published your social post on your Google My Business listing you can share it with the click of a button to Facebook or Twitter. You can also share it via email or copy the link and share it anywhere else you’d like.

Google My Business Social Posts Step 09

See… That was EASY!

As I said earlier, I love Google. I love that they give us tools like this to promote our businesses. During times like this, when everyone is operating on a shoestring budget, you can still make a positive impact on your digital marketing using the tools provided by Google.


Directories and Listings Off the Ladder

One Easy Way to Regularly Post on Google My Business

I have spent a lot of time and effort positioning myself as an expert at optimizing Google My Business. For Pete’s sake, we dedicated almost fifty episodes of “Digital Marketing in 60 Seconds or Less” to the topic. We have more than our share of small service oriented businesses like tradesman and contractors under management helping them optimize their Google My Business listing. And, we have had great success with the program. Plus, we are getting ready to launch a Google My Business platform for optimizing listings. We are, for all intents and purposes, experts at optimizing GMB accounts.

I’m not saying this to thump my chest and impress you with our GMB prowess. I’m stating it to give you some context.

What do you need the context for? For this:

I haven’t posted on my own Google My Business account since June 22. 

That’s epic! An epic failure!

It would be funny if it weren’t for the ramifications. Our Google My Business performance has suffered for it. In fact, it has flat-lined, tanked, sunk to the deep abyss or whatever colorful term you’d like to use.

Google My Business Insights - Stafford Technologies Website Design

But I thought you were experts? Well, yes we are. We have schedules and fail safes in place to ensure we are posting on a regular basis for all of our contractors under management. The responsibility falls to a team so the chances of this happening for a customer are slim to none. We’re experts in handling other people’s businesses.

But, and here’s Shakespeare’s immortal rub, we suck at doing it for ourselves! I shouldn’t say suck…I should say we are inconsistent. Like most people who own businesses, we are to busy delivering to our customers and we sometimes fall short delivering for ourselves. Like the cobbler with the shoes falling off his feet (when you make references to cobblers you know you’re old!), or the doctor who is overweight and smokes two packs a day, we’re good at taking care of others. We’re passionate about it – so passionate that we forget to take care of ourselves.

That stops TODAY!

I came up with an ‘aha’ moment. I had an epiphany of sorts. I have reinvented sliced bread. Want to know what it is…?

I set an appointment on my calendar for me to post to Google My Business every Monday and Wednesday morning. NOW ISN’T THAT A NOVEL IDEA!

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a simple appointment on my calendar with myself to ensure I am posting on a regular basis is all it takes. Now the real test is keeping that appointment.

Remember, if your business fails you can’t be there to help your customers. If you’re passionate about helping your customers you have to get passionate about helping yourself. I know I am.

So there’s my big idea – a calendar appointment with myself. If I fail again I will let you know but I’m pretty confident I got this from here on out.

Directories and Listings Off the Ladder

How to Sync Bing Places for Business With Google My Business

I’ve been helping small businesses with their websites and marketing for over ten years now and, much like Internet Explorer (cold sweats are coming…😱😱), Bing

Places for Business is not something I think I have ever willingly gone to.

Unlike Internet Explorer (😝) I don’t have any bad experiences with it nor have I ever had an opinion one way or the other about it. I just have never had a reason to go there. That is, until I started researching Bing Places for Business for our blog “Why Bing is Important”.

I found that Bing has a lot of traffic. Not nearly as much as Google but enough to warrant some real attention. So  I decided to go to my Bing Places for Business and check out my listing.

I had set it up a long time ago and have never been back since. In fact, I think I set it up when it was still Bing Business Portal before they made the change to Bing Places for Business in 2013.

During my research yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there is this nifty little sync function that allows you to synchronize your Bing Places for Business with your Google My Business.

So today I’d like to take it for a spin with you.

A few notes:
Because I really don’t know much about Bing Places for Business I think I goofed a bit because my existing Stafford Technologies listing had this weird “low confidence” warning (see image).

Bing Places for Business Low Confidence Alert

So, naturally, I tried to correct it. When I opened it it asked if the information was correct and I said it was. But, nothing happened. I did what every man in a rush with little time to be concerned about the small stuff would do – I moved on.

