The pandemic has strained many businesses in many industries, but what do you do when your business is all about building community through public gatherings and live performances? We recently spoke with Eda Holmes, Artistic and Executive Director at Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal, about planning, pivoting, and re-planning throughout the past twelve months.
Before joining the Centaur Theatre in Montreal, Eda was a ballerina, first with the San Francisco Ballet and later with the Dutch National Ballet and Frankfurt Ballet under William Forsythe. When a knee injury sidelined her, she knew it was time to transition. Eda wanted to stay in the performing arts industry. With a love of storytelling, directing programs was a natural transition, and she eventually landed at Centaur Theatre here in Montreal full-time.
Quality, relevance, and bridge-building
If you’re familiar with Centaur Theatre or the arts scene, you’ll already know the special place Centaur Theatre holds in the local landscape. Eda’s goal was to build on the rich reputation that Centaur has for producing high-quality, relevant contemporary English language theatre and make the organization even more inclusive of all Montreal community aspects.
“My three guiding principles are quality, relevance, and bridge-building so that every aspect of the organization gradually becomes a brilliant reflection of the diversity of languages and cultures that make Montreal such a unique and exciting city,” she told us.
“The pandemic is giving us a moment to really reflect on what place theatre occupies in our society and our lives. We have an opportunity to actively re-examine what we value about the arts and especially narrative art – like theatre. As the incredible African/American playwright August Wilson has said, ‘A community is only as strong as the stories it tells about itself.’ So I am looking to build up our capacity to tell the stories of our times and our city in the most compelling and engaging ways possible – and to become an incubator for artists that reflect our city’s rich diversity.”
Adapting to the new reality
Centaur Theatre has been taking a page from the movie and cinema fields as much as possible (though the budget to test large casts isn’t there). Actors have been rehearsing in preparation for any potential upcoming performances, and spring and summer bring relief and hopes of opening again soon.
But while the desire to reopen is powerful, the danger of doing so too early is real.
“We’re learning how to work and adapt. Compared to last year, we have much more information about the virus, which has helped us make decisions that provide a forward motion but keeps everyone safe,” explained Eda.
Internally, the Social Justice movement we saw in 2020 has changed the conversation around how to support the community. Last year, Centaur launched the Artistic Diversity Discussion (ADD) at Centaur initiative. Throughout the year, the five-member panel will meet with Centaur Theatre board members and Eda to develop more ways to de-stigmatize and celebrate diversity on stage and off. The ADD @ Centaur will roll out through ongoing and new initiatives as the year unfolds, the first of which was the initiative named Saturday Salons. Centaur Theatre has also created a year-long residency for an Indigenous theatre artist interested in stories that reflect the Indigenous heritage of the Island of Montreal and the Province of Quebec. An announcement will be made soon about this residency!
A new Old Montreal scene
Pre-COVID, Vieux Montreal, where Centaur is located, was coming into its own with shops, restaurants, bars, and genuinely unique hotels. It is also a neighbourhood that thrives on tourism, depending on summer travel and winter holiday parties, so the lockdowns have been particularly painful. Typically, a bustling business worker crowd eats lunch and has drinks and goes to the theatre.
When the first lockdown happened, Centaur planned to do more outdoor theatre.
“We hope that it will be part of a variety of projects that will entice Montrealers to come down and discover the incredible beauty that Old Montreal has to offer,” Eda said at the time.
Still, the ever-changing in-and-out of lockdown status has kept Eda and Centaur Theatre on their toes.
“We keep planning and re-planning, but we’re starting to run out of letters of the alphabet,” she joked.
“This virus is challenging to everyone who depends on – and is even defined by – people gathering in warm, friendly and intimate settings. There is much talk of “pivoting,” but that is not something a neighbourhood known for its narrow cobblestone streets and delightful little bars and restos, museums and theatres can do in the short term. We have to try to be as creative and as resilient as possible.”
