SEO and Getting The Client with Ballantine’s Ryan Cote

July 10, 2020

Direct Mail & Digital Marketing.

Ryan Cote is the Director of Marketing at Ballantine.

Ballantine is a family owned and operated print & digital marketing company. Their mission is to make clients' marketing initiatives more successful through expert guidance, flawless execution and remarkable service. The digital marketing side focuses on small businesses who may not have a marketing department. Ballantine surrounds their clients with all sorts of marketing specialists for the best service.

Learn more about how Ballantine can help your small business' marketing with a team you can trust by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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[toggle title='Read the Transcript' state=‘closed’ icons=‘font awesome-plus/font awesome-minus’ margin_top=‘20’ margin_bottom=‘20’]

Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Stick around to the end of the show; we'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

All right with us right now we've got Ryan Cote, who's a partner in digital or Director of Digital Marketing at Ballantine. You guys are on the web at that's B A L L A N T I N E. Ryan, thank you so much for joining us. Hey Josh happy to be here. So Ballantine has a long and storied past your third generation. Can you tell me about the kind of the formation of a company when that was who that was, sir. Yeah, we go back to the mid 60s. So 1966 to be exact. my great uncle started the company. He's still alive, not part of the company anymore. But

he started a company in 66. And my grandfather joined 68, my uncle, my dad. Now fast forward to today, myself, my uncle, my two brothers, run the company. We're partners in the agency, my cousin Josh is here. So it's got a long family history going 54 years now.

And so do you have any of the pieces that your great uncle was producing? That has to be in so this was direct mail advertising back then?

So when he started it was actually printing ship stuffs like brochures. Then eventually we started doing direct mail which is like the printed piece when you're mailing it to, you know, companies or homes. And then we just kind of did creative and then you know, just kind of snowballed from there is a great question. We don't Honestly, don't have any of those pieces. Yeah. I mean, at least that I'm aware of

love. I love the old advertising. You know, it's just like so on the nose. And it's just, you know, but it's like so fun and refreshing to like, Look, you know, just to appreciate kind of the history of advertising.

Yeah, that's a good question. I should see if we have that.

And so today, obviously, you do still a lot of direct mail and would you mind you're welcome to drop some names. I think there are some, some brands and clients that you work with that, that folks would know.

You have a direct mail side we work with large companies like Wyndham and Royal Caribbean Celebrity Cruises. We've done a lot of direct mail for BMW, that tends to be our sweet spot that direct mail and where the company does a tremendous amount of it and it's very complicated often. And then you need someone that does this day in and day out to kind of get their hands dirty and handle it for them. That's our that's the that's our sweet spot for direct mail. On a digital side, though, it's typically small businesses, contractors, manufacturers, dealerships, you know, companies that that need the support that we can provide that don't maybe don't have it in house? And and so in terms of the digital side so, you know, we have digital marketers on the show pretty often. And so and a lot of this audience is going to be pretty savvy when it comes to digital marketing so we could talk at kind of a you know, high schooler level and and so in the world of digital marketing, where does Ballantine fit in? And what's kind of the, the outcome that you provide for clients. So we companies will hire us for digital it's, they don't they have maybe one marketing person or they have no marketing people. And so we become certainly their outsourced marketing department or an extension of that one person that can only handle so much. So we don't go into a client saying we're like the Facebook ad expert only or the we only do SEO even though we have experts in those areas. We come in and say more like, let's set up all your channels will fully submerge summers ourselves in your business handle all that for you. you set up your social your content strategy, SEO, paid search. And we have different specialists, specialists for each strategy. And so we just surround them with with our services. And they're coming to us for leads. Typically, it's not generally brand awareness, we have some that are like that. But generally they want more leads, they want people coming to their website, and then and then asking for more information about their products or services.

And then your approach. I mean, your approach could be any of the above. So it sounds like when you initiate that relationship, you begin that relationship. You're kind of like the doctor that's going to give them a prescription, and you just happen to be a larger doctor's office. We've got specialists in all the areas of medicine so doesn't matter what you throw at me, you know, we either have somebody or we know somebody that can solve that problem.

