June’s Mastermind discussions focused on technology. In our Marketing Mastermind, we discussed AI and how it might benefit or hurt your website’s SEO. In our General Managers Mastermind, we even dove into call-tracking software called CallRail and how one local hardware store is using it to improve call etiquette, strengthen company culture, and close more sales.

June Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Marketing Mastermind Takeaways:

Our Marketing Mastermind call was focused on how to utilize AI to create purposeful blog content that adds value to customers and ranks well on Google. While AI can be a great tool for building content efficiently, it can also have its pitfalls that can get you in trouble if you’re not careful.

Why Blogs?

Blogs are a great way to connect with your customers and are a powerful tool outside of helping your site rank higher on Google. A well-written, engaging blog can bring in an additional 20-50% of traffic to your website. Not only that, but you can use the blog content for social media (increasing traffic to your website by 10-15%), and if you include a highlight of the blog in your newsletter, you can expect an additional 20-25% increase in your traffic.

This means that when you listen to what your audience is asking and write a blog answering those questions, you can increase traffic to your website and increase online sales (if you have an eCommerce store set up) or interest in visiting your hardware store.

That’s no small feat! Here is a quick list of questions to ask yourself when it comes to writing well- thought out content that targets your audience: 

  • What do the customers want? If you’re going through a dry season in your area and people are coming in for sprinklers, do a quick interview with a garden expert, translate it into text, and write a blog. You can use that content for your website, newsletter, blog, and social media to rank higher and faster and increase website traffic.
  • Ask yourself after you’re done with the blog post – would you read this content? If you’re not making it past the first paragraph, then it’s probably not adding value, and your audience isn’t reading it.
  • When creating content, think about your audience/persona and create content around that persona. What are they thinking when searching for your goods/services?

Now that you know what content to write, let’s talk about how to use AI to help you in your writing without being penalized by Google or losing trust with your audience. 

Use AI as a jumping-off point but don’t use it as a crutch – Google may penalize you, but most importantly, your audience will be able to smell an AI-written article from a mile away, and they want to hear from YOU. Our recommendation is to use sites like Chatgpt.com to create an outline of your content by using a prompt like “write a 500-word outline for X hardware store on the topic of what beginner gardeners need to know and include spots to add links to products.”

To test how much of your content is human-written vs. AI-written, we recommend using a resource like originality.ai. The goal is to aim for around 75% human-written content so that you’re not potentially penalized by Google.

Helpful Resources: 

    • Originality.ai – Aim for around 75% human-written content. 
    • Answerthepublic.com will crawl the Internet to find what people are searching for and give you ideas on what content you should focus on for that month.
    • Chatgtp.com is our go-to for AI writing but don’t become too reliant on it!
    • Here’s a helpful outline that you can use when you’re writing SEO focused blogs

General Managers Mastermind Takeaways:

Now let’s dive into the General Manager Mastermind! This call was jam-packed with amazing resources, helpful data, and real-life examples of how to use CallRail to improve customer service and, ultimately, increase your weekly revenue by thousands of dollars each week! Because when it comes to phone calls, you can’t gauge calls based on one sale; you have to consider that customer returning for the next 20 sales.

CallRail is call-tracking software that allows you to track phone calls from places like your website, ads, or even referral sites. You can listen to all the calls coming into your hardware store, hear how your employees are responding to questions, and see how quickly those calls are being transferred, dropped, or stuck on hold. You’ll also be able to see where those calls are coming from specifically and know what marketing is working and what’s not!

When you implement CallRail, here are some issues that you’ll find 

  • Long hold time on phone calls
  • Transferring to the wrong department
  • Dropped calls
  • Saying, “we don’t have it,” instead of saying, “we don’t have it in stock
  • Poor communication and customer service
  • Missing out on opportunities to get the sale 

Using the data you get on these phone calls is also an opportunity to train staff on proper phone etiquette, create scripts, improve company culture by having the best phone call or sales call, and more!

Some concerns were raised about how the employees felt about their calls being recorded, but those fears were quickly squashed when you mentioned that these calls were to improve performance and customer service. Hardware Stores are in the business of serving people, and high-performing staff know that and are happy to learn how to do better for their customers.

Some other things to note about CallRail

  • Inter-office calls are not recorded, but if you have multi-location calls you’ll be able to hear those.
  • Personal calls usually come through cell phones – so there’s no concern about those calls being recorded. 
  • CallRail has an automated disclaimer when you pick up the phone that says, “Your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

    Helpful Resources: 

      • CallRail
      • Helpful presentation on CallRail and the benefits of implementing it in your hardware store
      • Zappos is known for excellent customer service and training their staff on phone etiquette – Read this book if you want to dive deep!

    Does the idea of a monthly meet-up with other retail hardware stores sound valuable to you? Are you interested in sharing resources, asking questions, and participating with your peers on-demand through an exclusive Slack channel?

    Email us at hello@hardwareinnovators.com to get access to the Slack Channel! The best part? It’s 100% free and puts you in touch with hardware store general managers and marketers to ask questions and get immediate feedback from what worked at other hardware stores!

    Join Us on July 17th for our Next Mastermind

    For May, we’ll have two groups that meet: marketing and GMS.

    Need help signing up? Send us an email: hello@hardwareinnovators.com

    Are You On Board?

    Does the idea of a monthly meet-up with other hardware stores sound valuable to you? Are you interested in sharing resources, asking questions, and participating with your peers on-demand with an exclusive slack channel?

    Join the Hardware Innovators!

    Learn more about us here.