Well, that may not have been the best thing to do. After utilizing the synchronization tool I ended up with two listings on Bing. Not really sure what will happen but I’ll fill you in when I am. The moral of the story… Don’t be a man in a rush with little time to be concerned about the small stuff.

Let’s get started!

Step 1

Go to and choose “Import from Google My Business”

Bing Places for Business opening Page

Step 2

Choose to sync you business and how often then click continue.Choose to Sync Bing Places for Business with GMB

Step 3

Choose the corresponding Google account and allow Bing permissions to access the account.

Allow Bing Access to Your Google My Business

Step 4

Choose the correct Google My Business location group.

Choose the Correct Google My Business Location Group

Step 5

Choose the correct listing to sync.

Step 6

Fill in the information Bing Places for Business wants to verify.

Verify information with Bing Places for Business

Easy Peasy!

Now you have a brand new Bing Places for Business listing and it only took about 3 minutes.

Although I am not sure what we can do with our Bing listing that’s different than Google, I’d love for you to stick around so we can explore Bing Places for Business together.

Directories and Listings Off the Ladder

Why Bing is Important

I’ve been in the website business for over ten years now.During that time I also owned a computer and cell phone repair business. With all the experience I have in the tech business, I can honestly say that I’ve never willingly used Microsoft Internet Explorer nor it’s new iteration: Microsoft Edge.

I just never liked it. I guess the horrible experiences of developing websites that had to work on IE7 were enough to taint me for the rest of my life. The trauma of seeing a big blue e would send me into cold sweats.

The problem is, most people are not like me. Most people have never had a ‘bad’ experience with Internet Explorer and wouldn’t recognize the difference in page load speeds or rendering. I’m a techie snob when it comes to Microsoft search engines.

However, what I have always known is that Microsoft search engines come installed with every new personal computer, laptop, tablet and phone that runs the Windows operating system. That’s a helluva lot of devices.

What I also know from my time in the computer repair business is while some of us take for granted the ease we experience in loading Chrome on our own devices, most people either don’t know how nor do they want to be bothered loading Chrome. So, that’s the long way of saying Bing is on a lot of machines!

Bing Statistics Facts from StatistaBecause Bing is so popular, by default they have a lot of traffic. According to StatCounter, Bing has about a 7% share of all the online search in the United States. That’s a lot of searches! In fact, it’s over 500 million of them.

Simply put, if you’re ignoring Bing (as I have been) you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers. As an added bonus, the people using Bing… well, they’re the ones with the expendable income. According to J. Clement at Statista “As of March 2018, Bing audiences in the U.S. comprised mostly of those in the age group of between 45-54 years range…”

So, to wrap this up, I know we all base our digital marketing strategy and our website strategy on Google. We spend hours every week (or we should be) agonizing over our Google My Business listing but we ignore Bing Places for Business. I’m hoping to help you see the light here. I’m hoping you’ll come along with me and figure out the ins and outs of Bing. Yes I know it’s just one more thing. But, if we do it right, we will open our businesses to 500 Million more searches.

I think it’s worth it.

Off the Ladder Referrals

What is a Referral?


A dear friend (limey from England…LOL) told me I should include some kind of introductory message so readers understand where I am going with this and I agreed.

[UPDATE] #2 July 15, 2020

This is a blog from another website we own that can be found at https://contractorwebsitesplus. The blog was originally posted on August 6, 2019. I am retooling the blog and the purpose of it to explore how we can digitally harness the power of referrals to grow our businesses. The original intent of the blog was and still is to help contractors, tradesman and people in the service industries who are dependent on referrals to create strategies, content and other digital marketing assets to capture and close as many of those referrals as possible.


I am a Networker. I love going to networking events, shaking hands, seeing new faces, talking to new people and making connections. I’ve never met a stranger. At all of these networking events invariably we have to stand up and tell the crowd what a good referral for us would be. This got me thinking.

Is telling people who you are looking to work with the best way to get business referrals? Are those actually referrals? How well does this type of network referral work?

The questions just kept coming…

I decided to do something about it. I decided to demystify the topic in its entirety.  With your help we will define a referral, learn how and why they work, learn the best strategies for getting them and learn how to optimize them for our businesses.