New projects to be excited about
A new project born out of the pandemic is the Portico project. The Portico Project, a new initiative designed to present theatre safely outside in the Portico and on the steps in front of the theatre, is scheduled to take place again this year in September. Even though some of the performances last year had to be cancelled when the first big lockdown happened, everyone is hopeful that this unique celebration of live theatre outside can go ahead uninterrupted this year. Cross your fingers and come on down to St. Francois-Xavier.
“As a small community, it’s been hard to be constantly planning and re-planning,” said Eda. “But it has been nice to have small business connections in the community to go through this together.”
Learn more about Centaur Theatre’s Portico Project, ADD @ Centaur, or purchase tickets to their upcoming MOB performance. You can also support the Centaur Theatre by making an individual donation.
One of the best weapons within your Google My Business listing is the business description Google allows you to write. Your business description is a secret path directly into Google’s credibility book, as they use your business description to ensure that your business is a real business run by real people. This being said, it’s an excellent opportunity to provide those who land on your listing with authentic content explaining what you do.
That’s why we encourage our clients to take advantage of their business description – right up to the last character allowed. Whether you’ve worked on your business description recently or it’s been years (see what a difference a year makes, by the way), here are some suggestions to help make it even better.
Elements of an excellent business description for Google My Business
- Make every character count. You have 750 characters to work with—use as many of them as you can. The more relevant the terms you use within your description are, the more chances people have to identify their needs in your listing.
- Think keywords… If you offer unique services, state them. If you sell specific brands, name them. If you use special techniques to do what you do, list them. If your restaurant specializes in certain dishes, bake those terms in.
- …But be natural. Like anything you write and put anywhere online, be natural and don’t come across as if you’re a robot repeating the same words over and over. This is a big red flag to Google that may lead to your listing being taken down.
- Do not repeat your NAP information. Your Google My Business listing has a function to direct people to your business. Your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) and other contact information are readily available. Even if your address has recently changed, do not waste characters repeating this information in your business description – besides, there are other ways to update your address.
- No links, no URLs. Links will not be clickable, so don’t waste characters on them. Remember, your URL is up in the “Website” button at the top of your listing and you can plant links in Google Posts as well. No need to put them here.
- Not the place to pitch. No special offers, promotions or pitches. Period. This goes against Google’s policies and will likely result in your description not being approved.
What guidelines does Google recommend?
Google does an excellent job of describing some dos and don’ts of their own. Rather than repeat them here, we’ll share a screen capture of their guidelines.
Need help with your business description?
Our clients often ask for help with their business descriptions. When you sign up for one of our plans, we’re happy to review your business description and help you dial it in. It’s a vital part of your listing and we want to help you get it right. If you’re unsure that it represents your business, we’re happy to work with you until it does. No questions asked.
Looking for some more suggestions for how to make your Google My Business listing even better? Check out our post highlighting some more ideas.
So, how does your business description look? Are you happy with how it describes your business? What are some of the challenges you’ve had in crafting your business description? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
We recently received an email from a client after her dashboard was updated with August data. It turns out that there were some dips in the business’s month over month data. And this created concern and some questions.
It seems that both “Actions” and “Calls” were down almost 50% from the previous month on the Google dashboard – is that simply that people were on vacation? Is it something that should spur action on our part? Just trying to understand it all.
When we received this email, I immediately looked at the data and realized that for clients with seasonal schedules, the month-over-month metric may not tell the right story. The answer to our client’s email was in the year-over-year data. As a result, we pulled this chart:
Here you can see that though August is a quiet month for the client, we’ve been able to achieve significant growth when compared to the two previous Augusts.
How did we get here with this particular client? The recipe has been a good one for them and other clients as well. First, we syndicated their business information to 15 of the most important business directories online, including Google, Bing, Facebook, Waze, Uber, FourSquare, and TomTom. This creates a wider web presence for their business and builds consistency across the web for their information. Right away, this helps generate more listing views and actions on Google My Business.
We follow this up with regular Google Posts. New content on their listing helps plant keywords into Google’s engines and shows that the client is active with their listing. Again, this helps the client build interest in their listing. Reviews, which they also solicit, have been positive and affect their listing in a positive way too.
Of course, we’ve applied this recipe for other clients and we see similar results. Our case study section highlights some of these successes and shows that for different clients in different industries, the results can be effective and fast.