Yeah, that's and and I think there's a we can talk a little about how we do that how we approach sales, but I think you're right that we don't we don't say we do everything we do every day is social media, but only specific channels tip Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, a lot of SEO, a lot of paid search typically on Google. And your content, typically blogs, and then some email newsletters to MailChimp. So we don't, we don't we don't do everything we kind of stay in or stay in our lane. But yeah, I think you're absolutely right we do diagnosis situation. So when we're when we're like courting a new client, part of our sales strategy, and this has been a game changer for us, I think there's a takeaway for your audience here is the way we approach the sales process is more consulting on what they need. And so we'll have a call with them, find out what their goals are, where their weaknesses, our strengths, all that. And then we put together a whole strategy doc document for them, that outlines what they should be doing what the cost is. And we put a lot of effort on the front end before we even get them as a client. And that makes the actual like, quote unquote, pitch, sales pitch much more effective because they can see that we're trying to understand their business. We're putting effort into the into the sale before it's even a sale and then Once they become a client, we've got that document already built out, it goes to the team, and they have like a head start in terms of like what we're gonna be doing. That's been a nice little change for us.

And at what point are you asking for money?

Typically, it's so when we're presenting the strategy Doc, we're trying to get them as a client, then. But yeah, it doesn't usually happen. It's like a big enough purchase where they have to talk about it. Oh, yeah. And so like, Well, typically will ask for the sale when we're presenting the strategy document, because at the end, it goes over pricing and communication and what it's like to work with us. But typically, it's usually two or three more calls after that whenever I talk to people and whatnot.

You know, that I think the point I want to make with that question is that, you know, you're, you know, when someone engages with you, you're not saying, Well, listen, we'll talk with you and give you some ideas, but that's going to cost you which unfortunately, I think too many marketer today. You know, we're just so obsessed over, you know, you know, these funnels that funnel people into a tripwire. And then there's just, there's just not enough time to build a relationship. At the end of the day, you know, we do business with people that we, you know, we feel comfortable with, and we feel like they could solve our problem and they check all those boxes. And so, if you make it really easy for people to engage with you, then you just made it easier for them to become a customer. Otherwise, if there's always this paywall, then it's like, you know, it's like, they just don't have enough. They just don't have enough knowledge to know whether or not this would be not just a good use of their, you know, their resources, but of their time, which I think is really precious to a lot of businesses. It's just I can't we cannot get started with someone that we just don't know how this is going to work out.

I think absolutely. I think it's really comes down to building trust, but I think is especially important for the space that we play in like small businesses coming contractors, for example, that have been burned in the past, it's a story we often hear, it's, you know, they don't trust what they're hearing. And so it's they do have the debt, we do have a wall up. And so it's, it's our way to get to know their business more, we don't charge for the strategy Doc, it makes us be more careful about who we go after, because we haven't spent a lot of times and anyone. So it's I think, I think you're right, I think I think it is about building trust for that potential client so that, you know, that it's more likely that they'll do business with you.

You know, and and I think, you know, just like you said, you know, you now have the opportunity to say, Listen, if we're going to do all this work, to build this out for you, obviously, you know, we're only going to move forward with that if we feel like we can solve your problems out, we're going to find out a lot of stuff as we do our due diligence, but, you know, that way they feel like hey, you know, in many ways, we're partnering here, you know, and and it's not just that you're just a vendor that's trying to sell me services, and you have absolutely no opportunity. Have risk here, you do have a little bit of risk here that, you know you're going to invest that time for someone that otherwise qualifies. You know, one thing that that we have a, you know, that we do is when we have someone that says otherwise they're like, yeah, I mean, they qualify, like, we know that they've got a budget, and they have a need. And if we know that they have those two things, and they express an interest, that great, let's start getting to work. You don't have to worry, you know, we'll be good, like, you know, eventually at some point, it'll make sense. Yeah, well, you know, obviously, I'd like to get paid at some level. But, you know, until then, let's just let's just begin that process. Now. Let's get our teams communicating together. And then what happens is, you know, you just have momentum. and business owners, I think, in particular, are apprehensive to get into new things, they have needs, they have their problems that need to be solved. But you know, again, to your point I think that the, you know, if we could just reduce those lower those those walls that they need to step over. And just like, yeah, it's really easy. Let's just get going. So it sounds like that's been your approach and it's worked out pretty well. Valentine, you doing a lot of great business, you have a huge, you have a huge portfolio on your website here that I've been kind of scrolling through, and it goes on and on. And