This will be an ongoing series of blogs, charts, infographics, resources, lists and more – I just hope we can finally come up with a comprehensive understanding of referrals so we can all harness their power and grow our respective businesses.

The old way we got referrals…

Referrals used to be personal

The first business I owned was a lawn care company; I bought it when I was 17 years old. Back then there was no internet, no smart phones, no review sites – you truly built your business based on word of mouth referrals.

When you needed something, you asked your friends or your family where they got theirs or who did it for them. You made the call and bought the product or tried the service. If you liked it, you added it to your long list of mental notes for referral to your friends. That’s how business was done, and it worked well… Back then.

The anatomy of a referral has changed.

Let’s fast forward to the modern world where five-year old’s hold enough computing power in their hands to land the Apollo 11 on the moon. Information is everywhere and it’s within everyone’s reach at a moment’s notice.

We no longer ‘trust’ and blindly depend on the word of our close friends and family members as we used to. Why would we when all the information we need is at our fingertips? Today we ‘look up’ the people we are referred to. We study their website, their social media and their reviews. Referrals have become more complicated and benefiting from referrals is no longer easy – we have to work at it.

How Referrals Are Affecting Your Business.

I have worked for hundreds of businesses large and small who at some point stated they get plenty of work from referrals.

How Are Referrals Affecting Your Business

But, when asked how many referrals they’re losing, they have no idea. Most have never thought about it. That’s a problem.

How much money are you losing to lost referrals? What is causing you to lose those referrals? What can you change to win them instead of lose them? How much growth can you achieve creating a strategy to win ALL your referrals?

The good news is we are going to solve that problem.

What Can We Do To Solve The Problem?

I am going to reembark on a journey; a deep dive into the world of referrals. I want to know what they are. How they work. How we can measure them. More importantly, how we can harness and control them.

Referrals are obviously a huge part of doing business, yet no one seems to be able to answer any of these questions. Why?

I am going to find out and I’d like you to join me.

Understanding and harnessing referrals is a problem that runs across all sectors of business. Whether you’re a service-based company or retail, referrals are a huge part of how we earn an income. And, by the way, this includes me!

I want the answers to these questions too! I want to improve my business. I want to improve the businesses of my customers.

This is a personal journey for me, and I’d like you to come along.

Together we are going to demystify referrals and create a strategy to optimize them for your business and mine. We are going to learn more about how they work, why they work and how we can truly harness their power to grow our businesses.

I am going to do all the heavy lifting, all the research, all the writing – I just need you to answer a few questions for me now and again.


Great! Let’s get rolling…

What is a referral?

I guess the first question we must answer is “What is a referral”?

I know it sounds silly, but really, what is a referral? What constitutes a referral?

According to Google:

Referral: re•fer•ral (/rƏ’fƏrƏl/) – noun an act of referring someone or something for consultation, review, or further action.

  • the directing of a patient to a medical specialist by a primary care physician.
  • a person whose case has been referred to a specialist doctor or a professional body.

I guess this loosely defines a referral for our purposes but it’s weak – very weak. We need a more clearly defined version.

What is a referral?Although this is a stretch – a huge stretch – I would refer you to Sun Tzu (Yoda is pictured because I couldn’t find a royalty free Sun Tzu – I thought this was close enough…):

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

While Sun Tzu is discussing a much more serious topic in his classic “The Art of War”, we can still learn from his writing. We must know our topic before we can conquer it.

So, I’ll ask again: What is a referral? What is a referral in the modern sense? What is a referral in the day and age of websites, social media and on demand reviews?

Is a referral simply a friend telling a friend “You should call this guy”? Or, is a referral much more complicated than that now?

What’s Next On Our Journey?

I am going to start researching and formulate what I hope is a definitive answer. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts (I’m putting you to work already…lol 😊).

Please use the form below to give me your input on what you think a referral is.

What is your definition of a referral?

In our effort to understand and harness referrals, it becomes important to know what a referral is.

Please give us your definition of a referral - I'll bet we get a plethora of different answers...
  • What are some of the types of referrals you have received?

    Not all referrals are from one person to another. Things like yard signs and reviews are a type of referral as well. What are the top 3 referral sources you benefit from?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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