Last week, we spent three days chatting with MINDBODY customers and experts at the BOLD conference about the latest and greatest tools and tactics for taking your business to the next level.

We compiled our notes and found five things that kept coming up over and over again in the breakout sessions. Interestingly enough, most of them had to do with your online presence and how to use available marketing outlets (even not-so-common ones) to your advantage.

1. Google Reviews & Google Plus are more powerful than you think.

Your business’s Google Plus account is more than just another social network to spread the word about your business. In fact, by putting your business on Google Plus, you’re ensuring that your customers have the opportunity to leave a Google Review about your business.

Why is this important? Well, for one, customer referrals and testimonials are often the best source of marketing in the health and wellness space. Having this information easily accessible when someone searches for your business can help sway them in the right direction.

But on top of that, Google Reviews and Google Plus directly impact how your business is found in search. This means that the more reviews you have on Google Reviews (and, let’s face it, the better the reviews), the higher your SEO.

The information you put on Google Plus – hours, description, photos, etc. – are also instrumental to your search engine optimization, so make sure you’ve filled everything out.

2. If you have to make one thing a priority in your marketing, make it video.

Video is the best way to reach your customers right now; there’s no denying it. Whether you’re active on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, there are several a new forms of video media for you to explore. The interesting part? 90% of customers say that videos are helpful in the decision-making process.

Facebook Live and Instagram Stories are the latest two to take over the social media game. With these two channels, you can connect emotionally with your customers, show off your business’s authentic and fun side, educate and inform potential and current customers, and tell real stories.

If you’re ready to get started with video, keep the following things in mind:

  • Show your potential customers what the experience of your business is like. This allows them to see and experience you before they walk in.
  • Try semi-live (Snapchat, Instagram Stories) and live (Facebook Live) mediums. With semi-live, you can post moments as they happen throughout the day, while live channels let you actually interact directly with those watching you: answering their questions, responding to comments, etc.
  • Store your recorded videos on YouTube, and think about the keywords that will be associated with your video’s title. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the web, so include keywords that are associated with your business to help you show up in search.

3. To nail your marketing, you need to nail your branding.

We heard time and time again at BOLD the honest (albeit occasionally hard to swallow) truth that not everyone is your customer. While getting your marketing out there is an important step to growing your client base, if you can't explain who you are, what you do and why you do it, those customers won't be able to identify with your brand.

Before you get too deep into planning out social media calendars and logo design, ask yourself:

  • What sets you apart?
  • What differentiates you from the competition?
  • What is compelling about your offerings?
  • What is true about the services you provide?

From there, write a sentence that explains your brand promise – what your customers will experience with you and what feelings they’ll have while they do. This will help you keep your brand front of mind in every piece of marketing that you put out.

4. Don’t fear the online review site.

Whether you love them or hate them, online review sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews are going to play into the decision-making process of your future customers.

While there are several rules to asking for reviews, we found that it’s best to keep it as open as possible. Simply asking your customers for “an honest review online” doesn’t raise any flags for these two review sites – as long as you’re not asking for five stars and / or reimbursing your customers for positive reviews.

Here are the top tips we took away from our talks on online reputation:

  • Do not pay to advertise on Yelp if you have 3 stars or fewer. It won’t help your search rankings within Yelp.
  • Respond to all reviews – not just good or not just bad ones – and give it a day or two if you feel that you have an adverse reaction to a review. If you respond to every review, other people are much more likely to add more reviews.
  • Make sure that you’re working with every unhappy customer to make things right, especially on Google Reviews since a low number of stars can negatively affect your SEO.
  • Offer a Yelp check-in special on your Yelp page.

You can also use other review sites, such as Facebook reviews and Listen360, to learn more about what your customers think of your business.

Want to learn more about using Yelp to your advantage? Register for our webinar below

5. Your success is as good as your community's.

The health and wellness community is so vast and varied that it helps to form partnerships and relationships with local, complementary businesses.

You can work with other businesses to co-host events such as street fairs, health fairs, workshops and more. If you’re tight on time and budget, you can even make an agreement to post flyers or postcards of the other's business at your location. Even better, trade some gift cards or merchandise to add to your rewards program’s offerings, helping you cut down on redemption costs.

Consider reaching out to these types of businesses in your area for co-marketing opportunities, community events and pop-ups.

  • Coffee and juice shops
  • Hotels
  • Athletic apparel stores
  • Beauty businesses (waxing, tanning)
  • Health fairs
  • Colleges, high schools, and elementary schools
  • Whole Foods and other local markets

Work with them to boost your branded rewards program's offerings and to keep potential and current customers engaged, even when they aren't at your business.

What did you learn from BOLD 2016 that you’re taking back into your business? Tag us on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!