yeah, to remind that remind myself to update that a lot, you know, because we always want to have fresh, fresh content going on there. There's so many boxes to check sometimes things. And we have a lot on there. But there's a lot of recent stuff that we should add one thing just to mention, too, I think, I think the way that you approach getting the client to and it is another another takeaway here that we've kind of figured out is that usually the way you start a relationship that like that first impression it carries has has a long lifespan. So if we're from the time we're like courting a potential client doing all this work, showing them the strategy doc and then Once we get them on board, you know, calls with the team, a lot of like setup happening like updates happening. They're seeing all this flurry of activity. They're like, Oh, wow, this is like these guys are like they're taking this seriously. And that, that trust we found it, it, it lasts a long time. So I think the way you start a new client engagement, no matter what industry you're in, I think it's really important that you nail that first impression. Right? Because that does from what I've seen, it has like a long lifespans, like they don't just start, they don't just stop trusting you after a month like it's like wow, like these guys started right. And they know what they're doing. Okay, let me just do let me let me let them do what they're doing. And I'll be good. That's what we've that's what we've found.

Yeah, I mean, again, a great point. Like if I go into, let's say, an appliance store and I need a new refrigerator, and someone's like, hey, this one right here 1200 dollars keeps all your food cold. This one over here. $2,000 keeps all your food cold. You know, it's just like what do we got to do to get you in the refrigerator today? It's like you know, we are probably not going to Have a very long relationship. Eric Yeah, like I could just tell it's like it's adversarial. You know, where it's like they are. Again, this is old school. Hopefully no one is doing this. Well, you know what I say? Hopefully, but I see it all the time. In the in the sales funnel. It's very adversarial. We're just like, you know, what can we do to get, you know, conversion numbers up? And you know, and that's really important. But, you know, again, it's I think what wins today with consumers? Is that understanding that, you know, what, they have my needs, you know, top a top of mind. So, Ryan, one thing that I know that Valentine has a pretty good handle on his Google Maps and Google My Business. Can you kind of share maybe what's evolved over the past year to two years over, especially particularly with Google My Business?

Yeah, so we do a lot of SEO and search engine optimization, and, you know, Google Maps, Google My Business, which fuels Google Maps. That's a big part of organic it's it's almost it We're seeing become more and more important because most searches nowadays are localized to like local searches. Even we're even seeing, like, obviously, Google, my business is more relevant for a local business where you have like a specific area that you're marketing to. But we're even seeing being very important for national companies. We work with some, like large manufacturers that, yeah, they want local clients, but it doesn't really matter if they're on California, New Jersey. But it's important because now like, at least at the time of this recording, when you type in a company's name into Google, the whole right sidebar, typically, that's Google, my business being pulled in, it shows your name, your your reviews, your hours of operation hole profile in your company. And so that's like the first contact that a potential client customer has with your business. So if they see good reviews, they see a fully filled out profile, it looks really buttoned up before they even go into your website. They're sort of now precondition or pre sold, that you're serious operation. And so even for national companies important, but going back to your question tips, you know, we're seeing We're seeing Google My Business becoming more and more important. It's almost like a second website now. And so when we do like, on page optimization for SEO, like adding keywords to your website and whatnot, we're treating Google My Business almost as like a second website, like we'll do on page optimization for the website, and then for the actual listing itself. So in terms of tips, you know, first step, obviously get get the listing verified, of course forward slash business, get your business verified, and then spend as much time as it takes to fully fill that listing out from picking the right category, the secondary categories, your name, your address, your phone number, your website, description, you Google Plus you add services and posts so fully fill that listing out, get reviews, okay, get reviews, never stopped getting reviews, always keep on asking your happy clients for reviews. That's that's an important thing. But then Google gives you tools with that listing now as well. And adding to it, fully use them. So you can add Google posts to your Google listing. And so that what that does is it's almost like a mini social posts that you can add to your Google My Business listing. Yeah. So we'll add for our clients, we'll go every week, we'll add Google posts to it promoting blog posts, whatever the case says, and those posts show in the sidebar of Google, when someone's searching for you. So again, it's like going back to what I said before about increasing the authority and the presence of your listing. And the last thing I'll mention, actually, Second thing, the second thing I'll mention, you can ask questions and answers. You can ask questions on your listing something a customer or client can go to your listing and ask you a question like, hey, do you guys do this or whatever? You want that type of engagement? And you obviously want to answer them when they ask you that question. Most people don't. This is like, sort of like an undercover like no one really knows too much about this, or, or at least people aren't really using it as much. But Google wants to see that type of engagement on the listing if they see a listing as fulfilling It's getting reviews. It's using that it's doing the Google posts, it's getting questions and they're being answered, that fully engaged listing is, generally speaking, is going to do much better than other listings. So you want to fully just take advantage of Google My Business that I mentioned two things. The last thing I mentioned is, you want to make sure that your name, your address, and your phone number is fully consistent across the web. You can use tools like Yext for that, but it's not your name is that tool, a Yext? Ye XT, oh, there's other. There's the x there, sign up, there's bright local, there's a whole bunch that name, address phone number. It's called an app or a citation. You want that to be consistent across the web. You don't want Google to go to like Yelp and see 55 lane road and then go to Google My Business or another directory and see 55 Lane drive. You want to be all consistent, that consistency builds up trust in Google, and that's another ranking factor.