To learn more about our services, please head to our solutions section. The case studies on our blog also show how we can impact business in a big way for a very small price.
10|20 Marketing’s clients now have Google My Business metrics at their fingertips. Every month, we’re pulling location specific statistics straight from Google and making them available to you via Google Data Studio. Each dashboard is designed to help you see how your metrics are progressing every month, with comparisons to the previous month and trended for the most recent 12-month period.
The dashboards will also show an important comparison: your metrics before and after you subscribed to our services. And that’s what really gets us going! Because with these metrics, we’ll be able to show you the impact of owning, organizing and optimizing your Google My Business presence.
See an interactive sample of the new dashboard right now!
The Metrics You Will See
What will you learn when accessing your dashboard? We’ve mapped out the following:
- Total Views: Total number of times your Google My Business (GMB) listing has been viewed.
- Total Actions: Total number of times people clicked through to call, map your address or visit your website from your GMB listing.
- Action Rate: Total actions/total views. This shows the percentage of people who acted on your business information to learn more about your business.
- Map Views: The number of times your local listing appeared in the Google maps results following a query.
- Search Views: The number of times your local listing appeared in search results following a query.
- Calls: The number of calls initiated from your local listing on desktop or mobile.
- Directions: The number of times someone mapped your address from your local listing on desktop or mobile.
- Website Visits: The number of times someone visited your website after clicking from your listing on desktop or mobile.
Plus, for each metric, you’ll have two boxes below where you can review your monthly averages from before and after subscribing with us. This calculation has already helped us turn out some pretty impressive case studies, as the before/after snapshot shows us the impact we’ve had on our small business clients.
How To Read Your Dashboard
Reading the first page of your dashboard is key to understanding the impact we’ve had on your business. Here’s how to get the most out of your board.
- Use the navigation on the top left to change pages.
- Use the date filter to choose the month you’d like to review. New data is updated on the 12th of the following month.
- This is the date that you started working with 10|20 Marketing.
- The big number is the total for the selected time period. A comparison to the previous month is below and indicates whether the total has increased or decreased month over month.
- Each metric has a comparison of your business’s averages. The lighter blue box is your average prior to working with 10|20 Marketing and the darker blue box shows your average after working with us.
- Note: If there are no metrics for your Google My Business listing before you joined us, these comparison boxes will only show the average since joining 10|20 Marketing.
- The charts trend your total Google My Business views and actions. Hover your mouse over the bars to see your breakdown for each data point and your total for each respective month.
Optimizing Your Local Business Listings
Remember, there are several things you can do on your own to help your views, calls, website clicks and in-store visits improve. Here are some quick pointers on how to optimize your Google My Business listing and your presence on the other directories we’ve claimed for you.
- Always maintain consistency with all of your listings. If you have changes to make, please let us know so we can apply the same change to all of the listings in your package.
- Keep on top of your online reviews. Thank your customers for their positive reviews and help solve the issues related to negative reviews. Show your clients – and everyone who reads your reviews – that you’re responsive and care.
- Update your Google My Business listing with social posts. The content associated with your posts will be indexed by Google and help you increase the number of views your listing attracts.
- Post pictures to your listing and name these images with the terms that best describe what is in the image, along with your business name.
- Answer any questions that may be posted to your listing. You’ll receive an alert for these. Answering these questions help your customers learn more about your business.
- Update your business description for Google. You have 750 characters to use for your description, so fill this space with the keywords that best describe the services or products that you offer. This description helps your listing index with Google as well.
We’re happy to answer your questions or arrange to help you with these optimizations as an addition to your service contract with us. We’ve helped many businesses just like yours increase the views of their listing and the total number of calls, website visits and clicks on directions — all to increase sales.
Alerts Coming Your Way
When you sign up with 10|20 Marketing, we’ll be sure to send you an introduction with a link to your dashboard. You can bookmark it or wait for your reminder to arrive in your inbox every month. You’ll be pointed to your metrics directly from the email.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to walk you through the metrics and help you understand how to optimize further!
