Local business is rapidly catching up with all manner of digital marketing & advertising opportunities presented to them. The difficulty often lies in that many local business owners do not generally deal with an advertising agency other than for creative purposes. Their marketing budgets encourage them to take their own media decisions.
Humbly, most will allow that they really aren’t equipped / knowledgeable to take objective decision because their specialty and expertise lies in their own business, be it a garage, restaurant, locksmith, law practice, sun tanning salon or any other type of business.
How can they adequately decide which online marketing tools to use to promote their business? CityGrid Media conducted a study through Harris Interactive in March 2011 on what sources Internet users (roughly 75% of the population, so most of your clients) turn to in seeking local business information online.
Unsurprisingly, Google ranks 1st, by far. It remains the simplest and quickest method of finding a local business’s website, address, direction or phone number. This implies that:
A- you should have a website that minimally offers this information along with your complete product / services offering with all details and pricing related too each item;
B- that website needs to have been done with SEO considerations – SEO is search engine optimisation, or in plain language: making your website Google friendly so that it will propose you in user searches whenever relevant;
C- an SEO expert should poke their head under the hood of your website periodically (2x a year minimum) to update your code so that it continually maximises your “Google friendliness”;
D- you should have a PPC base-buy at all times (52 weeks a year) – PPC is pay per clic, the only way to buy advertising on Google. This campaign’s message shouldn’t endeavour to make your business more likable or build awareness for it, but rather should focus on the low-hanging fruit that are consumers searching for what you have to offer at any given time – should they not pay attention to your natural / organic search results, they may notice your paid search ad. Google advertising can cost you as low as $200 a month, or as much at you’ll get a return on (totally up to you);
Next in importance and probably a surprise for some are online yellow pages or other business directories. We have been exposed to countless articles declaring the yellow phone book dead, bad for the environment, unused… While that may be the case for the printed version, it is a totally different story for their online counterpart. Many online users turn to online yellow pages websites to find business addresses and phone numbers because A- it’s quicker than looking through the book and B- they KNOW your address will be in there – hasn’t it always been?
As we continue on down the list, review sites are 3rd in importance (search results pages and Google to me are one and the same). As a local or small business owner, you should be paying occasional attention to what kind of reviews your business is getting on the main review sites. If you don’t have any or many, take the time to ask some of your more regular / satisfied customers to write one up whenever they can. There are countless studies indicating that consumers will trust other people’s comments about your products (even a total stranger’s comments) over any type of advertising you could buy.
Facebook and Twitter (trailing much further) are also important for consumers looking to find your business. Are you present on these platforms? Are you easy to find there? Are you telling your customers about your presence there? Are you active or are you paying attention to people’s conversations about you on social media platforms? There are many free and paid social media listening tools that can help you easily and quickly keep tabs on the online conversation about your brand.