So what happens If someone has a virtual business, they're like, I don't want people coming to my place of business. I just work out of my home. Like we are a distributed company. So all my team members were scattered. We have a number of people here in Orlando area. Now we do have a virtual office out just, you know, we have a virtual office that we do through actually where my wife runs her practice out of. So that's our quote unquote, office, but they won't find me there.

Yeah, you would still you can still verify the you have to verify an address, you can hide your address. So when you hide your address, Google doesn't show it of course. And then they don't, they don't show any street views of your listing. Like when you add like, if you look at 55, lane road Fairfield, New Jersey for us, you'll see a picture of our building here. Because we have an address plugged in if you hide your address, you still want to verify yourself like Google My Business, because whether you have an address or not like like an actual place, you're still a business, but you hide your address, and then Google will show it and then It doesn't show a street view of your, of your building of your home, I guess or whatever.

And so tell me more a little bit more about, you know, the fact that you could update your profile. So, you know, it's kind of like having a LinkedIn business profile on Google My Business and Google likes when you use their stuff. There's, and I'd say that we're early enough in the, you know, Google My Business, that there's so many businesses that are not taking advantage of everything that Google allows you to do on Google My Business.

Yeah, you know, it's as we're talking, I'm like really trying to resist the urge to start, like I just went in, and which, you know, um, you know, that's the nice thing about this as well is you could check into your Google My Business listing or your account. And seems like every couple months, they have new things that you should be taking advantage, like new fields, like they just beefed up the services offering and I'm like, Man, you know, I can, I can really fill this service, offering out a lot more completely using keywords that people are going to be searching for. And, you know, again, if you're not taking advantage of that side panel, you know, and again, a good exercise I think someone could do just google yourself or Google the name of your company and see what comes up. And if you don't have anything coming up on that right hand side, you know, yeah, it's a problem. Go find go do something, either write a book or just update your Google My Business posting. How now it's not not everybody will see that necessarily like a 200 mile radius or something. Is that right?

Yeah, you it's it is it is determined based on I mean, they'll see it if, if someone's doing like a brand search on you. Mm hmm. No matter where you are, typically, Google's going to show that because it's not really the local, the where the person Okay, doesn't really matter. So like if someone types in Well, balantine there's the beer and there's a scotch Oh, it's Yeah, but if we were if we were a completely unique name, if someone types something balanced in nj or Ballantine Corp will show up in the sidebar. But yeah, a lot of it's based on local and, and that's, you know, you can send local signals to Google. You obviously have your address in there. But you know, what we'd like to do is people don't know like, but when you take a picture with your phone, and you have the little Location turned on, actually actually geotag your photos. So if you take like, say your dog grooming business, and you take a picture of like, you know, grooming a dog or whatever at your location, it's going to geotag where you're located. And then when you upload it to Google My Business, that local information is embedded in the image. And that helps you to just make sure your location is turned on on your phone when you're taking a picture.

All kinds of hacks here. Well, this is great, Ryan, Kobe, I want to thank you so much for all your great tips and advice. You are found on the that's B A L L A N T I N E. You know, what's great is that, you know, folks again, Ballantine kind of fits that role of maybe more of a larger, you know, where I would use I would kind of like outsource or know what did you call it?

Yeah, we're like an outsource market. And department we know companies use us for multiple services because they just don't have the resources in house.

Yeah. Wonderful and, and you again are the director, partner and did direct digital marketing at Ballantine. Ryan, thank you so much for all your great advice and anything else that that people would look for if they go to

we've got it definitely kept me on LinkedIn, if you go to the website, under Resources, we've got case studies, we've got a lot a lot of blog content, and we've got a Ballantine university where we put out new videos fairly frequently. We have like, dozens and dozens of videos there. It's all free content.

Yeah, look at this. Yep. All kinds of great SEO videos. Good for you. This is terrific. Well, Ryan, good. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks, Josh. Thanks, everyone for listening.

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