Hello, year three! When the calendar flips from January to February, a new year begins for 10|20 Marketing. Now entering our third year helping small businesses optimize their local listings, we’re thrilled and primed for another year of growth.
10|20 Marketing started humbly and has now grown to service business locations across North America. Business owners trust us with managing their business listings, optimizing their Google My Business pages and generating confidence via online reviews. Our role is an important one for businesses looking to establish a foundational element of their web presence. And it’s a role we take seriously.
Year 2 Recap
Our second year saw a lot of changes. We developed a new website. We then brought on a key new partner in BirdEye, grew our base on SweetIQ, and gave input to both these providers to help our clients get more out of these platforms. A new referral partner program launched, which we encourage you to join. We released our first case study too, with more to come. Our business relationships grew stronger with Red Dream Studios, Citrus Communications, and SEO Canada Services. This allows us to refer our clients for web and graphic design, SEO and Google Ads services. These partners are onboard for our third year, and we expect to make many new introductions to them as well.
What To Expect In Year Three
Today, we’re here to say that we’re jumping into year three with two feet:
- We’ve recently moved into Toronto with personnel available to sell, service and market to businesses in Canada’s economic capital.
- We’re investigating new tools to help our clients get more data out of their listings, including call tracking services and marketing automation management.
- Though we soft launched our own online business directory late last fall, we’ll be adding our new clients to it and offering free placements to anyone who would like to join.
- We’re re-evaluating our subscription packages to ensure that our clients get the most out of our subscription services.
- Education and training programs are being planned for later on this summer.
At 10|20 Marketing, we’re always listening for feedback on how we can do better and offer our clients more.
Moving into this new year, we feel excited, invigorated and, well, ready to go! To our clients, we look forward to helping you through another year of online success. And to those who are only hearing about us now, give us a call (1-888-388-1020), we’d be more than happy to help you establish your online presence with our low-cost solutions for your business.
We recently were invited to write a post on RestoBiz and thought that it would be really interesting to cover a relatively new feature from Google My Business (GMB) simply called Posts. It’s a feature that Google would like you to think of as a status update – and Posts is powerful.
As Google describes: Posting through Google My Business lets you publish your events, products and services directly to Google Search and Maps. By creating Posts, you can place your timely content in front of customers when they find your business listing on Google.
Nuts & Bolts of Google Posts
As we wrote in that article, posts are meant to be timely, which is important to retailers. They expire seven days after they go live, so when thinking about what to publish on your Google listing, consider promotions, events, holiday information such as changes to your hours or contest information. If you’re creative by nature, you can add pictures, short-form videos and GIFs.
For businesses with less of a retail focus, such as professional service companies or practices, consider adding thought leadership pieces as well. This means you can feel free to link to content that you find interesting or important from other websites, along with your thoughts and opinions.
Accessing this feature is easy, it’s the second option down on the left hand side menu. And when you log into your Google My Business account after after posting content to your listing, Google offers insights into your content, allowing you to see the number of views and button clicks generated for each post. Check in on your GMB insights section to learn which posts work best and what perform below average. Using this information, you can optimize your next batch of Posts, and refine the marketing recipe that works best for your business. We recommend to our clients that they post at least once every three to four days to avoid having no posts present on your listing after they expire.
Ultimately, though, why use Posts? Well, Early indications show that posting content to your listing has an impact on your location authority. That affects the ranking power in Google local search results, which impacts the position of your business on Google Maps. Put another way, the greater your location authority, the more likely your business listing will show up on Maps. This will result in not only more views of your listing, but also more calls to your establishment, more foot traffic via directions and mapping and more website visits as well.
At the end of the day, Google wants to know that you’re engaged in your listing. The more engaged you are, including new Posts, customer reviews and keyword heavy descriptive text (another new rollout), Google will be more favourable to your listing.
Why use Google Posts?
- They help searchers find your business
- Google likes businesses that keep their listings relevant
- They’re currently underused, which gives you a first-mover advantage in your market
To learn more about Google Posts in Google My Business, email firstname.lastname@example.org OR call 1-888-388-1020.